Thoughts on the Whole Kobo/WH Smith Situation
October 15, 2013 | 11:25 am
By Juli Monroe
Nate from The Digital Reader took me to task last night in his comment on my post about Kobo’s letter explaining why books had been removed from the store. I think he was right to do so, and I realized this morning that I had reacted as many had yesterday, without sitting down and thinking things through.
I read many articles yesterday, and I spent a couple of hours browsing KBoards and Mobile Read, absorbing the reactions. There was solid information being shared, and some that might have been misinformation. I read a couple of articles that said Kobo and WH Smith had to make the moves they made for “legal reasons.” And I read a lot of anger.
This story and its ripples will continue to unfold in the coming days. We are experiencing both the joys and the problems with quick dissemination of information. I think the various ebookstores horribly over-reacted. Is there objectionable material on the sites? Sure. I’ve known it was there for years, and so should the owners of the various sites. Is there material which violates the sites’ terms of service? Yes, and it’s been there for years. As Nate also pointed out yesterday, this isn’t the first time sites have removed books with little explanation or good reason. I remember the incidents he references, and I do watch Amazon’s attitudes toward LGBT material since my books (while not containing explicit sex) do deal with LGBT subject matter (and my main character’s gay).
Pulling non-erotic self-published material is ridiculous. As many have pointed out, Lolita, Flowers in the Attic and other similar works are still available for sale on Amazon and other site. What’s even more ridiculous is how it was done. Were books pulled from Kobo worldwide or just in the UK? Several authors on KBoards tried to figure out if there was a pattern by having people check for their books in various countries. It seemed as if some books were only blocked in the UK while others were blocked even in the US. It made it difficult to tell what was really going on, and many of these authors rely on their book sales as a significant (or sole) source of income.
Kobo’s letter was better than nothing, but it was hardly adequate. I’m hoping to get a more complete response today. WH Smith’s reaction of pulling down their entire site was a severe overreaction, and I read an excellent article today discussing their reaction from a technical/SEO perspective.
If you want to take some sort of action right now, BB eBooks published a press release this morning that, in addition to expressing support for self-published authors, linked to a Change.org petition to support Indie authors. While I’m not against the petition, I think they could have written it better.
Most of all, I hope the media, ebook sites and even authors will slow down, take a deep breath and start acting instead of reacting. Better search filters can solve much of the problem for the ebook sites. I hope they put them in place. Perhaps this is the time for authors to consider other options for marketing our books. Maybe we’ve been lulled by the ease of Amazon and others.
But let’s consider our options when our emotions aren’t all fired up.