Monday, December 13, 2010

Amazon in the Book Banning Business

On December 9, 2010, I was contacted by CreateSpace (Amazon’s Print on Demand service) who publishes my print books. They informed me that my title, Back to the Garden, had been removed for violating their “content guidelines.” When I consulted their guidelines I found them so vague as to be useless—were they saying my content was illegal? Public domain? Stolen? Offensive? (All of these were on the list). When I inquired as to the specifics of the violation, they were not forthcoming, and sent a form letter response stating that Amazon “may, in its sole discretion, at any time, refuse to list or distribute any content that it deems inappropriate.”

On Sunday, December 12, the print title that had been removed had now disappeared from the Kindle store, as well as two of my other titles, Naughty Bits and Under Mr. Nolan’s Bed. I have over fifty titles selling on Amazon, all of them in erotic fiction categories. The only thing these three singled-out titles had in common, besides being written by me—they were all erotic incest fantasy fiction.

About this time, I heard that two other authors, Jess C. Scott and Esmerelda Green, both had erotic incest-related titles removed from Amazon's site. After some research, I discovered one of Frances Gaines Bennett’s incest-related books had also been removed. As the night wore on, and public outcry about censorship and banned books began on Twitter at #amazonfail and #amazoncensors and on their own Kindle Boards, more and more incest-related erotica titles began to disappear from the Amazon site, so that the “Kindle Incest” search page began to look like swiss cheese. Teleread covered the story soon after.

When some of my readers began checking their Kindle archives for books of mine they’d purchased on Amazon, they found them missing from their archives. When one reader called to get a refund for the book she no longer had access to, she was chastised by the Amazon customer service representative about the “severity” of the book she’d chosen to purchase. 

As of this writing, Amazon has refused to respond to my emails or phone calls in regards to this matter and has refused to further clarify what, if any, content guidelines the books in question violate. If Amazon had clear guidelines that were applied to all publishers across every platform and enforced them consistently, this would be a moot issue. By not clearly stating their position and choosing books either arbitrarily or based on searches of top-rated titles which are the most visible titles in the genre, they seem to be deliberately hiding a clear case of discrimination and what amounts to censorship (albeit ipso facto) because of their lack of transparency.

I want to be clear that while the subject of incest may not appeal to some, there is no underage contact in any of my work, and I make that either explicitly clear in all my stories or I state it up front in the book's disclaimer. I don't condone or support actual incest, just as someone who writes mysteries about serial killers wouldn't condone killing. What I write is fiction. It's fantasy, not reality. And I'm not saying what I write isn't controversial, but it's not illegal (at least in some states) or a threat to national security, and seems as undeserving of censorship as... well...

As fellow author, Will Belegon, noted, if Amazon is going to start pulling books with incest in them: "I just re-read Genesis 19: 30-38 and realized that Lot's daughters got him drunk, had sex with him and bore sons. I demand you follow your clear precedent and remove The Bible from Kindle."

Or perhaps Amazon should create a new television ad after they follow their clear precedent and ban the book the woman is reading in the advertisement on her Kindle ("Sleepwalking" by Amy Bloom) which tells the story of a 19-year-old boy who has a sexual encounter with his stepmother, which, in some states, is legally incest.

While it can be said that, for an author or celebrity, any press (including bad press) is good press, for a bookseller and publisher, that does not necessarily hold true. Can Amazon afford the bad press about book removal which may spark outcries from many corners, including self-publishing authors, the fastest-growing segment of their Kindle ebook distribution?

In speculating on the motivations of Amazon’s actions, as they have not been forthcoming with any statement or explanation, I am concerned that they may be acting out of reactionary fear. This may be based on pressure from a small number of vocal and complaining conservative and/or religious right extremists who object to and are afraid of sexual fantasies and erotic printed material (including incest fantasies). It may also be based on threatening governmental pressure related to the recently removed WikiLeaks. More speculation may point to overzealous lawyering as Amazon moves from just-distributor and bookseller to publisher.

While I am not a lawyer, constitutional scholar or legal expert on free speech and intellectual freedom, I am an author and publisher and know that, regardless of the technical legalities of Amazon's actions, buckling to this pressure and the removal of books will hurt their bottom line. It will damage relationships with readers, authors, publishers and organizations such as the American Library Association and the ACLU, among others, who are interested in supporting free speech. I should also note that I am a professional psychologist and, while no longer licensed or working in the field, it’s clear that when individuals and organizations fail to recognize the difference between fantasy and reality, problems such as this result.


  1. I am not a prude and am opposed to book banning.

    One of my books printed by CreateSpace was "accidentally" rejected by a CS robot censor because it mentioned (I eventually received an apology.)

    Two of my books have sex scenes -- including three-way, but no incest -- and are sold by Amazon.

    Nevertheless, I find the notion of "erotic incest fantasy" a bit weird and creepy.

    Who finds this genre entertaining? Are these books for ten-year-old boys who make peep holes so they can watch their sisters getting undressed?

    Michael N. Marcus
    -- Create Better Books, with the Silver Sands Publishing Series:
    -- "Stories I'd Tell My Children (but maybe not until they're adults),"

  2. Michael, the problem that I see is that MOST erotica has the potential to offend someone. Menage, m/m, BDSM, nonconsensual sex-- there's always going to be someone out there ready to click that "report for offensive content" button. If Amazon is deleting incest erotica, then I can't see why other stuff would be exempt. In fact it seems likely that once people realize Amazon is deleting stuff, they'll start targeting other types of books. They might not even limit themselves to erotica. What if people start objecting to violent horror? Or religious fiction? It just looks like a very slippery slope to me.

    Also, I wonder if Amazon has the time and resources to start sorting through hundreds of books a week and figuring out what they want to delete. It seems like that could turn into a never-ending hassle. Sooner or later, they may decide it's not cost-effective to continue publishing indies at all.

  3. "In speculating on the motivations of Amazon’s actions, as they have not been forthcoming with any statement or explanation, I am concerned that they may be acting out of reactionary fear."

    Exactly! This is the real danger of picking and choosing what constitutes as censor-worthy subject matter and what doesn't.

    Erotica by nature is a question of taste. What one finds stimulating another may find abhorrent. What does this lead us to? Majority rules? I hope not!

    Some may say erotica should be censored but then what? What about romance too? I've come across more and more readers who want "clean" romance and find common content too explicit.

    Should those romance titles be censored too?

    We can go on and on. The point being once you draw this line, it keeps getting redrawn. Until when? Until there's nothing left to offend?

  4. While incest fiction isn't generally my personal cuppa (I say generally because I wanted the brother and sister to end up together in Flowers in the Attic, so I can see a situation in which that topic wouldn't bother me in future), I certainly don't want it banned.

    @Michael I'm really not sure how productive it is to start judging the sexual fantasies of others with "Who is entertained by this genre"? You might be very surprised by the types of fantasies those around you have. Nearly every person has some dark sexual fantasy others would find offensive.

    But fantasy isn't reality. And Selena has made clear that she writes about ADULT incest. NO adult-based sexual fantasy should ever be censored when it's clear that it is FANTASY, as erotica, by definition, is.

    @Ellen, I agree that is a possible and unfortunate outcome. This is one reason I say indies REALLY need to OWN THEIR OWN PLATFORM. i.e. grow a strong twitter and facebook following and blog following but MOST importantly, a newsletter list. Because at some point you could lose the ability to publish somewhere based on stupidity like this. This kind of thing affects us ALL. Not just erotica authors and not just authors of incest erotica.

    Selena called this crap over a month ago with that stupid pedo book. Amazon should have just ignored it. And if people had stopped retweeting the damn book, no one would know about it and it would have uselessly sunk to the bottom of sales rankings like a stone. But human beings LOVE controlling everybody. They LOVE it. The only freedom most people care about is their own personal freedom and most are too stupid to understand that when you restrict another person's freedoms, you've just stomped on your own. It may not come back to you today, but some day the censorship will affect something YOU wanted to read.

    I really have very little faith in humanity lately.

    @Claudia when there is nothing left to offend, by definition there is no literature.

  5. "Nevertheless, I find the notion of "erotic incest fantasy" a bit weird and creepy."


    Okay, so it's not your thing. *shrug* I find the notion of guys wearing women's underwear a bit weird and creepy. It just doesn't turn me on. But I don't go around asking, "Who would get turned on by that?" Obviously, someone does. Everyone is different - all our hot buttons are different. You'd be very surprised, as Zoe says, what your neighbor's fantasy life might be like. Judge not, lest ye be judged, and all that, eh?

    I actually wrote those incest books as a result of a contest where it was the most popular category on the site. It was an interesting experiment for me, to get into the that very psychological question - what's the turn on?

    Maybe you should expand your horizons. *grin*


  6. The key here is that they don't need to offer a reason. “may, in its sole discretion, at any time, refuse to list or distribute any content that it deems inappropriate.”

    This is a pretty clear statement. It says exactly what they mean. They can make that decision as they see fit. It is Bezos company and he can do what he wants with it.

    I don't see how the majority can complain about this after the uproar with the pedo issue. You can't pick and choose what YOU want sold or not. It isn't OUR company, it is what it is and there are plenty of other places to sell books, but they will also have their own say in whether certain things are sold.

    The only way anyone has the right to say what can be sold or not is to have their own company.

    And why can't others say what they like and don't like wherever they choose, you are telling Michael he shouldn't speak his mind as you are criticizing others for making their opinions known. Which way is it? Free speech or not?

    Karen Syed

  7. @ Karen

    If Amazon had said to me, back when I published my books with them over a year ago, “We don’t publish this type of fiction,” I would have been fine with that. I agree - business has a right to say, “Yes” or “No.”

    But to suddenly start enforcing “rules” that were not consistently enforced in the past, and to not even warn people? I don't think so.

    I was only informed about my first (print) book being removed. I still haven’t been informed in any official way about the other two titles. Nor were any of the Kindle readers, who suddenly had them removed from their archives without warning.

    It’s bad, bad business practice and it reflects poorly on a company who has had issues with book removal in this way again and again because they have no clear, enforced policy and no transparency.

    As for freedom of speech - we all know we can say what we like. Michael can say incest is weird or creepy all he wants. People can protest at funerals of military soldiers. Hate speech is a right, too. It's being spewed all over Amazon as we type. But incest is the only thing being BANNED from the largest bookseller in the U.S. who holds 70% marketshare of the ebook market.

    1. Selena, I agree with you totally. I'm writing erotic fare for self-publishing and they told me to stay away for incest.'s just fantasy. It's also a hell of a lot more common in real life than people think. So, I'll just offer it for free on my website to sell the other stuff. Maybe the ACLU would consider suing Amazon? They control the market. Looks like a good case to me that they will lose. Best wishes in your endeavors.


  8. I am reminded of Ray Bradbury's book "Fahrenheit 451", where he notes that censorship begins with someone being offended by something and then everyone jumping on the bandwagon, until there is nothing left to read. This book was later banned by some people who found it offensive.

    There is a second form of censorship, however, that in some ways is much more insidious: by not being clear about what is acceptable and what is not, as with Amazon's vague rules, you create a situation where people begin to censor themselves, and the goal of the censor is accomplished without them having to raise a finger, and better still, the censorship is complete, since the work was not created at all because of the atmosphere of fear and/or futility.

    And let's be clear about this: although some have argued that only the government is capable of actual censorship (since they control the creation and application of the law), this is incorrect. Censorship need not be legal to be real; it can be fear of backlash from family members, friends, fear of losing your job, etc. And all too often it is of the second type, the "chilling" effect that social pressure brings on an artist or other individual.

    I am following this very closely and monitoring our own titles at Amazon very carefully. And Selena, I also back your position on this matter. Eternal vigilance is the price of literary freedom.

  9. I've purchased several of the books that were banned. While I don't condone incest, I found the books extremely erotic and enjoyed them. I'm quite disturbed that Amazon has chosen to do this. I can understand enforcing their right to remove a book, but without notice to the author who wrote the book and to the reader who purchased it, it's just bad business. I purchase a book for my enjoyment. I'm an adult, I don't need to be sensored. If Amazon is this concerned, they should perhaps have better warnings before you purchase.

    I know I will keep reading Selena Kitt stories - I just purchased 2 a few days ago. I'm just glad I purchased Back to the Garden and Under Mr. Nolan's bed before they were removed.

    I would have liked to know that if I archived a book, that I wouldn't be getting it back. That's plainly ripping off the customer.

    Thank you for allowing me to comment.

  10. I agree Sharon, If I purchase a book Amazon has no right to delete it from my archive - it's mine. If I buy a physical copy of a book they can't come to my house and take it off my book shelf just becasue they have banned it. To me it's the same thing, and at the very least, Amazon should reimburse everyone for the books they have removed from their accounts - plain and simple. Customers should not be 'punished' because they bought ebooks that have since be censored.

  11. This is a sorry day all around. Amazon will suffer, the authors will certainly suffer. There is no way for Amazon to read every book they sell so some will "get by" while others will be seriously damaged if the fickle finger of fate points at thier books.

    The WORST of all of this is removing of the archives. Those people paid for a product!! To think that Amazon can sneak in to their 'virtual bookshelf' in the middle of the night and make off with something they took money for is frightening and one of the things that e-book nay-sayers threaten all the time - You're giving them fuel for less adoption of this technology.

    I fully respect the right for "any business" to sell what they want and refuse what they want but...I think a better decision would be - to let the market decide by voting with their pocket books. To try to apply any other "judgement" is going to be indiscriminately unfair.

  12. You are correct about them removing the books, but I have discovered that most companies (like Amazon) don't REALLY do things arbitrarily. There is usually a reason, even if we don't know what it is.

    In the VERY least they SHOULD make refunds to those affected, but to say these books are banned is incorrect. They have been removed fro one company. I am assuming they can still be gotten elsewhere.

    I suggested on another list that if people had productive ways to handle this situation, that everyone might be better served if they told Amazon in a considerate way (even if they weren't). Nothing really accomplished when threats and harsh words are spoken. Maybe I am idealistic, but if something goes wrong in my company, I don't want to keep hearing that's wrong, that won't work, etc. It is much more effective if someone comes to me and says, "Hey, perhaps you could try this."

    Just a thought.

  13. "They have been removed fro one company. I am assuming they can still be gotten elsewhere."


    For now.

  14. And now, make a bold move and ban Lolita from Nabokov and other classic literature pieces. Who want to read them is not a good american citizen.

  15. I worked for a book wholesaler years ago, which carried all sorts of cutting edge material, including erotica. occasionally, we made decisions about what material to carry. we based it primarily on the general focus of our customers, which meant we were trying to keep our name/brand clean. if it was lesbian, gay, bisexual, kinky, and didnt contain explicit images, it was ok. some of our book orders were stopped at the canadian border when the orders contained certain titles, usually gay literature. we chose not to carry "american psycho", which was an interesting choice, as some booksellers did stock it. we NEVER had complaints to speak of. but we were open about the process. Amazon is apparently doing retroactive/proactive censorship, not basing it on specific concerns from specific customers, which is the right way to do it. Their customer base is huge, with a wide range of tastes. they are treading on dangerous, very dangerous ground if they are choosing this route to decide on what content to carry. As they approach the size of a monopoly, or a "majopoly" for book sales, they undermine the first amendment if they dont have clear, rational reasons for each item they choose not to carry, or retract from sale. "incest" is absolutely NOT a clear enough guideline, as any thinking human can figure out. i hope this blows up in their face in the biggest way possible.

  16. I do not read erotic incest, so that particular does not interest me. However, I am disturbed that Amazon has the power to delete books from remote Kindles. This is akin to the book store stealing back the books from your home that they don't want you to have.

    In short, it is an unacceptable invasion of privacy. And it is one reason that I will not buy any device that has that capability. It is not a matter of government censorship, where we have remedies and rights. It is a matter of corporate censorship, where you sign away your right when you buy their product.

  17. To clarify one small point: it sounds like Amazon is not remotely wiping books from Kindles, but are removing them from the online archive, so if you have the book on your Kindle still, it remains, but if you delete it thinking you can sync it later from your archive (or sync it to another device), you're out of luck.

    Am I right?

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  18. Privacy? You have no privacy in their "cloud."

    Happy Bill of Rights day.

    Amazon's really stepping in it. First wikileaks, now this. This is the first Christmas shopping season with zero amazon boxes arriving at my mailbox.

  19. Amazon has a right to do this, yes...

    ...and we have a right to rightly call them right idiots for doing so.

  20. You bought a "Swindle."
    Caveat emptor.

  21. AMZN closed yesterday at $173.94

    In less than three months it will trade below $150.

    Stockholders in AMZN will be punished for this transgression.

    The market will not make a new high above $180 this year.

    Bagholders|^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^HInvestors will get what they deserve for financing such a corrupt firm.


    This may be ignored now, however it will be linked to again when the prediction comes to pass. People will learn, eventually.

  22. Anyone care to tell they rest of us how to make Amazons stock worth less ?

  23. Didn't Amazon say they were not going to do this after that debacle with the copy of 1984 they pulled from people's Kindles? Maybe I should have gotten a Nook after all.

  24. I have no problem with this. Incest is ilegal. What a sick fuck are you when you are writing incest fantasies?

  25. Congratulations. You have successfully pointed out that censorship in any way is for braindead people only.
    The sad part is that it is fuckin obvious. Since at least a million years. When do you learn humanity?

  26. @Marcus

    Clearly you have not "been around," as it were, on the internet. The readers of incest erotic fiction, like all erotic fiction are almost entirely women between the age of 25-35.

  27. Karen Syed, you are one of many, many people I have encountered on the internet who are deeply benighted in thinking that the right to free speech is the right to not be contradicted in public.

    Opining to Michael N. Marcus that something he has said is unproductive or is not the sort of question one oneself goes around asking, is far from telling him he should not have voiced his opinion.

    You have every right to state your opinion, Ms. Syed, and I have every right to call it an ugly one. That's not censorship, that's called taking my turn at stating my opinion.


  28. I read incest and lesbian erotica because they usually have the better seduction and romance scenes than straight or m/m erotica. I find incest neither attractive or disgusting. There is biologic concerns if a child is a product of incest and there are concerns about healthy psychological development when it's a parent/child or sibling relationship (it makes me think of stockholm syndrome). People don't always take from stories what one would expect. Let people make their own decisions. If you truly believe your views of morality are correct, then you can talk to people and convince them. People who try to ban books or ideas appear to be afraid that their morals and values are not correct and wish to hide from this fact by erasing anything that would point this out to other people. Be brave and courageous and use controversial or "immoral" subjects as a reason to talk about morality, not a reason to hide in fear.

  29. Just a thought, but has anyone checked this: are V.C. Andrews' novels (for example "Flowers in the Attic") available on the Kindle? They are CERTAINLY books about incest.

  30. One more book to be banned: George R R Martin's 'A Song of Ice and Fire' :-P

    (OK, banning a book for there being incest somewhere in it wouldn't actually be staying with the precedent, with incest being the main theme of the book...)

  31. After the last round of Amazon fail, I went out of my way to get a Nook rather than a Kindle. And I love it. Books that aren't available at B&N's website are usually available from other publishers, as long as they have an PDF, ePub or PDB version. Incest may not be *my* thing. But I'm an adult, and I should be able to choose what I want to read.

  32. I've tried several e-readers and have found the Kindle the most intuitive to use. However, I hate what Amazon can and has done. If they have certain things they'd rather not sell, then they need to be clear and consistent about it. I'm also not a big fan of the idea that you could buy something, consider it yours, and then find that it is no longer yours and that getting a refund requires you to submit yourself to be judged.

  33. To Anonymous who asked if the ebook was deleted from online archives rather than from the 'remote Kindle' - you're right.

    The Kindle book would remain on the Kindle and is readable and should be backed up with everything else one backs up.

    The copy on their servers will no longer exist if they decide not to sell it anymore which means it's no longer in the server archives.

    But I've seen other people saying this is taking it from people's private shelves or 'remote Kindles' and that's not correct.

    What is happening is that if you yourself delete your book and want to re-download it later, it won't be there for re-download.

  34. I'm curious about expectations.
    In the physical world, when we visit a bookstore, even a large one, do we expect them to carry every book? And if we had bought one earlier, do we expect them to carry other copies of it forever in case we want to read it again so that we can go get it from them?

    I think there's a difference between what's been likened to book burning and the decision of a bookstore not to sell an item anymore.

    Do bookstore owners have the right to not carry certain books? to not have them on their shelves? Remember that in this case, the book remains on the Kindle.

    Normally, if they don't have a book people want, they'll get it elsewhere...

  35. And still, I have to wonder: why is it that incest stories are worse than action or bellic fiction in which people shoot to kill at one another, and the reader gets visceral and fully detailed descriptions of people being be-headed or gutted away.

    How can two people cuddling together in love and affection, regardless of everything else, be more bannable than a bunch of guys, full of hatred just aiming to cause death and pain?

    I really wonder what kind of problem we people have in our minds.

    The worse of all, amazon placing itself as legal (wikileaks) and moral (this) judge and hiding itself behind its terms of use agreement to avoid discussion. Very democratic.

    The best, RubyStarfire's comment.

  36. Has anyone tried restoring these books to their Kindle from .azw files? After reading the contract with Amazon and realizing things could disappear from my Archive, I decided to back up every book I buy by connecting my Kindle to my computer and copying the files to my hard drive. That way, if a publishing company retracts its license or Amazon finds another cause to remove a book from the Archive, I can restore it from the backup copy. I haven't had the opportunity to test this idea yet, but if it doesn't work I may stop investing in DRM'd books and revert to paper. I like the Kindle system and its support across multiple devices, but if I come across a book I can't restore from my own backups, Amazon has performed the equivalent of breaking into my home, taking a book it's sold me from my own shelf, and shredding it. It's disturbing enough that these books have disappeared from users' Archives and outrageous that Amazon hasn't given (and worse, seems to be rudely refusing to give) refunds to make up for the loss, but I already didn't trust such a big company with the safekeeping of my digital bookshelf and this is a situation I've already prepared to confront by making my own backups, so it's not quite enough to push me over the edge.

  37. If I has to guess... someone in a position [of power] at Amazon is having an incestuous relationship and in order to "cover it up" decided to show their distaste for incest by banning incest containing books. Kind of like how some politicians (many are no longer around in politics do to their hypocrisy) were/are very vocal against gays and gay behavior but later on discovered to have been partaking in such behavior...

  38. I just manually deleted a book from my Archive (there's an obscure UI to do this in Amazon) to confirm that backups of AZW files can be restored to a device after it has been approved.

    Anyone else using a Kindle, I recommend you do the same thing: do not remove downloaded books from your Kindle until you've backed them up to your desktop computer. To do so, connect the device by USB and then copy the ".azw" files from the Kindle's "documents" folder to a folder on your own hard drive. If a book ever disappears from your Archive once you've removed it from your Kindle, you can refer to the backup on your hard drive and copy the ".azw" file back to your Kindle's "documents" folder.


    Here’s the legal settlement from last time Amazon remotely deleted books from Kindles:

    Amazon will not remotely delete or modify such Works from Devices purchased and being used in the United States unless (a) the user consents to such deletion or modification; (b) the user requests a refund for the Work or otherwise fails to pay for the Work (e.g., if a credit or debit card issuer declines to remit payment); (c) a judicial or regulatory order requires such deletion or modification; or (d) deletion or modification is reasonably necessary to protect the consumer or the operation of a Device or network through which the Device communicates (e.g., to remove harmful code embedded within a copy of a Work downloaded to a Device).

    So although they can pull a book from the store, they do not have the right to remove it from a purchaser's Kindle.

  40. There are hundreds of works in the canon of literature that include incest in some form. The bible also has incidents of it. If they are creating a guideline of what they will and will not sell, they need to be consistant with their own rules.
    When you buy from Amazon, do they give you assurances that the purchase will be available for a certain amount of time? Do they give you a reasonable expectation that the digital purchase rights extend beyond the initial download? If they do, and then remove your ability to access it, then they are effectively stealing from you.

  41. No incest? Guess they'll stop selling Back to the Future on DVD then and Chinatown, The Godfather...

  42. This has happened to our documentary as well. Graphic Sexual Horror,
    Mind you, this is a film exhibited at festivals worldwide.
    Just like your case, no reason given. Amazon, Apple, Paypal and every other large corporation do not respect freedom of speech, it is just about profits. No big truth here, but I certainly don't feel like I shall willingly support them with my money.

  43. After seeing this, and doing some research about it, I have removed Kindle from my Android phone. I have not purchased a book through it, but was thinking about doing so, they have decided me.

    Amazon should not be in the business of DICTATING what someone can write and sell.

  44. As a child I loved Robert A. Heinlein's scifi work. I eventually got up to Number of the Beast which contains a lurid incestual orgy and is rather obsessed about sex. Time Enough for Love had similar incest scenes.

    As a 12 yr old I found the concept to be gross and figured Heinlein was a bit of a pervert.

    However, they are still good books and I was not corrupted by reading these.

  45. See this as an opportunity to dump Amazon. Kindle reads a few other formats pretty well and you don't need to sell through the Kindle store to make money. Other publishers do just fine selling .pdf and .mobi versions of their books.

    Self distribute: customers buy your work AND you deny Amazon a cut. Sounds like finding a win-win situation out of a bad circumstance.

  46. Reading this makes me glad I brought a Sony eReader rather than a kindle. While I am not particularly interested in reading incest stories, once Amazon decides to start banning books that it doesn't like, know knows what sort of book it will decide to ban next. At least I am not tied to a single source by the Sony reader so if one seller is idiotic enough to start banning stuff, hopefully another one will see it as a buisness oportunity.

  47. @ Anonymous (December 15, 2010 7:46 AM)

    I agree! I will be working on a (simple) new website next year (jessINK), and treating all other distributors as secondary.

    A person might consider incest to be immoral/etc., but it happens, and to "censor the theme" in books/films/etc isn't going to decrease its occurrence in real life.

    As a writer, I personally consider it immoral to deny and/or censor characters' honest thoughts and feelings about something (especially when the topic is sexual). I could not face my characters and readers/customers if I chose (or was forced/threatened) to do otherwise.


  48. I have read Selena's works on a popular erotica website, and find that she's one of the best authors there. Under Mr. Nolan's Bed is one of the ones I've read and enjoyed - generally the incest stuff doesn't appeal to me, but there are a few that approach it in a way that resonates.

    Even asking the question "who likes this stuff" is dangerous, though. That's not the point. For every book written there are people who believe that it's inappropriate. Do we start censorship by majority rule?

    At least Amazon didn't do remote deletion, but I think the appropriate step is to notify BUYERS of the intent to take down a book from archives. "This book will be removed from Amazon and no longer available in our archives; if you would like to retain it, you must download it now."

  49. From Amazon's "Your Kindle Library Content" page, the relevant paragraph is at the bottom of the page :

    "we may be obligated to stop making it available for re-downloading from your library"

    So if they feel "obligated" to remove everything from the library they may do so ? Shaky ground for me ...

  50. Murder is illegal. Therefore, all books which deal with murder should be banned.

    Robbery is illegal. Therefore, all books which deal with robbery should be banned.

    Cocaine use is illegal. Therefore, all books which deal with cocaine use should be banned.

    Speeding is illegal. Therefore, all books which deal with speeding should be banned.


    The stupidity of those who would attempt to justify the banning of fiction about an act which is illegal if performed in reality is self-evident. The small-mindedness of those who judge what people might wish in real life based on what they enjoy as entertainment is also evident. I love action movies full of explosions, violence, and mass slaughter. I like horror movies in which assorted dumb teenagers are torn apart in slow motion. If I were ever in situations like those in real life, I assure you, I'd be curled up in a little ball whimpering, not saying "This is great!" I become almost ill when I read about the kinds of atrocities which are regularly committed against real people in the real world, but I enjoy seeing movies or reading books that are filled with completely made up stories of just such things. If someone likes books about murder, or violence, or incest, or any other ill, it is utterly ridiculous to assume they would ever want to experience or commit such acts, even subconsciously. Otherwise, everyone who enjoys superhero comics would become a vigilante crimefighter; everyone who enjoyed "Ocean's 11" would try robbing casinos, or at least believe it's OK to do so in real life. Etc, etc, etc.

    Amazon is a private company and has a right to sell or not sell whatever they wish according to whatever random standards they want. They do not have right to delete purchases already made, and they very likely have an obligation, as a matter of contract law, to make their standards clear enough that an author knows if he or she is likely to be in violation of them.

  51. The commentary here is interesting.

    I wonder if the book was about underage sex, would all the arguments about "don't judge the reader" and "just because it is illegal, doesn't mean we shouldn't be able to write about it" would go out the window?

    How is "underage fiction" different than "incest fiction"? Keep in mind, the fact that MOST people would find incest erotica to be disturbing and wrong and may question the sanity and/or morals author and the readers.

    In that light, does the disclaimer in this article sound funny, when it reads basically: "well... at least it's not underage, right? They can censor my stuff because I think it's fine, despite other's opinions, but hopefully they still censor THAT material because I find it objectionable."

    Think about it.

  52. I'm the opposite of Michael N. Marcus, I am a prude, a devoutly religious prude, but I also think that banning books is quite a bad idea. However, remember that this is NOT a 1st Amendment issue, but a business issue. The 1st Amendment to the US Constitution is opposing governmental censorship.

    The comment about the passage in Genesis is classic, and a good example of why banning books is so bad, including for religiously-oriented people. People can be titillated (and repulsed) by anything. While the passage in Genesis was not meant to titillate, it is easy to see that someone could be titillated just by the idea.

    The concept and the upholding of freedom of speech (both in the societal and governmental realms) should be very important to religious adherents Our society (in the USA) is becoming disintegrated in regards to religious belief. Demanding the removal of books from a shop is going to come back to bite them in the future.

    Me, being a religiously conservative prude would not buy your erotica, and I would not support my church selling your books, however, I would support your quest to not be banned from a shop that serves a large and varied audience.

  53. To Anonymous...

    Thinking about it...

    No, the argument doesn't go out the window. It's called a "principle", and, no, that doesn't mean "The guy who ran your High School". I find the fact you assume people would abandon their principles as soon as you mention something they would find repulsive to be very telling.

    Piers Anthony, to use one of many mainstream writers whose books are for sale in any bookstore, often includes implicit or sometimes very explicit pedophilia in his novels. Check out the first volume of "Bio Of A Space Tyrant" (which features pedophile consensual sex, pedophile rape, and implied pedophile incest) or the "Battle Circle" trilogy, the second volume of which features the protagonist raping an eight year old girl in order to save her life. (It was about then I stopped reading Piers Anthony.)

    As far as I know, no one has tried to ban his books or arrest him or his publisher.

    For that matter, the "Game of Thrones" series, mentioned earlier, also features underage sex and rape. One of the main characters is a girl who, at 13, was given to a Mongol-esque warlord as a bride, and the relationship is portrayed, ultimately, as loving and positive.

    So, no, I am not going to say "Well, sure, censor THIS because it squicks me." If it squicks me, I can choose not to read it. Believe me, there's a ton of stuff out there that squicks me.

    Child porn that features actual children falls into a special case, because the commercial market for it directly leads to people committing a crime in order to produce it. As regards fictional stories, though, I challenge you to produce a coherent argument that this sentence:
    "Eighteen year old Billy and eighteen year old Jenny had sex." is legal, and this sentence:
    "Seventeen year old Billy and seventeen year old Jenny had sex." should not be.

    Ultimately, when you argue for the criminalization of any form of fiction, you are saying there are some *ideas* so repulsive it should be a crime to express them. That is not compatible with a free society, or with any kind of rational worldview. (And, no, I don't advocate banning material which argues in favor of censorship, even though I consider censorship to be a repulsive idea. See how it works?)

  54. I'm so happy they are getting this crap off their inventory. I hate hate having to wade through it in order to get to what I want.

    This is not 'banning books', it's a private company deciding not to carry them - which is totally their prerogative.

    One of the things I'm starting to not mind, is paying somebody to filter out all the mediocre crap that I'm not really interested in anyway. It saves me time.

    This kind of hyperbolic argument, that they'll start filtering everything else, well, they DO actually.They probably don't filter what you would filter but there's a solution to that - get your own store! What a novel idea, I mean, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that you could be quite successful peddling porn on the Internet.

    Thank you Amazon!

  55. Are they going to remove Ian McEwen's "Cement Garden" as well? Probably not, since he's a major author at a major publishing house.

    How about the Oedipus trilogy, which is currently in the Kindle store as a free download? Probably not, since it's now considered a classic after several thousand years.

  56. Interesting. I wonder when Amazon will be removing Shakespeare's works from their store. After all, the Bard visited and revisited this topic -- in Hamlet, King Lear, The Tempest, Pericles, and others that I'm not recalling offhand.

    I wonder who's leaning on them, and how, and why.

  57. @Anonymous, "I wonder if the book was about underage sex, would etc":

    Here's how it's different: Consent.

    Someone underage (really underage) can't give consent. They don't understand the consequences, or they don't have the context, or they don't have the power to protect themselves.

    No one wants to cater to predators. It's clearly wrong. If you do not think that preying on those without power is wrong, I cannot help you, but I can see why you'd sympathize with a major corporation over an author who hasn't done anything wrong.

    Incest fiction involves two consenting adults. It may not be my cup of tea, but neither is bukkake, and Amazon has some of that available. Or did, as of last week.

  58. Underage sex and pedophilia have both been brought up. People say it is unnatural and immoral. They happen in the world. They happen in people's thoughts. Nothing people do will stop it from happening or stop people from thinking about it. Stories, both fiction and non-fiction, are society's way of dealing with complex or troubling issues. It is a natural process that children do with role-play, make believe, telling stories, etc. The unnatural act is trying to prevent people and society from finding a healthy way to deal with an issue. It could be reasonably argued that by banning works that depict "unnatural" or "immoral" acts, those people are in fact encouraging these acts because without stories to help them process a complex issue, people will resort to performing the act so they can experience and process it. "Unnatural" and "immoral" acts are like mold, it dies in the light and grows in the dark.

  59. This comment has been removed by the author.

  60. So much for one of the greatest novels of all time, Nabokov's "Ada or Ardor" which includes BOTH incest and underage sex, yet remains one of the deepest and moving and yes, erotic, love stories of all time.

    Jess C Scott is an amazing writer and appeared in our literary journal last year at

    We're behind you. Amazon's stubborness about removing a non-fiction guide to raping children and then the arbitrary removal of consensual erotic fiction involving adults and sexually mature young adults is really just kind of insane. It's like they can't tell the difference between reality and imaginary.

  61. Update on the original thread posting over @ Amazon:

    Amazon Kindle Customer Service (AMAZON OFFICIAL) says:
    Due to a technical issue, for a short window of time three books were temporarily unavailable for re-download by customers who had previously purchased them. When this was brought to our attention, we fixed the problem and those books were once again made available for re-download. We apologize for the inconvenience.

    My Reply:
    @ Amazon Kindle Customer Service: Thank you for the reply. I have one question: what are the titles of these three books?

    Some of the ones mentioned on this thread were:

    1) Wicked Lovely (Jess C Scott)
    2) Under Mr. Nolan's Bed (Selena Kitt)
    3) Mindy's Family (Esmeralda Green)

    Did these books experience a technical glitch too? If so, when will these books be made available again for re-download? They (and many other self-published erotica books) are not available at the Kindle store at the time of this posting.


    Link to Amazon's Reply:

    Link to my reply:


    @ Fawn Neun, thanks for your support + featuring my work on Vagabondage Press!


  62. @Ruby: I daresay the victims in murder mysteries didn't consent to be murdered, so I'm not sure I'm seeing your point.

    We are, after all, discussing FICTION here. None of the people are real; they have no actual existence and no rights. They exist entirely in the matrix of chemicals and energy in your mind, given form by your ability to interpret a collection of squiggles as symbols which stand for objects, actions, and ideas.

    Huge swathes of fiction, from the acknowledged classics to tawdry pulp, primarily features any number of horrible things happening to characters who, for the most part, don't deserve it. Name a criminal act -- murder, rape, torture, all of the above -- and I can go into any bookstore and return in ten minutes with an armful of books describing it in explicit (pun intended) levels of detail. Or just go to your local video store and rent "Saw". (I haven't seen it, myself, but I've read some pretty detailed descriptions.)

    Again: I do not deny Amazon's right to sell or not sell any book they choose. This does not mean they cannot be criticized for the choices they make and encouraged to make different choices. (This of course goes all ways; one customer has as much right to ask that Amazon ban something as another does to ask that they do not, and, in turn, I have the right to express my contempt for those who would encourage such banning, and they their contempt for me. What no one may (morally) do is use force -- either directly or via the agency of the government -- to prevent someone else from speaking or punish him for doing so.)

  63. I'm sorry, the prior post should have been addressed to Kathleen.

  64. I am not a reader of erotic-incest books. I am a lawyer who for two decades had from time to time the need to research incest and pedophilia. There are an abundance of missing pieces in the puzzle of these phenomena.

    DIGRESSION: My research involved learning whether an adult male suspected of being a pedophile seeking young females would or could also target young males (such as his 6-year-old twin grandsons) as his sexual objects. Instead of dealing with this subject, several studies dealt instead with determining whether first-born sons were more apt than second- or third-born sons to become pedophiles. END OF DIGRESSION

    Because all too many academics lack the intellectual and creative capacities to broaden their perspectives, erotic-incest fiction might give them the much-needed hints at those issues that should be scientifically studied -- for instance, the physiological, emotional, and natural aspects of the phenomena.

    A suggestion: Selena Kitt should attempt to communicate to Amazon policy-makers and explain the academic need for her books. She should put on her NONfiction cap: write ONLY the facts and leave the emotions out of her messages.

    Barbara C. Johnson,, (2002)

    Whistleblowing book:

    Writing a novel with an art-work selection at

    Wounded Knee Massacre Resurrected at

    Macro and Micro Structure of Novel, Chapter and Scene at

    Writing a novel; Narrator: he, she or me, past/present tense at

    Novel writing: faction versus fiction versus half-n-half

    Write first and last lines of each chapter at

    WikiLeaks as related to immunity: "Immunity: could it be an endangering process for our nation?" at

  65. I find the comments about being underage interesting, since even in the U.S. until a few years ago age 12 was okay for marriage in at least one state, and it is STILL legal in several nations of the world. Are we saying that only the U.S. has the right to determine the age of consent? What if you live in Mongolia or India or Kenya? Can they set the age of consent to a lower value? If they do, then the content no longer is about underage sex and the act becomes legal there, so should books that are above board based on that specific 'rule' be banned or allowed? While I agree that Amazon is a private company, what of Amazon Canada? Are they going to follow Canadian law or U.S. law? Can they remove a book that is legal in Canada if it is illegal in the U.S. based on content? Time will tell which way they go, but until then I will continue to use my own software to convert ebooks to the type I want or can read on my hardware. Just use Calibre!

  66. Censorship is wrong. There is literature I find offensive. I don't buy it. Banning books, with or without explanations, is unacceptable.

    JosephW Grant,

  67. It might not be my thing, but to each their own.

    I'll just say this behavior is reason #1 why I have no interest in owning a Kindle, or buying Kindle books.

    Hey, if they want to not sell something, that's their business. But to delete something you already bought and paid for? Hell, no.

    Count me out, Amazon.

  68. The more people hear about stuff like this... the better. Amazon has slowly been removing works for a while now (we are talking years), starting with the 'most offensive' and broadening the net bit by bit.

    All it ever seems to take is some work getting someone's attention and not enough people defending it.

  69. Amazon does not have the power nor is Amazon in the business of dictating what someone can write, that is fact by how many books are published in other places, including book containing incest, rape, bestiality and so forth.

    Amazon is not removing anything from the kindles.

    Amazon deciding to discontinue merchandise or material is not censorship, merely a business decision.

    Amazon is removing material from its shelves—just like Barnes & Nobel or Walmart do. It is Amazon’s right as owner of the that particular business.

    Amazon does have the right and is utilizing the power of its right as a business owner to decide what Amazon wants to sell—just like Walmart.

  70. This isn't an issue about Amazon's decision to carry or not carry certain books. No one is arguing that they have that right.

    The problem here is TRANSPARENCY and CONSISTENCY.

    Amazon will not tell authors or publishers why their books are being removed. They are not applying any consistent standards - they have left less-profitable erotic incest books with kids as young as eight having sex with adults on their virtual shelves.

    They are selectively removing higher-selling titles, after having sold those titles for a year or more, are not telling authors or publishers about their removal and are certainly not telling readers who purchased the books in question that they will now be unavailable in their archives henceforth.

  71. Personally, I use any platform but a physical Kindle platform. AFAIK, Amazon can't delete books downloaded to other platforms that run on their Kindle software... and they *certainly* can't delete any Kindle books which are on my offline backups.

    When Amazon deleted Brave New World from Kindles, I decided that the ability to remove a book after sale to a customer was a bug, not a feature.

    They're deleting a book from a user's backup archive doesn't look all that different to me, this crap is done without notice or warning to the end user.

    "A fool and his money are soon parted."

    Anyone who bought a Kindle from Amazon after that deletion, IMO, is a fool.

    That said, I now avoid doing business with Amazon for anything. That along with shutting down the Wikileaks server means that they're a company that doesn't deserve support with my money. It also means that anyone doing business with them as a cloud service vendor is also a fool.

  72. It was actually "1984" that was deleted. Rather ironic.

  73. Some simple searches on the Internet allow one to remove the satanic DRM from their eBooks. That is the best thing, remove DRM, and back up on some sort of offline media. That will quash any attempts by Amazon to remove things from their customers' platforms (one of the major retarded corporate moves of all time). No, this does NOT mean it is OK to give the eBook to your friends who have not bought it, just protect one's own rights. And don't even think of trying to get a refund for a book you have done this for (that my friend is fraud).

  74. censorship in the 21st century..shocking and sad..I'll make sure i dont finance censors...

  75. For God's sake, we're talking about fiction here. What is more offensive, a man being flayed alive (Ken Follett's World Without End) or an incest fantasy? It's ridiculous.

  76. "This is akin to the book store stealing back the books from your home that they don't want you to have."

    I agree completely--Amazon does NOT have the right to tell me what I can and can't read. If they decide to stop carrying something, fine--but they HAVE carried it, and I bought it, and they need to keep their damn censorship out of my library.

  77. As Fawn mentions, Amazon recently took a lot of flack for the "Child-Lover's Code of Conduct". (see and many other places) After first refusing to take it down, they saw the mounting badwil and took it down.

    Is what is happening now that someone at Amazon has gone completely overboard trying to prevent a similar incident, and started removing just not pedophile titles, but also everything that might be even remotely connected?

    Whatever it is, it's just silly. Also, it reminds me once again about the importance of making local backups of Kindle books.

  78. Fiction is fiction. I don't condone murder but I wouldn't presume to ban fiction that deals with gruesome murders in their plot. Amazon is going down a dangerous slippery slope.

  79. In my opinion if it offends you then don't read it. Simple enough. Why take away something other people enjoy just because you don't like it. I think people like that should focus on more serious things than what a book talks about. This is why it is called FICTION. It is for entertainment purposes only.

  80. I spent several thousand dollars on e-books from Amazon this year. I read books on an ipad. It is a simple matter to switch to Nook/Kobo/Google. That's my reaction. I won't buy any more Kindle books.

  81. Does this mean that Amazon will stop selling the works of the Marquis de Sade in which children are tortured, raped, and killed for sexual gratification?

  82. Rename the book, take the word 'incest' out of the descriptions and reload it to Amazon - put in the warning - 'previously published as (old title)'.

    Their software is looking for 'incest'.

  83. This is censorship at it's worst. This is not sanctioned by the government but by corporations. We have no recourse but to take our business elsewhere. Barnes and Noble is selling this title and many others mentioned here in the article and comments.

    This is one of the 2 reasons I didn't buy a Kindle. #1 they have been accused of censorship before, and #2 I can walk up to a B&N store and buy a Nook and use it right away I have to wait for Amazon to ship a Kindle. Why buy something so small and expensive when you can't use right away?

  84. who needs book burning when you have Amazon

    mind you they might be just trying to avoid loss of life

  85. Bwah! I love that comic - awesome! :)

  86. Peter S. ChamberlainDecember 18, 2010 at 12:51 AM

    One of the reporters and transcribers who worked on the long Nuremburg war crimes trials later worked in the same law office as me, and I know well that the obscene horrors of the evidence presented there had traumatized her.

  87. To be honest, I'm not a fan of incest. I don't get it. Does that mean I think it's okay for it to be banned just because I don't like it and am offended by it? Fuck no. Does that mean I think it's okay for someone to purchase a product only to have it taken away without a refund just because the material is questionable or objectionable? Fuck no. This is completely ridiculous. So glad I didn't buy a Kindle after all. Yay Nook!

  88. I'm sorry, Valerie. :( I'm afraid it's only going to get worse from here on out.

  89. @falterer: Thanks for the tip. I just backed up all the .azw files off my Kindle.

    Amazon did indeed get in trouble for deleting books off of users' devices, and swore they would never do it again:

    I hope they aren't doing it in this case, but deleting from a user's archive is almost as bad. It is still paid-for content that a user has an expectation of being able to access.

    Regarding incest in the book of Genesis, it isn't only in the story of Lot and his daughters. It is also implied in the story of Adam and Eve. Just ask yourself how they managed to have any grandchildren.

  90. I think that the whole idea of incest provoking such uproar is extremely sad, whether in fiction or real life - given that of course the latter happens between consenting adults.

    Moreover it's extremely offensive that there are people here on the thread who dare to say they don't "condone incest".

    It is no-one's business what I get up to in my imagination or what I do in my bedroom (as long it's consensual and the people involved are of age, naturally.)

  91. First, this was remarkably clumsy on Amazon's part. I wonder if the full scope of this was approved all the way up the line.

    That said, remember that Amazon is fairly new to the publishing business. They're going to make mistakes--even experienced publishers do.

    ANY publisher has the right to decide what types of content they will and will not publish. And while Amazon's content guidelines are so vague as to be virtually worthless, which contributed to this problem, I'm willing to bet that most publishers don't state any guidelines whatsoever.

    Amazon still publishes far more books, and in much more diverse categories, than any other single publisher. They have never said they will publish anything at all, with no restrictions.

    Let's all take a deep breath and not overreact here. Authors--myself included--are fortunate to have the direct publishing opportunity, and generous royalty rates, that Amazon provides us.

    I think that taking previously purchased books out of buyers' Kindle archives is probably illegal. It's theft, IMHO (and I'm a former cop and prosecutor), and I'll be very surprised if Amazon doesn't either eventually return the books, or reimbuse the customers (hopefully several times over the original cost of the books). This action in particular is one that I bet was not approved very far up the line--Amazon has gotten in trouble doing this in the past.


  92. Amazon's mission, from their Facebook page:

    To have every book, ever written, in any language, available in 60 seconds or less.

    Seems to me that Amazon HAS said they would publish anything at all, with no restrictions. ;) They also said they felt removing books from their site was akin to censorship and they didn't believe in it.

    They've gone back on both so far.

    As for publishers stating guidelines, actually, most do tell authors just exactly what they do or don't accept. It's quite a common practice.

  93. It would seem that Amazon is not alone. I followed a couple of the links here and B&N appear to have removed some of these titles as well.

  94. Potential to offend someone or not, this is absolutely ridiculous. Does Amazon reserve the right to remove titles it finds "offensive"? Of course... However, I completely agree with Michael that whereas you can remove it, without clear and present guidelines as to removal of literature, it's hard for Amazon to hold ground on this one. I absolutely adore the quote about that discusses removal of the Bible from Kindle because it discusses incest. If Amazon is going to stand on the grounds that one is fiction, and one is not, they're going to lose millions of customers due to religious standpoints. Seems to me this may not be a hole Amazon can dig themselves out of.

    Also, if you're going to support the fact that this has the "potential to offend someone" you have to be prepared to state that almost every work of literature has the potential to offend someone, and just because it does, it certainly does not give anyone the right to remove it (thank you first amendment). Being someone who is personally not religious, the Bible has the potential to offend me (and in certain cases has) but I certainly cannot write Amazon and have them pull that, can I?

    Being a Kindle user, I am personally boycotting Amazon until they issue either a public apology or they refund all monies they've taken from people in purchase of these books.

    I find this absolutely appauling. I don't read the type of fiction that you write, but I certainly would never stand for censorship, which is exactly what this is.

  95. Thanks for the post. We've reported a number of corporate censorship going on over the last year. Apple and Amazon leading this puritanical views on sex and sexuality. While this speech has been protected over and over again, they've used legal tactics to block this sort of speech. Its time to start protesting this treatment of speech and send a message to Amazon

  96. I really wonder why they did this. Three possible explanations come to mind.

    1) They are mere hypocrites: appearing to be moral but only messing with relative small-fry, while never touching any big fish like 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo'.

    2) They are modernly "moral": disapproving of adult consensual incest, while brutally violent, forced incest/child-rape (as in the aforementioned Girl+Tattoo) is just fine with them.

    3) All of the above

  97. Well, I've been banned too, at least my top selling incest fantasy novels. The amazing thing is that I sold approximately 1,200 books last month. Twenty five were for my straight sex stories, the rest were incest related. So someone seems to find this fantasy entertaining.

    The trouble I have is that while I sold 1,200 on Amazon last month, I sold 8 on B&N. Same titles, same covers, same everything. Therefore the size and power of Amazon is dictating what the reading public has at its avail. Microsoft faced anti-trust litigation in Europe for including IE with Windows. The size and power of Microsoft made it a virtual monopoly. Same as AT&T in the 70's. At some point the size of a company and its influence on the public needs to be taken into consideration.

    Perhaps I should write books about people savagely murdering other people, about dismembering bodies, about torture. I could write about children being abducted, raped and killed. I could write about a savage homicidal killer targeting females, hell he could rape them too, just as long as no one enjoys it.

    Yeah, that makes sense. But a book about a brother and sister having consensual sex? Perish the thought! Perish the product! Keep our society pure by not allowing such topics to see the light of day.

    JT Stone

  98. Amazon have now removed nine of my stories, all of which were about incest with consenting adults. I understand why some people prefer not to read stories like this, but some of these stories were my best sellers. So, it would be fair to say that a lot of people do like reading such tales, and why not, every single one of my stories is fiction from start to finish. I'm not writing anything that is against the law, and no minors can be found within any of the pages of my stories.

    If Amazon had made it clear eight months ago when I first released them that they did not approve of incest stories I would never have put them up for sale. Now eight months later when I've established a name for myself as an erotic Author they suddenly decide my stories breach their rules, what a load of pooh.

    It has to be said though that I was taken by surprise by Amazon, I had a great deal of faith and gratitude for how they brought the self publisher out into the open and allowed them to express their hidden talents. Talents that paperback publishers would never have encouraged. Now to find them symbolically burning books is a sad day for me, as I wonder 'what's next?'

    Carl East

  99. It's not amazon's fault. Blame the customers and the mainstream media. They started this mess. After the fiasco started with the pedophile book, Amazon realized its reputation could get seriously hurt if it didn't start censoring and pulling books. First they came after the pedophiles...


    I love how people always bring up the consent issue which has really become an orthodoxy that no one is allowed to question, despite the fact that it holds many problems and gray areas. If we say children can't consent to sex, can they consent to religion or violent video games? Wouldn't viewing violence be more harmful to a kid than viewing a sexual act? ect...

    Most people will not even enter the debate, they will simply accuse you of being pedophile and be done with it.

    This is why I think there is something more to banning these books then "protecting children." In fact, I think that has nothing to do with it whatsoever.

  100. All I can say is that I'm extremely happy that I got a Nook for christmas. The whole point to buying a ereader imo is to be able to buy anything you may want to read with out having to worry about a store keeping it in stock. I think its utterly silly that they are taking incest erotica off their site. And anyone who says "I'm happy they clear out what I dont want to read so I dont have to wade through it." is just as silly. How do they know what they want to read isn't going to be taken off site with out notice or reason as well? Just because you don't like a peice of fiction doesn't mean it has no merit or fan base.

    I am alittle thankful for this though. Without hearing about this I would have never discovered Ms.Kitts writting since it is not my usual genre. I have since bought every available title you have on B& the ones banned by amazon) And have greatly enjoyed everyone of them. :)

  101. I applaud Amazon's decision. There is a fine line between 'imaginary stories' and 'actual facts'. Even if an incest story is fictional, imagination, it is still encouraging such acts. Far too many children are molested by adults, their fathers, brothers, uncles and cousins. Many of them do not speak up, but many of them have. It leaves scars. Writing and publishing books containing incest only encourages these acts. There are enough erotic books to waken the senses, books with all kind of kinky material, without adding incest to them or underage sexuality.

  102. Personally, I can't understand what everyone is so surprised about. 99% of the publishers say right in their guidelines insest is a big fat no-no. Now that self publishers are trying to make a name for themselves with taboo subjects, they're squawking when they get caught.

    People that read such dreck are perverts and so are those who write it. Publishers don't need to furnish them with a forum to spread their perversion.

    Amazon and the rest can't police what being self-loaded onto their sites so I'm sure eventually every publisher will have to have to check a box verifying their work does not contain banned subjects.

    If they haven't started yet, I'm sure iPad, Sony and the rest will follow when they realize what they have. Then we'll see how good these so-called authors do when they have to compete with real authors.

  103. Amazon has gone insane! I just got a threatening email that they will terminate my account if I don't clean up books by other writers!!! These writers do NOT write about incest and do NOT condone underage sex. The books are straight adult, erotica. Pretty much "vanilla sex". This "mess" is far from over. It appears it's just beginning. I emailed them that I cannot censor books by other writers. BTW They also removed one book cover that had an adult female in pigtails... I guess they thought she was pretending to be an underage girl and that TOO is unacceptable! Will the insanity ever end? After all this and reading others comments, I am also regretting buying my Kindle.

  104. Re: above post

    Oh, just so there's no confusion by clean up, i DO mean REWRITE!

  105. The bigger problem is that Amazon is now coming after other books -- erotica now and maybe violent content next. Then what? Amazon is employing censorship run a muck. Common sense has taken leave of its senses! If it were just stopping with incest books and underage sex, that would be one thing, but it's going beyond that. Amazon may not stop until they kill their own golden goose: the Kindle!

  106. Amazon responded. I had told them I could not rewrite books by other authors, and they seemed okay with this. But Amazon sends emails that say essentially "nothing", so who can be sure if they're okay with anything? Or -- if they even read my email? Anyway, I still don't know what their "content requirements" are. I asked and they simply directed me to their Terms and Conditions on their website. Hmmm, now I know... exactly what I knew before I asked!

  107. Most sellers have in their agreement that they can remove titles. "We reserve the right not to accept any particular Work submitted by Publisher at out discretion, and may remove any particular Work from sale at any time and for any or no reason."

    Other sellers may follow Amazon's example.

    I doubt they'll remove all erotica, merely titles that need editing and/or rewrites.

  108. I guess Bezos forgot about this:

  109. I feel that once you have sold a book that should be the end of it. If you want to take a stand and ban certain types of books that it should be done before you sell it. Otherwise if you take the product back you should refund the money!!!!

  110. If Amazon is after incest, they should look no further than Mackenzie Phillip's High On Arrival. No work of fiction could ever be as disgusting as this one book!!!

  111. The difference being, and that's what a lot of people don't seem to get, that book is a memoir, a true story, it's not written to arouse the senses, it's not fiction. To write fictional stories about incest is just sick as there are many unhappy true stories about this horrible thing that goes on in families. That's bad enough. We don't need to have people's sick imagination inciting others.

  112. Mackenzie wrote about her life-long affair with her father! Memoir? Really. That is incest! Really incest. And she wrote her "memoir" to make a buck and used the details to promote and titillate! She had already written other books and could surely have spared us all the sordid details of her love affair with her father. This is non-fiction and to me much worse than any fictional fantasy by the authors complaining here and elsewhere of Amazon's censoring (or altogether banning) their books. I think a lot of people are asking in Amazon's view -- which is worse? Why is one so much worse than another? I think many people make excuses for people like Mackenzie (is it because she's a celebrity?) -- and Amazon is doing the same thing by allowing some writers' books to remain while banning others.

  113. Kid yourself surely?! Mackenzie milked it for all it was worse and rode her dead father's memory into the ground -- and straight to the bank!

  114. The complaints are correct: Amazon is doing an illogical job of censoring so-called incest books. Allowing Neal Sourna's Clear Focus imprint to stay afloat with its pedophile and kiddie porn titles is utterly ridiculous!!!What is going on here! Are all the employees doing the censoring drinking products with Aspartame in them?! Makes me wonder....

  115. I just got one of those emails myself, with one of my erotica books being pulled from kindle. It contained no incest, though. It was a bdsm novel, and not one with any illustrations. It also had no non-consensual scenes, and nothing really nasty, ie, no mutilation or blood or gore or anything of that nature.

  116. It's not just incest stuff. Had a pro-female sex book get pulled last month. It was selling WELL (1000+ copies per month) and making both Amazon and me some nice money. Not anymore.

    Would be find if the rules were clear. Can understand the incest thing, although I don't agree with it. But a book designed to empower women? Nothing illegal about that, even if it is real.

  117. Amazon has taken down some books and continue to put up books much worse than those taken down. Amazon is quickly becoming the ONE STOP PORN SHOP. Warning this link is DISGUSTING! Two young girls with jizz on their faces -- and it's on Amazon as a book cover! LOL It's only funny that Amazon would put up this and many many similar books!

  118. Actually, I support Amazon's right to make its own rules on what content it allows. Most erotica publishers have rules: no incest, pedophilia, rape as titillation, golden showers, snuff fiction, etc. No one complains about that.

    However, it's unfair not to have specific guidelines. They should be honest and put out guidelines the way that the erotica epubs do, but let people know they reserve the right to make changes to those guidelines. Otherwise, how are you, as an author, supposed to know what you can and can't put up on Amazon?

    I'd also like to comment on the Bible having incest in it: is it a historical account, or meant to titillate? Because I'm sure there are hundreds of books on Amazon that mention incest, pedophilia, etc., but don't portray it in a good light. There's a difference.

    I think this will all shake out in the end, once Amazon gets a clue and decides what their policy is going to be, for real. Amazon is obviously trying to balance making a profit and keeping happy authors with keeping their readers happy. And of course, as a corporation, they are going to put their readers first, because they're the ones who spend the money.

    It's just unfortunate, and unfair, when authors who are actually following the rules lose money without warning because Amazon doesn't have all its ducks in a row yet. And it's REALLY unfair that they won't answer questions about it, if someone is asking in good faith (and not just hassling them).

  119. Amazon wasn't trying to do the "right" thing by removing (banning books with incest.) Okay, this anon, so I will elaborate. I will not say if I work for Amazon or not. But, after the pedophile fiasco, Amazon needed "scapegoats" in case the media or anyone with any influence questioned "What is Amazon doing to make sure something doesn't happen again?" Well, here's the deal: Find some writers and publishers who are selling well and find reasons to pull (ban) their books. Stay clear of the major publishers, though, and big name writers (V.C. Andrews with her incest series "Flowers In the Attic" is an example and Lawrence Block's erotic book "Ronald Rabbit Is a Dirty Old Man" with 15 and 16 year-old girls is another example); go after lesser known writers and publishers with books that are doing well. This will get enough attention that people will know we "are" doing something to get a "fix" in place and make sure no more situations like this (pedophile mess) happen again. No one will "care" that "these" books are gone and Amazon will now have a PR fix in place. This is the real world people; it's all about perception and the bottom line: The almighty dollar!

    BTW Amazon is STILL publishing ebooks about incest: Check out "Adam's Drawers" (a brother has sex with is two sisters) and "When Mom and Dad Are Away" by Denis Collins.

  120. I had a book kicked by amazon last week. It was a fairly vanilla bondage and romance story between two consenting adults. There was nothing really kinky or nasty about it and I couldn't figure why Amazon had rejected it. I wrote and asked why, and they wouldn't really say what about it was objectionable. However, they gave what I thought might be a hint in saying that "This content includes both the cover art image and the content within the book." Okay, I said, can you be any clearer? If I put on a new cover/title can I resubmit? They said I could, so I changed the cover and title and it passed and is on sale. Now what was wrong with the cover? I can only speculate. There was no actual nudity, but the model I used (in her early twenties) had a youngish face, and the title had the word "little" in it. Well, the central char is stated as being barely over five feet, and 23yrs old. Anyway, I suspect they thought the title/cover combo hinted at, or maybe gave the idea there would be underage sex - even though only three people, all clearly in their twenties, have sex in this book. It would have been easier if they'd just said "we don't like your cover cause it might give the impression of underage sex". I would have disagreed but I would have simply changed it immediately.

  121. I've had about a dozen books pulled. I read BDSM and sometimes BDSM-incest, kind of a niche market. There is a LOT of demand. For example, out of about 100 titles, the top three sellers I had were incest, and represented 25% of my sales when Amazon kicked them. I would like to stress these are adults, and that the incest was completely consensual. The other books I had which were banned generally contained some degree of non-consensual sex. But hey, why can't sex fantasies have non-consensual activities. Every other type of fantasy does. And everyone knows rape is among the top sexual fantasies people have.

  122. This is a really cool article, thanks for that. By the way I just saw this site, I think it’s pretty cool: I very much like sexy erotic stories, so if you are also into that kind of stuff, this should be your next stop. I wanna give you the link here: sexy erotic stories Thanks and have a great day!

  123. What dictionary do you use? According to to the Merriam Webster dictionary to censor is : ” to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable ; also : to suppress or delete as objectionable ” This is exactly what Amazon did. They may have the right to do it but this does not make it any less censorious.

  124. I don't write incest erotica, but I do write interracial erotica. Inside my books were illustrations (not real people) of black men and white women having sex, and only at the beginnings of the chapters. Amazon pulled both my books after 6 months of no issues. I figured it was because some white guy got offended by a black penis. So I republished them with the penises gone, but still erotic poses of black men and white women. Amazon kicked those versions back. Each time I asked for guidance they wouldn't give it to me, nor could they tell me what was offensive. I finally took all the pictures out and the books republished, but it was annoying.

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  126. And they wrote her letters, thousands of letters of which she saved a few hundred. Her family did us all a favor by releasing them to the Times for Memorial Day. They serve as a reminder of what young American boys were like two generations ago. Their innocence seems both lovely and incredible.

  127. I don't think amazing has harsh intention, I think it just seems that way.

  128. They certainly have become more strict, but I feel (from personal experience and from friends) that they still do care and would like to have anyone's business.

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  132. socialnet77@gmail.comNovember 8, 2011 at 11:13 AM

    precision metal stampings said...
    "They certainly have become more strict, but I feel (from personal experience and from friends) that they still do care and would like to have anyone's business."

    And I agree. Amazon isn't trying to make enemies,but simply create a safer place for our children and young people to find appropriate literature.

    Personally, I don't believe it is healthy for anyone, young or old, to set their minds on that kind of material(incest,sex,immorality) anyway.

    The poster said:

    "I don't condone or support actual incest, just as someone who writes mysteries about serial killers wouldn't condone killing. What I write is fiction. It's fantasy, not reality."

    OK, so if you don't condone incest, then why do you use your God-given talents as a writer to make up stories containing it? Do you not feel that there is enough evil in the real world for us to deal with that you must fabricate more?

    Please feel free to email me to discuss this further.

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  136. Thank you..J. E.Taylor. I found this and guess I'm in good company. Amazon just banned on of my books that has been on their list for two years. I did an edit and uploaded the new version and got the Blocked notice email. NO incest, no pictures,TWO sentences referring to forced sex. The book is about sex slave trafficking. DUH

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  140. "Content guidelines" they say eh? Better to be called what it is, "censorship" because they "deem it inappropriate." There really should be more public outcry than there's been so far. Both for the readers AND the authors alike. I was reading a similar article at explaining that adult entertainment was built on the foundation of creativity. The adult industry has always lead and pushed technology... from caveman having the first ever drawings of naked cave women on the wall... to being on the forefront of internet technology. I mean it's bad enough to not respect it or give credit where credit is due, but it's downright infuriating to eliminate it take away profits of adult authors by removing it from major outlets like Amazon, Kindle and Instagram.

  141. Open a new tab with Amazon and search HOUSEWIVES AT PLAY. Some of your eyes may bug out at the photos or titles alone. I was shocked to get that same bullshit answer of vagueness when I questioned Amazon. We reserve the right to be pricks...blah blah. I asked them directly (and provided links), 'Why do you sell Housewives at Play, but won't publish it'. I am not fond of uptight prudes. They tend to be very controlling. I expected this from Steve Jobs/Apple - they were excluding gay content and even rejected material based on a bikini. I thought if Amazon sells Housewives and 50 Shades, then WTF!

    I despise censorship, and I abhor hypocrisy even more. Even more sickening is the current American attitude of apathy or, worse yet, defending everything companies and governments get away with. I can't wait until someone provides an underground of true free speech. What I was creating had nothing to do with hurting anyone, children/underage, etc. But I'll be damned if I go through all the work, only to have someone play with my earnings/future. The world makes it so hard for people with disabilities to rise above a fixed income. Just let us be. I'm personally getting ill with all these companies turning on the People once they get 'too big to fail'.

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