Gay/Lesbian Category Amazon Best Books of the Year
Update: Someone set up a petition, here, hoping to get enough signatures for Amazon to reinstate the Gay/Lesbian category. As of this moment, there are 233 signatures. It states they need 267 on the sidebar. I'm not sure what that number means.
I've posted about Amazon removing the Gay/Lesbian category from their Best Books of the Year, here. I recently noticed the topic coming up again and I decided to do a follow up piece and this time try to go into a little more depth. Because there is such a huge lack of information out there on this topic, I form no opinions or draw any conclusions. And the only reason I'm doing this now is simply because there was at one time a Gay/Lesbian Category included with Amazon Best Books of the Year. And from what I gather so far, the reason it was removed is because the best books of the year are selected through overall genres, not by minority categories. In other words, I didn't find a section for the best Amazon book of the year in a category titled African American Fiction, or Asian American Fiction. And when you think about it, I don't think awards like the Oscars or the Emmy Awards have specific categories for Gay/Lesbian content either. Brokeback Mountain won three Oscars, but not in a dedicated Gay/Lesbian category. It was up against all other films out that year and won in these categories:
With its masterly direction and writing and its breakout performances, this gay cowboy picture lauded many accolades including winning the 2006 Academy Awards Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score, along with five other nominations including Best Picture.
Here's a link to a list where the categories are listed for Amazon's 2012 Best Books of the Year. I don't see a Gay/Lesbian category listed, and I don't see a separate category for any minority there. So it leads me to believe that if there is a gay romance, or an LGBT Kids book that makes the Amazon Best Book of the Year that's because it's part of all books in the romance genre or Kids book genre, not because it's part of a special genre on its own.
However, this is the confusing part. In 2011 Amazon did, indeed, have a Gay/Lesbian category in their best books of the year. You can check that out here. But, in the same respect, I don't see any other minority listed with its own category in 2011.
When I was searching for articles about this topic, I came across this one written by a m/m author with a small press. According to this author, he and a group of readers e-mailed Amazon and questioned them about why there wasn't a Gay/Lesbian category anymore. The results were interesting. According to this post, it states that Amazon allegedly said they would add a Gay/Lesbian category, but then months later failed to do so. You can read the full post with the link above.
Actually, the most informative, and yet still lacking, piece of information I found in my search on this topic was here, on an Amazon forum that discusses why Amazon dropped the Gay/Lesbian category. The title of this is "Amazon Best Books 2012 Gay/Lesbian Category?" From the way it begins, I have a feeling that question mark should be larger and bolder. However, if you know anything about Amazon forums they can go on for pages and pages. This one stops short of one page.
One comment mentions how LGBT books and publishers have increased in recent years. But isn't that true with all minority fiction? I've seen more African American literature in the past five years than I've ever seen before in my twenty years plus of publishing. One person on the forum wrote this:
Do the GLBT authors write about being GLBT as a topic or do
they write mysteries, fiction, non-fiction, romance, sci-fi, erotica, or self
help type books? If they write books that fit into those genre categories do the
really need a separate category based on their personal sexual preference? I
don't care what their sexual preferences are, if they write a good book and
people recommend it then I will most likely read it. The categories I listed are
a good way to divide up the different genres quite nicely. Who you wish to have
sex with is not a genre as far as I can tell. I'll probably get some criticism
for my comments. Don't send me criticism send me recommendations of good books.
There are a few other comments like this on the forum and I recommend reading it with the link above. Basically what many are saying is now that LGBT people are mainstreaming like all other minorities they aren't sure there should be a distinct Gay/Lesbian category. And it's not like we don't have LGBT awards. Off hand, we have the Rainbow Awards, and we have the Lambda Awards. We don't allow heteronormative books to enter those contests. (Side note: I was told my publisher entered Fangsters in the Lammies this year. I'm thrilled and love being part of it...I also tried to get my German publisher, Bruno Gmunder, to enter. I haven't heard about that one yet.)
As I stated above, if you do a search for this topic you won't find much at all. But if you do a simple search for a Gay/Lesbian category with regard to the Oscars or the Emmy Awards, you won't find much on that either. The Amazon categories for best books of the year are generalized according to genre and no minority gets a special category from what I can see. If I'm wrong about this and I missed something, please point this out and I'll make the change.
It's been a complicated topic because Amazon did once have a special category for Gay/Lesbian. And I think that's why there have been so many questions asking why it was dropped. I'm genuinely curious to know why it was dropped and I don't really have a strong opinion on the topic and I don't have any comments to offer at this point in time. And the only thing I can suggest is that if there are enough readers out there who think Amazon should reinstate the Gay/Lesbian category they should e-mail Amazon in numbers and make themselves heard. I'm sure if enough people did this Amazon would listen. But the problem is, and always has been, that very few LGBT books like Brokeback Mountain ever cross into the mainstream. Gay/Lesbian has always been a small but wonderful genre, with even smaller sub-genres, and in the world of book publishing and book sales LGBT books are right up there with other minorities when it comes to special categories in a general sense. I'm not even sure it would be viable to list every category according to minority. And, is it fair to other minorities to have a special Gay/Lesbian category without having other minority categories?
If anyone has any information on this topic, please feel free to comment. I respect everyone's privacy and anon comments are welcome as long as they are civil and add to the discussion. I wish Amazon would come out and make a statement on the topic one way or the other. If they have and I missed it, please let me know.