Amazon.com has apparently decided to protect its readers from themselves by removing any titles it considered ‘adult’ from its sales rankings, thus making them impossible to uncover through normal searchings. Funnily enough, this outbreak of Grundyism wipes out most of the titles aimed at a gay and lesbian readership. More than that, Amazon now hides GLBT titles but allows homophobic ones — you can’t search for Brokeback Mountain but you can find A Parent’s Guide To Preventing Homosexuality. There’s more info here.
The reaction throughought blogosphere seems to be sufficiently intense that Amazon might have to reconsider. But this shabby little episode raises broader questions about the role of monopolies in the industry. Amazon hopes that its Kindle will become the standard platform for electrionic books. Think about the kind of power it will have over publishers. Would you trust them with it? Um… maybe not so much.
[Update: Amazon seems to be blaming a software glitch. There's also suggestions a hacker might be involved. The whole thing seems very weird.]