Kobo Takes Action to Quell Self-Published Erotica Titles


Self-published authors and small presses have had a number of their titles pulled from the Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Amazon bookstores due to an erotic firestorm. This was attributed to hardcore material being listed side by side with kids material on most major bookstores. Kobo has taken action by deleting erotic content and just published an update to authors participating in Kobo Writing Life.

The Director of Kobo Writing Life Mark Lefebvre released the following statement to all self-published authors. “As you may be aware, there has been a significant amount of negative media attention in the UK regarding offensive material that became available across a number of eBook platforms. Kobo was included in the reports from media and we are taking immediate action to resolve an issue that is the direct result of a select few authors and publishers violating Kobo’s content policies.

In order to address the situation Kobo is taking the following steps, We are removing titles in question from the Kobo platform. We are quarantining and reviewing titles to ensure that compliance to our policies is met by all authors and publishers. We will ensure that content meeting the policy is made available online as soon as possible. We are reviewing our policies and procedures to implement safeguards that will ensure this situation does not happen in the future.”

Mark went on to mention “Our goal at Kobo is not to censor material; we support freedom of expression. Further, we want to protect the reputation of self-publishing as a whole. You have our promise that we will do all we can to ensure the exceptions that have caused this current situation will not have a lasting effect on what is an exciting new channel that connects Readers to a wealth of books.”

Michael Kozlowski (5210 Posts)

Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about electronic readers and technology for the last four years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the Huffington Post, CNET and more. Michael frequently travels to international events such as IFA, Computex, CES, Book Expo and a myriad of others. If you have any questions about any of his articles, please send an email to michael@goodereader.com

  • fionaingram

    Good for Kobo. Finally strong action. Paedophiles can read and if the authorities are prepared to arrest people and charge them on possession of images of paedophilia, then surely allowing this kind of material is tantamount to having images. This time the material is just couched in words, but judging from some of the horrifying titles, it is just as bad. Censorship is a tricky thing but I feel that allowing this contentious material to be freely available will send a message to paedophiles condoning it. Unfortunately, it will all simply go underground.

  • Victoria Rouch

    If Paedophiles can read, then why isn’t Lolita being pulled?

  • fionaingram

    I noticed a couple of titles (e.g. Flowers in the Attic) mentioned in this furore and I can only imagine that Nabokov is deemed literature (and thereby protected) and these other self-published offerings fall sadly into a deep abyss with no literary content, only fuelling the perverse dreams of people who have had their access to images reduced. This is something I don’t understand and it’s hard not to have a Kobo-like response and yank everyone off the shelves. I think one’s first instinct should be to protect children and then discuss literary merit. I think that if there is a computer program to track plagiarism then surely publishers can come up with something that flags particular content, like phrases or words.

  • Victoria Rouch

    Well, thank *goodness* there is someone out there to deem things “literature.” (heavy sarcasm intended)
    And thank goodness the people who originally deemed Lolita “smut” and sought to have it banned because of content did not get their way. If memory serves, “Flowers in the Attic” has also been the target of numerous bans.
    I suppose in the perfect world, the readers would decide what is and is not literature. I personally think “Fifty Shades of Grey” is just an awful, awful book. It’s dreck. However, should I use my own literary judgment to deem it something you should not be able to read? I think not.
    What you fail to realize, fionagram, is that had “Flowers in the Attic” been published today by an indie press rather than when it was published, it would be among those pulled. But who am i to argue with someone unable to grasp the irony of her own position?

  • SR Roddy

    Did you really just defend a book that consists of incest(between two children), imprisonment and murder(also involving children)? Calling it literature and therefore protected followed by the statement that we should be protecting children? What one person considers literature someone else might consider disgusting. The fact is they are targeting self published authors. This isn’t just about books with inappropriate content.

  • fionaingram

    Veronica and SR Roddy: I am not defending either NABOKOV OR Flowers. IF YOU READ MY COMMENT I said I read that these titles were MENTIONED in the furore, meaning someone ELSE!!!! (the Guardian UK) wrote an article about this issue and mentioned these titles. Can’t you read? I also said ‘I can only imagine” a reason being that Nabokov escapes the hit list because of being ‘considered’ literature. For heavens sake, can no one comment any more without ‘heavy sarcasm’ from people when all I intended was to give my opinion. I think that many books – self or indie or trad published – skate very near the edge of what is acceptable or not. Since neither of you has actually finished reading my original comment let me paste it here. “I think one’s first instinct should be to protect children and then discuss literary merit. I think that if there is a computer program to track plagiarism then surely publishers can come up with something that flags particular content, like phrases or words.” I don’t want to argue with either of you. I think this discussion is over.

  • Louisa

    I think there is actually some software used by universities around the world to detect plagiarism in students submissions of work.

  • qianqong


  • Shawna Fields

    Hey, it’s not the self-published author’s fault that Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo put erotic titles next to kids material. Get your categories straight in a CMS system instead of removing the titles altogether for Gawd’s sake! Why punish the writer because these idiots can’t lay a site out with common sense. I was reading an article https://www.slixa.com/under-cover/461-amazon-puts-the-kibosh-on-self-published that explains how the self published authors are hurting financially because of the sweeping censorship that’s taking place.