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Tuesday, 15 October 2013

So nice of Kobo to hit every self-pub because of a few problem titles...

How to overreact in a big way - Kobo sent out this email this morning, after they have removed all the books, BTW, no warning at all they were going to do it:
To our Kobo Writing Life and self-publishing partners:

As you may be aware, there has been a significant amount of negative media attention in the UK regarding offensive material that became available across a number of eBook platforms. Kobo was included in the reports from media and we are taking immediate action to resolve an issue that is the direct result of a select few authors and publishers violating Kobo’s content policies.

In order to address the situation Kobo is taking the following steps:
1.       We are removing titles in question from the Kobo platform.
2.       We are quarantining and reviewing titles to ensure that compliance to our policies is met by all authors and publishers. We will ensure that content meeting the policy is made available online as soon as possible.
3.       We are reviewing our policies and procedures to implement safeguards that will ensure this situation does not happen in the future.

We are working hard to get back to business as usual, as quickly as possible. We appreciate your patience and understanding in this matter.

Our goal at Kobo is not to censor material; we support freedom of expression. Further, we want to protect the reputation of self-publishing as a whole. 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.


Mark Lefebvre
Director, Kobo Writing Life
I barely sell anything on Kobo, but it's the principle of the thing that annoys me. They have removed all my books. All my books are not erotica, in fact all the ones that weren't erotica went first! All my books that contain adult content are marked as such and they are redistributed by Smashwords so they already adhere to those content guidelines. If Kobo objected to Smashwords' guidelines, why on earth did they let Smashwords distribute to them? Surely they can tell where the books came from when they were uploaded into their system.

If it's "a few authors and publishers" that have broken the rules why have they punished every self-pub? All I can say is that if they didn't want the content on their site they should have checked better when it was submitted!

I believe complaints in the Daily Mail (I won't go to their website because I don't want to feed their advertising revenue) were about incest and rape porn and bestiality, all of which are against Smashwords content guidelines and hence cannot get into the premium catalogue which is what is redistributed to other providers. I also believe there may have been some trouble with tagging where porn titles were coming up along side children's books, but then I'm not sure how you can stop that unless you have to be logged in for adult books to show up in a search or something (that would make sense because you'd have to show your age when having an account), or add a safe search option as default like Google that you have to turn off. This action by Kobo is completely OTT.

They are saying a week to vet every title, but I'll believe that when I see it. Are they suddenly going to decide certain erotica isn't okay because it's only the self-pub they're looking at?

On our website we have a very simple system - we have a flag in the back end, if it's checked the book listing states it has adult content and we make sure our listings are suitable for all ages. I am all for making sure kids don't stumble across content they shouldn't, but removing all self-pub is just wrong.

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