Target removed many LGBTQ+ books from their website. No one knows exactly why.
A small mystery: last week, writers on Twitter discovered that many LGBTQ+ books were been missing from Target’s website after previously being listed on the site for pre-order.
Not to be alarmist, but my book, a gay rom-com, was up for pre-order at @Target earlier this year
And now it's gone? Along with some other queer debut books?? While the straight titles from my publisher remain?!
I really hope there's a logical explanation
— Brian D. Kennedy (@bdkennedybooks) March 25, 2022
In his Twitter thread, debut author Brian D. Kennedy (author of A Little Bit Country, coming from Balzer + Bray this May) noted that of the five debut YA books coming out from his publisher this year, two were available on the site, while three were not—and all three missing books had LGBTQ+ themes.
Kennedy’s thread prompted many other queer authors to check their books—and they were missing. Seeing these tweets, author Miel Moreland created a spreadsheet to track the missing LGBTQ+ titles. “People did not feel it was a deliberate, malicious act on the part of Target,” Moreland told Publishers Weekly. “Target overall is a much more queer-friendly corporation than some others, like Disney for example. But it does beg the question of why did this happen? Why is it primarily queer books?” (Target also came under fire in 2018 for redacting words like “queer,” “transgender,” and even “Nazi” from book descriptions.)
It’s unclear what exactly happened; when reached out to, Target responded via email, “During a recent website refresh, we learned that several books were inadvertently removed from our assortment. We’re looking into the changes with our team and publishers and working quickly to return any books that were removed in error.” They gave identical statements to Publishers Weekly and Newsweek, maintaining that the missing books were the result of a website error.
Then, the books started returning to the site; the majority of the books on Moreland’s list have now repopulated on the website (indicated by a green highlight on the list), and the list is continuing to be updated. No further statement has been made by Target.
“Personally, I would be very relieved to know that this was all done in error,” Kennedy told Newsweek. “It was scary to see how many LGBTQIA authors responded on Twitter by saying their books were no longer available, either. Given everything that’s going on with LGBTQIA books being banned from schools and libraries, and the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, we’re in a landscape where, unfortunately, queer authors have to be thinking about and watching for these kinds of situations.”