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Trick Question: When is the Top Selling eBook in the Kindle Store not the Top Selling eBook?

A: When it falls into the category of erotica.

Evil Wylie pointed me at this story today. Did you know that Amazon rigs the best-selling list? It’s true, and they’ve been doing it for quite some time now (since 2009, at least).

See, Amazon doesn’t want to offend the sensibilities of their customers, so the official "Best Sellers in Kindle eBooks" list is set up to exclude erotica. If you find the list via the Amazon homepage, you won’t see all the popular titles.

Right now 50 Shades of Grey is the best-selling ebook in the Kindle Store, but Amazon doesn’t want you to know that. If you haven’t seen this before, click on the next couple links. You’ll see that The Hunger Games is #1 on one list and #2 on the other (as of Saturday afternoon). And in case you don’t notice, romance books are included in the whitewashed lists.

UnTruth vs Truth

So what’s the difference between the books? One features underage children brutally murdering each other in a fight to the death in post-apocalyptic America, while the other features two adults having consensual sex.

I’m sure some of my readers already knew this, given that even Gizmodo covered it back in 2009. So while this isn’t news, I thought the recent events concerning Paypal and their ban on certain types of erotica (here, here) made Amazon’s subterfuge particularly relevant.

The point I wanted to make here is that the actions of Amazon and Paypal are a sign of just how screwed up our culture really is. Violence is okay, and you can show it on TV at any time. But sex – now that just is just plain icky. Sweep it under the rug.

To be fair, none of this is new. People have been commenting about this aspect of American culture for the longest time. But it’s times like this that we need to take  good hard look at ourselves.

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Carly March 3, 2012 um 5:02 pm

Just to play devil’s advocate, how is this different than the local convenience store putting playboy and hustler behind a frosted plastic shelf? Everyone knows what’s under it, but they shield it because they’re "family friendly".

It sounds like Amazon will still sell you the erotica, they’re just not putting it front and center, for the same reasons the convenience store isn’t slapping playboy on the impulse rack near the cash register.

And go into a B&N and try to find the erotica section. My guess is that it’s buried somewhere in a side spot in the store where hardly anyone goes, and it’s very likely that no one’s alphabetized it in quite a while. This isn’t new to Amazon, we’re a screwed up puritan nation for sure, but we’re uniformly screwed up across all our retailers.

Bob March 3, 2012 um 5:34 pm

I think you make a good case for removing the hunger games from the list.

Tyler March 4, 2012 um 11:06 pm

Actually erotica is at the end of the fiction section and Playboys are smack dab in the middle of magazine area just at the top. Or so I have heard 🙂

Hunger Games is always on best sellers lists. It must have sold a gazillion copies by now.

Stumbling Over Chaos :: Land sakes, linkity! March 9, 2012 um 3:06 am

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