Kobo: Sorry, we’re just not gonna sell “‘barely legal’ erotica or exploitative rape fantasies”

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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