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Summary:

After an uproar broke out in the U.K. over self-published rape and incest porn for sale on ebook sites, Kobo removed self-published titles from its U.K. site for two weeks while it reviewed them. Now the company has explained its policy going forward.

Kobo Writing Life

A couple of weeks after a U.K. uproar over the self-published rape and incest porn ebooks for sale at sites like Amazon and Kobo, Kobo has e-mailed self-published authors with some straightforward info about what it will and won’t let them sell from now on.

Kobo had pulled all self-published books from its U.K. site while it worked on the problem. U.K. bookstore chain W.H. Smith, which sells Kobo ebooks via its website, had gone farther and taken down its entire site offline, though it’s now back up.

Michael Tamblyn, Kobo’s chief content officer, has emailed users of Kobo’s self-publishing platform Writing Life with a few details about the company’s new policy. “The good news is that the vast majority of self-published Kobo Writing Life titles are once again available on Kobo.com in the UK, with most authors experiencing a gap of only a few days before their books were once again in the catalogue,” he said, adding:

“For those few titles that remain unavailable, some feel that we chose a path of censorship. All I can say is that if your dream is to publish ‘barely legal’ erotica or exploitative rape fantasies, distribution is probably going to be a struggle for you. We aren’t saying you can’t write them. But we don’t feel compelled to sell them. And yes, many titles live in a grey zone with far more shades than the fifty that sold so well in the past year, but that is what makes this all so challenging and so interesting. Many of our readers have no problem with an erotic title in their library next to their romance, literary fiction, investing or high-energy physics books. And we are here for the readers, so erotica stays, a small but interesting part of a multi-million-title catalogue, in all of its grey-shaded glory.”

He concluded, “It will never be perfect, but our belief continues to be that if we focus on readers and growing our business around them, we will get it right much more often than not.”

Tamblyn noted that “almost everyone on the Kobo Content Team, spread across a dozen countries and time zones, was involved [in the review] at one point or another,” but the company hasn’t explained exactly how it is going to filter for these titles in the future.

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  1. A business has the right to set its standards. Kobo should be applauded for its character and class.

    1. Character is when you don’t cave to moral panics. They’re free to exercise their right to associate with who they wish but they clearly took the easy way out and clearly did so because they thought it would be popular. They even said as much.

  2. Hilarious given that it is owned by a Japan based company where the abuse theme is so much more present.

  3. Sounds like they didn’t say anything except that they’ll maybe possibly occasionally turn down a book.

  4. Kobo removed all John Rankine/Douglas Mason sci-fi and historical novels! Still not back up on UK site. What does this mean?

  5. Valentine North Tuesday, October 29, 2013

    Next up, religious and political content. Not all of it, just the ones “they” find offensive.

    1. Dont forget “they” own the company, its not a public enterprise, its a private company, if you dont like what “they” do then dont use them but none of us get to control what “they” do, same goes for Amazon, Apple and all the others. Strange how people feel ‘entitled’ to get what they want from a company as if the company ‘owes’ us something….

  6. BlackSerpentErotica Wednesday, October 30, 2013

    They certainly have the right to sell whatever they want but I would like to point out a few things. First of all, barely legal is still legal. Second, they still carry books from large publishers that are as they would put it “exploitative rape fantasies”. Third and I think most important, they act as if they had no idea what they were selling. Every single book for sale by Kobo and all the other “shocked” retailers was approved by them. When a book is published they have to approve it before it gets accepted into their store.

    1. Every store in the industry is colluding to ban “questionable” content. That makes it censorship. They’re banning legal content. In all of the articles that I’ve read on the matter, I haven’t seen one article reference erotica with anyone who is underage, nor have I ever run across such a book.

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