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Deletion of book by Amazon / Violation Content Guidelines


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Initial post: Dec 9, 2010 2:26:58 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 12, 2010 8:58:08 PM PST
Ms. Jess says:
Hi all,

I was wondering if anyone knows of any other author who's had their books deleted by Amazon, without warning/explanation.

I posted here (on the Kindle DTP forum): http://forums.digitaltextplatform.com/dtpforums/thread.jspa?threadID=11006&tstart=0

But I've included it below, in case Amazon "happens to delete" my post there.

=====

Hi,

I recently had one of my ebooks deleted without warning or explanation. After writing to the DTP/Amazon team, they replied with the following:

"During our review process, we found that your title contains content that is in violation of our content guidelines. As a result, we have removed the book from our store."

The title in question was an erotic fiction book. I have had very vague replies from the Amazon team as to HOW my book's content violated the content guidelines.

I have some information on the book here: http://jesscscott.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/wicked-lovely-jess-c-scott/

The content guidelines on Amazon do not have clear guidelines as to what is considered as "acceptable" in the erotica genre. I see other similarly-themed books still available for purchase, and see books with the subjects of rape, bestiality, etc, available for purchase (books that have not been deleted from Amazon's catalog). If underage sex is illegal, why is Vladimir Nabokov's "Lolita" still available for purchase?

I have asked multiple times for a reason as to why my book was removed, and which aspect of my book's content violated the guidelines. Amazon's response:

"As stated in our content guidelines, we reserve the right to determine what content we consider to be appropriate. This content includes both the cover art image and the content within the book."

Has anyone else experienced something similar?

====

I am interested in an explanation from Amazon because I see other incest/taboo erotica books still available for purchase. I also told them that the sexual scene in my book is consensual (and both characters are 18 when "the deed is done"). There's another scene at the beginning when one of the girls is younger, but it's more of a diary account than "pornographic material."

Subjects such as rape and bestiality are OK, and something in my book is not? Is it to do with a scene of a guy trying on lingerie? Whose undies did I get up in a bunch?

Erotica vs. Pornography -- who's making the rules up at Amazon?

Amazon Content Guidelines: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?ie=UTF8&nodeId=15015801

The content guidelines are very vague, and do not state what is acceptable in erotica.

Jess.
www.jesscscott.com

Posted on Dec 9, 2010 2:35:17 PM PST
Emerald says:
Were you around when the guide to pedophiles was deleted from amazon? Yeah, books get deleted.

Yes, amazon is very vague and wishy-washy about what is acceptable or not. But you likely never got a response from a real person, just an auto-responder.

If your book has underage sex--"consensual" or not, "erotic" or not, "arousing" or not, this is likely what got your book kicked out of amazon. Don't bother with mentioning Lolita or other books with taboos still on amazon. Won't help you a bit.

Amazon cleans house in the way it pleases. Being annoyed or sneering about how your definition of pornography is better than amazon's won't help you, either. The issue isn't pornography. It's pedophilia. Rewrite your book so the underage "diary" portion isn't in there anymore, and you might have better luck.

Posted on Dec 9, 2010 2:38:44 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 9, 2010 2:39:18 PM PST
Ms. Jess says:
Hi Emerald,

It wasn't meant to be a sneer, just a substantiated point. To remove one book because of "underage sex" and leave another book with similar content on, is unfair.

My "diary" portion included a short oral sex scene between two consenting teenagers (16 years old). I do not think that falls into the category of pedophilia, since a pedophile can be defined as "an adult who is sexually attracted to a child or children."

P.S. I was aware of the pedophile guide being deleted. That is a non-fiction book that condoned an illegal activity. It wasn't erotic fiction.

Jess.
www.jesscscott.com

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 9, 2010 2:45:00 PM PST
Jazzy_Jeff says:
More than likely someone complained about your book. Does not sound like I would be missing anything with it being deleted :).

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 9, 2010 2:48:02 PM PST
Ms. Jess says:
Hi Jeff,

Well, either that, or someone on the DTP team (can't say for sure). Incidentally, it was one of my more popular pieces, still available on other vendors (for now) :)

Jess.
www.jesscscott.com

Posted on Dec 9, 2010 2:49:33 PM PST
Emerald says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Dec 9, 2010 2:50:02 PM PST
Tigertwo says:
They are in charge and they get to decide what they carry. Simple as that.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 9, 2010 2:58:32 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 10, 2010 6:34:54 AM PST
Ms. Jess says:
My intent is not to whine or complain. I am just interested to know how rape and bestiality are acceptable topics, while consensual underage sex is not (it's a realistic thing that happens in people's lives, and while I understand changing that element might approve the book, removing or tweaking it would compromise the story and the characters).

The "panties in a bunch" was probably influenced by some Eminem lyrics.

Jess.
www.jesscscott.com

Posted on Dec 9, 2010 3:08:30 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 9, 2010 3:09:15 PM PST
LynnL says:
"Pedophila" does not mean "sex between or with someone under the age of consent" (unless the age of consent where you live is under 13). A pedophile is a person who is sexually attracted to *prepubescent* children, which generally means age 12 or thereabouts. I'm not sure how or why this point gets lost so often.

There is a big difference between pedophilia and sex between those who are not legally adults. Romeo and Juliet does not depict pedophilia... neither does Lolita or American Beauty or any other story where one or both partners might be under the legal age of consent.... as long as they are past puberty, it's not pedophilia, even if it might be statutory rape or some other crime.

Posted on Dec 9, 2010 3:20:10 PM PST
CLB77 says:
I can't speak for Amazon, but I doubt it's the underage sex, or the mention of it, unless it's very, very young and/or very, very graphic. Teen characters in YA books have sex frequently. My guess is it's the cumulative nature of the work... one man's porn is another man's erotica is another man's porn. Unfortunately, in this case, the only opinion that matters is Amazon's. It's also possible that someone reported your content (if you look on ebook listing pages, there's a link way down at the bottom under feedback that reads, "Would you like to report this content as inappropriate? Click here") and upon review, Amazon agreed.

I'm sorry for you that it was pulled, and I do hope you get an explanation that is satisfactory. You're writing about what you must know is controversial subject matter... unfortunately, that generates controversy. And also unfortunately, I highly doubt Amazon will ever put out an act by act guide of what is acceptable erotica and what is not. Have you published on smashwords? They seem quite open to many levels of content.

Posted on Dec 9, 2010 3:28:44 PM PST
Jess, I agree the Amazon guidelines are vague. I'm sure that's intentional. It's a much better situation in terms of enforcement to have a broad guideline that allows room for judgment when enforcing it, because each situation is unique and should be judged on its own merits. When rules or guidelines are narrowly or explicitly defined it's actually detrimental because it allows people to look for the loopholes. Loopholes or gaps in coverage always exist when narrow and specific definitions are used.

On the other hand, I think anyone who has their book removed from Amazon should be told exactly why. That presents the option to either decide to not sell it here, or to edit to make it acceptable. But if the offender has no idea what the offense is, then there's no way to correct it if that's the desired solution. There's no problem with broad guidelines, but when applying them specifics need to be stated. I'd recommend that you keep persisting, asking for supervisors and on up the chain if need be. As long as you're respectful and don't become argumentative of course. ;)

Posted on Dec 9, 2010 3:40:47 PM PST
Dog Lover says:
Jess,

Did you call them and ask or are you relying solely on email conversations?

DL

Posted on Dec 9, 2010 3:58:07 PM PST
I really don't think anybody on the Kindle forum can give you an intelligent answer on what specifically in your book violates the guidelines unless we were to actually see your book. And really, I don't plan to.

I do agree that Amazon is probably a little touchier these days post-Pedophilia scandal. You very well could have just triggered some word or phrase filters and got tossed out. I don't think you'll get far with a "but he gets to do it!" though, sorry.

So the only advice I have is to re-write, give it up, or find another publishing platform.

Posted on Dec 9, 2010 4:11:01 PM PST
Rod Govers says:
Not my usual type of story, Jess, but I bought a copy from Smashwords in support.

Posted on Dec 9, 2010 4:18:02 PM PST
s*ckb*tch says:
I also bought it too. I don't think I should be censored in what I read unless I am underage.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 9, 2010 4:34:21 PM PST
CLB77 says:
You're not being censored in what you read, pgun3. Clearly you can read and obtain the OP's book if you want to. Amazaon, however, is not required to sell it to you.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 9, 2010 4:40:04 PM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Jul 12, 2011 2:12:06 PM PDT]

Posted on Dec 9, 2010 4:41:44 PM PST
C. Phillips says:
It's a variation of the basic, "The power of the press belongs to the man who owns the press."

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 9, 2010 4:41:47 PM PST
Shelia Lund says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Dec 9, 2010 4:47:08 PM PST
Rod Govers says:
"not sounding like we would be missing anything with it being deleted"

You could say that about 98% of books offered. Thank goodness we all have different tastes otherwise what a bland world it would be (of course, there are many folk working towards that kind of world, one according to their beliefs).

Posted on Dec 9, 2010 5:19:32 PM PST
BareThoughts says:
One thing to note also when comparing an indie books being pulled and a trad. published one not, there are actually different rules for the DTP (indie) books as Amazon is almost a defualt publisher on those.

Posted on Dec 9, 2010 6:15:33 PM PST
Consentual and underage do not equate. Those underage are not held to their consent just like not holding a minor to contractual obligations. A minor is a minor.

Posted on Dec 9, 2010 11:37:50 PM PST
Jess, I have read some of your earlier work and I loved it. I assume the whole thing is about your book Wicked Lovely? I am not sure Amazon rejected it because of the "underage" sex. I am sure there are hundreds of books out there, even in the YA genre, of young people making love who are under 18. What I think--and of course we don't know for sure--is that the addition to the title in parenthesis (incest short story) triggered Amazon's attention. And it may very well have to do with the whole hoopla about the pedophilia guide and the attempt to boycott Amazon. There are a lot of people out there who would love nothing more than reintroduce censorship to ban anything having to do with sex. Just look at the list of banned books.
Anyway, I'm going to buy your book from Smashwords, where it's still available.
Good luck to you,
Christa

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 10, 2010 5:33:29 AM PST
You are looking at the wrong content guidelines. That is the guideline for the main Amazon store. This is the content guideline for the DTP.

http://forums.digitaltextplatform.com/dtpforums/entry.jspa?externalID=122&categoryID=27

The Terms that every person publishing through DTP have to agree to state that books must comply with those guidelines or be rejected. In the guidelines they also make it clear that they decide what complies and what doesn't w/o specifics => "Amazon Digital Services, Inc. reserves the right to make judgments about whether or not content is appropriate."

From what you have described so far in this thread you violated one of the following (the first 2 examples the guidelines give):

"Pornography
Pornography and hard-core material that depicts graphic sexual acts.

Offensive Material
What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect. Amazon Digital Services, Inc. reserves the right to determine the appropriateness of Titles sold on our site."

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 10, 2010 5:49:46 AM PST
"To remove one book because of "underage sex" and leave another book with similar content on, is unfair."

And where is it written that anything in life has to be "fair"?

Amazon site, Amazon rules.
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Discussion in:  Kindle forum
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Initial post:  Dec 9, 2010
Latest post:  Jun 5, 2012

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