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Amazon "glitch" removes sales ranks of hundreds of LGBT books

Over the weekend a number of authors and readers noticed that Amazon appeared to have removed its sales rank figures from hundreds of books with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered themes. While that alone might not seem like a huge deal, the thing you have to keep in mind is that sales rank figures are used to determine whether books will show up in Amazon's bestseller lists or in a number of search results pages.

For instance, Mark Probst is author of a young adult romance novel involving two young men in the old west. His book, The Filly, shows up if you search Amazon's "Books" category. But if you search "All Departments," the paper version of his book isn't listed. Interestingly, the Kindle eBook edition is.

Probst says when he contacted Amazon for an explanation, he was told that Amazon excluded "adult" material from some searches, lists, and sales ranking. But responding to requests from several news sites this weekend, Amazon said that the delisting was actually a "glitch."

Amazon says the glitch is being fixed and that sales rankings should begin showing up for these LGBT titles again soon. But a fair amount of damage has already been done. #AmazonFAIL is one of the top trending topics on Twitter right now, with a lot of people criticizing Amazon's actions and critiquing its explanation. What do you think? Glitch, or something more purposeful? Leave your theories, conspiracy or otherwise, in the comments.

Update: A hacker has claimed responsibility for flagging these items. That doesn't mean that's what happened, but it is possible.

Update 2: And Amazon has discredited the hacker, claiming that over 50,000 books were mistakenly flagged as "adult." The system has been updated and the titles in question are now showing up in general searches.

Tags: amazon, amazonfail, glitch, lgbt