Amazon removes abuse-themed e-books from store

From the BBC:

Retailer Amazon has removed several abuse-themed e-books from its Kindle Store after a report highlighted titles depicting rape, incest and bestiality.

Titles such as Taking My Drunk Daughter had been on sale.

Amazon and Barnes & Noble both say they are removing books found by technology news site The Kernel, but many others still remain, the BBC has found.

WHSmith and Kobo, which feature titles with similar themes, are yet to respond to requests for comment.

The BBC found that on Amazon’s store, the search function automatically suggested explicit topics to users typing seemingly innocuous keywords – without age verification taking place.

Amazon has not responded to the BBC’s request for comment on the issue, except to confirm that the specific books listed by The Kernel had been removed.

Barnes & Noble said in a statement the titles were “in violation” of its policy on content offered in the NOOK Bookstore and were in the process of being removed.

“When there are violations to the content policy that are brought to our attention, either through our internal process or from a customer or external source, we have a rapid response team in place to appropriately categorize or remove the content in accordance with our policy,” it said.

Justice Minister Damian Green told the BBC “the government shares the public’s concerns about the availability of harmful material.”

Link to the rest at the BBC and thanks to Nate at The Digital Reader for the tip.

19 thoughts on “Amazon removes abuse-themed e-books from store”

  1. Accounts where all erotica titles have been delisted and not for sale for a year or more have also been deleted at Nook. Which makes no sense. Oh wait, we’re talking about Nook.

    • Could be that sales haven’t been declining fast enough.

      After all, by their financial statements they have never made money selling ebooks and their losses are directly proportional to sales. The less they sell, the less they lose.

      • How does that make sense? There’s no real cost in selling an ebook vs not selling one. There should be a more or less stable cost for maintaining and (to some degree) improving their infrastructure. Assuming selling an ebook makes some money, that money should help reduce that fixed cost. Ahz confuselled.

        • It doesn’t.
          But that is how B&N financials have always reported it:

          More recently, very quarter they report lower ebook sales, the brag about reducing Nook losses.

          I was being snarky but the reality is their Nook bookkeeping has always been odd. According to them, they never made money selling ebooks and, yes, the more the sold, the more money they lost. Even when they controlled 26% of ebook sales.

          Being evilminded, B&N financial moves strongly remind me of Adelphia.

          • As to how it can be: well, if B&N charges Nook a disproportionate share of overhead and/or charges them for the kiosks in the B&M stores it would have the effect of making B&M more viable and Nook like a perennial loser. Chargeback rates are a common way of funneling money from one corporate unit to another.

            If they are playing those kinds of games it would explain why they don’t sell Nook. It’s too useful in propping up the storefronts.

        • How does that make sense?

          It’s easy. One elementary way is to assign overhead based on sales dollars. Another is to assign it based on units sold. Those are just the simple and easy to understand ways. It can get much more fun, not very simple, and nearly impossible to understand.

          But, what is appropriate overhead to charge to eBooks? Give me control of the books, and I’ll make it whatever you want. And it will pass audit.

          And remember, each dollar allocated to eBooks is a dollar not allocated to something else. That’s often the first place to look with questions.

          It’s another case of financial accounting vs cost accounting. They are two very different things.

      • They are still trying to sell themselves, and don’t want to get involved in any controversy about despoiling the culture. That doesn’t please potential buyers, and there are already too few of them.

    • Not universally, that seems to be because Nook’s method of finding content violations does not distinguish between published and unpublished books. So you can be banned from the platform for the content of a book you haven’t published (or, more often, a book you did publish, then later unpublished).

  2. Wow. I thought this had only happened to me. I have a few erotica titles on Nook under a pen name, but the vast majority of my titles are just ordinary mainstream SF/Fantasy. I hate to see this sort of thing happening to anyone, but it’s comforting to know I’m not alone in abruptly and without warning or any hope of appeal being banished from Nook for all eternity, without any specific explanation as to exactly what my violation was or which titles were in violation. %$#@ Barnes & Noble anyway. Nook won’t be around much longer.

  3. Looked up Flowers in the Attic, the only V.C. Andrews book whose title I could recall. Near as I recall, every single one of her books I read (not even near all of those Andrews herself published) had some form of “abusive” relationship in it, starting with FITA, with an incestuous affair between the captive brother and sister . . . whose parents’ own too-closely-related relationship (cousins, I believe) was what got the “flowers” locked away.

    It’s on, and the second listing is a box set of the entire FITA (Dollanganger) series. Apparently, if your book comes from a major publisher, it’s not subject to such exclusions as this.

    • “Apparently, if your book comes from a major publisher, it’s not subject to such exclusions as this.”

      Gotta love the double standards when you find them. 😉

    • Oh yeah, all of Andrews’ books had incest plot lines; it was creepy. And yeah, that was her own books, before the ghostwriter.

      But if I recall correctly, weren’t the pulled books specifically erotica? I had the impression if they’d been in any other genre they would have flown under the radar. Game of Thrones (fantasy), V.C. Andrews (family saga), books featuring ancient Egyptians who liked to marry their sisters (historical fiction). I thought it was being slotted as erotica that put the books in a target-rich environment, so to speak. But I could be remembering this wrong.

  4. The BBC found that on Amazon’s store, the search function automatically suggested explicit topics to users typing seemingly innocuous keywords – without age verification taking place.

    I’ve got news for the BBC, any child eight or above who’s doing searches on Amazon has more than likely already come across explicit topics–at school, from more knowledgeable schoolmates, or from playmates near to home. I heard my first sex jokes when I was that age, from playmates near to home. I wasn’t the only child that age huddled under that shrub-fort, and I know perfectly well the 10yo telling the jokes didn’t ask us how old we were before doing so.

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