Another day, another reason not to shop at Amazon.

I’m happy to do my part.  Amazon rank.

Amazon Rank

amazon rank
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): amazon ranked

1. To censor and exclude on the basis of adult content in literature (except for Playboy, Penthouse, dogfighting and graphic novels depicting incest orgies).
2. To make changes based on inconsistent applications of standards, logic and common sense.

Etymology: from 12 April 2009 removal of sales rank figures from books on containing sexual, erotic, romantic, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered or queer content, rendering them impossible to find through basic search functions at the top of’s website.  Titles stripped of their sales rankings include “Bastard Out of Carolina,” “Lady Chatterly’s Lover,” several romance novels, GLBTQ fiction novels, YA books, and narratives about gay people.

Example of usage: “I tried to do a report on Lady Chatterly’s Lover for English Lit, but my teacher amazon ranked me and I got an F on grounds that it was obscene.”

Apparently, “Amazon rank” has already moved to the number one spot in Google listings.  This is only fitting, because when Amazon decides to essentially stop selling books based on a blatantly discriminatory set of guidelines, they’re doing everyone a disservice.

Complain here.


Give me back that Tom Piazza, give me that Piazza.

From this week’s Tournament of Books commentary comes some worthy grumbling:

…consider my experience in trying to buy this book. City of Refuge was first published in hardback in August 2008. By the time I received the initial list of ToB contestants in late December 2008 (well-ahead of the public release) the book had already worn out its welcome on the shelves of bookstores. I checked four different Barnes & Nobles in two different cities (both below the Mason Dixon Line) as well as three independent bookstores, and none of them stocked the book. All of them were willing to order it for me, of course, but only if I was willing to pay the full price of $24.95. Amazon and Powell’s, bless them, had it in stock, and at discounted prices, but I’d already acquired several other tournament contestants and even though the subject matter of City of Refuge intrigued me more than some of the other titles, I put in on the back burner, hoping that perhaps the paperback edition would make its way into stores in the meantime.

But no, the paperback of City of Refuge isn’t scheduled for release until August of this year, a full 12 months after the hardcover release, and probably nine months since the book largely became unavailable for purchase outside of special order or the internet.

Publishing treats books like they’re the McRib or Shamrock Shake, available for a limited time only before mothballing them. Anyone who is following the tournament and is now intrigued by the book will not run across it in most stores. I’m sure Tom Piazza appreciates all the attention, but it isn’t going to do his sales any good if there’s nothing to buy. Many people have gone on and on about how stupid this strategy is, but it doesn’t really hit home until one of the (apparently) best books of the year can’t be purchased in a bookstore outside of an initial three-month window. Is there any other industry that treats their product this way?

No, there isn’t.  Not any industry that’s still solvent, anyway.

My head hurts.

Please tell me this was a joke.  Please tell me Peter was having a bit of fun.  Because if this was truly happening the way it looks, you’d be best served to dump your shares in Microsoft.

Name: ________.
Web Site: Microsoft
URL: (
Department: Microsoft Office Product Key
Question: Need to retrieve my key
Peter [10:32]: Welcome to Omnitechsupport’s first 15 Minutes Free chat trial for Microsoft office products.More than 50% of the issues are resolved for free. Many issues might take longer, we will have to charge you to resolve the issue in those cases. I am reviewing your issue now.
Matt [10:32]: Need to retrieve my key
Peter [10:32]: Hi, this is Peter.
Matt [10:33]: hi.
Peter [10:33]: Could you please explain the issue in detail?
Matt [10:33]: I am trying to complete installation of Office on my new notebook, but cannot locate the product key in this installation
[10:34]: Can the product key to end the 30 day trial be retrieved from the installation on this computer?
[10:34]: Hello?
Peter [10:35]: Okay.
[10:35]: DId you download the Office 2007 trial suit?
Matt [10:36]: No, I installed it from a CD
[10:36]: This one. The one on the notebook came pre-installed (the trial suite)
Peter [10:36]: May I know the Office version that you have purchased?
Matt [10:37]: Sorry. I’m on my old notebook; this was installed from CD. The new notebook came pre-installed with a trial version. It’s Office 2007.
Peter [10:39]: May I know the Office suit version on your old Laptop?
Matt [10:39]: I’ve only installed the CD-version of Office 2007 on two machines; I believe I have one more installation coming. Yes, it’s 2007
[10:39]: On both machines.
Peter [10:40]: Do you have Office 2007 Home edition on your old laptop?
Matt [10:40]: Yes.
Peter [10:40]: Thanks for the confirmation.
[10:41]: Do you have the installation CD and product key for the Office 2007 Home edition?
Matt [10:41]: ?? I have the CD, but no product key on the CD that I can see.
[10:41]: I’m asking you how to retrieve the product key.
Peter [10:42]: The product key will be on the installation CD pack on a yellow label.
Matt [10:42]: And if I don’t have the installation CD pack anymore?
Peter [10:43]: Okay, I understand your concern.
Matt [10:43]: I don’t want empathy; I want to access the key
Peter [10:43]: Since, you do not have the product key for installing the Office suit…
[10:44]: You need to contact Microsoft Customer support to get a new product key.
Matt [10:44]: Isn’t that what I’m doing?
Peter [10:44]: We do not have information on product key.
Matt [10:44]: Then why is it listed as an option in the drop-down for initiating this chat?
Peter [10:44]: Let me forward you a link where you can contact Microsoft Customer support.
[10:45]: We can assist you in installing the Office suit only if you have the product key.
Matt [10:45]: Suite. With an e.
[10:45]: Can I have the link?
Peter [10:45]: I will suggest you to contact the Microsoft customer support team to get a new product key.
[10:46]: Please be online while I forward you the link.
Matt [10:46]: Yeah, I’m not waiting past the 15 minute mark so you can charge me.
Peter [10:46]:
ADMIN: Hi, Matt. This is QAE, monitoring the chat.
PeterPlease view the above link.
Matt [10:47]: Hi QAE. This “Help” is embarrassing.
ADMIN: I’m sorry for the inconvinience.
MattI simply want to access the code from my already installed non-trial version so I can complete the installation on my new notebook. Whether or not it can be done without the packaging – i.e., within the software.
[10:48]: And, noting that we’re past 15 minutes, am I going to be cut off? I’m not going to be charged.
[10:49]: Can it or can it not be done?
ADMIN: Matt, you cannot use the trial version product key to install the Office Suite once again.
ADMIN: Let me inform you that each product key are unique and can be used only once.
MattNo. I want to use the product key that I used to install the PURCHASED Office Suite. I was informed that, having purchased it, I’m allowed to install it on three of my machines.
[10:50]: Two down, one to go.
ADMIN: May I know the edition of MS Office you’ve purchased?
MattYes, you may. Peter asked me three or four times. It’s the 2007 edition.
Peter [10:52]: You can install the Office Home edition on three systems
Matt [10:52]: Uh-huh.
[10:53]: But it
[10:53]: ‘s already on the new machine, as a trial version. And I can’t put the CD in, because it’s a netbook. No CD drive.
[10:54]: So, again: Can it be done?
[10:54]: In case you were wondering, it’s the 2007 edition.
[10:54]: On both machines.
[10:54]: Admin, are you still there?
ADMIN: Yes, I’m still online.
MattWhat’s the good word? Can it be done?
ADMIN: Matt, do you’ve other computer with you right now?
Matt [10:56]: Yes.
ADMIN: Open a Word document.
MattOkay, it’s opening.
ADMIN: Click on the “Office button” located on the top left corner of the document.
MattI can’t; it shifted to the Enter Your Product Key window.
[10:58]: Should I ignore that and click through?
ADMIN: Yes, please go ahead.
ADMIN: Next, click “Word Option”.
MattOK, done.
[10:59]: OK, done.
ADMIN: On the navigation pane, click “Resource”.
MattClicked on Resources.
ADMIN: Next, click “About” and check the edition listed over there.
ADMIN: Let me know the edition listed over there.
[11:01]: 2007.
[11:01]: Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007.
ADMIN: Thanks for the confirmation.
Matt [11:02]: Is this a joke? Am I on that new Howie Mandel show?
[11:02]: I’ve told you repeatedly it’s the 2007 edition
ADMIN: Matt, as this is the Home and Student Edition, you can install it in 3 computers.
MattI want to use my product code to make it a regular installation. Howie do it?
[11:03]: I know that.
[11:03]: I told Peter that 20 minutes ago.
ADMIN: Matt, Office 2007 is a Version which has many edition in it.
MattOK. And now you know which edition I have,, right?
[11:04]: Home and Student Edition.
[11:04]: Can it be done?
MattPraise the Lord
[11:04]: Are you going to tell me how?
[11:05]: This doesn’t seem like a 32-minute worthy tech issue.
ADMIN: Sure.
ADMIN: I’m sorry for that.
ADMIN: Matt, can Peter access your old computer and retreive the product key for you?
Matt [11:06]: Make it up to me and resolve the issue.
ADMIN: Sure.
MattNot a chance. I wouldn’t let Peter access my Commodore 64, much less this notebook.
[11:07]: Tell me how to do it.
Peter [11:08]: Okay, let me tell you the steps.
Matt [11:08]: I’m not a “what do you mean click on the start menu” sort of nitwit. I know my way around Windows. I just need to be told how to access it. Okay, Peter, tell me. Quickly.
Peter [11:09]: Sure.
[11:10]: Please install the software “Belarc advisor” on your old laptop, in which you have the Offce Home edition full version.
[11:10]: It will automatically retrieve the product key for the Office suit.
[11:11]: Please note down the product key for the Office suit.
[11:12]: Could you please confirm that you have the Office Home edition trial on your new laptop?
Matt [11:14]: Admin?
Peter [11:14]: If you have the Office Home edition trial already on your new laptop, you can convert it to full version by using the product key.
Matt [11:14]: Admin? Hello?
ADMIN: Yes, I’m still online.
MattPeter’s asking me which edition I have. Again.
[11:15]: Can you tell Peter which edition I have?
ADMIN: I’m sorry for that.
MattDid you tell him? I mean type it for him. Not turn to him and tell him. I want to see you tell him. So I know he’s getting it. I’ve wasted 45 minutes of my day and gotten no useful answer.
ADMIN: Matt, as you’ve the trial version installed on the new computer, then you can convert the trial version into full version once you retreive the product key by installing the bellarc advisor.
Matt [11:18]: Which can be downloaded for free from …?
ADMIN: Yes, it can be downloaded for FREE.
Matt …
ADMIN: Please stay online while Peter provide the link.
PeterLet me forward you the link to download “Belarc Advisor”
Matt [11:20]: Peter, go away. I found the link myself. I don’t see “Trusted by Microsoft” anywhere on that page. What assurance do I have, other than “Peter”, that I’m not downloading a big phisher?
Peter [11:20]: Please click on “Download” to downlad the free software.
Matt [11:20]: Peter.
Peter [11:20]: Matt, you’ve only 2 options.
Matt [11:21]: Will I have 3 if I reveal which edition I have of Office?
Peter [11:22]: Download the “BelArc Advisor” OR contact Microsoft Customer care to get the product key.
[11:22]: Matt, only Home and Student Edition has 3 installaions.
Matt [11:23]: Oh no! I have the 2017 edition! I guess I bought the wrong one, huh? Can I downgrade?
[11:24]: Admin, this is ridiculous
Peter [11:24]: Matt, this is Admin here.
Matt [11:24]: Assuming you’re not just Peter with a different handle
Peter [11:24]: No, I’m different.
Matt [11:25]: This is the part where you come in with a cheap fake moustache and a differentt voice, right? I want to hear from Admin that I’m not getting charged for this debacle
Peter [11:25]: I understand that you’re referring to install Office 2007 Home and Student Edition in the third computer. Am I correct?
Matt [11:26]: Peter, not one more word out of you, you idiot
[11:26]: Admin? Hello
[11:26]: I want to hear from Admin that I’m not getting charged for this debacle
ADMIN: You’ll not be charged for this session.

duration 54:37

End Chat

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GOP announces convention delay after Obama speech.

Via MSNBC, this story appeared on the wires last night just after the speech.  Strikethrough via me:

Republican officials said yesterday that they are considering delaying the start of the GOP convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul because of Tropical Storm Obama Gustav, which is on track to hit the Gulf Coast, and possibly New Orleans, as a full-force hurricane early next week.

The threat is serious enough that White House officials are also debating whether President Bush should cancel his scheduled convention appearance on Monday, the first day of the convention, according to administration officials and others familiar with the discussion.

Plus, you know, it isn’t anybody’s birthday.  So he won’t be busy.

Wait, there’s more.

“Senator McCain has always been sensitive to national crisis,” said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds, noting that the senator postponed announcing his presidential candidacy in 2000 because of the war in the Balkans. “We are monitoring the situation very closely.”

Sensitivity plus:

McCain was on Face the Nation on August 28, 2005, as Katrina gathered in the Gulf Coast. He said nothing about it. One day later, when Katrina made landfall in Louisiana, McCain was on a tarmac at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, greeting President Bush with a cake in celebration of McCain’s 69th birthday. Three days later, with the levees already breached and New Orleans filling with water, McCain’s office released a three-sentence statement urging Americans to support the victims of the hurricane.

Though McCain issued a statement the next week calling on Congress to make sacrifices in order to fund recovery efforts, he was quoted in The New Leader on September 1 cautioning against over-spending in support of Katrina’s victims. “We also have to be concerned about future generations of Americans,” he said. “We’re going to end up with the highest deficit, probably, in the history of this country.”

That attitude was borne out in McCain’s actions and votes. Forty Senators and 100 members of Congress visited New Orleans before he did; he finally got there in March 2006. He voted against establishing a Congressional commission to examine the Federal, State, and local responses to Katrina in med-September 2005. He repeated that vote in 2006. He voted against allowing up to 52 weeks of unemployment benefits to people affected by the hurricane, and in 2006 voted against appropriating $109 billion in supplemental emergency funding, including $28 billion for hurricane relief.

Doubtless he’s hunkered down in front of The Weather Channel right now with a snack, combing the internet for umbrellas to order in bulk and ship overnight.

This kind of post, it writes itself, doesn’t it?

We’ll return to not writing about books as regularly scheduled tomorrow.

“Obama’s Challenge” to indie booksellers.

You should go here to read the whole article, but I wanted to get some of the author’s key points on here for folks to consider.

This week, a hefty faction on the left–primarily independent booksellers (following Barnes and Noble’s lead)–is actively boycotting a brave attempt to bring the book-publishing industry into the 21st century, and effectively trying to keep a progressive, pro-Obama (and fact-based) title called Obama’s Challenge out of the marketplace of ideas…

The Obama’s Challenge 75,000 print-run is on a crash schedule, due out September 15, from the independent, activist publishing house Chelsea Green (full disclosure, I worked as an editor/marketer for the house from 2004-2006) in an effort to help fight the smears against Obama in time for the election. The book will go from final edits to bound books in less than four weeks. With so little lead time until the book’s publication date, Chelsea Green publisher Margo Baldwin decided to try an innovative approach for building early buzz by making 2000 early copies of the book available at next week’s Democratic National Convention, as part of a deal with Amazon’s print-on-demand arm, BookSurge…

When news of the deal broke on August 15th, independent booksellers and other online retailers were enraged about the deal with BookSurge, which has Amazon providing the 2000 early copies for the Convention, and 15,000 coupons for the book to go into Convention goody bags, redeemable at Amazon. The deal also makes the book available exclusively through BookSurge’s print-on-demand (POD) service from August 25-September 15, when the formal print-run would be available in all bookstores and via other online retailers, through traditional book distribution channels.

On Monday, former indie nemesis Barnes and Noble cancelled an order for 10,000 copies of Obama’s Challenge and released a statement saying, “The initial order was based on the book being available to all booksellers simultaneously — an even playing field — which is common practice in book publishing.” Many smaller stores are following suit…

I hate to tell you, indie booksellers, but this isn’t just about business. It’s about activism and defeating the right, and getting our messages and ideas out in the most effective ways possible. It’s about not shooting ourselves in the proverbial foot, again. A few thousand POD copies of Obama’s Challenge will lead to more people walking through your doors and asking for the book before the election. Boycotting this book is a mistake, and you know it. Instead of looking backward, find ways to advance your own innovative models and POD services with publishers and the public.

And Barnes and Noble? You’re not fooling anyone with your fake holier-than-thou act…

Again, read the whole thing here.  (Thanks to Maud Newton for pointing this out.)