Business Insider is running a piece on Amazon’s latest crackdown: monster erotica. Yes, that’s right, if you write stories involving sex with Bigfoot, aliens, giant squids, etc., Amazon doesn’t want you around—even if your titles have been selling well. In the most recent purge, one author saw her income fall from $2,000 to $400 a month.
Authors can try cleaning up the titles, covers, and descriptions of their books, but the problem is anything that makes them less “offensive” also makes them less likely to appeal to the people who like that sort of thing.
There is, of course, no reason why Amazon can’t reject books it doesn’t want, just as Apple can reject or impose asinine restrictions on the apps or other content it lets into its store. And nothing keeps writers from selling their works on sites more friendly to outre stories, such as Smashwords. But this is a case where Amazon’s monopoly really comes around to bite writers in the rear: if you can’t sell your e-books in the place where the vast majority of e-book readers shop, you’ve basically been done out of most of your potential audience.
And it’s not a good thing for readers, either, if Amazon doesn’t want to sell the type of books they’re most willing to buy. Of course, the ones who are really dedicated probably already know they need to wander off the beaten path to find stories that interest them—there are, after all, a zillion different semi-private websites where people can post stories and artwork in all kinds of non-mainstream fetishes. But as one author notes, Amazon makes things easy, and consumers want easy.
The fundamental problem is that a lot of people in the mainstream find the presence of these bizarre works offensive, and will complain if Amazon sells them at all. So Amazon has to at least wink at propriety. (A pity, given that e-books solve the problem of others seeing the cover of the book you’re reading.) I don’t imagine that will change any time soon.
(Found via The Digital Reader.)