In the wake of a mounting controversy over a number of retailers removing titles from their Web sites because of inappropriate material, a group of authors have generated a petition asking retailers to "leave our erotica and self-published Indie authors alone."
The authors name Amazon, Kobo and Barnes & Noble as the offending retailers and the the petition--which had over 13,000 signatures at press time--is directed at the CEO's of those three companies (Jeff Bezos; Michael Serbinis; and Len Riggio, respectively).
The issue over the removal of material has been simmering. While all three retailers had been removing self-published erotica titles deemed inappropriate, things came to something of a head--and began getting picked up by the consumer press--after Kobo removed all self-published titles from one its sites.
On Tuesday, Kobo posted a statement about the removal of titles, saying it has been targeting "specific content that violates our content policy from our store." The company also said it is doing "a comprehensive review of our catalogue to ensure that the eBooks we offer comply with our content policy."
A spokesperson from Kobo also told PW that the company never shut down its self-publishing platform Kobo Writing Life, and clarified that titles were only removed from the retailer's site in the U.K. Now, the spokesperson said, Kobo is taking steps to update its content policy. The spokesperson continued: "We are additionally taking steps to ensure that compliance to our policies--and international law--is met by all authors and publishers. Content that does comply will be made available online as soon as possible. In fact, we are already returning titles to the Kobo catalogue and expect the large majority will be available by end of week. Additional titles requiring further examination will be reviewed over the next week. Those that meet our content policy, will also be returned to the store."
In a blog post from indie erotica author Dalia Daudelin championing the petition campaign, she asks for Kobo and other retailers to be more clear about content guidelines and to treat self-published material in the same manner it treats traditionally published material. She writes: "We're not interested in selling porn to children, or about children. We want to have a safe space to sell our work, and we want traditionally published stories with the same themes as ours to be put on the same level as us."
Daudelin goes on to outline three things indie authors need from these retailers: "written out" guidelines about what content will be censored; "even footing for all authors, traditional or self-published;" and a way to keep adult title from being found by children.