Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Kobo Debacle--Just my opinion.

So it seems that Kobo are taking down thousands of self-published titles and titles by small publishers (these small publishers use the same tools as self pubbers) because of an article in the Mail on Sunday.


Now it's not unusual for the uptight Mail on Sunday to be getting its knickers in a twist over porn--it makes headlines after all. But I believe that WH Smith's and Kobo have handled this completely wrongly.

I'm no tech expert and maybe this is not possible, but why could they not have just introduced a filter into the search. You must sign in and agree to adult material being allowed on your search or you only get the stuff that is suitable for under 18s. They do that on Smashwords already, so why not here.

Surely it would have taken half an hour to fix up the website. Then they could have worked to put all books they were concerned about behind the filter, giving the authors the chance to go and change it if necessary. Then they could have rooted out the books that actually break their terms and conditions.

Their wholesale removal of books includes YA and children's books, along with sweet romances, up to erotica. They do still, however have on sale Fifty Shades of Grey where consent at times is dubious, The Story of O (The classic erotic novel, THE STORY OF O relates the love of a beautiful Parisian fashion photographer for Rene. As part of that intense love, she demands debasement and severe sexual and pychological tests. It is a unique work not to be missed. - their description, not mine) and the Bible, which has the delightful tale of Lot's daughters. 

For those unfamiliar with the tale, Lot lived in Sodom. Two men came to the town and when the locals decided they wanted to rape the men, Lot protected them and offered up his daughters for aforementioned gang-rape. but God protected them and they escaped to a cave in the hills. Lot's daughters were concerned they would not meet men up in their cave and the family line would end with them. So one night the first daughter gets her dad drunk and has sex with him. The other daughter does the same on the second night  and both daughters fall pregnant. 

I'm not saying this to get the Bible, the Story of O or Fifty Shades banned. My point is that what is obscene is a pretty grey area.
Now away from the question of censorship and back to the real lives of real people. Kobo say self-published titles that do not break their policies.  You may think, well it's only a week. 

The question of whether it is right to allow the material which caused the problem in the first place is a controversy that will rage until the end of time. And I actually do not have an answer. I guess they have their policies and those who break it should have their books removed. It is their site after all. But why should innocent authors have to suffer too. I do believe this could have been handled better. And I hope that kobo will learn from this and take heed of the petitions and blogs doing the internet rounds today.

So imagine you go to work tomorrow morning and the place is closed. Someone has been selling child porn on one of the computers. They are not sure how to get the site off the server so they are closing your work... and you won't get paid for those days. So you lose a week's pay for something you did not do and for which you are not responsible? This is in effect what has happened to thousands of authors who did not break Kobo's policies. 


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for explaining it so perfectly. You entirely echo my thoughts. This would have taken no more than a little time to figure out on Kobo's behalf. If they'd just sat down and considered it a little more, maybe this wouldn't have happened.