There is an unconfirmed story going around today that Amazon has issued new standards and guidelines for cover images for ebooks in the Kindle Store.
According to one cover designer, Amazon has banned a long list of human anatomy from appearing on covers in the Kindle Store.
Erin Dameron-Hill, writing on her Facebook page, reports that Amazon has changed what they will allow in cover images:
Hey there! Amazon has made a few changes to their rules on accepting covers.
- No model can be handcuffed (this will instantly flag you), blindfolds are okay for now (but I don't expect them to be in the future).
- Handcuffs are allowed if they are separate--not on the models . The model can hold the cuffs.
- No side boob or big cleavage.
- No upper butt. (No nudity, obviously).
- No lower hair patch for men (or women).
- No sexual positions--no doggie style, missionary (or any position that implies penetration).
- No hands on boobs or private areas.
- No women on their knees in front of men (even fully clothed).
- No men between women's thighs.
- No men's faces on breasts (resting, etc--even fully clothed).
For those of you with erotic, dark erotic, or BDSM romances, I would highly recommend a symbolic cover otherwise your books are likely to be flagged. I hope this has been enlightening.
It looks like Amazon may be taking a drastic response to the erotica brouhaha which blew up last year. Last October Amazon and other ebook retailers responded to the hysteria instigated by the Daily Mail and other "news" organizations by removing vast swaths of content based on little more than keyword searches.
On the other hand, maybe not.
This story currently only has a single source, and has yet to be confirmed by Kindle PR (I queried Amazon a couple hours ago) or the several authors I asked. Also, I briefly checked the Kindle Store and can tell you that there are any number of cover images which violate the new policy.
But most importantly, I cannot find any similar reports from forums where authors gather. I checked Absolute Write and KBoards and I didn't find any authors commenting, complaining, or even mentioning the new rules. If this new policy was real then there would be dozens of comments by now.
Folks, without the confirmation I don't think we can assume that this really is a new policy from Amazon. Instead, this could well be another case of some mid-level drone making up the rules as they go along.
Last April a similar story went around concerning Amazon banning works under 2,500 long. That story also lacked confirmation and turned out not to be true at all. As I pointed out at the time:
While Amazon is in the habit of suddenly enforcing new rules with little notice, they also make sure to tell everyone about it. In May 2012 Amazon got serious about banning public domain and junk ebooks from the Kindle Store, and they sent out an email to all KDP authors and publishers. The email highlighted Amazon's content rules, which said in part:
Some types of content, such as public domain content, may be free to use by anyone, or may be licensed for use by more than one party. We will not accept content that is freely available on the web unless you are the copyright owner of that content. For example, if you received your book content from a source that allows you and others to re-distribute it, and the content is freely available on the web, we will not accept it for sale on the Kindle store. We do accept public domain content, however we may choose to not sell a public domain book if its content is undifferentiated or barely differentiated from one or more other books.
Without confirmation from another source or explicit confirmation from KDP, I would lay odds that this story is not as true as it appears.
If anyone can confirm or deny this story, the comments are open.
Update: Dameron-Hill has since backpedaled, explaining in a follow up comment that the list was her own creation and not an official list from Amazon. The list is based on what her clients had told her concerning ebooks rejected or pulled by Amazon. So basically I was right; this is a case of unnamed drones establishing policy by fiat.
image by kodomut