Amazon Isn’t a Library
Apparently, it recently came to light that Amazon has removed GLBT books from their online ranking system. This doesn’t mean that you can’t find a GLBT book if you are looking for it though. I checked myself this morning, so I wouldn’t be going on hearsay. When I typed in “heather has,” the auto-completion drop down box immediately completed it with “heather has two mommies.”
Another complaint people are putting forward is that a search for “homosexuality” pulls up books that are against the homosexual lifestyle higher in the rankings than supportive books. I checked this. The first result I got for “homosexuality” was Dark Obsession: The Tragedy and Threat of the Homosexual Lifestyle. The second result was a genre tag for “homosexuality, ” and a choice of fiction or nonfiction. I clicked on nonfiction and was immediately led to a result page consisting entirely of books supportive of GLBT people, including Gay America: Struggle for Equality. Back to my original results page, the third hit was a book from a gay erotica series.
Ok, so Amazon is still selling and displaying books supportive of the GLBT lifestyle. No, they aren’t the first hit. No, they aren’t included in the selling rankings.
Newsflash: Amazon isn’t a library. Amazon has no ethical responsibility to fairly and equally display both (or multiple) sides of controversial issues. Amazon is a private retailer. Whoever owns Amazon can choose what stock to carry, as long as it is legal. They clearly cannot sell pot, for instance. Amazon may also choose how prominently to display their stock. Imagine a traditional bookstore. They choose what books to place in the windows to draw people in. I view the sales rankings as similar to this.
What it all boils down to is that Amazon has the right, as a bookstore, to choose what books to stock and how prominently to display them. Even if they flat-out refused to sell GLBT books, that isn’t “book banning.” Amazon is not the government. For comparison, a couple of GLBT friends could start their own bookstore and decide that they didn’t want to carry anything anti-GLBT or pro-fundamentalist Christianity. Do you think the whole nation would be up in arms about this? No, it wouldn’t be. They would say “good on them, overcoming that adversity.” Well, the fact of the matter is, if we’re talking rights, anti-GLBT people have rights too.
Amazon isn’t breaking any laws. Amazon didn’t make some hit-list of gay people to refuse to sell to. That legally would be considered discrimination. Amazon isn’t even refusing to sell GLBT books. It simply isn’t displaying them as prominently. Well, they are a private business, and that’s their right. If you have a problem with it, feel free to boycot them and send them a letter explaining why you will no longer be buying from them. However, stop with all the hate and fear-mongering against them. Quit making a mountain out of a mole-hill. Quit being a wanna-be martyr. There are far bigger issues in the world than where Amazon ranks GLBT books. If you have a problem with it, boycot them and move on.
For the record, I won’t be boycotting Amazon, as I like them, and I don’t believe they’ve done anything wrong. Odd stance for a libertarian librarian, I know.