I’ve been working on this post for a couple of weeks. Some of the delay has been real life issues, and some because I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what I want to say.
Recently, Amazon announced that they were removing all ‘abuse’ and ‘incest’ pornography. On the face this includes rape erotica and other taboo stories, unfortunately it’s not only erotica getting taken down, but books that have “suspicious” titles or descriptions. I could give a long list of non-erotica authors (with non-erotica work) that has been targeted and taken down, meaning they are losing sales until they can get Amazon to acknowledge that – whoops! – they made a mistake, but there’s more to this issue than the collateral damage.
Of course, it should be easy to stay in Amazon’s guidelines, and anyone who hits that publish button knowing that they have broken those rules should be prepared for removal, right? Sadly, Amazon’s guidelines are pretty hard to nail down. the site itself says this:
We don’t accept pornography or offensive depictions of graphic sexual acts.
What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect.
Isn’t it nice how much wiggle room that gives them? Obviously, incest rape is offensive and needs to be removed, right? Then why has Amazon NOT removed many of VC Andrews’ titles? As someone whose read all her early books, I guarantee that not only is there incest in nearly every book (including father/daughter, half-brother/half-sister and even full brother/sister), but rape in several of them. Of course, VC Andrews (or whoever the guy is who writes them now) has a big advantage.
They’re NOT self published.
And that, of course, makes the books – and many more like it that are traditionally published -“legitimate” books as opposed to the so-called “offensive trash” of the self published world. “They should just get rid of all that self-published crap that clogs up the market and outsells their traditional books.”
Indy authors were outraged by this, so what did many do? Why, they put out a call to battle, a challenge to arms, and suggested that all of the “legitimate” indy writers with their “legitimate” books should band together and take a stand against this erotica. “They should just get rid of that dirty crap that clogs up the market and outsells their own, non erotica, books.”
Sound familiar? It’s like watching them turn into the very thing they purport to hate.
The principle argument for removal, and for the hallelujah chorus as books are axed, is that erotica books don’t belong on Amazon where innocent children can see them and become forever scarred. They belong in adult stores next to the adult movies and adult toys, which of course Amazon doesn’t sell . (If you follow the links you’ll note both are sold on Amazon and as freely accessible to minors as those ebooks).
I can’t help but wonder how long it will be before that joyful choir is singing a different tune. Today it’s those erotica books that “cheapen” all self-published writers, but tomorrow it may be the horror novels, the serial killer stories, or the religious books that get removed because they “offend” someone.
Or maybe, it will be YOUR book.
I only hope if it is, that someone shows you some support instead of suggesting we should disown your non-legitimate work and wish you good riddance.
You note when paypal demanded Smashwords take down books, Mark Coker went to bat for erotica authors. What has Amazon done? makes you wonder why we’re all so fast to publish there and buy from them…
Here’s a really good article on the whole thing - http://www.the-digital-reader.com/2013/10/13/amazon-bn-whsmith-now/#.UnB-CI0jIeo
- How one author’s science fiction noir novel fell victim to the online erotica purge (deathandtaxesmag.com)
- Kobo: There Are Some Books We Won’t Sell (the-digital-reader.com)
- This is Not The First Time That Amazon Has Removed Adult Content Without Warning or Good Reason (the-digital-reader.com)
- Lessons for independent authors from the Great Erotica Panic of 2013 (bostonwriters.wordpress.com)
- Amazon Burns Me at the Stake (jtpetersauthor.wordpress.com)
- SmutTalk: Censored! (kdwestwrites.wordpress.com)