Selective censorship by Amazon is nothing new, to those of us who write certain subgenres of erotica. My book “Road Trip” was blocked some months ago, and I received no reasonable explanation from them. The book cover features a woman kneeling mostly obscured behind a car door (think Warrant–Cherry Pie album cover) and has themes of blackmail, reluctant and rough sex.
In the past week, however, many more writers and readers have taken note of Amazon’s basically declaring war on independent erotica authors. To this I say…
It’s our fault.
The blame falls upon the readers who continue to get ebooks from their site, refusing to even consider alternatives such as Smashwords because they like the Amazon interface. They keep buying from Amazon, and as long as the money keeps coming in, Amazon has no reason to change their silly policies.
The blame falls upon the writers who enable Amazon, by publishing with them almost exclusively, sometimes even to the point of enrolling in their “KDP Select” program. Why? So that they can get the “special” benefit of listing their books for free 5 days out of 90. Something which they can already get from Smashwords or any other site.
Upset about Amazon’s flagrant abuse of the writers who work hard to deliver a great product? Do something about it.
If you’re a writer, take the plunge. Publish your work on sites like Smashwords. Keep it on Amazon as well for as long as you can, but direct your readers toward new options. You won’t earn as much… right away, anyway. (Smashwords nets you about 1/3 of what Amazon does.) But if you’ve built up a fan base with customer loyalty, get your readers to follow you. Show them how to use Smashwords. Implore them to support you.
If you’re a reader… the next time you’re about to buy a book off of Amazon, stop. Go to Smashwords, see if the same book might be available there. If it’s not, ask the author if she has any plans to post it there. You may have to go through an extra step or two to get the book on your Kindle. But once it’s there, it’s there. (Unlike Amazon KDP: if they censor a book, they’ll take it off your Kindle.)
Those of you who are up in arms about censorship… it’s time to actually do something about it. We have the ability to affect change. It starts with you, and it starts now.