Book burning’s digital counterpart. It’s happening right now.

Short version: Amazon and Kobo, among others, began mass deleting self-published erotica last month in response to some media heat from articles like this one from The Kernel. The online magazine recently released what it calls an investigative report called “How Amazon Cashes in on Kindle Filth.”

Except Amazon and other digital book big shots aren’t deleting erotica from publishing houses.

What. The. Fuck.

• • •

For clarity, I’m not interested in reading about incest, rape or anything else that denigrates another human. But I also believe it’s not up to me to say what should or shouldn’t be published. Because, well, the First Amendment.

Anyway, Amazon created this computer filtering system that alerts them if certain words are in a book.

Let’s take “incest,” as an example.

Victoria Lexington’s novel, Sex and the Social Network, made it to #2 in erotica on October 14 (see image below) – before Amazon deleted it. It also earned a mention in USA TODAY on October 25 (fourth paragraph here), and had forty-five 4- and 5-star reviews. This book has flashbacks to childhood incest, as well as a rape scene. Fun? No. But things that give a character depth.

Things that Lexington said many readers told her made her book better than others in the same genre. Her characters are real.

Sticking point:

Other books with similar taboo topics – The Kite Runner, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Flowers in the Attic, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – and those with far more controversial material, are NOT being deleted by Amazon and Kobo.

You can still get a fresh copy of Fifty Shades of Grey, arguably the biggest piece of literary garbage to infect this century. Because BDSM – even with shit grammar, sentence fragments, nonsensical adverbs and no plot – is somehow more appropriate than a book that shows a character flashing back to a less than rosy childhood.

The Digital Reader and Salon both wrote about the issue this month, so I won’t belabor the point. You can read both pieces by following the links below.

Self-Published Erotica is Being Singled Out For Sweeping Deletions From Major eBookstores

Amazon’s porn censorship is inconsistent and unfair

This is a link directly to KDP’s discussion forum, where authors are asking why their books have been removed. It’s no hoax.

Meantime, self-published authors with the “offensive” books in question are receiving emails like this from Amazon.

Hello, We’re contacting you regarding the following book(s) that you submitted for sale in our Kindle Store:

XXX XXXX XXXXX Digital Item ID:XXX000XX ASIN:000000 During our review process, we found that your book contains content that is in violation of our content guidelines.

Our content guidelines apply to the book interior, as well as cover image, title and/or product descriptions. As a result,

we will not be offering this book for sale.

Our content guidelines are published on the Kindle Direct Publishing website. To learn more, please see:

Best regards,

Kindle Direct Publishing

And that’s it.

Sure, they can appeal. Anyone want to wager on how far they’ll get?

I call this new age book burning. Yes, the shit that’s emblematic of oppressive regimes.

Think about it.

What’s the difference between good old-fashioned biblioclasm and what Amazon is doing here with self-published erotica?

And how dare we allow it.


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