velvetpage: (mawwaige)
This doesn't look good. It's one story - though there have been others - but it looks really bad.
velvetpage: (Default)
Could it really be this simple? Nutshell version: a programmer in France puts a ban on all things erotic. Except that in France, the word they use for erotic is "adulte." He understandably translated that as "adult," which put in place a code that was meant to be applied only to erotica - on 57 000 books ranging from the LGBT ones, to the sex and disability ones, to health textbooks, right around the world.
velvetpage: (mawwaige)
A great deal of racism, homophobia, etc., happens not because anyone particularly wants to be racist or homophobic, but because the ground has been tilted that way by arrangements made long ago and if you’re not constantly on the lookout it’s easiest to roll downhill. From here.
velvetpage: (mawwaige)
Not unexpectedly, I saw several people pointing out how a private business can do whatever it wants with its merchandise, can promote it however it wants, and that therefore, the outrage over this was silly. I've been thinking about this, and taking it into account as I read other posts about the whole fiasco, and I've decided that I don't really agree much at all.

I think people who sell things are entering into a contract with two other groups of people - their suppliers, and their customers. Now, for a small business, especially an eBay business or other out-of-home venture, there isn't much connection between the two. There are likely many routes from a large supplier to their customer base, and that little shop is only one of them; or if the seller is also the creator, then the suppliers are supplying raw materials and it's the relationship with their customers that is the crucial one. Even so, though, there's a standard here. When I buy from you with the intention of selling what you made, I am engaging in a contract - whether formal or verbal - to correctly represent what you have sold me to my customers. If I'm buying yarn from [livejournal.com profile] deliciouspear, I'm trusting her to be truthful about the source and quality of that blank yarn she dyed as much as I am the quality of the dyeing itself. If I found I couldn't trust her in that, I'd stop buying from her. She has a responsibility to me, her customer, and to her supplier, to accurately represent the product she is selling. (I'm using her as an example because her yarns are of the highest quality and she takes this responsibility seriously. If you want great hand-dyed yarn, go check out her stuff.)

In the case of Amazon, taking away a ranking on a book without informing the author/publisher first is dishonest. It's misrepresenting the product to the customer, who can't easily search it and who can't find out how many copies it has sold. People expect to be able to do those things on Amazon. If Amazon had never offered those services, there'd be nothing morally wrong with continuing to not offer them (though I'd have to question their business sense - at least some of Amazon's success comes from these features.) Ceasing to accurately represent your product is breaking your contract (verbal or formal) with your suppliers, and breaking the relationship of trust that your customers have with your business.

There's one other situation in which I've heard the argument about sellers having the right to decide what they sell, and that's in relation to pharmacies in the States that don't want to sell birth control or Plan B. They have the right to decide what they sell, right? They have the right to sell only products that mesh with their morality.

This one's harder, because often, they don't have birth control in stock if they're not going to sell it at all. Still, though, the expectation of a pharmacy is that it will fill prescriptions written by a doctor. The only time the pharmacist should question a prescription is when they notice a potential drug interaction or other immediate, unintended side effect that is likely with this particular patient and this particular drug. Preventing a pregnancy doesn't count because that's the intended effect of those meds. The public has a relationship of trust that their pharmacists will do this when they take a prescription to them. Failing to fill that prescription is violating that trust. If you have the medication on hand when you fail to fill the prescription, then you're also violating the contract under which you acquired it - because the contract was that you'd then sell it to people who had a prescription for it.

My conclusion is the polar opposite of the original premise. When you undertake to sell something, you are entering into a contract with your suppliers and your customers. When you have been doing that for a while, you have a contract with them already. Refusing to sell something you have previously sold, or changing the terms under which you represent that item, are both breaches of contract. You don't get a free pass from me for that. You'll have to tread carefully when you make a change to your business, so that I can see that you're trying to respect your contracts and making changes that will enhance them. If I don't think you're doing that? I'll break my contract with you and stop buying from you. I deal with people I trust to deal fairly with me, and no amount of bleating about doing what you want with your merchandise is going to make me change my mind.
velvetpage: (mawwaige)
For those who like this particular protest method: Amazon Rank. I cannot begin to count the number of ways this is awesome.
velvetpage: (outraged)
Others have documented this better than I could hope to. If you're on twitter, it's #amazonfail and it's the number one trending topic at this moment.

Long story short: with no clear rhyme or reason, and certainly without any kind of coherent justification that stands up to scrutiny, Amazon has removed the sales rankings of a whole bunch of books that fall under the categories of gay, lesbian, homosexual, etc. When you search Amazon based on topic, the results that come up are listed according to their sales ranking, which means that removing the sales ranking makes it near-impossible to search for those books unless you know specifics like the author's name or the title of the book.

It's important to note that many of these books are not adult content. Picture books about kids with two mommies, history books about famous gays throughout history, and young adult fiction dealing with kids who realize they're gay, have all had their rankings removed. Meanwhile, if you search for "pornography," three of the five top hits are actual porn. Can we say double standard?

There are letter-writing campaigns already in progress. I'm holding off until I see the reaction - if their reaction is to immediately undo all the wrong and apologize, I probably won't yank my business entirely. Anything else? Yeah, going elsewhere. Amazon may have the lion's share of the market but they don't deserve to keep it if this is what they're going to do with it.

EDIT: It took most of the day, but it's starting to hit mainstream media. As an aside, I hatehatehate the justification that "private businesses can do whatever they want with their products." That's true to a point, but they've entered into a contract with the people who sell them that product, and actions like this one seem to unilaterally change the contract - or at least the expectations that come with Amazon, one of which is sales rankings. OF COURSE those authors have the right to be pissed, and so do their fans!

June 2017

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