Monday, December 13, 2010

Guest Post by Selena Kitt

Like many others, I've been keenly watching Amazon.com, and their current efforts to delist ebooks dealing with certain taboo topics. It seems as if Amazon is taking down ebooks and print books that focus on incest erotica.

Though I have no skin in this game (unless I ever revisit my long-delayed project My Hard-On Belongs To Daddy) I am a bit concerned. As a company, Amazon has every right to choose what it sells and doesn't sell. In my opinion, this isn't a censorship or freedom of speech issue. It's a retail issue.

That said, because Amazon isn't being specific about what they consider inappropriate, this could easily turn into a slippery slope.

Since I'm not affected by this, I asked one of the authors who is affected, Selena Kitt, if she'd like to chime in. Selena wrote this essay (also posted at The Self Publishing Review) and kindly let me repost it.

I look forward to the heated debate in the comments section.

Amazon in the Book Banning Business
by Selena Kitt

On December 9, 2010, I was contacted by CreateSpace (Amazon’s Print on Demand service) who publishes my print books. They informed me that my title, Back to the Garden, had been removed for violating their “content guidelines.” When I consulted their guidelines I found them so vague as to be useless—were they saying my content was illegal? Public domain? Stolen? Offensive? (All of these were on the list). When I inquired as to the specifics of the violation, they were not forthcoming, and sent a form letter response stating that Amazon “may, in its sole discretion, at any time, refuse to list or distribute any content that it deems inappropriate.”

On Sunday, December 12, the print title that had been removed had now disappeared from the Kindle store, as well as two of my other titles, Naughty Bits and Under Mr. Nolan’s Bed. I have over fifty titles selling on Amazon, all of them in erotic fiction categories. The only thing these three singled-out titles had in common, besides being written by me—they were all erotic incest fantasy fiction.

About this time, I heard that two other authors, Jess C. Scott and Esmerelda Green, both had erotic incest-related titles removed from Amazon's site. After some research, I discovered one of Frances Gaines Bennett’s incest-related books had also been removed. As the night wore on, and public outcry about censorship and banned books began on Twitter at #amazonfail and #amazoncensors and on their own Kindle Boards, more and more incest-related erotica titles began to disappear from the Amazon site, so that the “Kindle Incest” search page began to look like swiss cheese. Teleread covered the story soon after.

When some of my readers began checking their Kindle archives for books of mine they’d purchased on Amazon, they found them missing from their archives. When one reader called to get a refund for the book she no longer had access to, she was chastised by the Amazon customer service representative about the “severity” of the book she’d chosen to purchase.

As of this writing, Amazon has refused to respond to my emails or phone calls in regards to this matter and has refused to further clarify what, if any, content guidelines the books in question violate. If Amazon had clear guidelines that were applied to all publishers across every platform and enforced them consistently, this would be a moot issue. By not clearly stating their position and choosing books either arbitrarily or based on searches of top-rated titles which are the most visible titles in the genre, they seem to be deliberately hiding a clear case of discrimination and what amounts to censorship (albeit ipso facto) because of their lack of transparency.

I want to be clear that while the subject of incest may not appeal to some, there is no underage contact in any of my work, and I make that either explicitly clear in all my stories or I state it up front in the book's disclaimer. I don't condone or support actual incest, just as someone who writes mysteries about serial killers wouldn't condone killing. What I write is fiction. It's fantasy, not reality. And I'm not saying what I write isn't controversial, but it's not illegal (at least in some states) or a threat to national security, and seems as undeserving of censorship as... well...

As fellow author, Will Belegon, noted, if Amazon is going to start pulling books with incest in them: "I just re-read Genesis 19: 30-38 and realized that Lot's daughters got him drunk, had sex with him and bore sons. I demand you follow your clear precedent and remove The Bible from Kindle."

Or perhaps Amazon should create a new television ad after they follow their clear precedent and ban the book the woman is reading in the advertisement on her Kindle ("Sleepwalking" by Amy Bloom) which tells the story of a 19-year-old boy who has a sexual encounter with his stepmother, which, in some states, is legally incest.

While it can be said that, for an author or celebrity, any press (including bad press) is good press, for a bookseller and publisher, that does not necessarily hold true. Can Amazon afford the bad press about book removal which may spark outcries from many corners, including self-publishing authors, the fastest-growing segment of their Kindle ebook distribution?

In speculating on the motivations of Amazon’s actions, as they have not been forthcoming with any statement or explanation, I am concerned that they may be acting out of reactionary fear. This may be based on pressure from a small number of vocal and complaining conservative and/or religious right extremists who object to and are afraid of sexual fantasies and erotic printed material (including incest fantasies). It may also be based on threatening governmental pressure related to the recently removed WikiLeaks. More speculation may point to overzealous lawyering as Amazon moves from just-distributor and bookseller to publisher.

While I am not a lawyer, constitutional scholar or legal expert on free speech and intellectual freedom, I am an author and publisher and know that, regardless of the technical legalities of Amazon's actions, buckling to this pressure and the removal of books will hurt their bottom line. It will damage relationships with readers, authors, publishers and organizations such as the American Library Association and the ACLU, among others, who are interested in supporting free speech. I should also note that I am a professional psychologist and, while no longer licensed or working in the field, it’s clear that when individuals and organizations fail to recognize the difference between fantasy and reality, problems such as this result.

300 comments:

1 – 200 of 300   Newer›   Newest»
David H. Burton said...

I went through something similar at both Amazon and B&N over the content of my first novel and my use of the word 'queer' to describe myself. Hopefully this will pass soon for you.

P.S. The biblical reference was brilliant!

Mark said...

"And I'm not saying what I write isn't controversial, but it's not illegal (at least in some states) or a threat to national security, and seems as undeserving of censorship as... well..."

Selena, I doubt they pulled your books because they wanted to exercise censorship over something the hoohahs at Amazon disagreed with. My guess is they pulled them for business reasons. They don't want to deal with the potential controversy of selling books with erotica about incest.

And if it is a business reason, then you need to make a business case for not pulling the books and hope Amazon sees it your way.

Then again, maybe it's all a mistake on an individual at Amazon's part and not a corporate stance.

I am curious if this incident will keep you from penning future books about incest? If you know you are unlikely to get Amazon to sell an incest title, will you eschew creating new ones?

Joe Konrath said...

They don't want to deal with the potential controversy of selling books with erotica about incest.

The controversy of pulling books because of content is going to hurt a lot worse for Amazon...

Selena Kitt said...

Thanks for posting it, Joe!

@Mark - I have a sequel to Under Mr Nolan's Bed written and set for January. It won't be released. I was in the middle of writing a sequel to Naughty Bits - but I won't finish it. Amazon has won that argument - I have effectively censored myself.

And I agree, it is a business decision. And a business has a right to say "yes" or "no" to something. It's true, I write (some) incest fiction. It's quite good and it sells very well.

And if Amazon had said to me, back when I published my books with them over a year ago, “We don’t publish this type of fiction,” I would have been fine with that.

But that's not what happened. What happened is that Amazon published my books and made money off them for over a year... and THEN they took my books down - and notified me about it two days later. They took my books out of people's Kindle archives - and didn't notify them at all.

So what Amazon did was to start enforcing “rules” that were not consistently enforced in the past, and not even warn people that they were going to do so.

So if it was a business decision - it was a very, very bad one, handled quite poorly. But this is the way of Amazon - these stealth tactics.

They banned Wikileaks. They banned the pedophile book. Before that, they were banning adult video games.

If Amazon doesn't want certain material on their site, that's fine. But now that they are a "publisher," then they need to employ the folks to do what publishers do - discern. Before the book goes to market, they either need to say "yes" or "no" to the content.

If they aren't going to do that, they're going to have to do what they're doing now - go back and delete, willy-nilly, the "offensive" material, create a huge public outcry and backlash, and this, too, takes time and resources (and a bigger toll on their image!)

There will come a point of critical mass. This slippery slope is slipperier than you think, because we're not just talking about banning "certain" books. We're talking about, what happens when Amazon decides it's just too much of a hassle to publish indie authors at all anymore?

Marie Simas said...

I am concerned that they may be acting out of reactionary fear.

This is exactly the reason. I think it's bullshit that Amazon pulled the Kindle archives for books that people had already legally purchased (ulike the 1984 saga, which was a legitimate copyright issue).

I think that the merketing people at Amazon are just thinking, "Fuck! We're damned if we do, and damned if we don't!"

Bingo.

They are just doing a cost/benefit analysis and saying: how can we keep the highest number of our customers happy and also keep Fox News off our ass?

Once Woody Allen and all the other people who enjoy incest start being Amazon's main customer base, I'm sure they will gladly carry a varied selection of CP and Incest Erotica. Until then, Amazon will decide with their pocketbook.

The more telling commentary is that more authors don't just give up and go to Smashwords-- but all of you still want the money, am I right?

Amazon is like the asshole dad that says, "If you want to live under my roof, you need to play by my rules. Now go pick a switch so I can beat your ass."

Tim A Martin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I certainly hope Amazon retains an absolute right to select what it will and will not sell, unencumbered by authors or publishers or government bureaucrats. If buyers don't like Amazon's screening process -- they think it too vague, too restrictive, too whatever -- then don't shop at Amazon.

Personally, I'm delighted to see these sorts of books removed from Amazon's cyber-shelves. It reassures me that the world's collective conscious is still at work on some minimal level. My only quibble might be, Amazon should be explicit about whatever they are going to exclude, be it erotica or incest or whatever element it is that they are disallowing. And yes, it should be their absolute right to interpret those terms and exclusions however they wish, without having to defend their definition of "erotica" or "is" or any other term.

Just as I support Selena's right to publish stories of any content, retailers have the right to be selective about their merchandise. Selena will just have to find another venue, be it her website, a brick-and-mortar store, or another on-line retailer. And if she can't find a venue that accepts her work (highly unlikely, but just to cover this possibility), then she'll just have to hand-sell it herself.

It's called the American free-market system, and it's the best in the world.

I usually post using my account but I'm posting anonymously on this occasion because, in my experience, mud usually starts flying when anyone displays conservative social leanings. It's too bad, and hopefully y'all will prove my fears wrong in this instance.

Kat said...

For the record, as of this writing one can still go to Amazon and purchase a title called "Family Torture: Uncle Ben's House (A novella of extremely, nasty brutal family sex)" by the same author of another title on Amazon called "The Girl Who Loved Horses" which is currently an erotica bestseller there.

I don't understand why these are still up and Selena can't sell her books.

jtplayer said...

Re: ""what happens when Amazon decides it's just too much of a hassle to publish indie authors at all anymore?"
--------------

They just may do that, or a lesser version of it, once they achieve world domination in the ebook and ereader market.

I know many of you believe traditional publishers are going to die off, but I can see a time when they will be the ones producing the majority of the ebooks on the market, along with smaller indie publishers, making it harder and harder for the independent writer to self publish his work with such ease.

The field is wide open right now, and as such certain works that would never see the light of day under the old system are being put up on Amazon with little or no oversight as to content.

Do you really think this will last?

Considering this country is far more conservative than most will admit or want to believe, this move by Amazon makes good business sense, IMO. The fallout from those who object will just be the cost of doing business while catering to the majority. Again, IMO.

Ellen Fisher said...

"We're talking about, what happens when Amazon decides it's just too much of a hassle to publish indie authors at all anymore?"

Exactly what I said over on the other site. Does Amazon really have the time and the personnel to go through every book that's reported as offensive? I doubt it. Sooner or later, it won't be cost-effective for them to sort through indies.

"Personally, I'm delighted to see these sorts of books removed from Amazon's cyber-shelves. It reassures me that the world's collective conscious is still at work on some minimal level."

And next will be other erotica books (because all right-thinking people should be shielded from stuff like menage and BSDM and m/m sex), and then hot romance (explicit sex outside the confines of marriage, shocking!) and then violent horror like Joe's "Draculas," because we can't have kids running across bloody stuff like THAT by accident. And then we'll have to get rid of Heinlein (constant themes of incest) and Twain (racism) and...

Personally, I'd like to see Amazon allow its readers to buy, or not to buy, as they wish. But at the very least, I think they need to clarify what they will sell and what they won't. "We just randomly delete what we want to delete" doesn't really work as a business model, and is bound to tick both readers and authors off.

Marie Simas said...

Considering this country is far more conservative than most will admit or want to believe

Oh, most of us believe it. I certainly do.

The thing that kills me (laughing) is that it's all bullshit posturing. The parts of the country that are the most conservative also have the highest rate of ACTUAL incest, teen pregnancy, lynchings... you get the picture.

Strom Thurmond was a hyper-conservative segregationist Christian, who also happened to rape his underage black maid and father a daughter upon her.

Hypocritical douchbaggery at its finest.

I don't care either way. I think it's funny. Yeah, fight to remove all the incest from Amazon, but leave the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

It's hilariously ironic. It's an epic troll on humanity.

author Scott Nicholson said...

I support Amazon's right to choose what it does or does not sell. Authors make those choices with what they write as well. You wouldn't expect to force a Christian bookstore to sell a book on Satanism because of expectations of religious equality.

But it's certainly a slippery slope. "Anonymous" may applaud this particular move, but wait until it is "Anonymous'" passion or ideal or belief system that is suddenly unpopular. Say Anonymous loves cats, and a major company suddenly decides that cats overpopulate, spread rabies, and cause toxoplasma, which can deform and kill helpless, innocent infants in utero. (Actually, I would support the banning of all cat books right now, leading the charge to start with burning all cat poetry.)

Slippery slope. But it's how freedom works, and how business works. If there is a demand, there will be a market. Somewhere.

Sorry for you, Selena, but you surely knew the risks and the cultural landscape? Really, the only question is "What's next?"

Scott Nicholson

Joe Konrath said...

Family Torture: Uncle Ben's House

Didn't Pixar just option that?

jtplayer said...

I personally don't get too fired up over these types of issues. I feel Amazon has the absolute right to run their business the way they see fit.

Likewise, I don't care too much about certain "inflammatory" content being available. I don't have to buy any of it if I so choose, and the fact it's for sale means little to me anyway.

But this is one dilemma brought on by the ebook revolution, the simple fact that a lot of "fringe" material is more easily published now, when before it was far more difficult to cost effectively get that stuff out to the masses.

Is it any wonder some weird shit has risen to the surface and caused people to cry foul?

Joe Konrath said...

I agree with Scott. We need to ban cats.

Marie Simas said...

I agree with Scott. We need to ban cats.

Fuck you guys. I love cats. In fact, I'm shooting to become a bona-fide Crazy Cat Lady before I turn 40.

I think we should ban horror novelists...

You know, crazy cat ladies are pretty scary. That might be a good premise for a horror novel-- If you could train them to do scary shit.

Joe Konrath said...

Wow, just browsing Amazon I easily found over fifty incest erotica ebooks.

Gotta say that Amazon just isn't playing fair here.

Tara Maya said...

What is really super creepy here -- and what makes the 1984 incident so ironic -- is that Amazon can REMOVE BOOKS YOU HAVE ALREADY PURCHASED.

(Please correct me if I am wrong. I will sleep better at night.)

This means Amazon can sell books to me the consumer, make doggy-poop loads of money and then decide that all my purchases on hamster bondage that I'm using as source material for my PhD thesis in abnormal criminal psychology are naughty and delete them from my kindle.

Dudes. That is not censorship. That is theft.

Tara Maya
Conmergence

Joe Konrath said...

Fuck you guys. I love cats.

They'll eat you ten seconds after your heart stops beating.

Cats are evil.

Ellen Fisher said...

"This means Amazon can sell books to me the consumer...and delete them from my kindle."

Technically speaking, they're not deleting them from your Kindle, but from your archives. If the book is no longer available for sale, then it can't be reloaded onto your Kindle. But the difference is fairly academic, since a lot of people keep most of their books in their archives. They should at least be notifying their customers and offering a refund, IMHO.

Anonymous said...

Several have asked, "What's next?"

I say, who cares.

I'm a Catholic. So, if tomorrow, Amazon bans all books with Catholic content, I'll simply go elsewhere.

It's really that simple. The "slippery slope" and "what's next" and "broad-based book banning" arguments have superficial appeal, but free markets take care of those issues. They always have and always will -- that is, so long as we keep our markets free. And that includes freedom from all would-be social architects -- conservative and liberal alike.

And as for Amazon changing its pervious policy (whether implied or explicit). Again, I say, so what? Shouldn't they have the right to change their policies whenever and however they wish? If they become capricious, irresponsible, and ridiculously fickle in their decisions, the free market will punish them, as it should.

Joe Konrath said...

and m/m sex

There's erotica about sex with candy coated chocolate? That's awesome.

Ellen Fisher said...

"There's erotica about sex with candy coated chocolate?"

If there isn't erotica about chocolate, there ought to be *runs off to write*.

Joe Konrath said...

but free markets take care of those issues.

You're 100% correct.

But the part of me making $18,000 a month doesn't like it.

Joe Konrath said...

If there isn't erotica about chocolate, there ought to be *runs off to write*.

(Snickers)

Marie Simas said...

They'll eat you ten seconds after your heart stops beating.

I'm counting on it.

They will save me from becoming a zombie.

Otherwise, it's inevitabe.

Joe Konrath said...

Guys, there is a LOT of porn on Amazon. And it all seems to be selling well, even though the majority looks slapped together and poorly written.

I can see why Selena is selling so well. Her books are classy and well presented, especially compared to the majority of the stuff I just looked at.

I really think I'm going to give erotica a shot.

Tara Maya said...

Right, and free markets still don't allow Amazon to pick my pocket. All I'm saying is that it makes me leery as a reader, and that makes me wary as a writer.

If they want to stop selling a book, I still say it shouldn't be retroactive. That is creepy.

Tara Maya
Conmergence

author Scott Nicholson said...

Marie, I fully expect that Amazon may someday have the "Amazon version" of a horror novel, cat poetry book, or chocolate erotica with the offensive bits edited out, just as Walmart does with some of the content it sells. Musicians who want to be in Walmart know not to put offensive material in their songs, or they do two versions.

And as someone who has been called a "horror writer," I've seen people curl up their lips like they've just stepped in something when they hear that label. But I'm not a freedom fighter (at least not yet), I'm just a writer. If "horror" became illegal or more widely viewed as morally repugnant, I'd quit writing it.

Meanwhile, Patterson sexually tortures women by the dozens in his novels and is celebrated as a cultural icon...

Scott

Joe Konrath said...

Meanwhile, Patterson sexually tortures women by the dozens in his novels and is celebrated as a cultural icon...

That's disgusting.

Which novels, by the way? Do you have the titles?

Tuppshar Press said...

Selena: "I have a sequel to Under Mr Nolan's Bed written and set for January. It won't be released. I was in the middle of writing a sequel to Naughty Bits - but I won't finish it. Amazon has won that argument - I have effectively censored myself."

This is the really insidious side of censorship: the chilling effect. You make the artist either fear the results of creating something in the first place, or you convince them that it is futile to do so. And yes, for the record, this is just as much a form of censorship as the government stepping in and directly banning something. The end result is to quiet those who do or say or believe something that the censor doesn't want them to.

Now, if it is a business decision, then Amazon is not the real censor here, but rather the pressure groups they fear. And make no mistake: many of these groups loathe the very freedoms that most Americans take for granted. This could get very bad indeed if we're not careful, especially if Amazon, which is a near-monopoly, folds so easily to this kind of pressure.

Joe Konrath said...

I just found a book called "Punishment by Enema."

LMFAO

Tara Maya said...

Unless Walmart buys Amazon, Amazon is not going to stop selling erotica. Probably not even incest erotica. But if there is a brohaha over a specific title, Amazon will sacrifice a few lambs to the wolves and carry on merrily.

The problem with the lack of clear guidelines is that it means any author can be a sacrificial lamb to an arbitrary appeasement of a troll mob.

This is not a good thing.

Tara Maya
Conmergence

Marie Simas said...

"Patterson sexually tortures women by the dozens in his novels and is celebrated as a cultural icon"

The bigger travesty is that Patterson's shit writing sells by the truckload, and now that he doesn't even write his own stuff anymore, it still sells.

Ahhh, the smell of a true whore. It's intoxicating.

Bah! All this chatter is just jealousy! Sour grapes, especially from me. Does anyone know the name of Patterson's agent? I need to call him and get Satan's number, so I can sell my soul to the devil, too.

Joe Konrath said...

Possible reviews for "Punishment by Enema."

--This book really got me in the end.

--When I finished, I felt cleansed.

--I liked it, especially the punctuation. My favorite was the colon.

Anonymous said...

Troll mob?

Tara, where is this troll mob you refer to? Your imagination is getting the best of you.

Amazon is responding to their conscious or the marketplace, more likely the marketplace. Where's the problem in that? If they get it wrong, they have to correct their mistake.

In free markets, people and organizations do their best to meet customer demands, and those demands come in the form of both products and social conscience (e.g., most customers would not want them to sell how-to guides for genocide).

Sometimes big companies like Amazon get it right (I think they got it right in this case, by the way), and sometimes they get it wrong and have to correct their mistakes.

There's no big bad boogey-man here. This topic is a tempest in a teapot.

Tuppshar Press said...

"(e.g., most customers would not want them to sell how-to guides for genocide)"

But they do. It's call Mein Kampf. Shall we ban that also in your perfect world where everybody has to agree with you?

Selena Kitt said...

"I just found a book called "Punishment by Enema.""

-----

But did you find "Ape Love?" and "A Donkey Named Peter?"

Those are still readily available.

Tara Maya said...

A troll is someone who comes on an internet site -- blog or forum -- and leaves obnoxious comments, usually anonymously.

A troll mob is when a dozen, hundred or thousand people swarm over the forums, all hot over some outrage, with their pitchforks typing.

I saw one in action on the kindle boards over the incest instruction book. It was horrifying and really made me want to buy the book, no matter how bad it was, just to to piss off the moralizing morons.

For a fictional example of a troll mob in a different context, please read my novelette Tomorrow We Dance.

I am afraid it has no colons. A few semi-colons, though.

Tara Maya

Tara Maya said...

Doh, forgot the link.

Tara Maya
Tomorrow We Dance

DrCPE said...

Dear Selena: Well, Nabokov is a goner, right up there with Joseph Smith.

I'm sorry Amazon has had no clarity before the fact of interferring with your business . I dont know because I havent pub'd w amz yet, what their contract clauses say, but I' suggest looking at it closely to see about 'tortious interference of business advantage.' Chat with a friend who is a lawyer about this and see... makes no sense to single out one person, unless that is specific part of contractual agreement a priori.

I'd also point you to this org Selena, where myself and better known authors are on advisory board. http://www.ncac.org/
The Group would, I think, love to hear what happened to you. I have no doubt they have the vision to see that ebks, print bks, in terms of expression are not different from one another.

So would ABFFE, the rigorous arm of the old ABA, who is lunging rabid about censorship. You'll find info about ABFFE also on the National Coalition Against Censonship site listed above (abffe/ a. booksellers for free expression) If you need help contact the Exec Dirs of either, I will help you. Just let me know.

Though I've only got three books on my ereader, I'm more interested in the business trope in this amz situ, and what appears to be cherry picking amongst good/not good topics for authors. NCAC and ABFFE have a long history of challenging/publicizing 'big businesses' who do not deal with equanimity.

Hang in there

Tara Maya said...

Is Punishment by Enema related to Enema, by Jane Asston?

Anonymous said...

Tuppshar, surely you jest (somehow, though, I suspect you are not kidding).

Mein Kampf is not a how-to guide. It is an autobiographical sketch of Hitler's ideology, laid bare in a way that allows any reasonable man to see Hitler's pervasive distortions and mental illness.

If you read Mein Kampf and all you saw was a how-to guide for genocide, you completely missed the point of its publication.

And regarding your statement, "in your perfect world where everybody has to agree with you?" In discussions like the one here, you should never resort to fabrications and false attacks. It destroys your credibility. Feel free to respond to what I write, but try to avoid inserting a false premise into the discussion.

Selena Kitt said...

Thanks DrCPE - I'll take any help you have to offer! You can email me: selenakittyn at yahoo dot com

thanks!

Tuppshar Press said...

DrCPE--

I've bookmarked the site. Thank you!

Joe Konrath said...

"A Donkey Named Peter"

That's hot. I always was an ass man.

Tuppshar Press said...

Anonymous (whoever you are)--

Since you have chosen to be anonymous, I can in fact only respond to what you write. You have stated clearly that you support censorship of incest erotica.

"Mein Kampf is not a how-to guide. It is an autobiographical sketch of Hitler's ideology, laid bare in a way that allows any reasonable man to see Hitler's pervasive distortions and mental illness."

And Hitler's ideology was based largely on anti-semitism. Since that ideology killed 6,000,000 Jews, I'd say that qualifies as genocide.

"If you read Mein Kampf and all you saw was a how-to guide for genocide, you completely missed the point of its publication."

I saw a lot more than just a how-to guide for genocide, including the point of its publication, which was in part to rally supporters to the Nazi cause. And the Nazis killed 6,000,000 Jews and tens of millions of others.

As to my last statement, I think you missed the point, so I will lay it out for you: the whole point of censorship is to restrict ideas, whether they are artistic (as in Selena's case), political, religious, etc. The ultimate goal of the censor is to therefore create a world where those ideas they do not agree with do not exist, or where they are kept out of public view. By stating that you feel it is acceptable for a company that holds a near-monopoly on the ebook market to selectively remove content without cause (including content that has been paid for), you have stated that you approve of censorship. Thus it is a logical and unavoidable conclusion that at some level, perhaps one you yourself are not willing to admit is there (since you are anonymous I can't speculate as to the details of your thinking, and can only address your comments here), you want a world where no one disagrees with you.

Steven Lewis said...

Many of the people in this debate have a touching but naive faith in the free market. Even in the US you regulate your monopolies.

The idea that buyers, as someone suggested, will go elsewhere if they don't like Amazon's restrictive policies is nonsense. They'll search and think such books don't exist, exactly as your business doesn't exist if it's not on the first page of Google results.

There's a thread running through all of this that comes from people who feel a need to go on the record as being against incest, perhaps they are worried their families are reading. This isn't about the subject matter, it's about who gets to decide what's so distasteful that the public doesn't get to make up its own mind.

Yes, Amazon is a business but, while society allows it to have a virtual monopoly, society should have a say in what Amazon bans. Protected speech isn't much good if you're marginalised in where you can enjoy it.

We would expect a say if our telephone company -- a business -- started deciding what we could and couldn't talk about on the phone.

Selena Kitt said...

"A Donkey Named Peter"

That's hot. I always was an ass man."

------

Heee-haw!

Anonymous said...

While I agree with him or her that Amazon is making a decision motivated solely by money, some other anonymous poster above stated some fantasy or other that this is a free market capitalist system.

Whether I agree or disagree with the principles of free market capitalism (Ayn Rand's thinking is about as quality as her writing), the vagueries of such a system aside, is irrelevant, as we live not in a free market capitalist country, but in a country wherein the sheeple have proxied control to its "corporate citizenry." What this ultimately means is that the sheeple are at the rudder of this Titanic, as it has always been with Titanics. To expect different is not reality based.

Simply put, the sheeple have all the money and Amazon wants their money. As it turns out, this is a match made in heaven...the sheeple demand and get sheep food. But Amazon, like other of the "corporate citizenry," is as dumb as the sheeple that munch at its trough. If a large enough number higher functioning mammals can manage to vocalize loudly enough Amazon will waffle back to its initial position and move on to the next target feared by the sheeple.

Sheeple have decided to entertain their impoverished incest fantasies in their own imagination and to pretend they don't buy incest fantasy fiction. We can be sure incest is not the only genre that sheeple hide like Cheetos and cigarettes secretly under their New Testaments and sparkly vampire novels in the drawers next to heir beds.

Amazon does and should have the right to put what it wants on it shelves. Too bad it doesn't have the brains to make win-win decisions.

The sheeple are mostly fearful right wing conservatives. There is more room under the tall part of the bell curve than under its eaves, and it seems that there is also the delusion of safety and certainty in numbers there. One poster commented about collective consciousness and failed to mention the opposing darknesses that reside in the shadows of the collective UNconscious. The sheeple doth (doeth?) protest to much.

It should also be noted that erotica is one of the largest revenue generating genres of fiction, and incest is a sub-genre in the top 10 of those sellers and distributors that offer incest. No, I will not offer proof...do your homework.

Both Mr. Konrath and Ms. Kitt are making very calculated and smart decisions to take heel to this particular cockroach. They are both good and artful writers and they both know that being a good and artful writer is irrelevant when it comes to making money form one's writing. Press is King.

Selena Kitt said...

"Sorry for you, Selena, but you surely knew the risks and the cultural landscape? Really, the only question is "What's next?"

@Scott

Yep, I know the risks and cultural landscape. This isn't the first time I've fought this fight. Fictionwise banned incest and taboo books for two months while we hashed it out. I won - they created a taboo category on their site.

I don't think I'm going to "win" this one. Although I'm not down for the count yet and I have quite a few tricks left up my sleeve. In the end, we all know it's hard for David to stand up against Goliath, especially when the coliseum is calling for David's death.

Doesn't mean David doesn't give it his all, though. ;)

Anonymous said...

I love cats, too, Especially grilled with a nice Thai peanut sauce.

Woof!

--The Aonymous Poester Who Used "Sheeple" A Lt (TAPWUSAL)

Joe Konrath said...

And the Nazis killed 6,000,000 Jews and tens of millions of others.

Are you sure? Mel Gibson told me only eight people died in WWII.

Tuppshar Press said...

"Are you sure? Mel Gibson told me only eight people died in WWII."

Ha! Who am I to question the mighty Mel? ;)

Debbi said...

I just found a book called "Punishment by Enema."

LMFAO


There's also a mystery featuring a protagonist who has an ostomy called "Caught Holding the Bag."

Esmeralda Greene said...

For what it's worth, it's definitely not just incest-themed erotica that Amazon is targeting. Just moments ago I was informed that two more of my titles had been removed; one of them was totally incest-free.

Anonymous said...

I am officially designating this discussion to be a teapot.

Anon #2, Tuppshar, Steven Lewis, Tara, et al....continue to stir vigorously, lest this small tempest die out too soon.

I'm sure Konrath appreciates the traffic to his site :)

Selena Kitt said...

Holy crow, Esme! That's really scary! Which one? What was the 'offense,' do you think?

dr.cpe said...

@tuppshar press: You're welcome. NCAC is a good site to keep an eye on just to see the landscape about censorship...

@ Selena: noted, and will send you email now with details.

hang in there

jesscscott said...

This kind of (bad) business practice is more scandalous (no quotation marks) than incest erotica.

I just read on the TeleRead post that BDSM Vampire novels are being removed!

I will be working on a website in early 2011, and shifting my focus onto making that the main platform. All other distributors will be secondary.

Jess.
www.jesscscott.com

Marie Simas said...

Joe, I commend you.

The title of this post should be: "Godwin's Law in 50 posts or less." I should have taken cash bets.

Aaaaaaand Scene!

Steven Lewis said...

@anonymous It's a storm in a teacup while the banned books aren't ones you want to read. When some drone at Amazon decides you shouldn't be able to buy something that you do like, you might feel less condescending.

Tara Maya said...

"A Donkey Named Peter"

That's hot. I always was an ass man."

Heee-haw!

@ Anon who doesn't like tea:

I've avoided getting into this argument on a number o sites, but it's worth it here because of the comic relief.

Anonymous said...

The disgusting taste that we all can't seem to get out of our mouths regarding this issue, aside from zombie-proof cat satay, is that if you're an e-author it's hard to make a living without Amazon.

Underlying that, where is the line for each of us as an artist, where do we each move from being primarily an artist with money as a secondary concern to being primarily a breadwinner with money as a primary concern?

Ugly.

--TAPWUSAL

Tara Maya said...

Good point, Steven.

Tara Maya
Conmergence

Zoe Winters said...

My feeling is that Amazon just is not comfortable with erotica... at all. They did this crap with gay erotica last year. Then a bunch of erotica got removed from searches. Now it's incest erotica. And frankly ALL erotica is going to piss off or offend someone. Sex is just TOO personal for people and they freak out too much about it.

But comfortable or not, by being so wishy-washy and not having specific rules, it really is a slippery slope.

Personally, I am an adult, and I don't want Amazon deciding what I can and cannot buy to read from their site. They boast they have the biggest selection. In the past they've crowed about how anti-censorship and pro-free speech they are... but now... they want to tell me a few of Selena Kitt's books are just too dangerous for me to read? Please.

Zoe Winters said...

@Jess

seriously? BDSM vampire novels? WTF? in what way is that a threat to anyone? Amazon has lost their marbles.

Selena Kitt said...

Wasn't it just a few weeks ago, Amazon said:

"Amazon believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable. Amazon does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts, however, we do support the right of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions."

Zoe Winters said...

Maybe the head of Amazon is being held hostage by a fundamentalist Christian. Ya think?

What I do know is that their current activities makes liars out of them. Their up with Walmart on my shit list right now.

Zoe Winters said...

*They're.

When I get pissed, my grammar goes to hell.

KevinMc said...

And of course, my wife just bought me a Kindle for the holidays (shhhh, I'm not really supposed to know!). If I'd heard about this a week ago, I think I'd have been looking at a Nook, instead. =P

No offense meant to the authors, but I won't miss having erotica books on Amz. That said, I don't think what they're doing sounds fair to the authors OR their customers.

KevinMc said...

Thinking about this some more... Again, with respect to Selena and others whom I know have more immediate fish to fry - my longer term concern is about indies as a whole.

What does happen if Amazon decides indie publishers are too big a hassle?

It looks to me like some of the more active indie authors should perhaps be doing some immediate work on "officializing" in some manner, to become "real" small presses in their own right. Much harder to eliminate those. A move like that might be essential to ensure security.

If Amazon buckles this quickly to a few irate pitchfork-carriers, how fast would they buckle if a couple of the big five said "cancel your DTP or we pull all our books"?

KDJames said...

Fascinating discussion. Seems to me our Puritan roots are mixing with our capitalistic greed and prompting retailers to send mixed messages, unable to draw a clear line as to where they will and will not make a profit. Playing a reactionary game and moving that line at random in order to please the most vocal customers is not smart business, IMO.

It's a shame because I've read several of Selena's books (though not those with incest as a theme; sorry, not my thing) and they were far superior to several others I've read in the genre. There's a broad range of quality in any genre, including the literary fiction genre. Once you step outside the role of impartial distributor and start making judgments on quality, especially without clearly defined "standards", you set yourself up for criticism and dissent. Not a wise move, Amazon.

Earlier tonight I read an article over at The Awl where writers talked about their experiences with editors and something said by writer Calvin Baker struck me as pertinent to this discussion:

"While the market in America can exert a censorious influence on books, and the conversation around them, there are writers all over the world who must make choices that may get them imprisoned, exiled, assassinated. Many have made, and continue to make these choices without equivocation, in the first register of their calling."

I hope The Awl and Mr. Baker don't mind me moving that quote from one part of the internet to another. It was a great article, you should go read it:

http://www.theawl.com/2010/12/five-writers-talk-about-their-book-editors

As offensive as Amazon's actions are, at least we're not talking about imprisoning or assassinating people for what they've published. Wait. Oh hell. Maybe this has something to do with WikiLeaks after all. Never mind.

Anyone have any extra lube? That slippery slope is looking like it might be painful without it.

Jarrett said...

Interesting discussion. I think I am going to say what so many others have said. Amazon gets to do what it wants. It's their store. But they should be more clear about the rules.

I'd refrain from the Bible comparison any more. It's not an apples to apples thing, at least it doesn't seem so to me. Now, I haven't read any of the incest fiction disappearing from Amazon, but would it be safe to say that the incest in the books is an integral or main part of the plot? If so, then it's not exactly fair to compare that and the Bible since the Bible isn't about incest or have incest as a central theme.

Just some advice from someone who saw that argument and dismissed it immediately.

Anonymous said...

Amazon just gave Smashwords (or somebody else) a competitive advantage.

"We don't censor books."

wannabuy said...

Voltaire:
" I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

I wrote a lot more... but here it my take. I read the darkest sides of history to find the truth. As in I investigated the economics behind ancient Rome 'consuming' 250,000 slaves per year for 150 years. Should that history be banned or learned from?

As to erotica... yawn. As long as the 'involved characters' are 'of age.' If Amazon censors too much, I'll buy a nook/Google e-reader, or something else just in protest.

While I'm not qualified to be an author, I'm tempted to write some gay gerbil & sheep sci-fi erotica set in a convent just to have it banned.

I'm now hooked on idie authors. Amazon could slide a long way...So can my spending. :)

Neil

Anonymous said...

"I'd refrain from the Bible comparison any more. It's not an apples to apples thing, at least it doesn't seem so to me."

Some don't agree with you. When R. Crumb did an illustrated history of Genesis; it was completely accurate, right down to the incest. It created controversy, not because it created a mockery of the Bible, but because it seemed a lot worse, somehow, to have a graphic depiction of all the verses, even the "off-color" ones.

The publisher even included a warning in the book jacket for minors.

So, it seems that it's okay to read about biblical incest, but an accurate illustration of biblical incest is a no-no.

Jude Hardin said...

Punishment by Enema is the shittiest title I've ever heard of.

Steven Lewis said...

Still amused by how many people can't comment on this debate without making sure we know first that incest is "not their thing" :-)

Dodge Winston said...

Joe said - "The controversy of pulling books because of content is going to hurt a lot worse for Amazon..."

Since the topic is incest I don't think it will hurt Amazon. If the topic is child molestation I don't think that will hurt Amazon if they pull all that as well.

On another note if they are going to pull these books it needs to be all of them... not just a handful for a few select authors. Amazon has the right to sell what it wants and not sell what it doesn't want. They are a business and as long as a free, capitalistic society is around then we all have the choice, including big corporations such as Amazon.

Also one doesn't have to be a "conservative" or a "religious" person to be against books about incest.

The main point is that there are only a few big, online companies that can influence the eBook and print book market today in a strong way. Amazon is one of them. A balanced approach needs to be utilized. What the balance is I don't know. I think I would be worried if they started banning political books from either side of the aisle or beyond the aisle.

Personally I'm not concerned about books on incest not being sold at Amazon. If someone wants that type of material I am sure it will be available from somewhere else.

By the way if Amazon suddenly banned indie authors someone else would rise up to take them all in. But I don't think Amazon is that stupid. The scorched earth policy only works in certain scenarios... like when Germany invaded Russia.

Tara Maya said...

The downward trajectory on the slippery slope is already in action. When this whole argument began it was about one book -- a "how to" manual for pedophiles. The argument, not unreasonable, was that this book should be withdrawn because it was aiding and abetting the crime of statutory rape. I could see that argument but still felt that to prevent the slippery slope, it should be allowed.

Now, sure enough, it's not just the handbook to abet a crime that's under the gun but books that are pure fantasy and have nothing whatsoever to do with the original topic. That is why I have to ask where this ends. As someone else already pointed out, Amazon has had a problem in the past with small chocolate candies (m/m's) and even mainstream erotica. And apparently even political satire such as 1984.

One reason that people feel obligated to say, "This isn't a genre I enjoy or even respect" vis-a-vis incest is because the whole point is that you don't just stand up for the books that wave your own flag. You sometimes have to stand up for books that are pure slime. Voltaire and all that. ("I don't agree with what you say but I defend to the death your right to say it.")

And yes, yes, I know we aren't talking about a government but a retailer. I think customer boycotts of retailers to influence what they sell is fine. For instance, to convince hardware wholesalers to not carry rainforest woods or fastfood chains not to use styrofoam containers. But books are different. And if a small group of bullies tries to restrict what others do, then others must stand up and make an even bigger fuss.

Tara Maya
Conmergence: An Anthology of Speculative Ficiton

TheSFReader said...

Well even if some accept that Amazon remove books from new sale, how can they also accept that they are also removed from the "already purchased books" list ?
Even if such a removal were all-right, souldn't there at least have been
1 a notice about the books removal
2 a compensation/reimbursement for the users inability to access the book anymore ...

Alessia Brio said...

I really think I'm going to give erotica a shot.

Please tell me you intended that pun, Joe!

Jokes aside, I have to toss my support Selena's way. I'm one of those twisted erotica writers who may someday be the victim of Amazon's axe.

I have no problem with Amazon, or any other private business, deciding what it sells IF it's consistent. Make the guidelines clear & adhere to them.

Happy Holidays, y'all. Stay warm!

Ellen Fisher said...

"And apparently even political satire such as 1984."

Amazon never had a problem with 1984 per se; the problem was that someone uploaded it when they didn't have the rights to it. 1984 wasn't removed due to its content. The erotica books, on the other hand, are clearly being removed due to content.

Ty Johnston said...

Is this only affecting digital books?

I ask because I see Amazon is still selling the Marquis de Sade's "120 Days of Sodom" in paperback, as well as other material by the author.

India Drummond said...

@Steven said: "It's a storm in a teacup while the banned books aren't ones you want to read. When some drone at Amazon decides you shouldn't be able to buy something that you do like, you might feel less condescending."

I couldn't agree more. I was trying to think of a way to say the same thing, but you said it perfectly.

P.S. The comments had me laughing out loud though... way to take the edge off a tough topic!

India Drummond

Robin Sullivan said...

It seems to me that the biggest issue here is that this "sword" will be wielded unfairly. There is NO WAY that Amazon can read every book that they sell, so there will be some books that stay and some that go.

So what do they do? I'm afraid they post a button that says...does this book contain objectionable material - and have readers "press it". If such a thing happens then competing authors will flag books they want "out of the way".

As to removing from archives - this is a BAD BAD BAD decision. Amazon took people's money they can't sneak into their "virtual bookshelf" and take it back.

Not selling going forward...okay I don't agree (because it is impossible to enforce) but those that already bought - get to keep it. At the VERY least you have to refund them back their money.

This is a sorry day all around. I don't envy anyone in this situation - Not Amazon who is probably afraid of boycotts, to author's who are now limited from a very important venue.

Icy Sedgwick said...

There is incest in George R R Martin's celebrated Song of Ice and Fire series. Are Amazon going to stop stocking that too? It doesn't bother me in the slightest but surely one rule must bind them all?

Selena Kitt said...

"Is this only affecting digital books?"

----

The print version of my book, "Back to the Garden," was removed first. It's printed by CreateSpace (an Amazon POD company).

I'm waiting for my other two print books to follow suit.

Selena Kitt said...

An interesting side note: all of the books that have been removed are in top lists somewhere on Amazon. They are deleting the books that are the most popular, the highest sellers.

Jon VanZile said...

Meet the new boss ... same as the old boss.

Karen Cantwell said...

This may have already been said, as I'm into this conversation late - but my guess is that Amazon is looking to appeal to consumers as family-friendly so millions of parents will go out and buy Kindles for their kids. They have every right to do so and it's not censorship. I will also go out on a limb and say that it's a smart move, but only time will tell that one. And if it's not a smart move? They'll reverse their tactics.

modicumoftalent.com said...

The biblical reference is fantastic. I consider myself a reluctant evangelical, and I have to say that the Bible is probably the raciest, most controversial book I've ever read.

I understand the philosophy behind it all, and you're right, Amazon can ban what it wants to ban--just like a restaurant can refuse to serve me for any reason.

But I immediately thought of the George R. R. Martin books. Incest, rape, underage sex... They're all there. Does Amazon plan to remove those as well? Or is Amazon only targeting authors who don't sell as well as Martin?

Slippery slope indeed...

Amy

Melissa Romo said...

Forget deleting for content. What troubles me is that Amazon removes "buy" buttons as a negotiating tactic with publishers and writers. Our way or the highway.

And yes, I also loved the biblical reference!

Anonymous said...

What I find ironic is now I'm sure that Ms Kitt's works available on other sites are probably selling like hotcakes and her sales will climb because of all the publicity she has generated.

Amazon isn't the US Government. They can choose not to carry a set of books because it's got a blue cover or a brown cover or deals with cats or whatever. It's a private company and that's THEIR right.

If you ran a bookstore and an author came in and demanded that you carry his/her book because of "Free speech" you'd laugh them out of the store. Same thing here.

And I'm willing to bet that if it were a small mom and pop outfit we'd be mumbling to ourselves and saying that it's their right because it's a Cool Thing right now to hate Amazon and all large companies in our urge to Eat The Rich.

I've seen on Twitter the urge to get AP and other news outlets involved. Don't bet on it. CNN isn't going to have Ms Kitt on with Anderson Cooper defending her right to write incest fic because...

... wait for it...

... it's rather hard to defend incest fic. Period.

I also think this illustrates the need for a publisher, despite the mob mentality here that Publishers Are Evil and so forth. All of the books I've seen mentioned are from self-pub authors who don't have any resources to defend themselves against such a move.

Just a thought. Or twenty.

Alessia Brio said...

@Anonymous -- Selena's titles were already selling like hotcakes. Her sales numbers rival Mr. Konrath's. Obviously, there's a substantial audience hungry for that hard-to-defend fiction.

She writes very well and her talents range from literary fic to mega-kink (often in the same piece). I'm proud to have published her work in my charity anthology series.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting, informative and entertaining thread.

My favorite part was the excellent dressing down by Tuppshar Press of the person who kept saying "conscious," and "collective conscious." I particularly like the that this person apparently, based on his or her spirited defense, has actually read "Mein Kampf." It's ironic for this particular discussion because what is that if not brown-paper-bag porn for the collectively unconscious, "Rally to Restore Honor" Glen Beck crowd?"

Sure, it feels kind of dirty reading it, and maybe the whole genocide thing was a little over the top, but there's just something about charismatic totalitarians that makes you feel a little tingly all over. Just a little.

Burritoclock said...

Amazon HAS to fix this policy of yanking purchased books away. Either they have to refund the purchase price or leave the book in your library. They are doing tremendous damage to their brand.

The first time they yank back something that a lot of people bought (think 100,000's) this becomes a major issue. I'm of the mind that Amazon, as a private business, can do whatever they want as far as deciding not to sell certain books, but they have to find a better solution then yanking a purchase away with no refund.

This is the biggest reason people do not jump onto the digital product movement. The perception that you don't own anything.

My big fear (and something anonymous will relish!) is this inevitably leads to all books being pre-screened to prevent them having to be pulled back.

As someone who has read almost exclusively indie books since getting my kindle... well let's just say I am already looking into other ereaders. It's good to have options.

Also, any Customer Service rep that brings up moral decisions to a customer should be shown the door immediately.

As an aside I am always blown away by how books are targeted for things movies get away with. It seems so opposite of what you would think.

Dodge said...

If Amazon DID prescreen book submissions with specific guidelines then this wouldn't have been an issue.

Instead, in their haste to become BIGGER, they allowed just about anything in. Now it seems they will go through as they deem appropriate and get rid of what they don't want on their cyber-shelves.

Now Amazon is taking back books from ppl's Kindles? That stinks real bad.

Their policy at each end has been poor and shallow as far as implementation goes.

They can still not sell what they don't want. But they need sharper folks at the wheel for a smoothly ran company.

Anonymous said...

@Tara Maya

I think another problem in this situation is... a lot of people don't understand "incest" is not the same as "pedophilia". When many people think of incest, their mind immediately goes to predatory adult family member and child. And so I can see where incest erotica censorship might be sparked in part by the pedo book.

But all of Selena's fiction features only Adults. To me adult incest, whether or not it is "icky", is a victimless crime.

But some others have pointed out that Amazon may be reacting not only against the pedo book if they are conflating the topics of incest with pedophilia... but... they may also be reacting against the case of the professor facing up to 5 years in prison for carrying on an incestuous relationship with his adult daughter.

And even though they are both adults most people STILL see this situation as a "predatory adult and child" situation. Either way, though, to me, if this woman has been actually victimized by her father, (according to HER), then it is a crime against her, not the state. Because on the surface this looks like a case of consensual adult activity (whether it is "icky" or not), and she does not see herself as a victim.

If she doesn't see herself as a victim and she was a consenting adult, then what right does anyone else have to force her into the victim role? Is she not going to be MUCH more traumatized by the attention the media circus causes her, as well as her father potentially landing behind bars?

I think if someone doesn't see themselves as a victim, the larger society doesn't have the right to turn them into one.

Eugene said...

I suspect the Epstein case has a lot to do with this. Plus a new anti-porn law going into effect in Tokyo (echoing ones already on the books here). When prosecutors start prosecuting, with the full weight of the state behind them, it is the fiduciary responsibility of any business to look to the bottom line and the interests of their shareholders. Even if authors, publishers and distributors could be fully assured of their First Amendment rights in the U.S., that's no guarantee they'll enjoy them elsewhere.

evilphilip said...

" We can be sure incest is not the only genre that sheeple hide like Cheetos and cigarettes secretly under their New Testaments and sparkly vampire novels in the drawers next to heir beds."

That is where I hide all my Chic Lit.


Selena I'm horrified that this happened to you and I wish you continued success with your other titles.

evilphilip said...

" It doesn't bother me in the slightest but surely one rule must bind them all?"

And One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,

One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

Tara Maya said...

If you ran a bookstore and an author came in and demanded that you carry his/her book because of "Free speech" you'd laugh them out of the store. Same thing here.

I'm really sick of this argument. Not, mind you, because it's wrong on the face of it. It's just the wrong analogy.

Nobody strong-armed Amazon into selling these books. Amazon sold them. So the proper analogy is that I run a bookstore, I sell a bunch of books, and then one day a few bullies come into my store and threatens to start harassing me if I don't stop selling books they don't happen to like. And not only do I have to stop selling the books, I actually have to go to the houses of people I sold the books to and steal their books back. Without paying them for the stolen material.

It reminds me of the idiot who tried to burn the Qu'ran. Now, he's a private individual and it was his own copy, and I defend his right to burn it if he wants. But it doesn't stop me from stating my opinion that he is a jack...donkey. Now imagine if in addition to burning the Qu'ran, he had managed to convince the all the bookstores in Texas to also take away Qu'rans that other people had bought.

Not a good thing.

Freedom is more easily lost than won.

Tara Maya
Tomorrow We Dance

Tara Maya said...

well said, evilphillip.

Tara Maya said...

@ Anon

they may also be reacting against the case of the professor facing up to 5 years in prison for carrying on an incestuous relationship with his adult daughter.

I didn't know about the case, but I'm not surprised. What bothers me though, is the ongoing inability of people to distinguish between information and actions. The content of a book, especially fiction but even nonfiction, cannot be a crime against a person like an action unless it is actually libel or information theft.

Describing a situation is not the same as the situation. Describing a homicide is not murder, describing sex is not sex. (It's often much better.)

I know we have mirror neurons that make us confuse symbols with their referents, but c'mon. I have a book that describes cannibalism. (Tomorrow We Dance.) Yet, strangely, I'm not pro-cannibalism, and amazingly, I have never tasted even a little bit of human steak. Nor would I expect a grisly account of real live cannibalism to result in hysterical mobs demanding my book be pulled from the shelf.

Tara Maya
Tomorrow We Dance

Selena Kitt said...

"All of the books I've seen mentioned are from self-pub authors who don't have any resources to defend themselves against such a move."
------------

No. Olympia Press books are being removed. And they were the publisher who published Lolita when no one else would.

So it isn't just self-pubbed titles through DTP. It's also "real" publishers who don't even deal with DTP at all.

There have been at least six Olympia titles pulled from Amazon. There may be more.

Anonymous said...

"So what do they do? I'm afraid they post a button that says...does this book contain objectionable material - and have readers "press it". If such a thing happens then competing authors will flag books they want "out of the way".

Nearly every book, including many classics, would have at least one person pressing the button.

Oh, Barnes and Noble has that button on every indie-published product page. At the bottom of the book description you see this line:

If you find any inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble.

("report it to Barnes and Noble is a hot link").

Heather said...

Wow, I have to say, Amazon has done some serious damage to themselves here. Even if they realize their mistake and "fix it" as some of you have suggested, they've still set a bad precedent, that will make authors and readers both edgy going forward. Especially the titles they yanked straight from reader's Kindle libraries. Not good, not good at all...


And while I fully believe everyone's entitled to their own opinion (even Anonymous, who thinks this whole thing was a brilliant move on Amazon's part) - that is exactly what we're talking about here, with censorship. Hey Anon- what if you weren't ALLOWED to say you disagree with Selena's books? It's the same idea, dude.

I hope Amazon does "fix it" but damage has already been done, I'm sure.

Mark said...

"What I find ironic is now I'm sure that Ms Kitt's works available on other sites are probably selling like hotcakes and her sales will climb because of all the publicity she has generated."

Other than some people blogging about it, I don't see the story getting traction anywhere else. I went to google's news aggregate page and searched on "amazon incest" and "amazon selena kitt" and found no stories. Searching simply on "amazon" didn't return any stories on the topic either.

Right now it's a story bouncing back and forth among a number of blogs but little more than that.

Zoe Winters said...

I'm the person who brought up the incest case, and I want to make it clear that I am NOT the same anonymous poster that was for pulling Selena's books. I'm very anti-censorship in all of it's permutations. I don't care how disgusting the issue on the table is. Disgust is subjective and cultural. And this flows right into my reply to @Tara Maya...

I completely agree with you with regards to information and story not being the same as action. Thoughts are not things. We ALL have dark thoughts about things. Most people have fantasized about committing SOME crime at SOME point. But that fantasy doesn't mean they will act it out. Fantasy is mostly a release/escape outlet. It should never be assumed that someone who thinks about something or reads about something would ever DO that something.

I think we are not as evolved as we believe we are if we still can't separate thoughts from actions. At the end of the day people are getting outraged about words on paper (or digital readers).

The simplest and best solution is for offended parties simply to not support or buy what they find objectionable. But when people demand that a large business has to cater to their personal moral code and sensibilities in what they sell... and that company... in this case Amazon, does so... it's a very sad day for all of us.

Because tomorrow it's going to be something the other Anonymous and those who support his/her views want to read. Censorship and suppression of ideas is NEVER an isolated incident. It will always move to greater oppression that affects a larger number of people if the people don't fight it in whatever way they can. And when it's a business, it means voting with your wallet and spending your money elsewhere.

Laura B said...

Anyone remember when Catcher In The Rye was banned & burned?

Now there was an incestuous, erotic, homophobic, class warfare, TERRORIST book.

And see how it didn't survive?

Zoe Winters said...

LOL and now I'm no longer anonymous. (habit of pressing the Zoe button.) Frankly I'm trying to get away from constant argument with people under my name because it just attracts too many haters and people willing to make assumptions about me. And I don't necessarily want to be known as that "author who supports incest fiction to the ends of the earth" Because people don't understand WHY. But quite frankly I do support it. Because it's words on paper (or in this case digital readers.)

And yes, I have myself spoken out against anonymous posters when they use anonymity as a platform they can attack from. But frankly there is too much hate and bullshit in this world and I'm getting to the point where I just don't want to attract crazy people in my general direction.

Mark said...

So here's a question: If a bookseller finds a book objectionable and decides it's bad for business to carry the title, is it ok for the bookseller to stop selling it?

What should the policy be?

And I doubt Amazon is ever going to give specific reasons for why a book was pulled. It's to their benefit to be vague.

And I also agree with others that Amazon shouldn't be able to remove a book from our e-readers. That's a bit scary. I don't think that means Amazon has to carry a title forever, however. And yes, I know this creates a problem with being able to re-download something we've purchased in the past, but that seems to me to be separate issue.

John D said...

Out of curiosity, I did a little net searching this morning relating to Amazon's actions. While there were a number of recent blog posts condemning Amazon for pulling the books, I saw no posts condemning Amazon for selling them in the first place.

As near as I can tell, there was no grassroots effort to purge the books from Amazon's catalog. Had there been one, the conservative blogosphere would've been abuzz with anti-Amazon/incest erotica posting. It wasn't.

Amazon is either reacting to complaints from a relatively small group of people, or they acted preemptively. I'd like to know what the real reason is, but I'm not holding me breath until Amazon comes clean. It may take a long time before that happens. If ever.

As for Selena and the other authors, they can always find another outlet. B&N doesn't sell hardcore porn in it's brick and mortar stores, yet it's still available in thousands of adult book stores. (Although I can't understand why anyone pays for porn when there is so much available free of charge on the web.) Smashwords might be a good venue. They can bill their books as "Banned on Amazon," which might become this century's "Banned in Boston".

Explorer said...

If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.

Thomas Brookside said...

To the people who are saying [or reiterating, since Joe said this too] that what Amazon is doing isn't censorship and that the free market should be allowed to do its work, I say: Sure. Of course. Absolutely.

But people bitching up a storm about Amazon's actions and rallying people to be pissed at Amazon is part of the free market "taking care of it".

To me, the two most offensive aspects of this are:

1. The deletion of books from the archives of users. That's just theft.

2. The double standard. The anonymous posters may not like to hear this, but, YEAH, the Bible should be deleted if books containing depictions of voluntary incest are not acceptable at Amazon.

It's Amazon's business, and they could employ whatever irrational double standards they want, but the rest of us get to call them on it and get to encourage others to do the same.

I'll give Amazon a complete pass on letting Selena's books stay up for as long as they did - that's going to happen in a system where content isn't pre-screened. And I'll also give them a pass on their customer service rep's inappropriate hectoring of a customer demanding a refund - that can just be one employee's screw up. But the deletion of content and the arbitrary choice of titles to delete has to come from the top.

jtplayer said...

Re: "then one day a few bullies come into my store and threatens to start harassing me if I don't stop selling books they don't happen to like"
---------------------

Talk about wrong analogies, you have no idea that's what happened. You are making an assumption based on your own personal feelings.

Customers complained and Amazon reacted. Simple. At least that's the way it looks.

What's with the characterization of "bullies" and "harassment" and
"threatening" behavior?

Someone mentioned gatekeepers before. I know how much many of you hate traditional publishers and the whole concept of gatekeepers, but in my mind this is the fallout from not having any kind of vetting process at all.

DTP allows me or you or anyone else to publish at will. Terrific, unobstructed access, just what you all have been seeking.

But obviously there's a downside, and that lack of vetting only reveals itself when customers complain.

Oh well, you live by the sword, you die by the sword.

Thomas Brookside said...

In free markets, people and organizations do their best to meet customer demands, and those demands come in the form of both products and social conscience (e.g., most customers would not want them to sell how-to guides for genocide).

The funny thing is that the Bible also contains passages where Yahweh commands the Hebrews to undertake a genocide, and gives them specific instructions on how to proceed [i.e. a "How to"].

So the Bible is two for two on the criteria anonymous thinks should lead Amazon to ban a given book.

Thomas Brookside said...

And now jt shows up to edify us all with his brilliant observation that no traditional publisher has ever published an incent erotica title.

Anonymous said...

Of course that's not true. Middlesex was a bestseller (Oprah's Book Club) with a plot built completely on the incest (brother-sister). I believe it was published by a mainstream publisher, and I could name a few others from big publishing that also portray incestuous relations.

Will that book be banned from Amazon? Personally, I thought it was a great book.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middlesex_(novel)

Anonymous said...

Just checked. Middlesex is published by Macmillan.

Incest is central to the plot of the book.

jtplayer said...

Re: "And now jt shows up to edify us all with his brilliant observation that no traditional publisher has ever published an incent erotica title."
------------------

Whatever dude. I never said that, but wtf, read it anyway you want.

Nuance tom, it's all about the nuance.

Zoe Winters said...

Incest is also a central plot to the book, Flowers in the Attic and the rest of that series. And it was published by a big mainstream publisher. And far from sending the message "incest bad!", the book has most readers rooting for the brother and sister to end up together.

Thomas Brookside said...

Yeah, I was being kind of a sarcastic dick there and can't delete it now.

Sorry, jt. I let my annoyance get the better of me for a minute there.

But the point remains: this issue can't possibly be one of "insufficient vetting" if traditional publishers routinely put out material sharing the subject matter of the titles in question.

So, unfortunately, your standard answer of "Ban All Indies" wouldn't really address this particular problem.

Thomas Brookside said...

Whatever dude. I never said that, but wtf, read it anyway you want.

Nuance tom, it's all about the nuance.


Yes, you did.

Your original post only makes sense if no incest-related content would exist were it not for the self-publication tools Amazon has made available.

I am imposing sense on your statement.

"Nuance" does not mean "I can make nonsensical statements and avoid having it pointed out just by claiming I'm drawing a fine distinction".

Anonymous said...

Via Ms. Winters: "I think we are not as evolved as we believe we are if we still can't separate thoughts from actions."

Game, set and match to you, Ms. Winters. Bless your heart-warming paranormal romantic naive soul. We are definitely not as evolved as we think we are. Have you not watched John Stewart and other reliable news lately? Right wing conservatives and fundamentalists, commonly called consumers, pay Amazon to acquire and sell them their lives, and their appetite is mcfood and Monsanto franken-apple pie.

We are mostly sheeple. Erotica is just the black sheep in the herd, and incest is a blacker sheep. Either cater your wares to sheeple or plan to deal with sheep dip. The money is in knitting more wool sweaters to pull over our eyes, like those worn by sparkly vampires and bespectacled whiny adolescent Brit wizards.

It doesn't matter what's Constitutional or legal, or even what's right or just, and it certainly doesn't matter what is worthwhile art, it only matters what requires the least personal effort and most fossil fuel to produce, sell, consume and digest. Soylent Green is sheeple.

If censorship arguments help Selena and/or any other authors to make their work available to more people, then, by all means, yank the grass by the roots. As myself and someone else mentioned, it is smart of Selena to take this on (to a point that it doesn't trigger Amazon's actions against her other titles or her publishing company), and of Joe to host this debate. Smart is good and should not in the least be held against them. Selenea also happens to be right and just in her arguments but that is, as stated, sadly irrelevant.

If you're going to be a wolf among sheep it's prudent to either wear sheep's clothing or to remain on the fringes and edges. Declaring your wolfishness in the midst of the sheep will only get the dogs called out. Better make sure it's a good day to die.

If you're a wolf or, in this case, a fully clawed feline (I will refrain from using "cougar," as I don't know Selena's stage of life or personal predilections), it's a fine line to walk to keep your sheep's clothing on while standing up and saying that the herd should eat a more diverse diet or allow other herd members to eat forbidden fruit (even if the herd pretends it doesn't ever eat forbidden fruit even though it's shite is ripe with the seeds of it).

The bottom line is the bottom line here. Bad press for Amazon is good press for writers of erotic fiction. Someone light my torch...I can't do it with a pitchfork in the other hand.

--TAPWUSAL

Zoe Winters said...

@anon Unfortunately I am far from naive. At times I really wish I was. It would make it easier to live in this world. I'd love to be a clueless soccer mom, believing all the bullshit I'm fed, but I'm not wired that way.

Anonymous said...

Via Thomas:

"2. The double standard. The anonymous posters may not like to hear this, but, YEAH, the Bible should be deleted if books containing depictions of voluntary incest are not acceptable at Amazon.

It's Amazon's business, and they could employ whatever irrational double standards they want, but the rest of us get to call them on it and get to encourage others to do the same."

I'm an anonymous poster and I like it, Thomas.

You make very good points and have a sharp, clear and comprehensive understanding of what's happening on the ground. You have a little too much faith in the delusion we call the "free market, though, but, I must admit, it is a noble delusion.

--TAPWUSAL

Anonymous said...

Ms. Winters, I was making a point at your expense. I do know that one "reason" romance is such a boundless spring of fiction is because most of us hunger and long for the true north of the heart while we muck about in the equatorial jungles of jadedness. By virtue of your work you would have to be keenly sensitive to the dark wildernesses that hide the freshest springs. Mea culpa.

My aim was to juxtapose your naivete against the reality of the grass-root-devouring sheeple. My point is made, if unartfully, but, alas, my juxtaposition is left dangling like a predicated participle.

--TAPWUSAL

jtplayer said...

Re: "So, unfortunately, your standard answer of "Ban All Indies" wouldn't really address this particular problem."
--------------

Holy crap Thomas, you surely have confused me with someone else. When the heck did I ever say, or even imply, "ban all indies"?

Please, if you want to criticize me, get your facts straight. I do not believe independent authors should be banned. Period.

And my point on vetting was very simple, and it was specific to Amazon.

Certainly publishers have been putting out all kinds of controversial work for a very long time. I get that.

But as it stands today, there is no screening process to publishing ebooks with Amazon. Anyone can put up anything they desire, until it's found out to be in violation of Amazon's guidelines or rules or whatever, at which point Amazon gets to act as they see fit.

That's the point I was trying to make.

Was it stating the obvious? Sure it was. But so too is much of what gets posted here.

Anonymous said...

So, if this action is bigger than it appears here on this thread and the gov is going after smut like it did in the Stagliano case, we all need to remember that, despite the moral majority, it does not take a majority to make change, only a vocal minority.

Also, if what Selena said is accurate, that only top selling titles are being pulled, then this may blow over. But it may be a truly bad wind if it turns out that the whole catalogs of publishers are pulled or publishers are banned.

--TAPWUSAL

Will Belegon said...

Just a quick note...Sophocles and V.C. Andrews still available on Amazon.

Marie Simas said...

It does not take a majority to make change, only a vocal minority.

All it takes is money. Or the threat of losing money. No one is going to make a moral stand for erotica, sorry. I like porn as much as the next girl, but I don't feel that any one vendor has a moral responsibility to carry the torch for any single book, or even any single grenre.

Sure, all of the sellers of erotica could just put their own books up for sale on their own websites, and ignore Amazon altogether, but none of them want to do that, because Amazon is the biggest e-marketplace in the world. So you have to play by their rules, even if they are unfair and arbitrary.

Amazon is the rich kid who is going to take all his toys and go home.

The solution is to MAN THE FUCK UP and write something else.

Or, even easier, take an existing manuscript, modify it, re-title it, and put it up for sale again. There you go. Problem solved.

Mark said...

"Just a quick note...Sophocles and V.C. Andrews still available on Amazon."

Clearly, Amazon should adopt a policy that says that if any books that feature or mention incest are allowed to stay listed, all books, no matter how objectionable they might be, should remain listed too.

So if some customers complain about some titles, Amazon's only choice is to remove all such books or to leave every book up.

THERE IS NO MIDDLE GROUND!!!

Mark said...

"No one is going to make a moral stand for erotica, sorry."

Heh. So true. And incest erotica will garner even less support.

Heck, Amazon made news when it initially refused to delist the pedophilia guide. They got hammered in the press and quickly took it down. Even if there's a story or two about this -- and so far google has found no stories -- the press is likely to be on Amazon's side.

And can you imagine the press Amazon would get if they put the books back up? "AMAZON CHANGES POLICY, INCEST BOOKS FOR SALE AGAIN."

Burritoclock said...

I wish Marie Simas would have my babies.

I'd make a stand for incest erotica, but having no power or influence I'm afraid it would be quite useless...haha

Anonymous said...

Marie, just a clarification. I'm pretty darn sure I didn't say anything about taking a moral stand for erotica.

In our culture, a culture founded by those wacky nutty religious zealots, the Puritans, the unconscious majority (my label, not theirs), who also happen to be the moral majority (their label, not mine), erotica would, by definition (as supported by leafy biblical genetalia), be immoral.

It's also worth noting that the Song of Solomon could be considered to be a particular epiphany of erotica. Of course, our moral majority would say that said Song is of the Old Testament and was summarily deleted and overwritten by the New Testament...and we all know that in the history book we call the New Testament (which is really mostly an anthology of unauthorized biographies), Jesus Christ never had an impure thought while polishing his shepherd's crook, so to speak, let alone dipped his uncut wick in the holy hot wax.

--TAPWUSAL

evilphilip said...

"Or, even easier, take an existing manuscript, modify it, re-title it, and put it up for sale again. There you go. Problem solved."

This was the first thing that came to mind when I heard about this situation -- take the existing manuscripts, change the title & cover art & description and then upload them again.

Zoe Winters said...

LOL Anon, writing romance doesn't make someone naive. Romance is fantasy. It doesn't mean I believe in happily ever afters and puppies and kittens and rainbow farts. And it's a bit simplistic to make those assumptions about someone based on what they write.

You can't make a point at my expense when you don't really know me.

Errol said...

Selena's post reinforces why Amazon must not be the only company to dominate the e-book market. Longterm - it simply would'nt be good for readers, authors or publishers.

What gives Amazon the right to delete e-books you have purchased?

Amazon deletes authors e-book because of incest, but leaves countless other e-books that also include incest available to buy?

I have also noticed Amazon removing paid public domain books that are selling extremely well and get within the top 30 to 100 bestsellers in the Kindle Store. They seemn to do this once the paid public domain e-book hits the bestsellers list. Why? And this has nothing to do with the review process before the book gets published, as Amazon themselves approved of these paid public domain e-books to be sold in the Kindle Store.

Amazon's 70% royalty option for authors and publishers only exist because of the strong competition Amazon is facing from competitors such as Apple, Barnes and Noble and now Google.

Amazon is known to use bully tactics to force Print on Demand publishers who didn't use BookSurge - will have the buy buttons removed from their books.

Amazon suspending thousands of highly feedback rated third party sellers (that have not breached any of Amazons terms) because they are to successful selling on Amazon's platform. Yep, that's right, make to much money on Amazon and have your seller account suspended. Eventually, Amazon will be pulling this kind of bullshit with e-books.

Amazon Suspends highly rated third party sellers (who have not breached any of Amazon's terms) and then holds their revenue for 90 days or indefinitely. I assume Amazon withholds the sellers money to earn interest. How Amazon can get away with doing this is beyond belief.

Amazon's been sued by Toy's R Us for millions and also by the student who got caught up in the 1984 e-book deletion incident, attracted negative press attention for removing the sales rank from Gay and Lesbian books and yet Amazon seems to have learned very little from all these and countless other incidents.

Authors are posting impressive numbers for e-books sold through Barnes and Nobles for the Nook. This is great news, as it gives authors another way of making good money if Amazon was to screw you over like they do to many of their third party sellers just because they make a lot of money selling on Amazon.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Winters, I had thought I corrected my error. Let me clarify, I have no doubt you are not naive...writing romance, at least writing good romance, calls for a person to be able to see all the manure that goes into making the garden grow.

And aside...I had no idea that rainbows fart. This sounds like a scenario I may see on one of my favorite shows, Adventure Time with Jake the Dog and Finn the Human.

As for knowledge of you, although, sadly, I have not had the pleasure, I can only say with Terentius and Montaigne that, "nothing human is foreign to me."

--TAPWUSAL

Zoe Winters said...

Clarification noted, Anon. You can see where I might have gotten confused when you used the phrase "your naivete". ;)

As for rainbows, yes... And actually that's how the pot of gold gets made. Little known leprechaun secret.

no-bull-steve said...

"Dudes. That is not censorship. That is theft."

ABSOLUTELY!!! If a book is no longer available for sale, that's one thing, but to *chose* to remove books after customers have paid for them has *got* to be criminal.

BTW, am I remembering wrong, but isn't there incest in Stephen King's Sleepwalkers? Not only is the video still available, so is the book and Amazon recently listed it as a Video on Demand title. I love Stephen King, but if they're going to "enforce" their poorly worded rules, then it's gotta be across the board.

I f-ing hate hypocricy!

Anonymous said...

Bet the leprechauns don't have trouble keeping that secret.

I believe I'm asking the right person...do rainbow farts repel vampires?

If so, perhaps we could send a farting rainbow site link to Amazon and get them to click on it.

evilphilip said...

"Not only is the video still available, so is the book and Amazon recently listed it as a Video on Demand title."

Sleepwalkers wasn't ever a book. It is an original screenplay.

Stephen King 101. I got an A.

Steven Lewis said...

"@modicumoftalent.com said...
I understand the philosophy behind it all, and you're right, Amazon can ban what it wants to ban--just like a restaurant can refuse to serve me for any reason."

No, a restaurant can't do that. I'm not American but we learned at school that you in America had a lot of black people sitting at lunch counters in the 1960s to prove that.

"Free market" sounds like a winning and final argument but there are no completely free markets in the world because every society believes in regulation of some sort.

Selena Kitt said...

"Free market" sounds like a winning and final argument but there are no completely free markets in the world because every society believes in regulation of some sort."

---------

Against monopolies, for example. And there's an issue in court about ebooks as we speak.

Haarlson Phillipps said...

And, tis is the same Amazon.com where I can buy, without let or hindrance, Mein Kampf or a huge wodge of Ku Klux Klan material? But I can't buy your stuff?

Haarlson Phillipps said...

"It's called the American free-market system, and it's the best in the world."

Such arrogance - America does not have a free-market system - free-market means EVERYTHING goes up for sale. The USA imposes the highest tariffs on imported goods, and pays the highest subsidies to its domestic suppliers, than any other nation on the planet. This Amazon version of "American free-market enterprise" says we only put up for sale what we believe will not displease our assumed betters.
Oh, how the mighty are blinded.

Zoe Winters said...

@Anon I like vampires as long as they don't sparkle! :)

@Selena, Do you have any details on that case and what it pertains to (like more specifically than ebooks, lol)?

KevinMc said...

It's interesting how this is not making the news - anywhere. I just did about a dozen searches for various forms of "kindle news", "kindle books pulled", "kindle books deleted", and even tried "kindle erotica books pulled" - and nothing, not even five pages back in Google so much as whispering about this.

It's just not making any waves at all, outside a few posts and blogs.

Were books actually pulled off Kindles, or just pulled from the storage on the Amazon servers? Just wondering, because they *had* said they were not going to do that anymore, and just got through giving $150,000 to the kid whose homework was eaten when his copy of 1984 was deleted.

Good reason to back up your books, I guess. =/

Selena Kitt said...

@ KEVIN

Books disappeared from ARCHIVES. Not from Kindles themselves.

@ ZOE

As for the case in court:
http://www.dailyfinance.com/story/media/apples-e-book-pricing-prompts-anti-trust-inquiry/19500424/

It's about the agency pricing model and antitrust legislation.

Here's a pertinent quote from the article:

Price-fixing is still illegal, and the Surpreme Court identified two possible ways in which a minimum price might flout the law: If one dominant retailer requests a minimum price to "forestall innovation in distribution that decreases costs," giving the manufacturer little choice but to go along. Or if a dominant manufacturer uses a minimum price "to give retailers an incentive not to sell the products of smaller rivals or new entrants." Apple and publishers' agreed-upon agency model might well fall under either or both of these two situations, especially if rumors that Apple required publishers to sign a "most favored nation status" agreement prove true.

*********************************

A very very interesting (and scary) new development: The head of Olympia Press, who has had multiple books pulled from Amazon in this onslaught, came back from New York to find his entire Barnes and Noble PUBIT account (Olympia has about 900 books in their catalog, and around 1400 in print) had been terminated and ALL of his books deleted. Gone. Poof. This was at the exact same time that Amazon was deleting taboo books.

Coincidence?

*gulp*

Mark said...

My guess is Amazon deciding not to sell some titles that feature incest isn't considered newsworthy.

I'm not a lawyer, but I don't see a case for a publisher's rights being violated here. Booksellers have always refused to carry various titles.

dafaolta said...

@Selena-Did I misunderstand your post? Were both the print *and* Kindle versions of all three titles removed? I was just on Amazon, looking to see what else you had available I might buy and while Back to the garden shows up in the search box w/your name, the book did not, but Naughty Bits and Under Mr. Nolan's Bed are both available in the print versions.

I sent a complaint thru Customer Service to let them know I didn't appreciate this kind of behavior on their part, but I don't rant well so it may have no influence whatsoever.

Sex has always been a hot button topic in this country. More people want to control what other people are doing and/or thinking about that subject than any other I can think of. Look at all the hysteria about Gay Marriage. Personally, I say that so long as I'm not doing it your bed, I can 'sleep with' who or what ever I choose. Sorry, pushed my own button, there.

It seems that there are people uncomfortable with their own sexual feelings and fantasies that cannot stand the idea that anybody else should be able to enjoy something that creeps them out. And they insist that they're the 'normal ones'. It makes as much sense as my saying no one can eat calamari because eating squid makes me hurl.

Selena Kitt said...

"Back to the garden shows up in the search box w/your name, the book did not, but Naughty Bits and Under Mr. Nolan's Bed are both available in the print versions."

That's correct - the CreateSpace print versions of Naughty Bits and Under Mr. Nolan's Bed are still available. The Kindle versions are not. It's only a matter of time, I imagine, before CS deletes them. But for now, the only print one missing is Back to the Garden (which was actually the first one pulled).

And thanks for writing - the more people who say something, the better!

Marie Simas said...

I wish Marie Simas would have my babies.

Thanks. With a name like BurritoClock, that actually sounds like it would be a helluva good time.

Errol said...

I came across this comment left by a guy on another website during the pedophile e-book epidemic:

"Not only is Amazon selling pro-rape products by Olympia Press, but helps market them by awarding them higher standing than their sales merit. By pro-rape porn, I mean exactly what it sounds like: pornography premised around perpetrating rape as a form of amusement."

Dozens of comments like this could be found all over the internet with customers threatening to boycott Amazon for selling material that they deem offensive.

Joe Konrath said...

It makes as much sense as my saying no one can eat calamari because eating squid makes me hurl.

I agree 100%.

We need to ban calamari.

Anonymous said...

Can we just ban the long tentac'ly legs with suckers and batter on them that trail, Lovecraftian like, over the edge of the bowl but still keep the calamari cut in rings?

I enjoy both but am willing to compromise so I don't have to knock on the back-alley doors of Greek restaurants and trade pass phrases with other swarthy guys named Gus and Steve.

To clarify, I am a partly-portioned Greek but not wholly swarthy and not called Gus or Steve.

I would be ok with banning cats, but only as pets, not food.

--TAPWUSAL

dr.cpe said...

I wonder, looking at this for a few days now, if Amazon, as a bookseller, belongs to premier org APA(amer Pub Assoc which includes all big and many many small pubs and holds to the premise of non-censorship) or to ABA (amer booksellers assoc which has many indie bookstore owners as well as other sales outlets ... which also stands on non-censorship roundly) Both orgs vehemently resisted government meddling under guise of 'home security act, for instance, and continue to be a bulwark against silencing authors.

Selena's situation reminds me of the Brett Easton Ellis situ, and the boycotts threatened and how his pub (maybe viking?) dropped him and he was snapped up at far more money by Knopf I believe... and the pub shot his 'sex violence and murder' book to the top of lists... in other words, not even counting Larry Flynt or Guccione, or many many others like Lenny B et al, it's not a trend exactly, its a cycle that keeps turning and returning.

I was thinking that all persons in favor of no censorship about lawful adult material at Amazon ought make their thoughts known to amazon... for there is no conversaton, only conversion, if only one side talks/ presses.

I was thinking today too about how Disneyland said they would never ever ever openly cater to gays. How some religious groups went over the edge with threats when Disney held a day for gay folks specially open. Disney, for all its big corporate everything, I believe, stuck to its guns. Pressure from both sides, money weighed, yes. And still.

I wonder if tendency to censorship is really a business decision if only one side weighs in... and the weighing of money as some suggest here being at the core, cannot be done if the only side weighs in. So, one side only 'wins' by default because the other side never showed up.

For all the worthy thinking here about a business having a right to do as they wish according to their own business model... when that model is vaguely defined, that's doesnt seem a tight and crisp model at all. Makes me wonder what other mooring is coming loose over at amz.

There was a time when booksellers and book publishers pushed back hard against censorship except for perhaps Thomas Nelson, Zondervan and other of the religious presses, in keeping with their belief systems. But, I'd say Jeff Bezos' outfit is acting rogue re the usual bar held to my puvs and bksellers... to be presumably pressured to 'take out' whole shelves of books on some 'someone's' say so. To me, that is a huge changeover from holding the line as has been customary w/ all the feisty tough authors, pubs and bksellers who think Banned Book Day readings and protests are better than the American Revolution.

Just saying, if I could, as an elder, I'd like to ever see all generations be radicalized about censorship, when that silencing of author and blinding of reader has nothing to do with 'how to' manuals to teach adults to prey on children. Though by my sights, I'd discern that from the issue of adult erotica, I also grew up in a time and place where government and religion attempted to bar writings not only having to do with adult life, but about freedom to gather, freedom of movement and freedom to criticize or resist the immorality of government without being arrest or disappeared.

Just saying.

Thanks Joe for allow the forum for this issue to be broadly discussed. It's an important one that is larger than what happened in the last few days. It is true, I think, that resting in freedom, erodes that very freedom. It's important to remain vigilant, i think. Not paranoid. Awake. Have been in touch w Selena and she's a strong cookie. This is a time for all of us, I think.

KevinMc said...

Hey Selena - guess what?

You've been slashdotted! =)
http://yro.slashdot.org/story/10/12/15/0153255/Amazon-Taking-Down-Erotica-Removing-From-Kindles

Congrats! Amazon execs probably woke up this morning feeling less than happy with the universe.

The fact that all this is coinciding with a censorship issue at the Smithsonian, of all places, might help it become major news after all.

Ellen Fisher said...

Unfortunately slashdot didn't get it quite right; the books aren't being removed from Kindles, but from the archives. Some people have clarified this in the comments, though.

Tony said...

So, I have a question, Selena. If you're so upset by Amazon's policy, why not pull the books yourself and boycott the company? Hell, anyone else out there who is upset should pull your books from their e-store and never look back.

What? You're not willing to do that?

Then shut the fuck up.

If you're going to do business with a company you don't agree with because you want the extra few bucks a month they throw your way, then you're a whore. Bend over, take your money, and stop whining.

Joe Konrath said...

If you're going to do business with a company you don't agree with because you want the extra few bucks a month they throw your way, then you're a whore. Bend over, take your money, and stop whining.

All writers, by their nature, are whores.

What's your excuse for being an asshole?

Be nice, or leave. I won't say it again.

That said, one writer really can't do much to influence the policies of the #1 book retailer in the world.

A few thousand writers, however, perhaps might be able to. Throw in tens of thousands of consumers, which could very well happen precisely BECAUSE Selena is brave enough to talk about this issue, and then things could change.

Alessia Brio said...

Well, now some of eXcessica Publishing's NON-incest erotica titles have been purged. Several of the ebooks in my Coming Together charity anthology series are epublished by Selena's company. They are gone. Print versions (which I published through the Coming Together Create Space account) are currently still available as are the ebook titles not published via eXcessica. Smells like a witch hunt to me.

Tony said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
KevinMc said...

Wow, someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Tony, some advice: grab the cup of coffee *before* hitting the internet in the morning. ;)

Rosa Parks didn't get off the bus. Selena is not dumping the rest of her books. Why? Because if she does, then the censoring asshats who initiated this have won.

And don't tell me those two are not about the same thing. Whether it's the only bus available for you to travel on, or the two ebook vendors who collectively represent over NINETY PERCENT of all worldwide ebook sales - it's very much about saying "no, you can't be here". It's very much about a fight for our freedom to be heard, simply because Amazon does have a near-monopoly. It's very much about drawing the line HERE - NOW! - before you find that someone else is able to dictate everything you read.

Amazon pulled one book about pedophilia. Then they pulled some incest erotica. Then Amazon sacked one of their most prolific reviewers because he happened to review gay literature. Then B&N pulled an entire erotica publisher and all 900 of their books, while Amazon opens new lines of attack on all erotica.

What goes next? All gay lit? All lit perceived as anti-Christian? All lit that is 'too liberal'? Where does it stop, UNLESS people take a stand and say that no censorship is acceptable?

Because when the two companies who control 90%+ of an industry act in concert to remove certain titles or types of writing, it is *most definitely* censorship.

Joe Konrath said...

Don't like it? Stop allowing anonomous comments. Otherwise, deal with it.

I deleted your post, Tony.

How does it feel?

If you don't like it, go post somewhere else. Isn't that what you've been saying?

I bet it makes you kinda angry, doesn't it? ;)

Tony said...

I deleted your post, Tony.

Of course you did. I told you you would.

I bet it makes you kinda angry, doesn't it? ;)

Not even a little. It just proves my point. Granted, just to you and me, but that's good enough.

Joe Konrath said...

It just proves my point. Granted, just to you and me, but that's good enough.

No, it proves my point, not yours.

But unlike Amazon, I gave you a warning first. Amazon began deleting things without warning.

Tony said...

Rosa Parks didn't get off the bus.

Wow, where to begin... Ok, so during the Montgomery Bus Boycott, you're saying Rosa Parks kept riding the bus when everyone else walked or car pooled?

That's not how I remember it, and I'm actually old enough to remember it. Are you?

All that aside, are you seriously comparing Amazon removing books they find objectionable from their website to the event that sparked the civil rights movment in America?

Tell me you're not that stupid.

TheSFReader said...

From Amazon's "Your Kindle Library Content" page, the relevant paragraph is at the bottom of the page :

"we may be obligated to stop making it available for re-downloading from your library"

So if they feel "obligated" to remove everything from the library they may do so ? Shaky ground for me ...

Anonymous said...

This appears on the product description page for my book on B&N.

"If you find any inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble."

Click it and you get this message:

"Thank you. We will review the publication for inappropriate content."

OK, so now my book is being reviewed for inappropriate content at B&N. Let's hope it passes the test.

This tag shows up only on indie books on B&N. So . . . it appears that anything else does not get censorship treatment.

I'm wondering what would happen if the button gets clicked on every book? Does B&N have the staff resources to read and make a judgement call on every book? Seriously?

Will my book be removed just because someone clicked the button? I'm curious to know how this process works.

Does anyone know? Can a competitor click this button (or have all their friends do it) to ban a book? It seems like it could be a way for mainstream authors to maliciously vote the indies off the island.

Thanks.

Tara Maya said...

Tara: Re: "then one day a few bullies come into my store and threatens to start harassing me if I don't stop selling books they don't happen to like"
---------------------

Jt:Talk about wrong analogies, you have no idea that's what happened. You are making an assumption based on your own personal feelings.

Customers complained and Amazon reacted. Simple. At least that's the way it looks.

What's with the characterization of "bullies" and "harassment" and
"threatening" behavior?


I didn't just call them bullies, I called them a troll mob, because they used troll techniques. And they did in Amazon's store because it was on the Amazon site on the internet -- that IS their store.

Customers did more than complain. Trolls swarmed the discussion boards, using foul language and misleading accusations, calling for a witch hunt.

Errol gave an example of the bullying behavior I was referring to. Now multiply that a thousand times. Anyone who tried to argue with them received a reply identical in tone to the one left here by Tony. (Thank you Joe, for stepping in.)

One reason I am so hot on this topic here is that I still feel bad about my own cowardice and laziness of fleeing that discussion. I didn't particularly want to be attacked by trolls out for blood or have my own books targeted.

That's intimidation.

Someone mentioned gatekeepers before. I know how much many of you hate traditional publishers and the whole concept of gatekeepers, but in my mind this is the fallout from not having any kind of vetting process at all.

DTP allows me or you or anyone else to publish at will. Terrific, unobstructed access, just what you all have been seeking.

But obviously there's a downside, and that lack of vetting only reveals itself when customers complain.


Er, you have it backwards. There was no problem until a bunch of moralizing morons decided to step in and "vet." They weren't complaining on their own behalf but trying to stop others from reading what they wanted.

The idea that pre-emptive vetting is somehow the solution is like saying self-censorship is the solution to government censorship. Gee, if we just don't think or write anything They don't want us to, we won't have a problem!

I'd rather live without gatekeepers, thanks much.

Tony said...

No, it proves my point, not yours.


Maybe this is all going a little too fast for you, Joe. Let me slow it down a bit so you can catch up.

If you and Selena perceive an injustice, and all you choose to do about it is post cry baby blog posts when you both have the platform to rally legions of indie authors and consumers to boycott Amazon, then you both, along with everyone else who complains yet won't pull your books, are hypocrites and cowards, all whining about Amazon while sitting safe and warm under the financial blanket they provide you.

Any clearer?

Selena Kitt said...

"This tag shows up only on indie books on B&N. So . . . it appears that anything else does not get censorship treatment."

-----------

This is true. But indie authors should know, it doesn't appear if you go through Smashwords. That's a way around it, if you like. It only appears on PUBIT books.

Tara Maya said...

All that aside, are you seriously comparing Amazon removing books they find objectionable from their website to the event that sparked the civil rights movment in America?

I can go one better and compare it to the ideas that sparked the French Revolution. According to one scholar (Forbidden Bestsellers of the French Revolution) the anti-monarchical philosophy of equality and democracy was spread through pornographic pamphlets that were outlawed by the state and rejected by the gatekeepers of publishing of the day, the guilds.

Anna Murray said...

I'm the Anon (too lazy to fill in my name) in the previous post about reporting inappropriate content to B&N. I'd like everyone to click the link to report my book as having inappropriate content to see what happens (will it be removed automatically -- will the crowd consensus be enough to remove my book?).

Here's the link to my book page, and the link to report inappropriate content is below the description. Please click on it.

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Unbroken-Hearts/Anna-Murray/e/9780981710303/?itm=1&USRI=unbroken+hearts

This book includes steamy sex, and I'm wondering just where B&N draws the line on "inappropriate" content. As a romance writer I really need to know where it crosses the line. I'd also like to run this experiment to determine whether or not a mob attack can actually take down a book on a major retail site.

Please help me by marking my book as having inappropriate content. Thanks.

KevinMc said...

"All that aside, are you seriously comparing Amazon removing books they find objectionable from their website to the event that sparked the civil rights movment in America?"

Of course it's about civil rights. Censorship issues are always civil rights. When Amazon and B&N collude to remove a genre from view, that is NINETY PERCENT of the global ebook market in collusion to censor those books.

It is absolutely, most certainly, a civil rights issue.

Because if they can do it with this, then they can do it with something else, too.

jruschme said...

Two things...

Selena, I do hope you decide to publish the Nolan sequel, even if it isn't on Kindle.

As for the larger issue... I really have to wonder what the economics of this decision really look like for Amazon. The fact is, it has been long established that erotica is at least part of the engine which drives the success of eBooks. It has also long been established that some of the biggest ebbok readers are serial romance readers. From other comments, it is clear that at least some of the books are/were on various Amazon best-seller lists, meaning that lots of Kindle users were buying them.

I'm sure that Amazon would like to see people buying Kindles to read the latest Dan Brown or James Patterson. The truth, though, is that for every one of those, there is probably someone reading "Under Mr. Nolan's Bed". Not something they probably want to admit, but still a fact.

By the current cleanup, Amazon hurts potentially hurts itself on two fronts- by courting bad press and by alienating a user base key to its success.

Frankly, this should have been the opportunity for Amazon to look at Kindle book purchasing and management and address it through content and access controls at the device and application-level.

I will be the one to say it- my wife and I both have some skeletons in our Kindle closet that we would not want our daughter to be able to read, especially on her own computer or Kindle. Instead of removing books from sale, Amazon should be leading the way on content ratings on publications with commensurate device controls (i.e., Kindle X can not display books with a rating over PG-13).

Something seems fishy here... to the point that I almost wonder about a deeper conspiracy.

Burritoclock said...

I'm sure it works like most of the "Report this post/book/video" buttons all around the internet. One click will not send your book off for judgment, it would take many clicks before it would stick out.

I know it's been said a million times for time immemorial, but I'm always amazed that something like incest, or some other so called "immoral" sex can be removed so quickly, but if I write about a person being brutally tortured and killed and no one blinks an eye.

I mean I could literally write about some guy going in a preschool and committing the mass murder of babies and it would meet less scrutiny than a story of two male pre-school teachers banging each other in the privacy of their home after work. It's a beautiful world!

Anna Murray said...

"If you and Selena perceive an injustice, and all you choose to do about it is post cry baby blog posts when you both have the platform to rally legions of indie authors and consumers to boycott Amazon, "

Well, I'm asking legions of indie authors to help me push B&N (and Amazon) to publish their criteria for banning a book. As a romance writer (and reader) this concerns me GREATLY. I need to know where the line is . . . many romance novels contain erotica or near-erotica (check out Lisa Valdez, and that's published by a mainstream publisher). My own book includes sex outside of marriage and sex acts that could offend Christian types. Will it be banned?

Arbitrary removal of indie books just because a mob decides to press their efforts on one or a few isn't going to fly. These distributors need to give us clear guidelines . . . so please mark my book as inappropriate. Others with romance books might want to join me in this effort (by intentionally asking B&N to review their books for inappropriate content).

I can't fight back until I know the process and criteria they are using . . . without transparency this all appears to be a witch hunt directed at a few indie and small publishers, and that smells very, very bad, like they have a different agenda. There's a lot of erotica out there in large publisher books (and incest, as noted on this board). Why pick on the indies?

There's something rotten here.

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Unbroken-Hearts/Anna-Murray/e/9780981710303/?itm=1&USRI=unbroken+hearts

Selena Kitt said...

@Tony

Because I have a responsibility to the 100+ other authors in my catalog. If I pulled my 50 books, I'd have to pull all 500+ of everyone's to make a statement. And I won't do that to them. Among the authors on our roster, only I have been targeted so far. That won't be the case forever. This fight's just begun.

I also think I have more power and leverage with my books ON Amazon, rather than off them right now. So that has to be weighed.

A consumer, who has mass numbers behind him, can vote with his dollar by not buying on Amazon. An author, in this instance, has to be seen to be heard. Look at Joe's blog here - I would never have had a platform this large without his help, because he's a known entity. That's an author's power - not obscurity or taking our bat and ball and going home, like Amazon has done. How mature is that?

And if you are so concerned about hypocrisy, I suggest your energy might be better focused on the biggest hypocrite here, the one who said, "it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable," and then started removing objectionable books from their site.

Joe Konrath said...

If you and Selena perceive an injustice, and all you choose to do about it is post cry baby blog posts when you both have the platform to rally legions of indie authors and consumers to boycott Amazon, then you both, along with everyone else who complains yet won't pull your books, are hypocrites and cowards, all whining about Amazon while sitting safe and warm under the financial blanket they provide you.

I see. Your philosophy is either bend over and take it or fight to the death.

Oh, wait. You're an anonymous coward. So I really can't give your "fight to the death" ethic much credit, because you can't even sign your name to your posts.

When rational human beings see a problem with something, the first step is discussion and discourse, not boycott and martyrdom.

Discussing the topic draws awareness to it. It certainly drew you here.

Lucky us.

KevinMc said...

Oh, I like the French Revolution bit even better, Tara. ;)

Point is, you don't stand up against a powerful entity - government or big business - by packing up your toys and going home. If you do that, they win.


I'm not one to generally subscribe to conspiracy theories, but does anyone else see more than coincidence involved in Amazon and B&N both deciding to attack their erotic lit departments within the same two-day span? I'm almost wondering if they got some sort of tip-off that our soon-to-be-more-conservative House was planning legislation to force ratings on "adult fiction", or parent controls, or something like that, and the bigger bookstores are taking pre-emptive action.

It just seems to big to be coincidence. Anyone heard anything?

Selena Kitt said...

"I'm almost wondering if they got some sort of tip-off that our soon-to-be-more-conservative House was planning legislation to force ratings on "adult fiction", or parent controls, or something like that, and the bigger bookstores are taking pre-emptive action."
-----------


I know, I've been called an alarmist before... but yeah. I see it too. Conspiracy theories aside, it seems like too big a coincidence to be an accident.

Curiouser and curiouser...

Tara Maya said...

I don't mind a ratings system. Most erotica publishers do this themselves. It's called a "Heat Rating."

The names of the levels of heat vary from publisher to publisher, but the number of stars usually means the same thing.

It's to protect customers from accidentally buying some boring book with nothing but vanilla sex instead of what they are looking for, a BDSM threesome.

Tara Maya
The Painted World Stories
Heat Level: "Sweet"

Anonymous said...

"It's to protect customers from accidentally buying some boring book with nothing but vanilla sex instead of what they are looking for, a BDSM threesome."

Amazon will have to ban some of the discussions on the romance forums. Those are free and open to anyone, and well, let's just say the readers aren't afraid to talk about all the different kids of sex in those books. Some even request things like "rape" fantasy books (and the responses list mainstream publisher books).

Just sayin' . . . where does this all end?

no-bull-steve said...

"all you choose to do about it is post cry baby blog posts"

AHAHAHAHAHAHHAAAAAA!

An blog troll posting cry baby posts anonymously and incorrectly accusing known successful people of doing precisely what he's doing???

Let me mark today's date. Now I've officially seen it all.

Anonymous said...

anna,

i click the link re inappropriate content for your book on the b&n site, per your request.

will be interesting to see what happens.

what would be the best way to voice opposition to amazon's recent actions, do you think?

i object to the censorship, lack of transparency, inconsistency, and apparent capitulation to anti-sex moralism.

ann

Marie Simas said...

All writers, by their nature, are whores.

So true. So true. Although if I had to choose between being Amazon's whore or a whore to the Big Siz, I would choose Amazon every time. They have more money and their dick is bigger.

l, I'm asking legions of indie authors to help me push B&N (and Amazon) to publish their criteria for banning a book.

Anna, I don't think its a great idea for you to do this. There's no proof that Amazon is actually reviewing the books that it "bans"-- on the contrary, they might just be using their computers to choose the books that get removed.

In my opinion, once enough people report the item as innappropriate, then it gets suspended and probably pulled.

Mark said...

I can understand why people are upset, but what is the argument for NOT letting Amazon and B&N delist any product if they deem it objectionable?

This isn't about freedom of expression. It's about money. Selena's books can be bought elsewhere. Her concern isn't that she won't be allowed to write and sell erotica, but that she won't be able to sell as much of it.

Amazon tried to stand up for the idea of letting authors sell just about anything and letting the market sort it out, but they got slammed hard over the pedophilia stuff. So now, unfortunately, they are in the business of having to exercise some discretion over what they sell. I don't think they wanted this to happen either, but they are gunshy now.

Heather said...

Anna,
I, too, clicked the link for 'inappropriate content' for your book on B&N's site. You'll have to post and let us know if you hear anything about this. I am curious to see what it takes, exactly, to red flag something.

As for 'immoral content' and those who agree with the banning going on- let me just say that I've personally known of a situation where a man was convicted of sexually abusing a child and the police found a book in his collection. NOT a how-to, or a racy incest novel. It was written by a psychologist and was a non-fiction title on how child molesters and pedophiles stay under the radar, earn their victim's trust, and basically avoid getting caught. It was written to vigilant parents and for the purpose of educating AGAINST these crimes. And this man used it to further his crimes against children. So to say that an incest novel SHOULD be banned because of its suggestiveness (and someone did, near the beginning, but these posts have run on too long for me to remember who it was) is moot. if you arent interested in the material, you have a choice NOT to purchase it. Or wait, at least we used to.

And if you do want to get your hands on something for your own dirty agenda, you'll find a way, just like that guy did.

In the end, whether i'd read selena's books or not, I still want the choice.

Heather said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tara Maya said...

Mark: I can understand why people are upset, but what is the argument for NOT letting Amazon and B&N delist any product if they deem it objectionable?

This isn't about freedom of expression. It's about money....

Amazon tried to stand up for the idea of letting authors sell just about anything and letting the market sort it out, but they got slammed hard over the pedophilia stuff.


You answered your own question. Amazon responded to people making a fuss demanding censorship. So unless we make a fuss and demand an end to censorship, they are going to assume people are more upset if the don't censor than if they do.

Some people find certain books offensive. I find their finding those books offensive to be offensive. The only way freedom can be defended is if more people find intolerance itself offensive than any given offense.

To paraphrase Douglas Adams, if, "They care, we don't. They win."

Tara Maya
Conmergence: An Anthology of Speculative Ficiton

Tara Maya said...

I, too, clicked the link for 'inappropriate content' for your book on B&N's site.

This experiment really worries me. Surely there is a better way?

jtplayer said...

Re: "In the end, whether i'd read selena's books or not, I still want the choice."
--------------

And you still have that choice...just not on Amazon.

All this back and forth is just a lot of gas, IMO. Free speech is alive and well in the USA. No one is banning books. Selena can print up as many copies as she wants and go sell them on the street corner.

jtplayer said...

Re: "I find their finding those books offensive to be offensive"
-------------

Nice attitude.

So if someone doesn't think like you, that's offensive?

At least when it comes to disliking certain books, that appears to be the case.

Joe Konrath said...

So if someone doesn't think like you, that's offensive?

Closed minds are offensive. History is littered with the trouble closed minds have caused.

I wonder how different the world would be if people were as quick to tolerate one another as they are to judge one another.

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