The naughty writers have struck back.
Yesterday, Jacket Copy's Carolyn Kellogg reported on
Now, as Publishers Weekly
, some self-published writers have launched a petition in protest, arguing that the broom retailers are using to sweep out the most offensive of these e-books is catching too many otherwise inoffensive works of erotica.
"There is a LARGE amount of people who read this genre as a way to escape their reality," begins the petition started on Change.Org by a poster named "Mlstress Renne." "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!!"
Some 13,000 people have signed the petition so far.
What galls the self-published authors most is that their works take up themes that are commonly found in books published by serious literary authors, and in countless works of genre fiction produced by the nation's largest publishing houses and movie studios.
"Books and movies and shows about murder, incest and cannibalism will still be sold by these websites," wrote the author Dalia Daudelin on her blog. "Dexter, Hannibal, Sleeping Beauty and Game of Thrones will not be removed, because it's a lot harder to bully people with the money for lawyers. This is censorship, and it's only being used against those who are self published."
Daudelin writes self-published books, which she categorizes as erotica and under various subcategories. There's "The Merchant's Daughter," billed as a work in the "dubious consent" genre (a term some observers have called a euphemism for rape). And there's "The Blackmailed Maid Bundle," which features a semi-nude woman on the cover scrubbing a floor: it's billed as "Punishment, Spanking, Choking, Romance Erotica." (There's a contradiction in terms there somewhere.)
Daudelin called for Amazon to establish clear guidelines. She also posted Kobo's new rules, which includes the following guideline: "Users may not publish written, image, audio or video content that promotes pedophilia, incest, bestiality, or sexual violence or force."
That rule didn’t sit well with Daudelin (though she promised to respect it) because, she argued, “more than half of all women have rape fantasies and they like reading dubious consent stories.”
The British website the Kernel drew attention to the issue last week with an investigation that found "hundreds of e-books that celebrate graphic rape, incest and 'forced sex' with young girls available for sale from online retailer Amazon."
Kernel's reporters purchased one of the books and described it as "a sick rape fantasy with language and details too graphic for a family-friendly publication to reproduce."