Amazon has faced a barrage of criticism from authors and book buyers after thousands of books for sale on the site were removed from sales rankings.
The books were predominantly those by gay and lesbian writers or those dealing with adult themes, and over 57,000 were removed. At first it was feared that some kind of purge was going on to make Amazon more family friendly, but the company has said that in fact it was a glitch in the system.
"This is an embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error for a company that prides itself on offering complete selection," said Drew Herdener, director of communications at Amazon.
"It has been misreported that the issue was limited to Gay & Lesbian themed titles. In fact, it impacted 57,310 books in a number of broad categories such as Health, Mind & Body, Reproductive & Sexual Medicine, and Erotica. This problem impacted books not just in the US but globally. It affected not just sales rank but had the effect of removing the books from Amazon's main product search."
Herdener said that the problem is now being addressed and the books are having their sales rankings returned. Amazon is working to make sure the problem never happens again.
The move sent the internet into overdrive, and a special '#amazonfail' Twitter tag was getting up to four messages a second at its peak.
However, some are questioning Amazon's explanation for the change. One publisher said that he was informed via email last week that Amazon was moving to take adult books off its sales list. An author has said they also received the message.
To add to the confusion a hacker called 'Weez' has claimed that he was behind the delisting, which was a prank to show up flaws in Amazon's code.
"I guess my game is up! Here's a nice piece I like to call 'how to cause moral outrage from the entire internet in 10 lines of code'," he wrote in a LiveJournal blog.
However, this claim has been called into question by people who have tried to repeat the hack and have found it to fail.
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