Censorship, Erotica, Amazon, Paypal & Smashwords

January 3rd, 2014 by Jude Writing Tags: , , , , ,

I stumbled upon an article written last year, and it reminded me of the situation.  Smashwords informed all its writers about Paypal banning certain types of erotica. I now remember getting that email, but it didn’t affect me…then.  That was well over a year before I wrote Kings of Klenar, so I didn’t get caught up in the drama.  Reading the article, Mark Coker’s letter and then the follow up makes it a bit clearer in my mind why Amazon has such a problem with the erotic version but not the sensual version.

All erotic books dealing with bestiality, rape, incest and children were banned.  There’s that word again: rape.  I thought that strange, since many books deal with rape, but then I got to meat of the email.  If those things were in a non-erotic book, it wouldn’t be an issue.  Only if they were in an erotic book.  So even if the scenes were exactly the same, if you dared put that in the same book with erotic sex, a red flag would go up.  I find it strange that people would assume that because the book is erotic, that the plot can’t be any deeper than just the kinky sex.  I’ve always been under the impression that erotica was a normal story with explicit sex added in. Strip away the sex and you still had a rich story.  That is what I did with Kings of Klenar.  I wrote it with a lot of explicit sex, and then I went and edited all that out so more reserved people could still read and enjoy the story.  And those people are the ones who have a problem with the questionable content.  Actually, that makes sense, because people who are prepared to read explicit sex, shouldn’t be all that shocked to read a very brief rape scene.

I didn’t write those scenes for titillation, which is what is supposed to mark that as taboo.  I don’t expect people to read that and get turned on.  It’s something horrible that happens to the heroine, so you’re not supposed to like it.  If it makes you mad or upset, then I did my job.

Of course, Paypal eventually dropped the idea of the ban, since they realized how idiotic it was.  They were forced to realize that too many classics would have to be banned as well, since many of those use rape and pedophilia in them.  One popular example is The Color Purple.  The heroine of that is only a child when she is raped, but you don’t see the masses wanting to burn the author in effigy. Maybe because that book isn’t erotic, but how does that make the idea of a child being raped any less offensive?  I might put offensive content in a few of my books, but I don’t do it glorify the act. It’s merely necessary to tell the story.  Which is why it bothers me when Amazon gives me such a problem with the description of the book. Turns out they don’t care what the book contains, only that the description isn’t offensive or contains any of their taboo keywords, such as rape or non-consensual sex.  But they allow those terms in non-erotic books.  And even though I have that disclaimer on the sensual version, that hasn’t stopped prudish people from buying it and then being disgusted enough to return it for a refund or posting a negative review.

I know you can’t please everyone all the time, and it does seem there are enough people pleased enough to buy it and keep it.  If they liked it, hopefully they will eventually return and positively review it.


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