Tue 15 Oct 2013
UPDATE 10:17 at 1:30 pm: : Sometimes, it’s hard being right – Publisher’s Weekly just linked to this UK story by the UK Telegrah. It’s an interview with KOBO’s CEO over the whole “porn purge.” Notice the headline? “KOBO porn scandal: the end of self publishing?” The publishers’ push isn’t so undercover anymore…..
In case you’ve been buried under a rock, vegetating with the ‘shrooms, or swimming with the ducks and haven’t heard – the Porn Prohibition has arrived. You can catch up here via an excellent piece from The Digital Reader.
Basically, some publication dug up a story that combined porn and Amazon – I’m guessing that pub was very hungry for some dirt to boost ratings. The pub found porn in Amazon’s Kindle store and after that story broke, reader hungry pubs from all over the world began digging around and finding similar books on all sites. Under heavy fire from one of the strangest moral coalitions in history, all the sites began ducking for cover and ditching porn right and left.
I’ll grant you – there are some HORRENDOUS things out there. What’s more, the worst of the worst sell the most of the most. But caught up in the great purge are some fine erotica and even erotic romance works by excellent authors – excellent SELF PUBLISHED authors. Because the moral coalition or the etailer sites – likely pushed, poked and prodded by traditional pubs who may have even fed the story to the first pub – decided that only self-published erotica was bad. Traditionally published erotica is fine. (The moral distinction of that escapes me. The common sense also escapes me – the etailers like Amazon, KOBO, Barnes and Noble are all siding with the publishers who stayed in business all these years by deciding people were too stupid to figure out what they wanted to read on their own. People should only read what publishers thought they should be allowed to read.)
Anyway, Jeff Bezos, Amazon and all the others have joined the “our readers are idiots” bandwagon being pulled by the moral coalition and the traditional publishers. The justification for all of it? That “those books” are right there on digital shelves where children can see them. The only solution is a prohibition style shelf sweeping of all erotic works by all SELF-PUBLISHED authors. Why is that the only solution? BECAUSE IT’S THE ONLY SOLUTION THAT WILL HELP KEEP TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING COMPANIES IN BUSINESS.
The publishers are all so desperate at the surge in reader acceptance of indie work that they’ve forgotten that readers were never actually stupid. The stupidity was always on the publishers side of the scale. Yep, I think the publishers finally drank their own Kool Aid. The readers know there are lots of solutions that don’t rob them of their independence and their right to choose what they do and don’t want to read. So the readers will likely wait it out until the hoopla dies down, things get back to normal, and they’re in charge again. Because control has passed. That horse has left the barn. The old normal is dead. Forever and always dead – Thank You God.
There are a couple of reasons all this concerns me so much, the largest of which is that I was just underway with my first erotic romance/erotica work which I plan to put out under a pen name. It’ll be entirely separate from any of my deranged duckly doings. See, a lot of writers of erotic romance/erotica make enough to write full time. I think fate saw my intent and conspired with the publishers and the (not so) moral morons specifically to try to keep me tied to my day job. (My boss may have even been in on the great conspiracy. He may be even crazier than I am because he actually VALUES my legal writing/research.)
At the risk of tossing a dose of common sense big enough to put out the current witch-burning bonfires, I have a suggestion. Why don’t ALL the sites concerned about keeping young eyes off of books they shouldn’t see agree on a standard. They should require that everyone shopping on their site enter through a welcome screen at which they input their date of birth and certify their age. Yes, people can lie, but people also show up with fake IDs and get into bars everyday. We have to require some element of personal/parental responsibility, don’t we?
Requiring all visitors to a site to enter their age lets the etailer screen out all kinds of products. Underaged people wouldn’t be able to see the wine or liquor section. The sex toys and naughty nighties won’t parade by their eyes. And all kinds of books will be screened out — because there are lots of books of all genres that people of certain ages may not be ready to read. It won’t matter who publishes those books – the subjects will actually decide what is screened – and lest we forget, that’s allegedly the point of all this, right?
Never mind that those same kids can Google some terms and pull up stuff all over the internet that makes me – a MOST mature lady – go all wide eyed, look at Mr. Duck and say — really? There are people who are into THAT? I don’t know most of those sites but I’ll lay you odds that most teens could give me a list. But never mind that — their young, impressionable minds could be protected by a simple welcome screen at which they enter their date of birth and certify their age.
Mind you, I don’t expect my common sense suggestion to gain any traction because NONE of this is actually about protecting young people. It’s about a desperate desire to turn back the clock and keep all that self-published stuff from reaching into any more wallets. Really, it’s almost sad. Because we all know that as we speak, there are entrepreneurs all over the globe setting up adult oriented ebookstores and all of those people want to keep any more “naughty” money out of Jeff Bezos’ wallet.
Would it do any good to remind anyone that getting around the rules created a whole closet industry during the first prohibition? Would it help to remind everyone that the first prohibition DIDN’T WORK EITHER? Probably not, because desperation doesn’t leave room for facts or common sense. It does leave room for a big pitcher of martinis though and the publishers can be glad of that once they realize that the power-shift to the readers isn’t a temporary phenomenon.
It’s a brand new world, but at least we can toast to it, right?