Why Amazon’s New LGTBQ+ Children’s Category Matters

From Publishers Weekly:

“The addition of this category is certainly something to celebrate. It also raises the question: why was queer representation an afterthought?”

As the marketing director for a small publisher, I’m very familiar with the power of Amazon categories. Although I am Team Bookstore, not Team Bezos, Amazon is not just a reseller—it has become the search engine for books.

Amazon has more than 10,000 book categories to choose from—including subjects as niche as woodworking and Arthurian folktales. Choosing the right category affects a title’s discoverability and even credibility with bestseller lists.

Which is why it was surprising when an author I work with, Julie Schanke Lyford, noticed something missing from the Amazon page for her children’s book, Katy Has Two Grampas: there was no LGBTQ+ category for kid lit.

This felt like an oversight—Amazon is known for its sophisticated algorithm. Many general categories have children’s books counterparts, such as physics, Renaissance history, and disaster relief and preparedness. Classification gets granular: fiction vs. nonfiction, print vs. Kindle, and even paid vs. free e-books. But representation for queer kid lit was noticeably missing.

“The hardest thing was having LGBTQ+ still thought of as something other than family,” Lyford explained. Her picture book, which she coauthored with her father, Lambda Literary Award finalist Robert A. Schanke, is one of the few picture books to depict married, gay grandfathers as part of the family unit.

So beginning in December 2020, Lyford contacted Amazon’s support team via emails, phone calls, and even snail mail. Sometimes representatives expressed surprise that the category didn’t already exist. Other times they recommended that she choose an existing children’s category, like Growing Up and Facts of Life.

But Lyford was persistent. And the LGTBQ+ Families children’s book category launched just a few days before January 2022. [Amazon declined to comment for this article.]

“Amazon adding this category is a huge win for the LGBTQ+ community,” says Alaina Lavoie, program manager at We Need Diverse Books. “Many people intentionally seek out children’s books that include LGBTQ+ parents and families. This makes it much easier to find these books as the category grows.”

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

PG will remind one and all that he does not agree with everything he posts on TPV.

That said, although PG is and has always has been a throughgoing heterosexual, he had a couple of college friends who were in and out of the closet over a period of years. Their problems were significant during that era and each had a tough, closeted life until reaching their 30’s.

Thereafter, one took the path toward homosexuality and the other was eventually married to a member of the opposite sex. PG has only heard about them and not seen them since leaving college, but he has always wished them well and respected them as intelligent, kind and capable human beings.

7 thoughts on “Why Amazon’s New LGTBQ+ Children’s Category Matters”

  1. Because, as we all know, kids who don’t even know what sex is need to know about all about different sexual identities.

    • According to the majority of definitions, “Q” is for any orientation that is not “cisheterosexual.” But some that do not fit into the “LGBT” classifications objected to “Q,” as it has a pejorative and sometimes illegal connotation – as in “queer (counterfeit) money.” So they added “+” to handle those people, so that absolutely everybody (except the majority) is included. They’d be well into the code page for Klingon otherwise…

      Now, this is rather unfair to the majority of people, in my opinion. For example, I could be classified with something like a digraph of “M” and “H.” (If I cared. My orientation is only a small part of my identity.)

      • I completely missed the +.

        OK. That would mean LGB are subsets of Q. But, there must be some other subset of Q. Otherwise, why have Q?

        This stuff isn’t easy. I think we need more than the five letters to be accurate and fair. Q sounds like someone just didn’t want to add “etc.” I knew there was a reason for matrix algebra.

        • “Q” is supposed to encompass (besides “LGBT”) ones who are “asexual,” “solosexual,” “transsexual”* and so on. There is one group that uses “LGBTTTIIAAA” (I may have the frequency of repeated letters wrong, there, it’s been a while). I occasionally pity the poor “woke” academic who is supposed to keep track of all of them. Or the programmer who has to keep making more room for the dropdowns on social media sites – two dropdowns, one for “gender” and one for “form of address.”

          * By the way, the first place I ever heard “transsexual” (which is apparently not the same as “transgender”) was in Rocky Horror Picture Show. I have no idea on the difference, except maybe the former denotes attraction to space aliens?

          • As to to programming the dropdowns:

            When Microsoft released their press release announcing their agreement to buy ActivisionBlizzardKing they linked to a blog post where they slipped in a since neglected reorganization of their gaming units into what is effectively a wholly-owned subsidiary with its own CEO by presenting the organizational structure of “MICROSOFT GAMING” via a matrix of the top level execs featuring a foto, name, title, and *preferred pronoun*.

            https://news.xbox.com/en-us/2022/01/18/welcoming-activision-blizzard-to-microsoft-gaming/

            A particularly sly move since the only reason Activision is for sale (and at a bargain) is their string of “scandals” and lawsuits alleging a toxic work environment. Very un diversity-friendly and aggressively productivity obssessed by most accounts. And, amusingly, the entire leadership team’s “preferred pronoubs” line up with the traditional genetic x/y pronouns. Tricky folks.

            I expect their HR database has lots of blank columns for future expansion to accomodate further atomization of employee identity preferences. 🙂

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