I hate to be the bearer of bad news twice in a week, but here we go again. This time it’s the folks over at Barnes and Noble. I’ve had reports (that I’ve now verified) that erotic keywords are being severely restricted. A search for “menage” comes up with a total of 3,661 titles. BDSM returns 6,988 titles, and incest comes back with just over 1,000 titles. Subkinks (like father-daughter or mother-son incest) are coming up at 20 to 40 total. Now, I haven’t checked the erotica keyword search results on Barnes and Noble in over a year, I admit, but back then, menage returned somewhere around 175,000 results, BDSM 110,000, incest about 80,000. For menage to suddenly come back with less than 4,000 books – it’s pretty clear that something’s happened.
Another interesting search restriction that’s been verified is that searching for a publisher on Barnes and Noble returns no results (unless the publisher’s name is in an anthology or listed somewhere other than the “publisher” field – our Excessica anthologies come up, for example, but none of our books do, and yes, they used to!) From Excessica to MacMillan – no results. For small publishers, this is a disaster. Many small pubs have spent years building a brand, and have readers who search those publishers for new books on the larger distributors. This eliminates that as an option (unless you do a search from Google – the results clearly come up there – which serves to prove further that this is a Barnes and Noble restriction.)
The conclusion we can draw here is that publishers and keywords are now restricted from the general search on Barnes and Noble.
My guess is this – Barnes and Noble is using a nuclear “quick fix” option. (Like when they dropped ranks on books by 1000 a few years ago – or anchored other books to keep them out of the Top 100…) They wanted to make keywords unsearchable going into the holiday season and in doing so they had to turn off publishers as a search term. I think keywords and publisher search were linked in their system somehow. So when they shut off one, they shut off the other–like throwing off a breaker to turn off one light in the house.
And now, we’ll see – but I think they’ll move on to individual books that have keyword-stuffed titles still coming up in searches. Because those are the books still showing when you search for things like “menage” and “BDSM.” Most of them have long keyword-stuffed titles that Barnes and Noble’s search engine is still finding. Suppressing publisher and keyword searches decimated the titles available that come up in a search – and made less work for them. Now instead of 200K titles they have to comb through, they have to go through only a fraction of that.
If you’re an erotica author thinking, “Ohhh! I’ll just keyword-stuff my titles then!” let me say one thing – I wouldn’t if I were you.
Earlier this year, Barnes and Noble threatened to close Excessica’s account if we didn’t get rid of keywords in parenthesis after our titles. We had to go through and remove them all and clean things up or face being banned from publishing on Barnes and Noble. I didn’t blog about it at the time because we seemed to be targeted as a publisher – I didn’t hear anything through the erotica grapevine about it happening across the board. I’m sure a few others were targeted as well, but it didn’t seem to be widespread.
This, however, is a sweeping change I think all erotica authors need to know about. I know, in the wake of KU 2.0, many erotica authors went wide with their books and were starting to gain some traction on Barnes and Noble. I have a feeling this is going to ruin Christmas for quite a few.
Thanks, Barnes and Noble. Amazon didn’t give us any warning or use any lube, but just because you got sloppy seconds doesn’t make it hurt any less.
Pass the eggnog, erotica authors. We’re gonna need it. Because while the storefronts will be safe “for the children!” this holiday season, none of the grownups will be able to find your books. Again.