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Author Topic: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)  (Read 66141 times)  

Offline mrv01d

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #100 on: October 14, 2013, 07:10:17 AM »
Julie: You're making assumptions. I NEVER had bad covers. NEVER. And I've had problems. My blurbs are tame. I'm TAME. I learned to avoid the mistakes others made a long time ago and I got hit anyway. The bookseller response is not justified. It's a kneejerk reaction with all the intelligence of a tantrumming toddler behind it. All driven by media with the fact checking skills of drunken gnats.

Mark: I got you. My posts on FB are starting to get some attention.

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Offline Harriet Schultz

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #101 on: October 14, 2013, 07:17:21 AM »
I think this may solve some of the disappearing Kobo books.

 I checked for romantic suspense novels last night to see how my promo was doing and was stunned (!) that I was no longer searchable on Kobo. My books land there through Draft2Digital. This response from their customer service just landed in my inbox:


"We have discovered that over the weekend Kobo removed all books published through our account. While we have received no official word concerning this issue, we believe this is related to recent articles in the media concerning erotica titles available at WHSmith and Kobos storefronts.

However, Kobos response to this situation seems to have been removal of all books for any publishers (including distributors) that have offending titles until they find a solution.

I deeply regret that authors who have released books that are not erotica have been affected by this situation as well.

We are working aggressively to resolve this issue as quickly as possible and we will keep you updated as we learn more information."


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Offline Chunter

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #102 on: October 14, 2013, 07:19:28 AM »
Well, that confirms it. I hope authors of non-erotica let Kobo know how they feel about that - somehow I suspect that Kobo won't take complaints from the erotica writers seriously.  ::)

Offline dotx

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #103 on: October 14, 2013, 07:20:04 AM »
Yes, I got that email too. Kobo removed all books submitted through D2D. I'm wondering if they're doing the same to books submitted through Smashwords.

I don't sell a lot through Kobo, so it's not a huge loss, but still.

ETA: I don't write erotica, either.

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Offline Mark E. Cooper

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #104 on: October 14, 2013, 07:21:08 AM »
Just got email From D2D. I can't believe how unprofessional Kobo has been by removing everyone's books without even the courtesy of an email informing all those involved. Even someone as big as D2D has been ignored. Smashwords must be chewing rocks!

I was going to paste the email, but someone beat me to it. Mine is the same message.





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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #105 on: October 14, 2013, 07:21:57 AM »
While I am sure such comments give you some level of smug satisfaction, they do nothing to work toward a solution. The last time I checked, after all, The Bible didn't come promoted with cover art of an upshot photo of a woman's naked *ss. Hamlet doesn't come with a cover that depicts at waist-level shot of naked couple just before penetration. And current marketing aside (which is a completely different issue entirely but one that makes me crazy with frustration), when Flowers in the Attic was first release, it was not classified as a YA or NA romance, but horror and didn't show up in searches when one looked for books on gardening ::).

The common threads across all platforms are:

1. Excessively graphic cover art that, if it was in a retail outlet, would be required by law to be behind the counter. There are some covers I am seeing that, if you walked up to a random child at a playground and showed it to him, you would be arrested.
2. Excessively graphic titles
3. Excessively graphic blurbs. I've seen some erotica where the blurb is a full sex scene from the book.
3. Improper keyword and category listing, both on the part of authors and the part of retailers.

This last one is the biggest problem.

First, retailers who allow indie titles do not treat indie titles in the same way as trade books for purposes of metadata processing. The keywords on an erotica are treated the same way as the keywords on a children's books in most DIY systems. This is a design flaw. The "daddy" books mentioned earlier shouldn't appear under bedtime stories if the metadata is being processed correctly. The fact that this seems to be a problem limited to indie books clearly points to an internal processing issue.

Second, the nature of most of the DIY systems does not allow for screening of inappropriate material. This can't be done automatically. A computer program won't differentiate between a line of dialogue that says "Daddy, don't touch that!" in reference to a notebook and "Daddy, don't touch that!" in reference to his daughter's privates parts. :o Vetting would require human beings being involved in the equation. And nobody wants that, because first it would be expensive and second it would slow down how quickly books are live. People already complain if a vendor takes more than 24 hours for a book to go live. Vetting could require a week (or more). And who is going to pay for these vetters? Not the retailers. It would have to come out of the author's cut.

Third, what few automated filters retailers do put into place are quickly circumvented by authors who are trying to avoid being filtered. An "adult" content filter only works if authors classify their books as adult. I got a complaint from a customer recently from my Drivethru affiliate site about porn. Drivethru allows adult content, but it has to be labeled adult. Well, someone uploaded a couple dozen erotic titles without labeling them adult. One of my customers followed a link to my affiliate site and was greeting by some...interesting...titles she was not expecting to see.  :P There are threads here on KB about how to avoid the "adult dungeon" by rewriting blurbs slightly or masking the content. All the filters in the world won't help if people willfully ignore them.

I rather suspect that Julie has it spot on.  

As a consumer I do NOT want to have "daddy" erotica pop up as a suggestion to me if I'm looking for a book to send my cousin who just became a father. :o  Any more than I would want to find it in the children's section of the physical bookstore around the corner.  In either case, I'd definitely be reporting it to the store as a NEGATIVE customer experience.

So I applaud companies who are working to try to fix the problem. In fact the only criticism I have is that they didn't realize there was a problem before customers complained and/or there were media reports. Because they didn't address it sooner, the initial response is a bit heavy handed, I'll grant -- but I expect it will moderate as they figure out how best to deal with the problem.

Still, I seriously don't see the problem for producers of erotica.  People who want to read it will find it. People who don't want to read it should be able to shop without being afraid every click might show them way more than they want to see!

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Offline Lydniz

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #106 on: October 14, 2013, 07:22:36 AM »
I got the email too.

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #107 on: October 14, 2013, 07:33:53 AM »
I've now got only one title left there, apparently chosen at random from my mystery series- but it's encouraging to hear of one person getting them back. Will keep watching.
Most of mine are via Smashwords but a couple via D2D so yes, I just got their email too.

Offline VydorScope

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #108 on: October 14, 2013, 07:35:44 AM »
So far my 5 titles with Kobo, published directly through Kobo, are fine. My books have none of the "foul words" that any automated screening would pick up (fantasy and scif allow for options in strong lang :) ) and all my romantic scenes quickly fade to black. So I do not know which of those facts have kept me safe so far... but as poor as my sales are on Kobo, it almost does not matter.  :P I really would like to see Kobo get beyond this and start to offer a serious challenge in the market place.

This kind of chain effect is what I worry about in these censorship threads and the main reason I check/follow them.  :(
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Offline KerryT2012

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #109 on: October 14, 2013, 07:36:48 AM »
I am so confused, now I am a mother of 3 and I have NEVER EVER searched for a book for one of my children using the word, Daddy. Am I the only naive one. I mean I just find the whole thing bizzare....
From the Whsmith site - Pornographic ebooks remain for sale on Amazon despite a backlash over inappropriate titles stocked by leading booksellers.

Customers using searches such as "Daddy" on the online retailer can be led to Kindle books featuring rape, incest and "forced sex", alongside titles for children.

WHSmith today apologised and shut down its website after similar books featured on their site, while "erotic" titles are also available to buy online from Waterstones.

Offline VydorScope

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #110 on: October 14, 2013, 07:38:42 AM »
I am so confused, now I am a mother of 3 and I have NEVER EVER searched for a book for one of my children using the word, Daddy. Am I the only naive one. I mean I just find the whole thing bizzare....
From the Whsmith site - Pornographic ebooks remain for sale on Amazon despite a backlash over inappropriate titles stocked by leading booksellers.

Customers using searches such as "Daddy" on the online retailer can be led to Kindle books featuring rape, incest and "forced sex", alongside titles for children.

WHSmith today apologised and shut down its website after similar books featured on their site, while "erotic" titles are also available to buy online from Waterstones.

Many good kids books use "Daddy" in their title so I can imagine many parents searching for those books that way.
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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #111 on: October 14, 2013, 07:46:20 AM »
I'm sure this will sound insane to people who know what I write, but I've just checked Kobo. Fire Season is gone, and so are the Docks novellas. I seem to have been kicked off the Kobo site - apparently PG-rated adventure stories are now considered adult ::) .

Complaint letter in the works.

Offline WordSaladTongs

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #112 on: October 14, 2013, 07:51:55 AM »
Has anyone looked over Kobo's agreement to see if they guarantee payment (even if it doesn't meet the threshold) after de-listing books? That's potentially a great deal of money to be sitting on when you consider the cumulative pot of all self-pub authors.

Offline Christa Wick

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #113 on: October 14, 2013, 07:54:04 AM »
I agree that people searching for child-suitable titles likely search mommy/daddy, at least for certain life events and such. But the things is -- this isn't new. Daddy, etc., erotica titles began wildly proliferating in 2011. They took a slight hit in February 2012 with the paypal storm, and Amazon put MOST of them in the "dungeon" so that they only show up in kindle store searches instead of main store search. Regardless, lots of people looking for "innocent" daddy titles have been encountering the naughty titles in their searches for at least three years with no public outrage.

Now we have public outrage generated by one writer who is far more notable for his attacks on other writers than the four books he's written. This media storm started with tweets on his twitter account, followed by a blogpost on a no-name site (that thinks revenge porn is a-OK as is having sex while wearing animal costumes -- yet reviles shifter romances/erotica as bestiality) that was then repubbed by a British tabloid. Three years of reasonable people doing reasonable searches finding results they weren't looking for with no audible complaints versus tabloid generated hysteria that wipes out the books of even cookbook writers if they unfortunately published through D2D.

It's ridiculous.

Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #114 on: October 14, 2013, 07:58:47 AM »
Julie: You're making assumptions. I NEVER had bad covers. NEVER. And I've had problems. My blurbs are tame. I'm TAME. I learned to avoid the mistakes others made a long time ago and I got hit anyway. The bookseller response is not justified. It's a kneejerk reaction with all the intelligence of a tantrumming toddler behind it. All driven by media with the fact checking skills of drunken gnats.

1. I did NOT say anything to you about your books. I don't even know what your books are. I wasn't even responding to any of your comments. My post was in response to something else unrelated to your books.
2. I don't think I said anything remotely supporting the retailer's methodology. In fact, I was commenting on the general common denominators across all platforms where this has been an issue.
3. If you actually read my comment, I think it is clear that I feel the issue is in the retailer's lap because they have set up a system that is easily abused and doesn't work correctly.

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Online Ann in Arlington

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #115 on: October 14, 2013, 08:01:12 AM »

It's ridiculous.

Well, no, see, I don't think it's ridiculous.  What's ridiculous is that it's something the sellers could have paid attention to and been dealing with all along so that it didn't get to the point where one customer, rather than just being annoyed and stopping doing business with the company, instead wrote it up and published it for the world to read about.

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Offline dgaughran

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #116 on: October 14, 2013, 08:06:28 AM »
All my titles have been pulled, and I uploaded direct (not via D2D) and don't write erotica.
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Offline Kiki Wellington

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #117 on: October 14, 2013, 08:11:18 AM »

Now we have public outrage generated by one writer who is far more notable for his attacks on other writers than the four books he's written. This media storm started with tweets on his twitter account, followed by a blogpost on a no-name site (that thinks revenge porn is a-OK as is having sex while wearing animal costumes -- yet reviles shifter romances/erotica as bestiality) that was then repubbed by a British tabloid. Three years of reasonable people doing reasonable searches finding results they weren't looking for with no audible complaints versus tabloid generated hysteria that wipes out the books of even cookbook writers if they unfortunately published through D2D.

It's ridiculous.

I think this aspect of it disturbs me the most. I can't stand writer-on-writer crime. I have come across tons of books that I personally think are gross. I don't buy them and I don't read them. That should be the end of it. If I'm not a fan of something, I vote with my pocketbook; I would never go out of my way to take away another writer's livelihood. Don't writers have enough to endure without going after each other?

Offline Lana Amore

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #118 on: October 14, 2013, 08:14:54 AM »
I think this aspect of it disturbs me the most. I can't stand writer-on-writer crime. I have come across tons of books that I personally think are gross. I don't buy them and I don't read them. That should be the end of it. If I'm not a fan of something, I vote with my pocketbook; I would never go out of my way to take away another writer's livelihood. Don't writers have enough to endure without going after each other?

I'll bet dollars to donuts he has a collection of Daddy and tentacle porn that rivals Amazon's entire catalog *and* self-pubs it under a pseud. Bet you anything!

Offline Christa Wick

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #119 on: October 14, 2013, 08:21:18 AM »
I should have tested every book before I made my update -- some 60+% show error pages when I click on the book in the kobo store. Hopefully that's system lag.

Ann -- except that he's not a customer, he's someone who has a long history of going around looking for something to be outraged about when it comes to other authors. Then when you get to The Daily Mail, it's populated by people who only visit the site to be outraged or engage in voyeurism.

Offline redandgold

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #120 on: October 14, 2013, 08:25:29 AM »
I strongly suspect that a major part of the problem is the UK government.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23401076

Quote
Most households in the UK will have pornography blocked by their internet provider unless they choose to receive it,

So, of course, when WHSmith is front and center for selling "porn" online, they will react quickly so that their site isn't block by all the ISP in the UK.

I happen to think that the book sellers like Kobo and Amazon etc could handle this far better - but when you are up against idiocy like this from the government and "authors" who try and game the system . . .

The collateral damage is not pretty - But I really hope that this spurs them to sort out the adult content issues properly rather than the silly approaches they are so far making a hash of it with.

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #121 on: October 14, 2013, 08:30:30 AM »
D2D is yanked from Kobo.  A few spotty reports of authors who directly upload through Kobo have been yanked.  This might be a more manual process so I wouldn't be surprised if it takes a while if they indeed are.  It will be interesting to see if they cull Smashwords next.

Personally Kobo has been very small potatoes when it comes to selling e-books even if a few authors seem to sell well there.  I don't want to sound all Fox News here but could this be the beginning of the end?  Amazon has been going rounds with erotica writers.  Kobo has clearly caved to WHSmith's complaint and is cutting out everything that isn't from an approved short list of distributors.

How long until Apple gets on the moral/quality bandwagon?  Their farts smell like smug, but a lot of books they sell don't.
Even the Zon might close down KDP and force everything to go through their imprint houses.

Is this the over-reaction that kills the free range of self-publishing?
   

Offline mrv01d

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #122 on: October 14, 2013, 08:41:12 AM »
I strongly suspect that a major part of the problem is the UK government.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23401076

So, of course, when WHSmith is front and center for selling "porn" online, they will react quickly so that their site isn't block by all the ISP in the UK.

I happen to think that the book sellers like Kobo and Amazon etc could handle this far better - but when you are up against idiocy like this from the government and "authors" who try and game the system . . .

The collateral damage is not pretty - But I really hope that this spurs them to sort out the adult content issues properly rather than the silly approaches they are so far making a hash of it with.

Yep, yep, yep.

Here's a good criticism of WH's business decisions to date: http://econsultancy.com/us/blog/63575-why-whsmith-s-drastic-decision-to-take-its-site-offline-shows-little-understanding-of-digital

Finally someone gets this is corporate lunacy!
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Offline dgaughran

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #123 on: October 14, 2013, 08:43:30 AM »
I think I've figured out which books are being removed.

It seems like all self-pubbed books with ISBNs are being removed from Kobo UK - as you need an ISBN to get into WH Smith (partner site of Kobo in the UK who have closed their store until Kobo remove the porn).
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Offline Christa Wick

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Re: WHSmith removing all self-published titles; Offline Statement (MERGED)
« Reply #124 on: October 14, 2013, 08:46:06 AM »
I didn't have ISBNs, David.