Tuesday, October 22, 2013

On Censorship

As some of you may have heard, about two weeks ago an internet web pundit was shocked! Shocked and stunned to find out that OMG!!! Amazon sells porn!

Well not so much porn as erotica, but to a guy on a small website desperate for hits erotica equals porn equals controversy, so porn it is. Then of course the Daily Mail in the UK picked up on this and had a huge Sunday spread complete with pictures and the outraged 'parent'.

But they didn't go after Amazon, they went after WM Smith, one of the largest book sellers in the UK (Aside: I notice that they DIDN'T complain about all those Fifty Shades of Gray (FSOG) hardcovers in the shop windows - porn in hardcover is AOK apparently). So what did WM Smith do? Why they folded like a cheap suit, and shut down their entire online ebook store. Yup, pulled the whole thing.

But wait! There's more!

Kobo, which rumor claims has been on the verge of bankruptcy for years now, supplied WM Smith with all of its ebooks. Erotica has been very good to Kobo, taking its sales from almost naught to a very large number over the last year. And that's erotica written by independent authors, not erotica being pushed by the publishing houses.

Well obviously the problem here isn't really erotica, it's independent authors! So Kobo unceremoniously pulled all independent authors from its online store in the UK. Not just erotica, all of them. In their next move of blazing stupidity they pulled all erotica authors from the rest of their sites worldwide, but again, not all authors, just those who are indies. So if you wrote something that violates the new rules, as long as it is published by a publishing house, you're okay. But if you have one piece of anything that may be suspect, your entire catalog got dumped.

So yes, a LOT of people are very upset. Understand none of what has been censored is illegal, all of it is 100 percent legal to write, read, and own. As to what was banned? Anything 'abusive', anything depicting rape, incest, and faux-incest. Faux-incest, for those of you who have never heard of it, is consensual sex between adults who are step siblings, or step parents, in short people who are not actually related to each other. In most parts of the world (if not all of it) this isn't even illegal! And in case you haven't noticed, bestiality is actually perfectly fine with Kobo. They didn't pull any of that - not that I care, but I think it shows the hypocrisy of this entire campaign. Especially when books like FSOG are suddenly garnering a lot of competition from indy authors - remember that FSOG started out as an ebook.

So is this censorship? A lot of folks claim it isn't, but in truth it is. Is it illegal? Well actually, yes in most parts of the free world it is, but not because they are refusing to sell works they find 'objectionable', but because they are applying these rules to one group of people (self-published authors) and not another (authors published by publishing companies). There are a number of laws that address that issue, and when this entire act really smells like something one of the publishing houses cooked up in order to cut down on the competition, well I'll be surprised if one of the bigger indies doesn't eventually sue. As there are a lot of indies out there pulling down 6 figure royalties, trust me when I say I suspect one of them is going to sue over this. As I've said before, an average indy author makes way more money that a good, or even great, publishing house author.

What bugs me the most however is the number of people (authors) who are willing to jump on the side of censorship because they don't like erotica. This is censorship, and it is unethical if not illegal. These books are perfectly legal and adults want to buy them. If this stands, what will they censor next? Romance has just as much sex, and I mean highly descriptive XXX sex, as much and as dirty as any erotica novel out there. Don't believe me? Walk into a Barnes & Nobles and pick some up. Women like their porn, and they like it a lot more than men do! And they get to buy theirs in book shops and grocery stores everywhere. That it is as bad or worse than men's porn is the best kept secret in publishing today.

And then of course, after romance, what gets banned next? Books that convey ideas that the establishment doesn't like? You know, books like Gulliver's Travels? Or maybe something by Rush Limbaugh or Jon Stewart? Censorship is a slippery slope and I'm embarrassed that so many people, especially authors, don't know this. Yes they always go after the erotica or porn first, but that is the canary in the coal mine. For people who actually read history, we have seen this before.

Here in the states only Amazon has signed on to this behavior, and it seems they're only banning faux-incest, (real incest, rape, and bestiality are already banned on Amazon). None of the other book stores seem to be getting involved (Apple already is pretty strict on Adult novels, but that seems to be something across the boards with them). Smashwords is trying to do what they can to help the authors, and Barnes & Nobles just seems to be ignoring the whole kerfluffle here in the US.

So support Smashwords, or B&N - go buy a banned book today!

Remember, if you don't stand up to defend the rights of others, no one will be left to help you defend yours when they finally get around to taking them.

Friday, October 11, 2013

New cover!

Well I got a new cover for 'The Hammer Commission' done and it is going live as I type this.
I was never exactly happy with the original cover, and I ended up commissioning Rod Redux (http://coversbyredux.blogspot.com/) to do a new one for me.
I'm hopeful that this will draw in more eyeballs, so far everyone who has read the book seems to have liked it, I really haven't gotten any bad reviews.


I noticed that for all the traffic I was drawing in to look at the book's page on Amazon, I wasn't getting many sales. I suspect that the cover just wasn't grabbing them enough for them to read the blurb and maybe the first page or two of the story. In any case, time will tell and I'm hoping for better results now. Sadly I don't think most of my scifi readers will read this story, as it's paranormal/supernatural, but it was a story I really wanted to write. Now it is just wait and see if sales pick up.