Ok so I'm making the assumption most of you have seen the angry reaction of many readers and writers and others to the decision by Kobo to remove ALL self-published books from their website due to sensationalised stories that accused WH Smith and Amazon of profiting from 'filth.'
There's a ton of rumours going on but I will deal with the facts that I know:
1. My books--including my trad pubbed ones--are no longer on Kobo. A large percentage of small presses have also been hit by this clearance because they use the same publishing platform. I know this from speaking with many friends.
2. According to an email send out to Kobo Writing Life members, Kobo plan to put books back once they've 'quarantined' titles and manually reviewed them.
3. Amazon have taken steps to hide and remove several of my friend's erotica titles.
So firstly, yes, I'm angry. This is my livliehood and though Kobo barely made me a penny, in this current ecnonomic climate, every penny counts. For now, we have no information on how long this process will take.
Secondly, why is this purge only focused on indie/small press books when we know full well there's a ton of 'filth' widely available through large presses? I don't remember WH Smith worrying about teenagers purchasing 50SOG from their large displays in store?
And what concerns me most is the major overreaction from supposedly intelligent people. I am hoping they're intelligent seeing as they run a big company. One would assume it took some brains but now I'm not so sure... The journalism that led to this was blatant sensationalism. The titles they were reffering too were very much in the minority and sites like Amazon and Smashwords have things in place to help prevent underage buyers from reading them. The erotica category on Amazon keeps things hidden from general searches and Smashwords hide content like that unless you select that you're over 18. We all know that clicking a button saying that doesn't stop you from viewing that stuff if you want to bad enough but nor do the buttons on porn sites and Literiotica.
Kobo really should have looked at themselves first rather than pursuing a costly and timely course of action. What are they doing to protect people whilst allowing readers the freedom to read what they want?
Their response? Delete everything from those sordid indies and small press publishers. Surely the easiest step would have been to put into place some filters and then start reviewing those which blatantly break their T&C's. And I mean those ones that actually do. Not the ones that are naughty or have something in them that not everyone gets, like BDSM.
Whilst Amazon's actions don't seem to be as dramatic and actually erotica deletions are not uncommon, I hope and pray they continue to give readers what they want. Having dealt with their customer service, I applaud the support they give to authors in helping them make their books readily available and for the manual reviews books go through but as we know there's clearly some issues with what some reviewers see as acceptable and what others don't. Books that are well within Amazon's T&C's have been removed whilst other titles against them still seem to be standing. A little more clarity on what the do and don't accept would be good. Like... side-boob bad, manly chest good. (I'm quoting this from a friend who had to change her cover because of said issue.)
So... in the meantime, do sign this petition. Whilst Kobo state that most of these titles will return, I think kicking up a stink at their thoughtless actions isn't a bad thing. And maybe the papers that sensationalise such stories should look at their own content. Last time I looked, a lot took great pleasure in splashing stories I'd rather forget in front of my children in a very definitely fictional manner.