Saturday, 19 October 2013

Quarantined! The Kobo saga continues...

Further to 'Kobo did WHAT?' I emailed the company to ask why my novels and short stories had been removed from their website.  I was told they hadn't been removed, they were merely quarantined.

A letter to our KWL authors and self-publishing partners

In order to address the situation Kobo is taking the following steps:
  1. We are removing titles in question from the Kobo platform.
  1. 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.
  1. We are reviewing our policies and procedures to implement safeguards that will ensure this situation does not happen in the future.
I am glad they are addressing the issue of the vile and unwholesome books that slipped through the net but the whole situation reminds me of being at school.  Someone has written a naughty word on the toilet door so the whole class is kept behind until someone owns up.

As an author I am still a very small fish in the big pond of self publishing.  I hate to admit that I'm unlikely to lose much revenue from my books being unavailable but I really feel for the bigger authors and especially the small publishing houses who have been affected by this situation.  Kobo's mistake could cost them dear indeed.

It has raised a lot of discussion about what is suitable subject matter and what is not.  Erotica is subjective, some people are turned on by sunset walks on the beach, other's prefer a bit of slap and tickle but I think we can safely draw the line at illegal acts.  Or can we?

I have been feeling a little paranoid about the book I'm currently working on.  It explores the grey areas of sexual abuse.  Is it sexual abuse if the woman doesn't say no?  Is it rape if she is incapable of saying no?

Without spoiling the story there are scenes were an older man takes sexual advantage over an inebriated young woman.  The scenes are reasonably explicit but I didn't write them as erotica to turn people on, I wrote them as part of a greater story.  If scenes of rape are unacceptable then does my book break the policy?  If it does then  by the same measure do we also lose such great works as Alice Walker's The Color Purple?

It's food for though and I don't envy Kobo's review team one little bit!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Kobo did WHAT?

I love my little Kobo Glo.  I've been singing it's praises for the past month or so and I have been busy tweeting links for other Kobo owners to buy my books from the Kobo website but today the love affair turned sour.  I went to the Kobo website and my books weren't there anymore.


All six of my books had disappeared from the Kobo website.

Heaven Knows This Time.  Gone.
Another Perfect Angel.  Gone.
Angel's Shadow.  Gone.
Being Isobel.  Gone.
The Last Bite.  Gone.
The Boutique.  Yup, my innocent little ghost story had gone too.

Head scratching commenced.  I double checked my Smashwords account (they distribute my works to Kobo and other retailers) and I started to Google for clues.  Then I came across this.

BBC - WH Smith takes website offline after porn e-book scandal

Now if you've ever visited Smashwords and turned the Adult Filter 'OFF' then you might have seen some of the unsavoury titles available in the 'erotic' genre.  I'm not a big fan of porn but each to their own, I gloss over it and move on.

My husband then sent me this link.  WARNING!  The subject matter is pretty offensive, don't click if you have small children around.

The Kernel - An Epidemic of Filth

It all started to make sense.  This extreme material had found it's way onto some eBook websites and the way they chose to deal with it was to shut them down and get rid of all the self published books.


I'm not a computer expert but surely there are better ways of dealing with the problem than shutting the whole website down?  WHSmith website is still offline as I type this and the holding page states:

Our website will become live again once all self published eBooks have been removed and we are totally sure that there are no offending titles available. When our website goes back online it will not display any self published material until we are completely confident that inappropriate books can never be shown again. 

Now I'm glad they are trying to stop the very extreme and nasty novels from being available but did they really have to tar all self publishing authors with the same brush?

My books have been removed from the Kobo website and I've not been given a reason or explanation.  There is chaos amongst self published authors on the internet.  No-one seems to know what is going on and I'm sat here feeling hurt and confused.

Were my books bad?  Are they too explicit?  What about The Boutique?  There's no sex in that!  The conspiracy theorists are whispering about it being a planned attack on self publishing authors.  The old school publishers don't like that we're doing a better job than they are, but I don't really subscribe to all that.  I just want Kobo and WHSmith to put my books back on their websites.

I worked hard on my novels.  They may not be the most deep or thought provoking books in the world but I think they are good stories and I want to share them with people so they can enjoy them too.  I might be too much of a risk for the big publishers to take on but at least by self publishing I can reach people and hopefully provide a little entertainment to brighten their day.  Some of my stories are even free!

So, Kobo, if you're listening.  Could you put my books back, please?

If not, I'm sending everyone to Amazon UKAmazon USABarnes and Noble and Smashwords!