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Amazon is in the Book Banning Business

This just got forwarded to me over Twitter:

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.

If right now you’re thinking "eww, I’m glad they dropped those titles" then you missed the point. When it comes to fiction, "inappropriate" is a matter of opinion. The stories you loath might appeal to someone else. Whose standard is Amazon using, exactly? They don’t say.  How will anyone know whether their ebooks will still be listed tomorrow inappropriate?

Also, do you realize that by banning only these titles, Amazon are expressing approval of rape scenes, BDSM, and every other questionable activity in fiction? This is the biggest problem with this kind of censorship. The content allowed in makes you look just as bad as the content blocked. That’s why I think it’s best not to judge at all.

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CK December 15, 2010 um 6:22 pm

It is not censorship unless the government does it. Private businesses like can choose what goes on their website.

Nate the great December 15, 2010 um 11:06 pm

All right then. It’s not censorship; it’s only Amazon saying that rape scenes and statuatory rape are okay erotica.

Luqman December 16, 2010 um 8:05 am

What dictionary do you use? According to to the Merriam Webster dictionary to censor is : " to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable ; also : to suppress or delete as objectionable " This is exactly what Amazon did. They may have the right to do it but this does not make it any less censorious.

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