Retailer Amazon has banned several e-books from its Kindle Store after a report highlighted titles depicting rape, incest and bestiality.
Amazon took down the books with titles such as Taking My Drunk Daughter. The titles were highlighted by technology news site The Kernel.
The titles were found in the self-published section of the retailers' sites - an area where authors can offer their own work. The companies take a percentage of the sales made through their stores.
Mark Stephens, former chairman of the Internet Watch Foundation ludicrously claimed that, under Britain's Obscene Publications Act (OPA), publishers have a duty to protect the public from accidentally encountering material that could outrage
In fact the OPA says that material is prosecutable if it 'depraves and corrupts' likely viewers. Something that clearly rarely, if ever, actually happens and is difficult to prosecute in front of a jury as jurors are quick to notice that no one
in the court case, including themselves, seem very depraved or corrupted by what they have seen.
Many of the authors have taken measures to minimise 'offence' by adding disclaimers to their descriptions, such as saying characters were over 18 or step-daughters .
Pro censorship campaigner John Carr, said parents would be shocked at what content was discoverable. He told the BBC:
At the very least there should be a certain class of material that is adult, which ought not to be universally accessible.
WH Smith shut down its website on Sunday after it was revealed that a search for the term daddy brought up hardcore pornographic ebooks featuring bondage and humiliation alongside stories for children. [Does the hardcore tag mean anything
for books?]. At least 60 pornographic ebooks, some featuring rapes and bestiality, were available on the company's online store.
Alerted to the availability of the ebooks, the majority of which are self-published, WH Smith took the extreme measuire of shutting down its website until the ebooks could be censored.
In a statement WH Smith said:
This is an industry wide issue impacting retailers that sell self-published ebooks due to the explosion of self-publishing.
However, we are disgusted by these particular titles, find this unacceptable and we in no way whatsoever condone them. It is our policy not to feature titles like those highlighted and we have processes in place to screen them out. [er like
The shop also announced that in future it would not display any self-published books until it was confident that inappropriate books would not be shown.
Rentaquote politician, John Whittingdale, the chairman of the Commons culture, media and sport select committee, said:
It is disgusting that WH Smith, one of the country's most respected retailers, is selling hardcore pornography alongside children's books. Retailers have a responsibility to families and it is unacceptable that anyone could access this material
within a click of a mouse.
There is a LARGE amount of people who read this genre as a way to escape their reality. We are all consenting adults, you need to own a credit card to be able to purchase said books, so why all of a sudden start cracking down on
contolling such. Why is okay to sell adult products on said websites but not FICTIONAL reads. What happened to freedom of speech?! LEAVE OUR EROTICA ALONE!!
**This petition is NOT condoning non-fictional bestiality, incest, pediphilia or other things of such extreme nature**
To: Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon; Michael Serbinis, CEO of KOBO; Leonard Riggio, Founder and executive chairman of Barnes and Noble,
Leave our erotica and self-published Indie authors alone.
Kobo is the company behind the self-publishing service used by WHSmith that led to a few complaints about pornography, fictional rape, incest and bestiality. The company was quick to push the censorship panic button and promise to strip its
shelves of adult content.
In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph , Kobo's chief executive Mike Serbinis said that the company has a responsibility, as one of the stewards of the publishing industry's transformation to digital, to censor its catalogue.
It has had staff working around the clock since Saturday to remove supposedly offensive material that violates the usual vague terms and conditions of Kobo's content policy. It is also conducting a thorough review of Kobo's self-publishing
catalogue, which includes several hundred thousand titles, to ensure that all authors and publishers are complying with its censorship policies.
Meanwhile, thousands of adult-book lovers have signed a petition on Change.org calling on e-book retailers to stop removing erotica from their online stores.
However, Serbinis claims that Kobo somehow 'supports' freedom of expression.
Kobo is the only company to have taken such drastic action, even though similar titles have been found in the e-book stores of other online retailers. Amazon and Barnes & Noble have removed several abuse-themed e-books from their stores, but
neither have taken their sites offline or are conducting proactive reviews of their catalogues.
Perhaps on the positive side, banning erotica may enable some smaller publishers a chance to get in on a sizeable chunk of the eBook market and provide a little more competition.
Offsite Comment: How Amazon, Nook And Kobo Should Deal With Their Porn Problems
Forbes speculates how the companies who decide to ban porn and erotica (and chance missing out on a 50 Shades of Grey portion of the market), could implement book censorship. The suggestion seems to be that automatic scanning could identify books
with sexy stuff and then use human book censors to ban the works they don't like.
In October, the online news site The Kernel published an incendiary story called An Epidemic of Filth, claiming that online bookstores like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, WHSmith and others were selling self-published ebooks that featured
rape fantasies, incest porn and graphic descriptions of bestiality and child abuse.
The story ignited a media firestorm in the U.K, with major news outlets like the Daily Mail, The Guardian, and the BBC reporting on the sales of sick ebooks.
Some U.K.-based ebook retailers responded with public apologies, and WHSmith went so far as to shut down its website altogether, releasing a statement saying that it would reopen once all self-published eBooks have been removed and we are
totally sure that there are no offending titles available.
The response in the U.S. was somewhat more muted, but most of the retailers mentioned in the piece, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble, began quietly pulling hundreds of titles from their online shelves --- an event Kobo coo Michael Tamblyn
referred to last month as erotica-gate .