Discussion Post: Amazon Censorship

Wow, I’m finding a lot to make me ranty recently!

I don’t even know where to start with the minefield that is Amazon censoring indie books so that they can’t be sold/aren’t selling/are having sales withdrawn. You name it Amazon is managing to pull it off in this little minefield and I’m just going to say it. It’s freaking bollocks!

I know many of you don’t read this genre, but the fact Amazon is doing this is something everybody should be interested in because if they are going to start censoring one group of books and authors what is to stop them starting on another at any time they deem convenient to them.

Many Reverse Harem authors are having their books recategorised as erotica. This may not seem too much of an issue on the surface. But Erotica novels become hard to find especially once they’ve been blocked. They sit behind filters where you can only find them with a direct link. Even the title and author search won’t get you near them.

Amazon has a very ambiguous content guideline:

“What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect.”

I mean seriously? Nothing like closing your eyes, spinning around a few times then drawing a line on a chalkboard! For heaven’s sake, this is basically saying it’s totally up to whoever happens to be looking at any one time and what they deem offensive.

So, back to the novels which have been tagged as erotica. Some of them don’t even have any sex in them. They have been tagged this way purely because they are reverse harem. Yes, contrary to popular belief, not all reverse harem’s are bonk-fests! As with any romance genre, they come on a sliding scale. So for books with zero sex to be tagged as erotica and start being penalised as such is just downright appalling.

Some of them do have sex in, but not all books which contain sex are erotica. Now I am not going to sit here and explain the nuances between an adult romance novel containing sex and erotica. But there are differences. So when an author uploads their book and chooses the genre which best suits their book (because let’s face it who knows a book better than the author?) I’m assuming they pick the genres best suited to them.

This is what happened to Kate Morgan when she uploaded her debut novel Five Fathers. Categorised as Romantic Suspense, it has a very slightly racy cover, but not overly compared to most. I haven’t read this yet, but I pre-ordered it months ago so it won’t take me long to get it into my read queue but you can read an excerpt from it here, definitely not the sauciest excerpt I’ve ever had! The point is Amazon, not only re-categorised this as Erotica, they also censored it meaning that now people can only buy Kate’s book if they have a direct link to it which, of course, will obliterate her sales. Needless to say…you can tell in the post Kate put up this morning how devastating this is for her as an author:

If you want to pick up a copy of Five Fathers, even if this isn’t your usual cup of tea, in solidarity for Kate’s plight the link to do so is: https://books2read.com/u/bxq7r6 (this will redirect to your chosen retailer)

So what do we do? We can’t boycott Amazon, most of us use Kindles so the bulk of our books are bought from Amazon. Plus Amazon is the primary publishing platform for indie authors. And while I love the big publishing houses I buy far more books by indie authors than anybody else so a boycott will only punish those authors we really want to be supporting.

I’ve seen it suggested that we boycot Amazon for anything but indie author books. Which is definitely something to consider although I worry with things like this what impact it will actually have because hey, it’s Amazon and do they really care about a few lost sales? Thoughts people?

Other authors have fallen victim to this re-categorisation multiple times with books that are definitely not erotica. Knowing one of the authors affected I know that their books are at best borderline but none that I would put in the full erotica category. It is only due to the absolute bloody-minded persistence of this author that they were able to get Amazon’s decision reversed on one of the novels, but this same author has had their sales rankings stripped from other novels which is incredibly unfair and something I cannot even begin to wrap my head around. This is an extremely popular indie author and they are being penalised for that popularity as far as I can tell. But again we get to the point, as the author they know better than anybody which genre their book falls into and should not be penalised because Amazon has got a stick up their arse.

So… what do we do? How do we tackle this? Come on bookish folk…let’s get our heads together.

Do we set up a petition? Do we all write letters to Amazon in a mass complaint?

Hit me with your ideas…we’ve got a fantastic community, share this post, let’s all get onto this and work with these amazing indie authors to find a solution to fighting the behemoth that is Amazon.

As I said at the beginning of this post, even if this isn’t your genre…it could be your genre next so we need to come together on this.

17 comments

  • Great post! I agree this is BS! I have seen posts where people had all their Amazon reviews removed for similarly ambiguous reasons. Its ridiculous! I understand that Amazon is HUGE and that there is only so much they can do. They can’t please everyone. (I am sure there is someone on the other side of this argument just as adamant that these books should be reclassified) But they need, at very least, a way for authors and reviews to appeal the bans and the censorship! There is no blanket solution and there needs to be a way to look at every case.

    Liked by 2 people

    • There could at least have a warning page so people can say yes they understand the content beyond contins xy and z and is only suitable to over 18s and then have those books still be accessible. That way those people who are offended by sex (go figure) can avoid it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly… there needs to be at least a direct channel of appeal. I get it, Amazon is big and some blanket policies may be needed but blanket policies can’t cover every situation adequately. It is ridiculous that these ‘assessments’ are made arbitrarily and there is no human who can review the specific situation and make an informed and justifiable decision.

      Liked by 2 people

  • This comes as zero surprise given the fascistic leanings of Jeff Bezos. I quit using Amazon a few years ago, voting in protest with my wallet/debit card against how Amazon were forcing book prices down which meant the authors would end up with damn all. I have very strong feelings about all this so trying my best to be as concise as I can, but the saddest fact is Amazon, eBay and Google stand together are constantly giving the finger to copyright laws and creative artistes as they allow all manner of unfairness and violations that they make it impossible to contest. If you’re a copyright owner filing a DMCA is a deliberate long winded nightmare designed to put you off filing it. As for the major book publishers, I have little respect for them. They KNEW what was coming, digital books that can be and are shared freely for nothing which is damaging for sales and artistes income and what did they do about it? Nothing. As long as JK Rowling and Stephen King keeps tossing them a million seller, they couldn’t give a crap about anyone else.

    Unfortunately, these behemoths have zero regard or respect for the law. They think they are the law and I trust none of them. It comes as no surprise they’re intent on enforcing this nasty censorship scheme. Let’s be honest there has never been a WORSE time to be a writer. You think about the hundreds of hours of networking, blogging etc in addition to writing… all time that is unpaid for then when you have the finished article, you’re expected to give it away for free or for pathetic amounts of chump change. Protesting, petitioning etc is well intentioned but alas, I doubt will change anything. Amazon will do whatever Jeff Bezos wants and he wants all the money, and stuff everyone else. If you want proof of how insidious and creepy he and Amazon’s idea are, read up on their cash free shop venture… an actual physical shop where you use a swipe card and they use the most sneakiest surveillance technology to determine what you “buy” – you literally pick up whatever you want and leave… and you pay for it through your Amazon account. That’s their vision for shopping in the future. Think of the millions of jobs that would be lost if they got their way… so you can see further why I regard Amazon as a threat and enemy.

    What distresses me is how I’ve been witnessing first hand over the 21st Century so far, the complete decimation and devaluation of Creativity. Creative artistes are being shafted left, right and centre, yet these behemoths keep on raking in billions in profit and do absolutely NOTHING to encourage creativity. When I was younger, every high street had a book shop and one or two record shops. Now, it’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack as most have been put out of business. Toss in the equally depressing scenario of how creative subjects are barely being covered in schools and the bigger picture looks extremely nasty.

    Liked by 1 person

  • This totally doesn’t surprise me. It seems that Amazon can care less about anyone anymore and that includes their customers who spend lots of money. I feel bad for the authors and now they can’t even offer giveaways on Goodreads (owned by Amazon) now with all the charges. This here is just more B.S. and it really blows because after going around and around with them, it seems like all of it is just a lost cause. I hate to be negative, but I’m burned… Great post, Claire. 💙

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t know about the Goodreads giveaways! That’s a new development and not a good one, I’m appalled!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yup. It’s ridiculous. Not only that but now that I’ve been blacklisted and contacted them repeatedly, now they will not even talk to me and I’ve tried every method of communication possible. All my reviews…all that work…gone. And Amazon’s thoughts are a simple “oh well!”

        I think it’s crazy that they would say that any book is offensive anyhow. Have you seen some of the products available for purchase? So they’ll sensor erotica but not sex toys or books that offer sexual instruction. What about all the exotic lingerie that isnt sensored and totally easy to stumble upon. This just makes no sense. Sorry for ranting…😂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well exactly! I find thrillers and horror pretty horrible because they often cause flashbacks and nightmares for me but I would never say they have to be censored and hidden in a way the people who enjoy them can’t read them. There are plenty of products i find very offensive in their listings but again people are entitled to theor choice as long as it won’t cause actual harm to someone else i say go for it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Censor…darn autocorrect.

        Liked by 1 person

  • Yay, another brizzle rantizzle!👌

    Amazon certainly do have some weird ideas about things and hhhmmm “what we deem offensive is what you expect” is, as you say very ambiguous as what some people find offensive others don’t. Just another example of Amazon flouting their godlike huge corporation behaviour. Sad thing is, even if many people boycotted them over this or complained they wouldn’t care as they make so much money and that’s all they care about, the money.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Pingback: Week in Review – 1 April 2018 | BrizzleLass Books

  • When I saw that post on FB I actually couldn’t believe my eyes… and then on second thought, I said- well, it IS Amazon after all… how sad is that… bleh…
    I love this post and I love it that you raised this but truly- I think the best we can do as readers is to support indies as much as we can… I only go to Amazon for ebooks… when I want to read something now! All my physical copies come through Book Depo or local bookshops. But yeah, as always awareness is the way to fight this and to offer support to authors who are going through this.. maybe there should be a website/webpage where authors who have this problem can share/list their direct links to their books? Something like- ‘Can’t find me on Amazon? I am listed though!!!!!!!! Here’s the link.’

    Liked by 1 person

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