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The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) has been a consistent voice on behalf of its constituency throughout the ebook porn media panic, objecting to the singling out of self-published books, whether erotica or not, for mass removal from online ebook platforms. And it has put out a media release that gives valuable perspective on the whole affair.

indie authorsAs the release states: “A feature in The Kernel magazine on October 9th 2013, subsequently found to have misrepresented several author-publishers, has formed the basis of a widespread media attack on the erotica genre that led Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other stores to delete titles, while Whitcoulls (New Zealand) and WH Smith (UK) have closed their online bookstores and Kobo has remove from its UK store not just erotica but all self-published titles.”

ALLi founder and Director, Orna Ross, continues: “We understand the need to remove illegal content but to oust all self-published books is not only knee-jerk but misplaced. Both author-publishers and trade-publishers put out pornography/erotica. Have we forgotten that the biggest-selling trade published book of last year was Fifty Shade of Grey, an S&M novel? It’s not acceptable that self-publishers who have done nothing wrong should find their books summarily removed from the shelves, without any warning, consultation or timeframe.”

As the release goes on to state, the best response by any ebookstore or ebook platform might have been simply to remove or suspend the erotica category, not self-published books. This is not the first hint in the ebook community that self-published titles were singled out simply because their authors had less legal firepower behind them than large publishers who also release erotica.

As well as decrying the tarnishing of the image of self-publishing by careless or unscrupulous media reporting, ALLi provides some valuable information on how the most offensive ebook erotica is actually produced. “Much of the erotica market is fed by Internet marketers who routinely outsource story production to countries in Africa and Asia. The quality of writing and design is low and the titles are keyword-stuffed. This is not the work of “self”-publishers but operators who publish hundreds of stories at a time into proven markets with high demand.”

And, as ALLI continues: “The shutout disproportionately affects UK authors, who have had all their books removed, while questionable titles remain on sale in other territories.”

Whether such perspective will bring any more thought and patience to the whole debate is doubtful. Signs so far are that other entities such as the Booksellers Association are simply joining in the earlier media panic to put more pressure on the self-publishing sector, without apparently much forethought about how best to do this.

 
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