Why should ALL readers care about erotica censorship?
A few “reasonable” people have responded to this discussion on writers’ websites, saying something to the extent of: “I don’t care if they stop selling ‘that trash.’ I don’t read it, and I don’t think anyone else should, either.”
The “reasonable” rebuttal usually goes like this:
“It’s a slippery slope. Today, they’re banning incest, but they have the power to ban books about cats, or the Holocaust, or lock picking, or anything they feel like banning.”
Though it pains us to admit it, this rebuttal is not quite a valid argument based on patterns of current culture. Amazon and others have shown fear only regarding sex and people’s sexual imaginations. Sexual material, especially that which makes the privileged power group uncomfortable, has always come under fire.
It is challenging in a way that cats or history is not — especially when this supposed cultural elite, the readers, the book buyers, prove that they’re as interested in sex as any other human being on the planet.
But here is why we think all book buyers and readers should care, even those who do not read erotica:
When a few people’s personal tastes are allowed to set the tone for the world (Amazon is unarguably a major global marketplace, not to mention Google), you’re reverting back to the traditional publishing bottleneck.
The personal preference or dislike of one agent, slush pile reader, or editor can make sure that the book never makes it to market, all because they feel that this is a book that is not “worthy.” Amazon’s ADULT dungeon represents, at least to us, a regression toward this undesirable past model of publishing — one that restricted not only erotic readers’ choices, but everyone’s.
We believe that the era of the traditional taste-setter/publisher is — and should be — over. Book retailers made it possible for authors to answer directly to the market, and let readers themselves decide what gets produced and what does not.
But freedom for one group of readers means freedom for all, even if that “all” encompasses non-vanilla erotica. We thought Amazon was on the same page when they started KDP. It leads us to wonder: Who does Amazon have to answer to, such that they’re trying to “clean up” their image? Is it their own policy, or is there someone pulling their strings?
But all is not lost.
Our outrage mostly isn’t on our own behalf. Amazon un-dungeoned us within a day. Though they can throw us back into the dungeon at any moment, we’re not actually dependent on Amazon for our sales. We certainly noticed it when sales of The Dark Earth inexplicably dropped some months ago, but it was only one source of revenue. For us, business went on.
Even for single indie authors, there are still choices. Amazon, though the best-known, isn’t the only ebookseller in town. Though Amazon is aggressive about getting bigger and bigger shares of the pie, the internet (for now) is still in the hands of everyone.
Even better is how erotica readers have proven that they will go above and beyond to seek out what they want to read.
The future of publishing still lies with you, the readers.
Adult fiction, especially non-mainstream romance and non-hetero erotica is still very much an underground market. While companies like Amazon and Google in theory make it easy for indies on the same level as, for example, Harlequin, we’ve seen that this is not actually true.
And if something is drawn, not written, it is even more unfairly treated, as in the case of our tame, sweet DE 1 & 2, whose only crime was to be yaoi.
If a silent army of erotica readers is the hidden, massive force behind the ebook market, the power still lies with us. We need to keep that power and not let a central company take away our choices. Though Amazon is trying to redefine the very essence of publishing by their own terms, there is a lot that all readers can do to help shape the market into one that is free for all artistic expression.
What every reader can do:
- Promote the books, authors, and series you love. Peer reviews — by readers, for readers — still drive a lot of sales for authors. Amazon knows this full well, since they bought Goodreads. If something has been ADULT-ed on Amazon, direct link to the individual books on other sites.
- Better yet, send people to the author’s own site, if the books are available. Not everyone is set up to sell their own books on their own site, but many are. The author makes more money, and is less dependent on Amazon if fans know to go direct.
- If you have a blog, help readers become aware of these important issues by continuing the conversation. You can simply link to an article, our blog, Selena Kitt’s posts, or the kboards, where a lot of authors talk about these same issues.
– Raythe Reign Team
UPDATE! As if this issue wasn’t topical enough, Barnes & Noble decided to implement two new and unfair things towards erotics and all indie writers (remember that this should be a concern OF ALL READERS? well, this plays it out:
(1) B&N have instituted a “glass ceiling” for some indie erotica and romance. Essentially, they are “pinning” popular erotic novels at no higher than 125 on the Best Seller List. So that Best Seller List isn’t actually accurate! It’s just what’s APPROVED to be on it. And erotica need not apply.
Now you may say that being 125 on all of B&N is great! And it is, but the higher up the list you are you get sales in an order of magnitude greater. Yeah …
(2) B&N is removing erotic/romance titles ALTOGETHER from B&N UK. B&N informed a traditional publisher (they claimed to indies that they were “looking into the issue) that they want a “clean”, “family friendly” site so erotica/romance can go shove it … Now mind you there is AGAIN no notice to any author that their work has been taken down and when that is discovered, B&N LIES about it.
These are big time sellers. Lilliana Hart is probably one of the top selling romance authors out there and only 2 of her 22 titles are being shown on Nook UK. Also, the “glitch” in rankings occurred to her, which B&N claimed they were “very sorry for” after she lost thousands … RR isn’t so big, many authors aren’t so big, so you can imagine if B&N and Amazon act this way to the “big” names, how will they act towards the rest of us?
Oh, and the irony of this, is the 50 Shades of Gray, which saved B&N’s bacon, is STILL front and center on their website, but they don’t want all the rest of us nasty, erotic writers to join that one …