Yesterday, Good e-Reader radio posted an hour-long discussion of the current controversy surrounding the removal of self-published titles from specific UK retailers’ websites, an issue that affects an estimated one-third of self-published titles, according to Digital Book World’s data. While there is no clear solution to the issue, several indie authors have begun circulating a petition at change.org asking to not be forgotten.
One of the key aspects to the controversy that has been overlooked by both authors and readers is that Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo are not at fault here; in this particular instance, they are not the retailer, they are the distributor. As such, a separate retailer who derives its content from the self-publishing platforms built by those three entities has the right to say, “We’re not selling certain content.” It would be akin to a religious ebook website only allowing religious or inspirational titles, and shunning mainstream fiction, even age-appropriate and non-inflammatory titles.
The intro to the petition states that “we are all consenting adults,” but that has also not proven to be the case. While there is no evidence yet that the erotica titles that ended up in the children’s ebook section were placed there intentionally, and there is also no evidence yet that children were affected by being able to see inappropriate titles or cover art, the fact remains that children could easily be exposed to adult content. Until that possibility is resolved, the retailers have demanded that no industry-vetted content make its way to their platforms.
It is important to note the Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble are not refusing to sell these titles from their own platforms, and that the self-published titles have not been removed from every international market. It is also important for authors to understand that in many countries, there is simply no “right to publish,” and that the “gift” of publication can be revoked according to their laws.
For their parts, the authors who are concerned enough to petition for readmittance to the ebook stores do raise a valid point: erotica has become mainstream fiction. Why are the erotica authors the targets here, and not crime thrillers or horror fiction writers, for example? And where does this level of pseduo-censorship stop? Will we see retailers refusing to sell books that have profanity within the text?
Authors and readers can weigh in by signing the petition, found HERE.