Amazon Update

Quick take

Coupon for 20% off at, where “all books are created equal.” (Use by Thursday.)

Link to IndieBound to order online from a network of independent bookstores, or find the one nearest you.

In case you missed it all, read my previous post and this good, smart wrap-up blog entry that has most of the relevant links and says why this matters.

Slower take

I’m relieved that Amazon has restored rankings and full citizenship to all of the books affected by what the company is now calling a “ham-fisted” error. (What does that even mean? Do hams have fists? Is it bad when they do?)  That statement was an upgrade from the first press release, which called the de-ranking of tens of thousands of books a “glitch.”  Still, the latest official words fall far short of apology or explanation.

In the void of any real information, various theories have been floating around, some quite creative:  confused French programmer, Internet troll, right-wing conspiracy, etc.  A storm on Twitter and Facebook on Sunday led the mainstream media (L.A. Times, N.Y. Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN, etc.) to pick up the story on Monday, and NPR’s Laura Sydell interviewed me on “All Things Considered.”  In the end, Amazon said 57,310 books had been affected.  

At my own publishing house, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Stacey D’Erasmo’s The Sky Below, Cris Beam’s Transparent: Love, Family, and Living the T with Transgender Teenagers, and Anais Nin’s Little Birds were among those that, along with mine, were stripped of sales rankings and categories, which made the books invisible on lists and some searches.

A whole lot of people are still mad at Amazon for either causing or allowing this mess to happen, and as one of the owners of my local independent bookstore said, “This is why it’s not a good idea to have one company dominate book distribution.”  

We might never know what happened inside Amazon, but check out the links at the top of this note for other ways to get your books online:  just as quick, just as convenient, and a lot less prone to ham-fistedness.

4 thoughts on “Amazon Update

  1. Pingback: Minal Hajratwala » Blog Archive » My Personal 100 days: Update & Upcoming Events

  2. I did a web search because I work nights and have too much time on my hands. I have tried twice to post my findings but your blog may be rejecting the link as spam, so because I have too much time on my hands I am going to try spelling out the link.

    Ham-fisted = clumsy, awkward, inept

    It has British origins. There is an interesting discussion on this site:

    www dot phrases dot org dot uk slash bulletin_board slash 11 slash messages slash 455 dot html

  3. This seems like a reliable answer to the question of what ham-fisted means (clumsy, awkward, inept) and where it came from. It has British roots, apparently. Thanks for giving me a project on my night shift!

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