Again. Here’s What Authors are Saying.
Amazon and any business associated with Paypal were likely to give Erotica and Romance writers a hard time in response to the political push against sexy media in several high-selling nations. (See below for more on this.) Their latest tweaks appear to be burying readers’ reviews in account dashboards, excluding books from search results, and removing books from sales rankings.
My first clue came from Facebook that not only did Amazon move my reviews so I can’t find them, it’s possibly using reviews and search keywords to determine which books to remove from rankings and searches. For buyers, that makes finding works harder. For authors, obviously, that takes away many of the marketing advantages of the site.
You can see reactions from writers around the web to the removal of rankings line.
Romance author CD Weiss explained on Twitter that this isn’t the same as “the erotica dungeon” that’s brought Amazon suspicion in the past.
Is that true? At this point, I think there are more impacts on books containing sex scenes than anyone can see. We’re looking at only parts of the castle.
Why is This Happening?
Blame is going to H.R.1865, the “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017”, which has passed both the US House of Representatives and the Senate.
Note: It has a sibling, S.1693, the “Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017”, which is currently hanging out in the Senate.
I’ve yet to see any evidence that these acts targeting sex trafficker is a driver (though suggesting they are doesn’t take a a huge jump in logic). FOSTA is more problematic as yet another action by Washington to undermine net neutrality in the US. My suspicion is that Amazon is getting twitchy because of the scattered political hoopla, from the Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Act confirmed to be full of deception to the alternate facts argument that porn in general is a public health risk.
Amazon responded faster in the USA than I‘d guessed (another couple of months) due to the timing of UK’s controversial and rather suspicious age verification law — which has been pushed back!
Why Does it Matter?
Author Kat Kenyon summarized in tweets.
Actions like this are discouraging to writers. I’ll add that as a Romance and Erotica reader who’s also watching the destruction of net neutrality in the US, I’m frustrated about the misuse of my reviews to hide what I want to read. It’s not up to Amazon or any group of stranger to tell me what my buying habits should be.