Censorship of Self-Published Authors or Something Else?

16 Oct

Many of you are probably aware of the major rule changes happening in novel companies, but, perhaps, some of you aren’t, so I’m writing about the rule changes in the hopes of both informing authors (especially self-published) and opening a forum where authors and readers can have a healthy debate over the issue.

So what’s happening?

As of a few days ago, companies like Amazon, KOBO, and WHSmith are deleting self-published books that are deemed inappropriate or simply deleting all self-published novels altogether. Here are a few articles:

WHSmith removing all self-published titles: to summarize what’s happening here, WHSmith has received many complaints of titles that are “inappropriate.” According to the summary on their webpage, it started with uncomfortable or taboo erotica, incest, and rape themed novels. Then it moved into all self-published titles shortly afterwards, promising to keep self-published novels once they’ve gone through a screening process that has yet to be fully defined. 

Upon doing more research, I found an interesting article by The Self-Publishing Revolution who talks both about WHSmith’s censorship and Amazon. Yes, Amazon is also removing titles. In short, this article discusses books that have simply been removed because they were flagged inappropriate while also asking, “What is inappropriate?” and pointing out that what might be offensive to some, could be completely acceptable to another, not to mention that some of these taboo topics, such as incest and rape, happen in real life. One author even goes on to say how his novel was removed simply because it had an orgy in his novel, which, again, happens in real life and isn’t considered inappropriate by many readers.

So I went to my Author Facebook Page, and I asked what you think of this censorship. Here were some of the answers:

Simone Lisbon: I guess that would depend on who gets to decide what constitutes ‘inappropriate content’. I smell 1st amendment issues all over this…

Zach Hitt: First of all, the U.S.’s concept of what “inappropriate” is seems quite…er, funny. I hate to do this, but to quote/paraphrase Miley Cyrus, “America is funny in what we think is wrong. Just last night, I was watching Breaking Bad. They were essentially teaching viewers how to make meth. Then, they soaked a dead body in acid and wheeled the pieces into the woods. Then, they blanked out “fuck” and “molly,” during my VMA performance.” I can’t say I am a fan of her music, but Cyrus has a point. At what point will the line be drawn?

Yvonne Cline Simpkins: The United States is supposed to be Land Of The Free, but nothing is free anyore not even our RIGHTS!!!!

What do I think? 

I’m not entirely sure. Although I don’t advocate incest or rape in novels, I have to admit that I FEEL like this is a violation of freedom of speech, which I do have a problem with, but it isn’t. It’s the company’s right to say they don’t want to advocate such topics. It becomes very unclear on what these companies will do when we discuss taboo topics, especially when they happen in real life. What if it’s a story like Speak? This famous novel shows how rape can affect an individual. Would self-published stories like this now be censored? Or will they allow novels with such topics if they are only written in a serious manner instead of an entertaining manner? What about taboo, self-published novels that have been very successful, like the dinosaur erotica that erupted? There’s also a question of different laws and cultures between countries. For instance, age of consent and drinking age is different in the US than the UK. Will novels that don’t follow rules for one country be unavailable in another? This is a very thin line these companies are walking on. 

I will be watching how these companies change as they release more information on their screening process and their expectations for novels.

Please comment below. Have you experienced any backlash because of these changes? What do you think? Do you think other companies will follow their lead? How do you think this will change the self-publishing industry and/or readers?

If you’re interested, there is a petition. But I’d suggest sending a letter to the CEO of these companies instead (or both.)

AEC Stellar's FB cover photo

AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc. FB cover photo


86 Responses to “Censorship of Self-Published Authors or Something Else?”

  1. darylgstewart October 16, 2013 at 12:34 am #

    As uou know, all forms of censorship are a slippery slope. I, myself am offended easily, but I stop short of total opposition to the free will of others. All I ask is a little consideration. This may be a case where labeling is more appropriate.

    • Shadow October 23, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

      First of all, it is the company’s decision what they will and will not carry. I’m all for first amendment rights, but a line must be drawn somewhere and I for one am sick of the violent sexual stuff out there that passes for entertainment.

      That being said, I think labelling may be the best thing in this case.

  2. WTF Pancakes October 16, 2013 at 12:36 am #

    I think there are a couple of issues in play here, but both of them stem from the fact that Amazon and WHSmith/KOBO are businesses first, no matter how they try to present their positions on this matter. They’ll present themselves as friends to the self-publishing author up to the point where it costs them money.

    The removal of “questionable” content is, in most cases, a reaction to pressure and loss of business from the sort of people who enjoy being offended and make a point of letting everyone else know they should be offended as well. Unfortunately, these people tend to organize well, boycott effectively, and they aren’t shy about writing letters. Their goal is to convince booksellers that they’ll lose more money by carrying these titles than they’ll gain by selling them. The trick is to demonstrate to Amazon and WHSmith that the math doesn’t work out, that there’s enough of a market for these books that a boycott won’t cost their shareholders any dividends.

    The larger problem, in my opinion, is the decision to cease carrying self-published titles altogether regardless of their content. There’s really only one reason for a retailer to make that call: They’ve been given an ultimatum by the traditional publishing houses that Amazon or whoever can carry self-published titles or the publishers’ titles, but not both. I’m not sure how to overcome it other than to find other sales channels. It’s ugly and it’s a sign that the big publishers are feeling a little scared, a fact which warms the cockles of my heart just a little.

    I wish that it were otherwise, but there’s no way this is a 1st Amendment issue. The American constitution guarantees that the government will not stifle speech, but no such protection is afforded against private companies. There’s no legal remedy here that I’m aware of (of course, I’m not technically a lawyer so my take is not necessarily legally sound). Keep fighting them, keep petitioning, keep showing them how much money they’re losing by shutting out self-publishing writers, and get as many allies as you can. That is to say, keep it up.


    • SimoneLisbon October 16, 2013 at 9:50 am #

      You’re right and I’m wrong (I hate being wrong, *sigh* but I do it often enough that I’m used to it). When I saw what was happening I saw it as a 1st Amendment problem. Well, at least that was what I saw on the surface. You’re right this is not a 1st Amendment issue but a free market/capitalism issue. It’s another example of David v. Goliath.

      Traditional publishing as an industry has been hurting from the success and boom of the independent/self-published author. Timing is everything and not to throw a conspiracy into the mix but isn’t it a coincidence that all of this is happening on the eve of the highest consumer purchasing time of the year? Christmas is around the corner and suddenly independent authors have their products pulled from the market. If I’d continued to look at this as a 1st Amendment issue I would have missed that connection. So thank you for pointing out the obvious, which I completely missed. I could still be wrong, but that’s what jumped out at me today. I wonder what I’ll see tomorrow…

      • WTF Pancakes October 16, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

        I’m a past master at “being wrong,” so we’re in the same club there. Thanks for connecting the dots about the timing. I think you’re exactly right about that and I hadn’t made that leap.

      • akingstruth October 22, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

        Greay point

    • leftyhjones January 1, 2014 at 7:10 pm #

      I couldn’t agrees more with this comment.

  3. Ky Grabowski October 16, 2013 at 12:45 am #

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this matter and offering more insight into what is really going on. I understand why they don’t want certain topics associated but as you said they happen in real life. I think if authors can properly label what topics might be in their work that could offend others then that will be fine. No need to take away their hard work, some people write for work and now their income is going to be affected. That’s wrong.

    Besides if I read something I don’t like I either will continue on to see if my opinion will change or put down the book. I won’t hate the author for writing something I don’t like or shun their work, everyone has different tastes.

  4. richardbunning October 16, 2013 at 12:55 am #

    The balance between freedom for the individual and protection of the ‘weak’ is an impossibly difficult one to keep. It always will be. However, surely this issue allows the clear division between content access for different materials rather than cutting out either. Passwords, age declarations, warnings etc. are not totally watertight though they can be effective. Most important, they are reasonable barriers that few can object to. Isn’t that enough, coupled with the fact that crudely speaking, if a youngster is old enough to be really interested they are most often old enough to cope with their discoveries?

    There are some books that most of us would be happy to see having very restricted access. Password controls and other filtering methods enable that. I certainly don’t want to reach some content even just in passing.

    Whatever gates are put in, the inevitable risk of good books with some difficult content being banned along with the rotten must be avoided. Word search programmes, which are the likely first response, are certainly not a fair or even justifiable one. And banning all books that have been voluntarily categorised for ‘difficult’ content or that are self published is certainly not an acceptable solution. The hard core books will still find their audience, they may even do better, whilst the freedoms of the rest of us are being severely curtailed.

  5. helenvalentina October 16, 2013 at 1:33 am #

    Wow, I had no idea, thank you for posting..it will be interesting to see where this goes.

  6. jamesslade October 16, 2013 at 1:37 am #

    The ban would never be extended to classics like Nabokov’s ‘Lolita’ and McEwan’s ‘The Cement Garden’, but if they were self-published on Amazon tomorrow I’ll bet they too would be removed for explicit taboo content under these new rules. Those books were judged to be classics due to their literary merit, and what kind of Amazon review panel would make that call? It’s sorry to think that the next classic in a similar vein might not get through today’s highly pressurised print publishing industry, and now might not even be eligible for self-publishing online either. A lot of good literature will get washed away with all the dodgy erotica they’re so worked up about.

  7. kyrielan October 16, 2013 at 1:42 am #

    Firstly-Even though the 1st amendment grants freedom of speech, the sellers that are removing the books do have the right to screen what they want to sell. However, I think that if a book is controversial or on a taboo subject, then they should post a disclaimer of the subject matter and let the reader decide if they want to purchase it. There is too much political correctness going on in this country right now and too many worried about what someone else might think or be offended by.

    Secondly-As a reader, if I do see a review or something about the subject matter, I have the right to choose not to purchase it. It is not up to me to decide what someone else can or cannot read, but I can make my own choices.

    One of the Facebook comments mentioned the series, “Breaking Bad”. I will not watch that show based on the subject matter, even though others have recommended it to me. I will also not read “Fifty Shades of Gray” for the same reasons. That is my choice to make!

    I don’t think an author should be censored, just because someone might be offended by what they wrote.

  8. MishaBurnett October 16, 2013 at 2:18 am #

    No one is being censored, and no one’s freedom of speech is at risk. Books are not being banned. What is happening is that major e-book retailers, Kobo, B&N, Smashwords, and Amazon, are choosing not to carry certain merchandise in their stores. My right to write whatever I want is not in jeopardy. The fact that I have been selling my work through a particular company does not mean that I have a right to continue to sell my work through that company.

    That having been said, I think that this move will hurt those companies economically, and I wonder why they are reacting so strongly to an article in a fairly minor UK website.

    • Kate Sparkes October 16, 2013 at 9:55 am #

      Exactly what I was going to say. It’s not a freedom of speech issue. No one is saying you can’t write rhinoceros porn and sell it elsewhere, and no one is breaking down doors to take away our stashes of incestuous parakeet axe-murderer fiction. These businesses have a right to choose what they want to sell, even if we don’t agree with them. We can always buy elsewhere.

      I do think pulling all self-published titles was a big mistake, even if most of them will be back up soon. I read somewhere that Smashwords has the option to not have offensive content come up in searches. Would it be so hard for these other sellers to do the same, and allow readers to flag content that’s not appropriately marked as such?

    • dpatrickcollins October 16, 2013 at 10:25 am #

      Here here. Let’s not extend the 1st ammendment into publicly mandating what a business can and cannot choose to sell.

  9. Kenechi Udogu October 16, 2013 at 5:23 am #

    I noticed over the last few days that my books were slowly disappearing off Kobo/WHSmith sites. Now they are all gone. I write YA novels but as I am self published, I guess I don’t count to them. I was pretty annoyed at first but have decided to focus my time and energy elsewhere. If Amazon starts deleting my work, I’ll be much more worried as I have no “inappropriate” content in my work.

  10. Charles Yallowitz October 16, 2013 at 6:59 am #

    I ran into the dinosaur erotica when looking into this and decided it was time to leave the internet for a few hours. I’m confused how this came about.

    I think this would make more sense if they were targeting books that glorified rape and incest. Instead, they’re going after any self-published book with the topic. As you stated, a book like Speak is one that doesn’t glorify rape, but it would get deleted during this over-reaction. This is a definite throwing the baby out with the bathwater act, but I’ve been told that Amazon and other companies have it in the contract that they can delete a self-published book if they see fit. So, this is legal. Sucks, but legal.

    I think you’re going to see a lot of indie authors quit over this. Those that lose their books will see no way to continue. Many authors that were going to publish won’t even try out of fear of being denied. This might just be mostly in one genre, but people are scared that it’s going to spread. I don’t think Amazon realizes or cares about how easy it is to discourage indie authors with stuff like this. It’s really proving that we’re nothing more than cattle to them.

  11. Paul Davis October 16, 2013 at 7:38 am #

    Ha…was thinking about Lolita like someone else said. Or Song of Ice and Fire when talking about glorifying incest. I think it will be temporary, unless big publishers are backing this. Erotica just has too much money involved. Erotica and romance are both the top selling and most written genres for self published (Writer’s digest a few months back). But yes, this isn’t full out censorship. There will still be erotica sites where rape gets its own category and thousands read it a week. And now it’ll include t-rex.

  12. Cassandra H Griffin October 16, 2013 at 8:29 am #

    These are some great thoughts. Thank you for sharing. I wasn’t aware of some of this. Personally I think it’s taking it a bit far. I think there are audiences out there for all kinds of genres and novels, and I don’t think they should be removed. Usually a person knows what the novel is about before they buy it, and if they dont like what’s in it, then dont read it. However, there must be a better way of letting the buyer know exactly what they’re getting into. We have ratings for movies, so why can’t we have ratings for novels, accompanied with a short blurb like “rated R for explicit scenes containing orgies and strong language” or something silly like that. They don’t stop makin movies because it might be “inappropriate”. Maybe it’s just a matter of informing the audience in a standard and upfront way. I know that many parents feel young adult novels should have ratings, since there is such a wide audeince range in “young adult”. But a book written for thirteen year olds is very different than one written for a seventeen year old. And any book store I go into separates books into two categories: up to 12, and for teens. Great post. What a controversial topic.

    • Kate Sparkes October 16, 2013 at 9:59 am #

      I think ratings would help sales. It would be hard to pull off without an official ratings board like movies and video games have, but it’s not a bad idea.

  13. kingmidget October 16, 2013 at 8:41 am #

    I think Misha had an excellent comment on another blog that he didn’t include in his comment here. Misha’s books are filled with murder and violence — numerous illegal acts committed on other human beings. Yet, those are OK, but having a book that has a less than normal depiction of sex is not. It baffles the mind sometimes. I’m turned off by erotica that includes rape or incest or S & M, but if their reason for eliminating those books is that they include illegal activity or “inappropriate” scenes, how do they justify books filled with murder?

  14. Laura Brown October 16, 2013 at 11:53 am #

    Thank you for sharing. I wasn’t aware of this and will be doing my own research now. This is something where I can understand both sides. It is a very slippery slope. I think a big company like Amazon would do better being public about what they feel is acceptable or not. Let writers put up their own disclaimers. If I pick up a book thinking it will be a sexless romance and end up with erotica I’m going to be shocked. But if I pick up a book that is marked as erotica, and I want erotica, then I’ll be a happy reader.

    It’s about information. Banning products that sell might not be the right answer. But providing proper identification for questionable products might be better. Granted, we are still on that slippery slope of what is questionable and what is not.

  15. debeysklenar October 16, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

    Wow!!! I had not heard. And it comes at a very bad time for me, as I was just getting ready to self-publish a trilogy of fairy tales. Yeah, they would make the censorship cut IF it’s only censorship we’re talking about. I have to agree with WTF Pancakes–there is a far bigger picture here. Most likely those major publishers being hurt economically by the proliferation of self-published works. They are not going to go down easy. They are not going to play fair. And they will not be happy until they can get rid of all self-published works. That’s what is scary–regardless of content or quality, they want you gone if you self-publish.

  16. Jilanne Hoffmann October 16, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

    I think every “publisher” has the right to publish what they want. To me, that is not censorship. Telling others what they can or cannot read or say is censorship. Banning books from public libraries is censorship. That’s why librarians have a code of ethics that involves the First Amendment and serve as a line of defense for free speech when individuals and groups start talking about banning books. Independent bookstores support freedom of speech and will fight to keep controversial books on their shelves.

    The U.S. is not one homogenous mass. It comprises diverse groups of people with widely ranging opinions on pretty much any topic. Like public health officials, media censors attempt to “protect” younger members of society from material that they are not developmentally ready to process in a constructive way. In our elementary school’s library, we have a “teen reads” section that the 3rd/4th/5th graders are dying to be allowed to read. The mere fact that they’re not allowed to read them gives the “teen reads” books a certain cachet. Funny thing is, we have a “classic literature” section with books marked “teen reads” just because they are more difficult and not as accessible as contemporary literature. Kids are dying to read them until they realize that they’re not “inappropriate.” I think there’s a case to made for keeping society issues such as drugs, sex/rape/pornography, graphic violence, etc. in the teen reads section and out of the hands of 8-12 year olds.

    But then we don’t have a television and relegate our son’s viewing to G or PG movies we approve through Netflix. He is not yet 10 and has not seen a PG-13 movie. And we monitor his Internet use by sitting next to him when he’s doing research and approving access to specific Websites. Why be in a such a hurry to put violence and sexualization of just about every situation on display? Give the brain time to grow and develop so that when these things are encountered in the teen years, they can be deliberately discussed with a sense of perspective.

    I think the right to print and say really awful things needs to be protected in a free society. Otherwise, it’s a slippery slope. As adults and parents, we have the right to say “no, not in our house, not for our children in our house.” But we do not have the right to decide what other people watch or read.

    Does that make sense? Maybe I went off on a tangent. 😮

    • debeysklenar October 16, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

      I agree–a “rating” system for books similar to movies, tv, and video games should not be so hard to come up with…

  17. angel7090695001 October 16, 2013 at 1:49 pm #

    WHSmith remove ALL self-published novels. Very stupid of them.

  18. Raymond October 16, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    I think we like to label this issue one of “censorship” although that is a difficult case to make. Companies do not have to offer products that they believe have a negative impact on their brand. Apple “censors” apps that do not meet their standards, Goggle censors certain pages, Facebook censors certain uploads, and employees working in a Nike store are “censored” from wearing Adidas brands. WHSmith and Amazon decide what products can be offered and apply standards -their own- to those products. If porn, mommy porn, or erotic romance has an audience (and it does), the next company will come along and offer a place to sell it. It’s censorship when it impacts us and reasonable standards when we agree with the decision. Full disclosure – I have two novels published under my name and three erotic novels published under a pen name so this decision may impact me but I still support a company’s right to apply product offering standards because that’s how freedom works 🙂

  19. P. C. Zick October 16, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

    Publishers do have the right to publish books/media of their choosing; however, a blanket removal of all self-published books is a great disservice to the reading public. Perhaps they need to start with standards for self-publishing (professionally edited, etc.) and then provide a warning as HBO does for its programming. I’ve not had any problems in this arena with my books on Amazon, but thanks to your post, I’ll keep watching. Thanks, Shannon.

  20. sarahremy October 16, 2013 at 6:44 pm #

    Reblogged this on sarahremy and commented:

  21. Tuan Ho October 16, 2013 at 11:28 pm #

    …looks like my upcoming novel will be banned. It has multiple orgies lol 🙂

  22. TBM October 17, 2013 at 4:41 am #

    It’s a dangerous trend to start. I don’t advocate some subject matters, but does that mean that some authors shouldn’t have a voice? Growing up in the States the freedom of speech is ingrained in me and it’s hard to say yes to censorship even if the book is really disturbing. Unless of course they harm others–like guides of how to be a predator or along those lines.

  23. edwarddanielserotica October 17, 2013 at 5:51 pm #

    With 14 erotic short stories self published (and clearly labeled) across the major ebook platforms, I have a dog in this fight. It’s frightening to see years of work at risk because someone, somewhere may be offended by it. Much like how I approach television, my opinion with books has always been that when I don’t care for a topic, I simply choose not to read it. I’d be hard pressed for me to extend that to the point where I’d also say that because I choose not to read it, no one else should either. When a description displays a large disclaimer explaining that it is “explicit,” I simply can’t grasp why someone might then go to the trouble of paying to download it and only then discover that they’ve been offended.

    As a private business, Amazon is perfectly free to decide what it will and won’t sell… but I do have to wonder why they’re still selling a very wide assortment of what use to be charitably described as “marital aids.” Perhaps we’ve evolved enough now to only think sex is dirty when it’s on the printed page.

  24. Jacqueline Driggers October 17, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

    I think the time has come when we need to define the difference between erotica and porn; and yes, there is a difference. I know, because I’ve read the books.

    Erotica has a real and definite story, with what you would call x-rated sex scenes.

    Porn has little story to it, and is all about the graphic sex scenes.

    And books that contain incest or rape, for entertainment value, are just sick and deserve to be removed. I personally avoid those books.

  25. kkline922 October 17, 2013 at 9:07 pm #

    Thanks for writing this post. It’s a scary issue. Our rights allow the Freedom of Speech, which does not mean you can say anything verbally, as people may be unable to choose not to listen, but it does grant the right to express anything in words, as people may choose not to read it. Government and Corporations should have no ability to censor someone. Sure, there may be work that pushes social and sexual taboos, but if you draw any line, it then becomes a quick slope to further censoring. When does it stop? Who decides? And what will be considered taboo ten years from now, twenty, or thirty? Anywho, I’m against censorship of art in any form, in any way.

  26. Eddie Two Hawks October 18, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    Freedom to think, freedom to speak, freedom to write, freedom to publish.
    Large corporations should just count their money.

    Thank you for subscribing to my site and allowing me to enter your exciting world! Eddie

  27. Alastair Rosie October 19, 2013 at 4:23 am #

    I despise censorship in all forms. I may not read everything that comes out but I give people the right to say whatever the hell they want. This pandering to minority pressure groups is a slippery slope. Whsmith are morally bankrupt. Will be boycotting their stores from now on.

  28. darknesslites October 22, 2013 at 11:12 am #

    One of the downsides of the internet is that it’s far too simple for the powers that be to get all power crazed and decide what will be. Time to go back to the library for books. Ours deliberately sets up tables for banned books in order to make sure everyone has access to them.

  29. Carmen Miro October 22, 2013 at 11:53 am #

    Hello – I believe the publishers are trying to not be put out of business – this may have nothing to with censorship, though it may be convenient to cull unusual topics. The next issue is, do people then just migrate back over to poor subject matter on the web?

  30. Malcolm Greenhill October 22, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    Great post and congratulations on being Freshly Pressed. Corporate America lacks a backbone. The largest tech companies caved into the NSA’s carrot and stick strategy and Amazon and W.H. Smith are afraid to take on the moral activists. Nobody believes in core values anymore so corporations just trim their sails to the wind.

    • Shannon Thompson October 22, 2013 at 4:52 pm #

      Thank you for the congrats. I think your point is very important. I appreciate your comment.

  31. melodyspen October 22, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

    Thank you for the very informative notice. I had been hearing whispers about self-published novels being pulled, but hadn’t realized the narrow-minded extent of the damage. I agree that companies have the right to sell whatever they want and that this is not a 1st Amendment issue – but it definitely feels (as several others have already commented) like a gross overreaction to me.

    First off, ‘inappropriate’ or ‘offensive’ labeling is far too subjective, and I can’t claim to have read a single ‘Published’ erotica novel that didn’t edge or blur the lines of taboo topics. Fifty Shades is a horrible example – try reading the Sleeping Beauty series by Anne Rice, or her novel Belinda, where the age difference between the two main characters is actually illegal, but those won’t be pulled. Why? Because, Anne Rice rocks and is making her publishers far too much money – and that’s really what this all boils down to.

    Blogs with adult content require you to click on an 18 or older button on a static page prior to being able to view the blog – why couldn’t an electronic retailer simply have something along the same lines added to their websites triggered by key words or because they demand the author to plug in an age limit when uploading their works? Seems a much easier, practical solution than simply banning all self-published novels. Then if a buyer is STILL downloading and getting offended, they need a new hobby, because they’re obviously just looking for a reason to be.

    I’m a published author – but that doesn’t change the fact that I am a writer and this matter is very disheartening to me. Companies need to stop hiding behind smoke-screen reasons and just be blunt about it – or they better make damn sure those false reasons cover ALL of their merchandise, not just a certain kind. Leave the lame excuses and bs reasons to politics.

  32. awax1217 October 22, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

    Censorship is evil and really works if no one listens or buys what is being presented. If I do a picture that some might find offensive then if you are offended look away. The problem is saying I have no right to do something you are containing creativity. There was a time that the world was flat. Must be some many people thought it was. Therefore any one thinking otherwise needs to be censored. I do not like rap music I want it all censored. And so it goes.

  33. Sunrie October 22, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    The only reason they are going after self-publishers is because they generally don’t have the money to fight it in a law suit.

    What’s inappropriate? Well…look at the damn Snookie Stackhouse novels. It’s basically just about having sex in blood. Even the freaking “Interview with a Vampire” series of novels are just about sex. There’s incest like crazy in the old Greek stories about the gods and even in Plato’s stories specifically. Will those be removed?

    The knee jerk reactions from these idiots might not be as severe as the ant-second amendment people, but it’s getting there.

  34. elletodd October 22, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

    I’d really like to know what brought all this on. I want to say it was back in 2010 that I read an article regarding Amazon’s decision to allow a self-published “Guide to Pedophilia” or some such horror. I can’t say whatever happened there, but (at least briefly) this decision was defended by Amazon. Now, they’re going to yank all self-published titles because someone was offended by erotica/porn? SERIOUSLY?!
    Thanks for this article. When you live in a box (as I do) you often miss what’s going on out there…

    • Shannon Thompson October 22, 2013 at 4:56 pm #

      As far as the companies have released, they say it started with a child getting their hands on an erotic story. But I was surprised to hear that this becomes the author’s fault and not the person who owned the ebook reading device. I, personally, do not believe the reasoning given, especially because it doesn’t correlate with them only taking self-published authors away.

  35. qrparker October 22, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

    I’m less concerned with standard corporate censorship than I am by the clear implication we must now compete with dinosaurs for our mates.

    • Shannon Thompson October 22, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

      LOL! Oh, my. This comment literally made me laugh out loud. Thank you for that.

  36. Susannah Ailene Martin October 22, 2013 at 5:58 pm #

    This is an interesting topic. On the one hand, I don’t believe that those companies SHOULD be taking these books off their (metaphorical) shelves when they’ve already consented to show them. However, this is the U.S. and companies here are allowed to express their freedom of conscience. If they believe that these books violate that freedom, then they should be able to take them down. It would have been better, I think, to simply not allow the books in the first place if they were going to do that. It’s hard enough to be a self-published author without big companies suddenly yanking your books.

  37. dederants October 22, 2013 at 6:51 pm #

    Reblogged this on From Slacker To Scribe.

  38. rami ungar the writer October 22, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

    I’m not so sure about this censorship policy either. It sounds like these companies are getting themselves mired in a sticky situation. They should at least meet with some of the authors they may be deleting from their databases and discuss what is appropriate and what’s not. After all, Miley has a point (there’s something I never thought I’d say).
    Great post, by the way. Very nicely written.

  39. Alison Ross October 22, 2013 at 7:44 pm #

    Reblogged this on One Elle Alison.

  40. IsabellaStines October 22, 2013 at 9:28 pm #

    Wow, I had not heard about this! I have several writing friends who are self-published. I don’t think their work would be deemed “inappropriate” by any means—but is there a possibility that ALL self-published novels will be deleted? Just concerned about my author buddies. Thanks!

  41. Rock Thiz Magazine October 23, 2013 at 1:54 am #

    Reblogged this on Rock Thiz Magazine .

  42. Author Renee Brooks October 23, 2013 at 11:58 am #

    This is an interesting topic. Honestly, I believe that companies have the right to decide what content to allow and what content to discard, but I think that there is a bigger issue than that. Amazon is a huge company with many different genres, topics, and products. You can’t get rid of everything that you don’t like looking at or hearing about. If you don’t like the VMA performances – don’t watch them, if you don’t like books with taboo topics – don’t read them, if you don’t like the way pickles and ice cream tastes together – don’t eat it. You don’t have to completely eradicate things you don’t like. Just don’t participate or engage in things that do not resonate with you. Maybe displaying exactly what the novel is about would be a good way to go, but deleting people’s work because you don’t agree with their perspective or experience is crazy. Especially when you are talking about a huge company like Amazon.

  43. Guy Dilno October 23, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

    I stumbled onto your blog while looking at examples of WordPress blogs. It was a great article and I was concerned. It does seem, however, that Amazon is not wholesale removing self-published works. Neither are all tales of erotica being removed; there are thousands of titles that feature erotica in the Kindle store. So, while Kobo and WHSmith might be an issue, free speech still exists at Amazon. They have attempted to remove titles that feature abuse. While not okay from a freedom of speech standpoint, they are a commercial enterprise and must react to the marketplace.

    Thanks for letting us know about this. Perhaps boycots of Kobo and WHSmith would be effective.

  44. Nanettezart October 24, 2013 at 6:16 am #

    Someone will see it as a business opportunity and start anothr company. Or these companies will open under another name and scoop up the indies. there are now too many Indies to just let the business go. Just my opinion

  45. delilahsangels October 24, 2013 at 6:56 pm #

    Hey, I haven’t read any of the comments so I do apologise if I’m just repeating what loads of other people have said, but I really love your post and so I thought it necessary to tell you!

    Personally I am of the opinion that banning books based on whether they offend people or not is ridiculous. There are so many books, films and music videos that depict murder, rape, incest and god knows what else, but unfortunately those things exist and so they’re always going to be written about in one form or another. Personally I’d rather paedophiles be getting their rocks off to fictitious child abuse in an e-book rather than a real child but I guess that’s just my opinion.

    Great blog anyway, very balanced!

    • Shannon Thompson October 25, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

      I’m really glad you commented! Thank you for your complements as well as your opinion on the issue. I appreciate it!

  46. M G Kizzia October 24, 2013 at 11:23 pm #

    Check … but as the Hitchiker’s Guide tells us, “Don’t Panic.” Give it several months, a year, two tops and it will all change again. If nothing else, Amazon (or others) will probably start an “Amazon Adult” site where, like Paypal, you will have to eighteen or older to access. Then we can all argue about whether or not bookX should or should not be “limited” to the Amazon Adult site. So it goes.

  47. Gretchen O'Donnell October 25, 2013 at 9:36 am #

    Wow, interesting issue. I guess it just reinforces my desire to NEVER have to self-publish.


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