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Author Topic: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)  (Read 66117 times)  

Offline Christa Wick

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #175 on: October 15, 2013, 06:08:47 AM »
WordSaladTongs - re royalties - I imagine not because they plan to have the TOS compliant books back up within a week according to a BBC News article ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24533915 ) and they are under the MISTAKEN impression that the books not being available is limited to the UK rather than the global store. (I am in the US and can only access 7 of my 24 titles and sales were down about 30% for me yesterday.)

 

Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #176 on: October 15, 2013, 06:17:07 AM »
Yes, but then this was dated in July 2013. Still dont get it. Why it is fine to have books about people killing and raping each other? But, not about people having sex and not hurting anyone.

I think people are starting to miss the facts of what actually happened. Nobody is complaining about people having sex in books consensually. Erotica itself is not the issue that triggered this.

A small minority of authors published material that is, in fact, illegal. Sex with minors. Bestiality (not shapeshifters, but animals). Rape for pleasure. Incest. People are taking an overly simplistic view here, and are just as guilty as the people who caused the panic. The line between general fiction and porn is generally based on the intent of the work. If you write a rape scene that is suppose to generate horror and empathy for the victim, that is not the same thing as writing a rape scene designed to get someone off. The law differentiates, and so should rational people. The issue is specifically with a small percentage of books that were portraying rape, incest, and bestiality in ways designed to titillate. These books, for whatever reason, did not get picked up by the filters and ended up in general searches.

Someone complained. Doesn't matter who. Probably multiple someones complained. The only reason people are fixating on the one blogger is because the media referenced him specifically. But there were probably tons of complaints that were not made in public, but through customer service emails.

WHSmith panicked. And this is where the problem actually starts. Because for some reason, either
A. Nobody at WHSmith realized there was porn on the internet or
B. they didn't care so long as they made money.

But now all the sudden they had to care because people were asking how material that is illegal was being sold on the front page of the site.

But instead of taking ownership of the problem they created (because THEY created the problem by not having proper filters and checks in place to begin with), they shifted blame onto Kobo specifically and self-publishers in general. In an effort to NOT accept responsibility, they decided to protest too much and blame indies for the actions of a few and removed ALL Kobo titles.

Kobo then panicked, which escalated the problem. Because now the public was being told THEY were a peddler of porn. So THEY removed all titles that could, remotely, be possibly almost reference sex.

So before everyone, once again, rushes off to fight the wrong fight, let's try to keep the facts straight. NOBODY is saying that no erotica should ever be allowed. Nobody is in the government has actually done anything. No prosecutor has been involved or threatened anyone. This entire thing is a matter of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

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Offline WordSaladTongs

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #177 on: October 15, 2013, 06:41:44 AM »
WordSaladTongs - re royalties - I imagine not because they plan to have the TOS compliant books back up within a week according to a BBC News article ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24533915 ) and they are under the MISTAKEN impression that the books not being available is limited to the UK rather than the global store. (I am in the US and can only access 7 of my 24 titles and sales were down about 30% for me yesterday.)

 

Got it--thanks for the info.

Offline Fictionista

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #178 on: October 15, 2013, 07:18:14 AM »
Are they clumping erotic romance in with questionable erotica titles???


Offline adonipub

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #179 on: October 15, 2013, 07:25:45 AM »
Gestapo tactics by a few governments have distribution channels shaking.

If they want to do a perp walk of a large distributor for having taboo stuff in their 'sales', they can pretty much arrest every major distributor of eBooks there is.

It's why Amazon is now removing many titles. Warning shots were fired by a few gestapo type prosecutors and now, the censorship is on if you have erotica.


Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #180 on: October 15, 2013, 07:35:24 AM »
Gestapo tactics by a few governments have distribution channels shaking.

*sigh*

Do you have any actual evidence of this or is this from some fifth-rate conspiracy site?

This sort of nonsense statement doesn't actually help matters, stirs the pot, and distracts from the REAL problem...

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Offline Lana Amore

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #181 on: October 15, 2013, 07:40:21 AM »
A small minority of authors published material that is, in fact, illegal.

Just out of curiosity, in what countries are these topics/act depictions (incest, beastiality, etc) illegal to host in print? /not a lawyer

Offline SunHi Mistwalker

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #182 on: October 15, 2013, 07:48:16 AM »

A small minority of authors published material that is, in fact, illegal. Sex with minors. Bestiality (not shapeshifters, but animals). Rape for pleasure. Incest. People are taking an overly simplistic view here, and are just as guilty as the people who caused the panic. The line between general fiction and porn is generally based on the intent of the work.

I need you to clarify something. Are you are saying that to write about these subjects is illegal? Because if you are, you're saying something that is untrue. There is no law in the US against writing about these topics. Please clarify. There are obscenity laws, but you don't get to label a book obscene without going through a legal process.

Second, I just want to make something clear, the books targeted by this sweep did not include sex with minors. The same thing goes for incest. Even the "Kernel" had to depend on pointing to books about adult step-relatives to get his sordid story across. These major retailers culled incest and pedo books long before this latest crackdown on erotica. Julie, I know you've been here when people talked about their tentacle sex books and shapeshifter books being removed, so I don't know why you would say these books aren't being targeted.

And lastly, there is no way you (or I) can know the intent of a work without speaking with the author. And no one can just decide that something is pornography arbitrarily. Even a court can't do that. There are legal processes in the US to determine if something is in fact pornography and/or obscene.

Edited to correct typos.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2013, 07:55:28 AM by SunHi Mistwalker »
 
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Offline Danni

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #183 on: October 15, 2013, 07:49:28 AM »
Where do tentacle and dinosaur erotica fall? Or alien erotica?
Just curious if they're going to pull Twilight because Edward is not only in a relationship with a minor, but he's dead. I get the small minority of books they're trying to cull, but I'm more concerned about the broader impact it might have on what is deemed appropriate. This includes Amazon, as I've seen some titles from my favorite non-erotica authors being pulled that don't cross any lines.


Is it really only self-published books being pulled? I wondered if even a small publishing house could be guilty of publishing what they are specifically targeting to remove.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2013, 07:54:18 AM by DDark »

Offline Gentleman Zombie

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #184 on: October 15, 2013, 08:04:30 AM »
Amazon and other retailers delt with erotica that had underage or incest themes at least three years ago. Books classified as "pseudo incest" (cousins, step relatives, etc..) were the target this time. "Rape" erotica isn't technically illegal.. it's an extreme fetish but there is no law against it.

Also, the books targeted in the Kernel article were almost all written by annoying internet marketers. These people place requests on sites like O-Desk or Fiverr for erotica writers. They don't care about quality of the story. Then with nary a spell-check or proofread they slap a long SEO word laden title on the book. A trained eye can spot these books a mile away - mostly by th terrible covers, and SEO word title salad.

If people are interested in a responsible take on all of this, please read the following.

Indie Reader: http://indiereader.com/2013/10/banning-books/

Selena Kitt: http://selenakitt.com/blog/index.php/2013/10/15/porn-hunt-2013-gossip-boys-researching-porn-real-hard/

« Last Edit: October 15, 2013, 08:19:44 AM by Vicky Foxx »

Offline Paul Clayton

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #185 on: October 15, 2013, 08:06:08 AM »
"we are disgusted by these particular titles,"  They're 'protecting' the public.  Right.  I don't care what the titles are, as long as they're not 'how to kill people in the name of (fill in the blanks.)  If other publishers followed their lead, what would we have...  a fat, dumb and happy public.  Well, maybe not fat, at least not all of them.  But this is censorship and it disgusts me.  It's sad what's happening to England.  

Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #186 on: October 15, 2013, 08:08:16 AM »
I need you to clarify something. Are you are saying that to write about these subjects is illegal? Because if you are, you're saying something that is untrue. There is no law in the US against writing about these topics. Please clarify. There are obscenity laws, but you don't get to label a book obscene without going through a legal process.

WHSMith is in the UK, where there are laws covering such things (as has been stated earlier regarding the ISP protocols). And while there is no law against WRITING such things in the U.S. there are laws regarding the distribution of such items to MINORS. CIPA is the primary weapon used against sites in the U.S. I may have been unclear in my post. There is no law against WRITING the topic per se. The laws cover the distribution of the content and to whom.

Quote
Second, I just want to make something clear, the books targeted by this sweep did not include sex with minors.

Again, everyone is missing the point. The end result (WHSmith removing ALL self published books) is not the trigger. The sweep is a scorched earth response to a smaller issue. (See my sentence regarding throwing out the baby with the bathwater.) The reason why other books are getting caught up in the issue is because the process is being handled poorly. It's similar to when Amazon culls legitimate reviews from a listing while removing the paid for reviews. They use an axe instead of a scalpel. They are trying to automate something that requires a human to do, and therefore non-offensive titles are falling victim. I don't think at any point I have said otherwise.

Quote
And lastly, there is no way you (or I) can know the intent of a work without speaking with the author.

Seriously? You can't look at an erotic book cover and tell the book's intent?

Quote
Is it really only self-published books being pulled?

WHSmith specifically blamed self published books and deleted all Kobo listings. But many small presses and micro publishers use Kobo to list books with WHSmith so I am sure they are being harmed as well. WHSmith merely labeled it a self publishing problem because they don't want to take responsibility for their own lack of processes.

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #187 on: October 15, 2013, 08:16:50 AM »
A small minority of authors published material that is, in fact, illegal.

Just out of curiosity, in what countries are these topics/act depictions (incest, beastiality, etc) illegal to host in print? /not a lawyer
I'm not a lawyer, but in the UK there are the Obscene Publications Acts, 1959 and 1964 which allow prosecution for publishing matter deemed obscene for personal gain.
 

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #188 on: October 15, 2013, 08:27:48 AM »
The OPA doesn't tend to get used very much and when it does, as you can see from this article, it tends to get less than wholehearted support from the public:

http://www.theguardian.com/law/2012/jan/07/obscene-publications-act-future-doubt

Offline LeonardDHilleyII

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #189 on: October 15, 2013, 08:37:22 AM »
Perhaps they should add an "18 & Over" button or a separate page where one has to register once (proving age) before they can enter the page and/or purchase.

However, this is the ample time someone could make millions by starting an online erotica store and sell ebooks like Amazon, Kobo, and Smashwords. They may have banned the books, but the market is still there.


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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #190 on: October 15, 2013, 08:43:40 AM »
The OPA doesn't tend to get used very much and when it does, as you can see from this article, it tends to get less than wholehearted support from the public:

http://www.theguardian.com/law/2012/jan/07/obscene-publications-act-future-doubt
The same Guardian that is currently screaming 'ban this sick filth' (and I never thought I'd see the Guardian and the Mail agree on something...)

The law is irrelevant to the blocked books in this case because the retailers are simply targeting all indie ("self-published") books regardless of content. See their formal statement:
"Our website will become live again once all self published eBooks have been removed and we are totally sure that there are no offending titles available. When our website goes back online it will not display any self published material until we are completely confident that inappropriate books can never be shown again." http://www.whsmith.co.uk

As a result almost everything indie, regardless of content or genre, has been delisted on Kobo UK. And all this because WH Smith did not have decent content filters ::)

Offline B. Justin Shier

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #191 on: October 15, 2013, 08:51:54 AM »
The variance in the media coverage has been fascinating:

Quote
Last night the Ministry of Justice said the retailers would be liable for prosecution if a judge deemed that the ebooks breached the Obscene Publications Act.

The National Crime Agency said: ‘There is a need to think about criminalising the paedophilic written word in the same way as child abuse imagery and virtual images of children.

‘In the meantime, businesses who are aware that they are involved in the sharing of potentially paedophilic material can of course look to their consciences or consider the impact on their reputation.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2456651/WHSmiths-vile-trade-online-rape-porn-Bookseller-apologises-sales-sick-ebooks-revealed.html#ixzz2ho3MFh5W

Versus:

"Kobo pulls self-published books after abuse row"

Quote
The Ministry of Justice has indicated that the sites may have breached the Obscene Publications Act, a law that requires publishers to protect shoppers from inadvertently finding content that outrages public decency.

However, it added that since it had received no complaints it would not be investigating further.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24533915


"Self-Publishing Takes Down WH Smith"

Quote
The UK's Obscene Publication Act is more sweeping than US law, and the UK's Ministry of Justice indicated to the Mail that eretailers would be liable for prosecution if a judge found that the ebooks breached the law. Smith's home page displays an apology ... You have our promise that we will do all we can to ensure the exceptions that have caused this current situation will not have a lasting effect on what is an exciting new channel that connects Readers to a wealth of books."

http://lunch.publishersmarketplace.com/2013/10/self-publishing-takes-wh-smith/

"Shock and awe at WH Smith"

Quote
Both WHS and Kobo have stressed that this is not a problem isolated either to its site, or to self-published writers. In some ways they might count themselves unlucky to be the prime target of the Mail's hostile glare: prior to the Mail report almost all the tweets about this subject from the journalist Jeremy Duns have been directed at Amazon. News website the Kernel's first piece focussed solely on Amazon, while its second piece referenced "Barnes & Noble, W H Smith, Waterstones and Foyles". In terms of market impact, Amazon is the driver of self-published material, not WHS.

But WHS holds a special place in the mind of middle-Britain: it's a family retailer with a high street presence. When it gets it wrong, it pays a bigger price. That explains what some might see as a massive over-reaction.

http://www.futurebook.net/content/shock-and-awe-w-h-smith#sthash.WeByYaxv.dpuf

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« Last Edit: October 15, 2013, 09:09:04 AM by B. Justin Shier »
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Offline Lisa Grace

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #192 on: October 15, 2013, 08:57:36 AM »
Why don't they insist all erotica use "porn" or some other word as a a keyword tag? And if they don'tban the author (the name on the checks), and their ip address. 
 
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Offline Christa Wick

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #193 on: October 15, 2013, 09:08:36 AM »
I'm not a lawyer, but in the UK there are the Obscene Publications Acts, 1959 and 1964 which allow prosecution for publishing matter deemed obscene for personal gain.
 

How many erotic romances legal in the US, Canada, the UK, etc., would be illegal in at least one country in the Middle East?

Offline Christa Wick

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #194 on: October 15, 2013, 09:09:36 AM »
Why don't they insist all erotica use "porn" or some other word as a a keyword tag? And if they don'tban the author (the name on the checks), and their ip address. 

Because erotica is erotica and porn is porn and there isn't a legal definition for either.

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #195 on: October 15, 2013, 09:09:58 AM »
Why don't they insist all erotica use "porn" or some other word as a a keyword tag? And if they don'tban the author (the name on the checks), and their ip address.  
Kobo already have an adult policy authors should use when uploading through writinglife, which asks them to do almost exactly what you describe:
"If Your content contains appropriate adult or explicit material, please mark the page as containing mature content as a courtesy to other Users,...You can do this either in the subtitle or in the opening paragraph of your Shortcover." http://www.kobobooks.com/contentpolicy .
It looks as though either Kobo weren't checking for authors who were not using it, or WH Smith was failing to filter authors who were.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2013, 09:12:24 AM by VH Folland »

Offline Amanda Brice

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #196 on: October 15, 2013, 09:10:45 AM »
Why don't they insist all erotica use "porn" or some other word as a a keyword tag? And if they don'tban the author (the name on the checks), and their ip address. 

Except that erotica, erotic romance, and porn are not the same thing. Yes, some of the works currently labeled as "erotica" are basically just porn, but not all erotica is porn, nor is all erotic romance porn.

They are all very different things.
 
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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #197 on: October 15, 2013, 09:15:43 AM »
However, this is the ample time someone could make millions by starting an online erotica store and sell ebooks like Amazon, Kobo, and Smashwords.

Why? Smashwords already is.
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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #198 on: October 15, 2013, 09:23:11 AM »
A small minority of authors published material that is, in fact, illegal.

Just out of curiosity, in what countries are these topics/act depictions (incest, beastiality, etc) illegal to host in print? /not a lawyer
The topics are not illegal. Using them in a book in such as way that they are intended solely to titillate is illegal in many countries. As Julie pointed out, it is not the subject but the way it is used. However, the big problem was the fact that WH Smith decided that rather than be honest and own that the problem was their bad filtering to blame everyone else.

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #199 on: October 15, 2013, 09:32:48 AM »
Kobo already have an adult policy authors should use when uploading through writinglife, which asks them to do almost exactly what you describe:
"If Your content contains appropriate adult or explicit material, please mark the page as containing mature content as a courtesy to other Users,...You can do this either in the subtitle or in the opening paragraph of your Shortcover." http://www.kobobooks.com/contentpolicy .
It looks as though either Kobo weren't checking for authors who were not using it, or WH Smith was failing to filter authors who were.


How many romance authors check this box? I don't, even though there are sex scenes. And how about thriller novels that depict graphic violence? What they mean by "adult" is probably graphic sex, but even that's not so easy to define.

I was forced to mark one of my books as "adult" by Smashwords, though it is at mainstream romance heat levels, probably because the cover is cartoonish and the reader was surprised.

I don't have any solutions or demands to this issue. I don't believe my romantic comedy books with 2.5 sex scenes should be put in an erotica dungeon, except for the one novella that is an erotic romance. But the bookstores have to decide that based on their customers' wishes. I hope the profits indie writers are bringing to all ebookstores are large enough to drive a solution that works for most of us.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2013, 10:03:22 AM by Gretchen Galway »

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