A few of you may recall from a couple of weeks ago a certain brouhaha, a bit of a to-do, about how Amazon.com suddenly failed to display various works related to lesbians and gays in search results. One of the big questions, of course, was whether it would be plausible as well as charitable to attribute this "glitch" to incompetence rather than malice (albeit incompetence nudged in one particular direction by general societal levels of homophobia).
I have no original ideas to contribute to the debate, but I thought I'd share, belatedly, one piece of circumstantial evidence that may or may not reflect on the plausibility of the incompetence hypothesis. I was recently searching on Amazon for P. G. Wodehouse's memoir Over Seventy, which, alas, appears to be out of print. Amazon does have a page for Over Seventy, with links to people selling used copies starting from usd$202.76 (too rich for my blood). In order to help its customers find what they are looking for, Amazon invites browsers to supply products with informative tags. No one has yet tagged Over Seventy, but that's okay, because Amazon's software has helpfully come up with some speculation under the heading "Suggested Tags from Similar Products." Here are some of the tags it thinks may apply to this work of autobiography by the creator of Bertie Wooster and his man Jeeves:
- african literature
- chick lit
I am not sure who is more likely to be disappointed here, aficionados of Wodehouse or fans of dystopian post-apocalyptic African chick-lit.