Amazon Broadens Its Online Bookstore with a New Adult Disability Fiction Category
on May 12, 2022
Amazon plans to introduce a new disability fiction classification to its Adult Fiction department, which is a huge development.
Amazon frequently uses publishing industry standard Thema codes, which are utilised by publishers and retailers to improve book sales, make titles more discoverable, and their subject matter consistent across international marketplaces.
Following a reform to the Thema categorization scheme, authors and publishers can now add the new Thema code to the book's metadata, making it easier for readers to specifically explore and recognise works with disability themes and giving the genre some much-needed increased attention.
Striving to be acknowledged
The decision to embrace the new genre by the Jeff Bezos-owned internet giant came as a consequence of relentless advocacy earlier this year by writers Penny Batchelor and Victoria Scott - two authors who extensively discuss disability in their novels.
The authors of My Perfect Sister (RedDoor Press) and Patience (Head of Zeus) collaborated because they were both frustrated with not being able to get their novels adequately categorised so that prospective readers interested in disability-related topics could immediately and easily discover them.
Following a series of emails to Amazon, industry websites, and Tweets, the breakthrough came when Batchelor approached the Society of Authors for help in exerting extra pressure to online retailers.
Though, on the surface and to those inexperienced with the publishing industry, disability fiction may appear to be a rather narrow issue, this assumption is completely debunked when one examines the subcategories that existed prior to disability fiction.
These include phrases like "Exploring the arctic regions," "rural humour," and the colloquial term "Lad Lit," which refers to stories about the exploits of young males.
It is true that disability is being pushed to the edges in many sectors of life, but it is more astounding and disheartening, considering that about 15% of the world population lives with some sort of disability, to see it edged out by themes with considerably narrower specialisation.
"It's a tiny win," Scott spoke of the news to The Bookseller. It isn't going to alter the world, but I believe it will make an impact just by increasing visibility. We're not looking for a special area in bookstores or anything. We just want it acknowledged that there are books that feature this, and that they are not niche literature.
"There have been many mainstream stories with handicapped characters throughout history, and it's just great for it to be there... simply to have disability mentioned, it's not in a corner being disregarded as disabled people are so frequently."
These feelings are shared by fellow campaigner Batchelor, who stated earlier this year in a blog post advertising the topic:
"However, when it comes to societal effects, it's another case of disability being missing, disregarded, marginalized, and excluded, something disabled people have long experienced and worked against." Both Victoria and I feel that representation and recognising oneself as a part of culture and society are critical in our varied society. To coin a term, "you have to see it to believe it."
An Amazon spokeswoman commented on the development, saying:
“In line with the updated Thema codes for use across the industry, Amazon has added a Disability Fiction category under (Adult) Fiction. This is in addition to the other disability categories already in place, e.g. Children’s Physical Disabilities or Young Adult Disabilities. Once publishers use the Thema codes in their books metadata, those titles will appear within this new classification.”
Getting to know you better
Towards that purpose, disability inclusion and portrayal are critical in all areas of arts and culture, including Hollywood and tv, but books must certainly play a unique role?
Only in long-form writing can a character's entire complexity and all the attendant incidentals be explored.
Rather than racing to a dramatic conclusion at breakneck pace, as movies frequently do, books can afford to take the leisurely route.
Aside from the primary story aspects, we frequently learn about a character's habits, routines, social interactions, attitudes, and, in the case of disabled characters, the adaptations they use to operate in the world.
If the media and the arts may help shine a light on disability, well-crafted writing can be one of the brightest torches of all, and people eager to learn more now know exactly how and where to look.