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When writers want a generic-sounding “Main Street” sort of business name, their default is often “A1 Cleaning” or “AAA Insurance” or something else starting with “A.”

Why?

The phone book.

Back in the days when the phone book was still how people found businesses, putting an “A” at the start of your business name moved you to the top of the list in your particular section. Putting two “As” meant moving above all the other businesses with just one “A.” And putting three “As” was even better, until some jerk came along and realized that an A followed by a number would trump any number of “As” in a row.

Moral of the story: no matter what sorting method you choose, someone is going to figure out how to move to the top of it.

Witness the Amazon Kindle store’s erotica ebooks, sorted by “Publication Date”:

amazon-kindle-store-sorted-by-publication-date

Time traveling porn! It’s a miracle!

Want to know what people will be jacking off to in 2030? Turns out Simon & Schuster can answer that for you. And those titles are all from Simon & Schuster (their “Digital Sales Inc”), which suggests that this is one company’s S.O.P. rather than a widespread practice among ebook authors.

Now, you have to manually choose to sort by publication date. Amazon’s default sorting method is “New and Popular,” which is a whole different algorithm to game. That one relies more on feedback, “starring,” reviews, and other user-submitted data.

So much like the AAA and A1 business names in the old phone books, there’s a limited benefit to the time-traveling porn phenomenon.

I don’t know why Simon & Schuster has decided it was worth buggering the system in this particular manner. You can’t download the future-porn ebooks (though you can pre-order to reserve them, so that you’ll have some hot sexy words waiting for you in 2030 I guess?). And most of them aren’t available in hard copy, so S&S isn’t making any money here. They’re just bumping other people off the front page for…competition of some kind somehow? I honestly don’t know.

But that’s why I write porn instead of working for a giant publishing conglomerate, I guess.

Simon & Schuster — more like “Simony & Shyster,” amirite?

But really, not that big of a deal. Just entertaining.