Kobo has finally shared a partial explanation for why they removed self-published titles from their ebookstore. It may have taken them well over 48 hours to respond, and their explanation leaves many questions unanswered, but at least we now have something solid to go on:
To our Kobo Writing Life and self-publishing partners:
As you may be aware, there has been a significant amount of negative media attention in the UK regarding offensive material that became available across a number of eBook platforms. Kobo was included in the reports from media and we are taking immediate action to resolve an issue that is the direct result of a select few authors and publishers violating Kobo’s content policies.
In order to address the situation Kobo is taking the following steps:
1. We are removing titles in question from the Kobo platform.
2. We are quarantining and reviewing titles to ensure that compliance to our policies is met by all authors and publishers. We will ensure that content meeting the policy is made available online as soon as possible.
3. We are reviewing our policies and procedures to implement safeguards that will ensure this situation does not happen in the future.
We are working hard to get back to business as usual, as quickly as possible. We appreciate your patience and understanding in this matter.
Our goal at Kobo is not to censor material; we support freedom of expression. Further, we want to protect the reputation of self-publishing as a whole. You have our promise that we will do all we can to ensure the exceptions that have caused this current situation will not have a lasting effect on what is an exciting new channel that connects Readers to a wealth of books.
That’s a very nice response, but unfortunately it also misleading. This email would have you believe that they only removed erotica and that is simply not true. As I reported earlier today, Kobo also removed numerous other titles from other genres. They have yet to explain why they did this or even tell authors that the titles had been removed.
I don’t suppose we will ever receive a complete explanation, but at least with this email we have good reason to believe that Kobo will restore the ebooks they erroneously removed.