Thursday, October 17, 2013

Self-Published Erotica Removed! But 50 SHADES is Still There #Erotica #CensorshipSucks #Oct #ASMSG

Here's the sensationalized headline that rocked the UK and spawned a massive ban on self-published erotic ebooks:

"WH Smith's vile trade in online rape porn: Bookseller apologises after sales of sick ebooks are revealed"

Unless you've been hiding under a rock and have no clue about what's been taking place in the world of publishing, you have probably heard or seen news headlines like this:

"Self-Published Erotica is Being Singled Out For Sweeping Deletions From Major eBookstores"

"Kobo’s Purge of Self-Pub eBooks has Spread to New Zealand, Australia"

Here's a somewhat slanted view of this highly editorialized-sensationalized media scare:

"Online Booksellers Are Increasingly Afraid of Selling Smut"

Now, it is interesting to look at the heated debates on The Digital Reader, mostly from Indies, Author-Publishers.  And then take a look at Joe Garde's writeup, which raises all kinds of valid questions about the slippery slope of censorship, but completely misses the mark on other issues.

What isn't really clear is the fact that ALL SELF PUBLISHED EROTICA is now suspect, and a target for removal in the UK, and the US, regardless of whether or not it touches on taboo subject matter like incest or bestiality (that's what the scare was all about to begin with).

Well, if online booksellers are afraid of selling smut, and the issue is erotic content, which is what they targeted by removing ALL SELF-PUBLISHED erotic content, then why does WH Smith have all these books available from major publishers:  

WH Smith still carries....

There's not a single self-published title left in their website to compete with any of the hundreds of erotic fiction novels available from major publishing companies.  That's quite a convenient boon to major publishers whose erotic fiction market was being steadily eroded away by a large number of popular self-published titles.  I imagine they are very pleased to have all their competition removed, and just in time for the holiday internet book buying craze valued in HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.

There's nothing remotely suspicious about that, is there?  

According to The Guardian and Library Journal, major publishers are selling erotic fiction hand over fist, and scrambling to get long dead back-lists of erotica back into circulation.

And Kobo claims, "We want to protect the reputation of self-publishing as a whole." The company moved lightning fast to accomodate WH Smith's demands for self-published erotica removal.  ALL OF KOBO'S SELF-PUBLISHED EROTICA HAS BEEN REMOVED FROM THEIR UK WEBSITE.  It seems the only thing they have "protected" is their retail relationship with WH Smith.

But, Kobo UK still carries....
(Only people in the UK can see the Kobo UK site--so I have provided the screenshots)






So, while Joe Garde asserts that online booksellers are increasingly afraid of selling erotica, they are still doing a brisk trade in TRADITIONALLY PUBLISHED erotica, without all those pesky self-published titles mucking up the pages and stealing market share.

How very convenient for major publishers.

One might start to wonder what resources might lie behind this Machiavellian movement to scour the shelves of self-published erotica.  Logically, to analyze a situation like this, you would look at who stands to benefit most from this act.  Follow the money trail.

Though I may seem to imply people have a right to publish erotic content, that right doesn't exist.  But can online booksellers legally ban one group of people from publishing erotic content, while allowing another group?  

I am no lawyer, but my eyes see discrimination, widespread discrimination.


You can sit around and quote laws and whip out legal dictionaries and whatever. None of that changes the plain truth that self-published erotica is being discriminated against, and this is probably only the beginning.  Will other retailers follow suit?

Is this a form of discrimination that can be sued for? Probably not.

But it should be.

Is this a form of discrimination against one’s rights? Not exactly, no.

But its still discrimination.

I see no debate over the fact this is a form of discrimination. The debate is, what the hell can and should be done about it, if anything?

Is it time for an Erotic Author-Publishers Union?  Could Author-Publishers create a united front, and start amassing clout and leverage in the world of publishing and distribution?

I know quite a few erotic authors, and I can say from experience, organizing them is like trying to herd cats (sweet, lovable, affectionate cats nothing derogatory here).

And though my own books are classified as paranormal romance and paranormal thriller, I can't help but wonder what is an Author-Publisher to do when their books are removed from retail sale, their livelihoods deleted from servers?

"Do not go gentle into that good night ... Rage, rage against the dying of the light." ~ Dylan Thomas


  1. Oh this is complete crap, Travis, and I agree that a rant is called for. This isn't so much true censorship as it is publishers engaging in market protectionism disguised as censorship. I don't like to slag other authors but E.L. James should be censored for sucking and any site that doesn't carry better written books like yours is losing my business.

  2. Travis, I don't write erotica, but am totally supportive of your issue here. It's one thing for a bookseller to carefully remove individual offending products as you mentioned above, but a sweep of indie writers in erotica is not only insulting, but the slippery slope of censorship and, as Leigha said, market protectionism. Let us fellow ASMSGers know what we can do to help.

  3. Such hypocrisy! I knew they would eventually have a witch hunt over this. It's bad enough that erotic romance and erotica writers are discriminated against by book promotion sites, but now the publishers are getting in on it, too. This makes me sick!

  4. Oh - My - God! What is wrong with these people?????? If people don't like erotica no-one is forcing them to buy it! Well obviously Travis people just don't have sex in other countries... You rant away mate <3

  5. There's a petition over at you might be interested in. I also blogged about it very briefly on The Masquerade Crew. Here's a link to the petition.

  6. Erotic authors are often discriminated against, often by other authors. This is just another slap in the face to an entire group of authors--self-published erotica authors. It's very disturbing. I really appreciate your post because I'd never considered who stood to profit from the mass removal of self-published erotic books.

  7. It is an unfortunate first wave against self-published writers in general. Big publishing houses are finding themselves increasingly unable to fight against the growing independent market fueled by individual writers' flexibility and extreme-competitive-pricing. Additionally, it is hard for them to justify higher prices when their quality doesn't prove itself against the onslaught.

    For them, it probably seems simple to rail against a particular market using "morality" as their battle-cry. But oh so often their morality reeks of hypocrisy at best.

    This is a great write-up. Though I am not an romance/erotica writer or reader, I certainly empathize with what is going on and do not agree under any circumstances that it should continue. It is an open marketplace and should remain so no matter the "content."

    Keep up the fight. I know I'll be.

  8. It would be one thing if they just removed erotica, but Kobo and WH Smith removed ALL books by indie and small publishers. Kobo says they are going to vet the books and put the ones that meet their TOS back. If they couldn't filter out the offending books in the first place, how long will it take them to filter hundreds of thousands of titles?

    The online retailers have turned a blind eye to porn because they were making money on it. Now that they've been called out, they're over reacting.

  9. Very well reasoned, I agree with all those points. It's not just erotica though, I had 8 books at Kobo, only 2 of which were erotica and they've all been removed. They just want to get rid of self-publishers and are using the porn scare as an excuse. Even if Kobo do reinstate my books, I won't be linking to them. There are some books I don't want to read (sparkly vampires come to mind) but it's not up to me to decide what other people can or cannot read. Adults should be allowed to read/buy adult content if they wish.

  10. I consider myself "Self Published" but my book is still there. The reason I believe is becaue it wasn't published by amazon, smashwords etc. I actually went through a publisher. The kind you like to call Vanity. I think that is why they are still there. That is the reason for 50 Shades too. She went through a vanity pub the first time. So the question is...who is trying to put selfpublishing organizations out of business at least in the Erotica category?
    This whole thing stinks bigtime and almost reminds me of something that swept through Europe in the 30's. Censorship like this should not be allowed.

  11. Brilliant post. I'm an erotic author with an indie publisher and I guessing it's only a matter of time. All my books were pulled the last time somebody got a bug up their pants. They were eventually reinstated as none of them had the big baddies in them - but was there compensation for lost revenue? Was there even an apology?
    Tweeted. FB Shared. Google+

  12. Sounds like the market is wide open now for an enterprising digital publishing company. If Kobo doesn't want the titles, perhaps another company will?