Fancy yourself a writer? Until recently, publishing a book meant a lot of hard work pitching to major publishing houses and not a lot of profit. Now, though, e-publishing allows you to simply upload your text, create an e-book format within a matter of minutes, and start selling your fabulous fiction by cutting out all of the middle men.
Unless, of course, you're an erotica writer.
E-books used to offer everyone the opportunity to self-publish and sell titles on sites like Amazon or even Waterstones – just look at the latest craze of Dinosaur Erotica selling like hot cakes on Amazon! Things are changing now, though. Last week, Kernel published an expose entitled How Amazon Cashes in on Kindle Filth which is all about how Amazon, a major e-book retailer, is selling rather unsettling titles like Don't Daddy (Forced Virgin Seduction) and Daddy's Invisible Condom (Dumb Daughter Novelette).
Any literature about rape, revenge porn, incest and taboo sex have been identified as problematic, and without censorship. They are available as instant purchase downloads for anyone with an account – children and vulnerable individuals are as exposed to these titles and publications as they might be to any other novels.
While these titles aren't readily available from the retailer's search box, anyone with the correct title, author's name or URL can access this content and browse through similar items with the 'you might also like' applet on the site which suggests similarly-themed books for purchase.
In the wake of the expose, many major e-retailers have begun to eliminate all dubious erotica from their stores. In some cases, the entire erotica sections have been removed, and in a more extreme example, entire websites have been taken down.
That's what happened with major retailer W H Smith. They took down their entire website to deal with the problem and issued a formal apology to all of their customers with a holding page. On it, they explained:
Last week we were made aware that a number of unacceptable titles were appearing on our website through the Kobo website that has an automated feed to ours. This is an industry wide issue impacting retailers that sell self published eBooks due to the explosion of self publishing, which in the main is good as it gives new authors the opportunity to get their content published. However we are disgusted by these particular titles, find this unacceptable and we in no way whatsoever condone them.
So far, Amazon haven't had anything to say or to add to the debate, although they have removed the offending titles that the Kernel identified. It's not clear how they plan to move forward, or how other major e-retailers are going to go about policing their erotica sections, but for now it seems that they're taking a massive 'better safe than sorry' approach to the offending literature.
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