Saturday, October 31, 2020
Oct. 31, 2020

Linkedin Pinterest

Target knocked for how its website handles books


Target has come under fire from publishers and authors for bleeping out some words — including “Nazis,” “transgender,” “queer” and “bondage” — from the descriptions of a variety of books on its website.

Among the titles whose blurbs were scrubbed by the company’s automated process are “Trans: A Quick and Quirky Account of Gender Variability,” by Jack Halberstam, “Double Cross: The True Story of D-Day Spies” by Ben Macintyre and “No Property in Man: Slavery and Antislavery at the Nation’s Founding,” by Sean Wilentz.

The word “stripper” was bleeped out of the description of Roxane Gay’s book “Difficult Women.”

The matter was first reported in a Thursday article in Publisher’s Weekly.

On Thursday, Target spokeswoman Jenna Reck said the company recently learned that the words “were being inadvertently removed from book descriptions” on the company’s site.

“Like most online retailers,” Reck said in a statement, “Target doesn’t want profanity and other select words to appear on our website in an effort to ensure a positive shopping experience.”

She added that removing the words “was an oversight on our part and they should be included. We’re working to update our site with the descriptions that were provided to Target by the book publishers.”

Publisher’s Weekly reported that Target had reinstated some of the words on Wednesday, two days after author Cael Keegan had brought the issue to the company’s attention. Keegan’s book, “Lana and Lilly Wachowski: Sensing Transgender,” published by the University of Illinois Press, explores work by the Wachowski sisters, the transgender filmmakers behind such movies as “The Matrix” series.

Although the matter has been resolved in Keegan’s case, other descriptions remain peppered with asterisks.