Walls, Dungeons, and Censorship, Oh My!

Apparently certain book sellers (allegedly) want to tell you, the reader, what you SHOULD read instead of showing you the true bestseller list of what people are really reading.

Here is an article written by Maya Cross, posted at Goodreads here: http://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/4244850-important-barnes-and-noble-is-censoring-its-best-seller-lists

Here is the article, copy and pasted in case you don’t want to click over:

I’ve posted about this on Facebook, but I wanted to write something slightly more coherent and complete. This is a very important issue for both romance readers and writers, so please, share this post with your friends. Shout it from the roof tops. Barnes and Noble aren’t replying to my emails, so we need to make a lot of noise for this to get heard.For those that don’t want to read the whole thing, the situation in a nutshell:Barnes and Noble appear to be manipulating their Nook bestseller list. They seem to have issue with either self published books or books containing erotic content, or both, and they don’t want them being too visible on their site. From what we can gather, there seems to be an artificial wall in their rankings, somewhere around #125, and any books they deem unworthy cannot rank higher, no matter how many copies they sell. My two titles are both currently affected by this, as are Cassia Leo’s USA today best selling Shattered Hearts books, and several other works.To give you the long form and explain how I know this:My second book, Lockout, was doing astoundingly well on B&N. It was #5 in the whole store yesterday, right up between Dan Brown and James Patterson. I was over the moon.But something weird was happening with the first book in my series, Locked. It rose when book two launched, but once it hit #126 in the overall store, it stuck in place. It kept selling more books, but wouldn’t move. Not even a single ranking place. And it held that position for 48 hours. Now, it’s almost impossible for a book to not shift even a few places in a given day. Most books change rank every hour, so obviously this wasn’t normal. It felt like it had been pinned in place.Then, this morning, the same thing happened to Lockout. It went from #5 in the whole Nook store, to #126, in the blink of an eye. This makes no sense. It’s all but totally impossible for book sales to plummet that dramatically of their own accord.

I know that this might seem like me just complaining because I’m not doing as well as I’d like, but it’s not. Look at this. Locked and Lockout are currently sitting at exactly #126 and #127 in the B&N store. You can see it here:


What do you think the chances of that happening are? Two books by the same author next to one another in the rankings, out of hundreds of thousands of titles. And it’s been like that all morning. Add in the fact that Locked has been at #126 for the last two days (I have screenshots, emails and sales figures to show this), and it’s pretty clear that this isn’t an accurate reflection of the book’s sales.

If you look at the charts there, you can also see Cassia Leo’s books are just behind mine. I have screenshots of these charts from all last night and this morning, and in every one, our books hold position while everything else shifts around them. I also have word from a much bigger name in the romance community, Liliana Hart, that the same thing happened to her last week. She had a sale, her title rose to #126, then just stopped.

Now, they have yet to actually comment on this, so we have no concrete idea what is going on, but if all this is true, then it’s blatant censorship. Their ‘best seller’ charts aren’t best seller charts at all, it’s just a list of pre-approved books. The romance community is one of the most voracious in the world, and they’re hiding the books you want to read from you. This is worth making some noise over. They’re hurting you and your ability to find books, and they’re hurting authors you love and their ability to make a living. My sales have plummeted since this happened.

There seems to be no rhyme or reason behind the policy. Cassia’s books are much less steamy than mine, and other erotic titles continue to sit in the top 100. I don’t know exactly what they’re trying to achieve, but the whole thing is inconsistent and grossly unfair. This isn’t just about my books, or Cassia’s books, it’s about B&N thinking they know what their readers want better than readers themselves.

So I’d love it if you helped get the word out about this. Comment on this post so your GR friends see it, share it around your social networks, and let B&N know what you think about this policy. I’m not sure it will do much good, but it’s worth making our voices heard nonetheless. Maybe we can get them to at least fill us in on their policy so we can understand what is happening.

EDIT 5/27/13: Just to update this for people only reading now, it is no longer true that my two books are side by side on the Nook store. B&N’s blockade has done its job and has killed the sales on my first book by destroying the visibility. It will only be a matter of time before the second starts to fall.

But now that we know what we’re looking for, you can now see other books up against the wall. Currently there’s Tangled by Emma Chase, Selling Scarlet by Ella James, and then my book, Lockout. Tangled is a great example. It’s getting crazy good reviews everywhere, is inside the top 10 on Amazon, but suspiciously won’t budge from #126 on the B&N store. The exact rank we’ve all been complaining about. Doesn’t that seem odd?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~  end article ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Amazon is also manipulating some content by not allowing you to search for it on the main Amazon search page (you must first go to “Books” and search there for it to show up).  The Writer’s Cafe people call that the “adult dungeon” and if your book gets stuck behind “the dungeon” then your sales fall drastically and your exposure is practically nil. The problem is that some books are getting stuck in this so-called dungeon without having done anything offending to get there (no erotica, no racy cover, or anything like that).

Modern-day censorship at its best!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s