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Amazon Pulls Yaoi From the Kindle


Ove at CBR, long-time manga reporter Brigid Alverson informs us that Amazon is pulling Yaoi titles from its Kindle offerings. (Some NSFW images in link.) Digital Manga Publishing and Animate U.S.A. have had several of their titles pulled from the Kindle store (especially a problem for Animate U.S.A, which only publishes exclusively on the Kindle in the U.S.). And it looks like more could be on the way.

The problem–surprise, surprise–is that not only is Amazon practicing censorship, it’s applying double standards to queer and het erotica.

Alverson writes:

All the reviews I checked described [censored Yaoi title The Color of Love] as more sweet than sexy, which raises the question: If this story had been about a man and a woman, would it have been removed from the store?

A quick search suggests that the answer is “no.” Titles currently available on Kindle include Christmas Creampie, a graphic novel in which “horny Whoreville hussies show a frustrated dildo shop owner the true meaning of Christmas,” and Little Lorna in Resort Sports (I’m not even going to link to this one), in which Little Lorna, who is spunky, sexy, but “not too bright,” goes on vacation to Mexico with her Uncle Bob; “nudity, spanking, and sexy humor” result.

So apparently a sweet love story between two men is unacceptable, but an orgy in a dildo shop is OK.

Is it 2009? This stunt seems identical to#amazonfail, in which Amazon removed all search result listings of a random and bizarre assortment of titles considered to have “adult content,” which was predominantly queer-focused but also included 1984 and The Color Purple. While Amazon claimed that the PR disaster was the result of “a glitch,” the firm never actually apologized, and in fact many people pointed out that the “glitch” had been occurring on a routine basis since February of that year, and that certain titles never actually resurfaced on Amazon’s search listings.

You know, I’m just going to bullet point the things that are wrong with this.

  • Censoring explicit queer subject matter while refusing to censor explicit straight material is homophobia, pure and simple. Doing it repeatedly over the years, despite repeated public protest, suggests an institutionalized bias on Amazon’s part against queer literature, and even more offensively, against queer readers.
  • It is exceedingly dangerous for any company with as much market share as Amazon has to maintain such arbitrary and confusing standards of censorship. This is the same company that only last year was defending its commitment to remaining censorship free while publishing books celebrating paedophilia. (Yes, seriously.)
  • Just like any other genre, Yaoi contains a wide variety of subject matter and content, not all of which is explicit. This isn’t the first time Amazon has judged a book by its cover (and many of the covers of the censored titles are inoffensive), but come on. This is getting old.
  • While Yaoi manga and Boys Love doujinshi are a niche market, they’re an extremely popular niche market. The primary demographic of this particular erotica market, however, is young women. That’s right: yaoi manga is most commonly consumed voraciously by girls. And while both men and women read het erotica, straight men have traditionally been the publishers and the audience for the much wider market for straight lit porn.There is something very disturbing about censoring erotic literature that is most often written by women, for women, while allowing all those other more male-centered titles to remain. One might even say it reeks of girl-shaming.But Amazon would never be that hypocritical, would they? –
  • Oh, wait.

    (via Comic Book Resources.)

    Aja Romano blogs regularly at Bookshop.

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    • Akaskillz

      It boggles my mind that someone would defend pedophilia and not homosexuality. Do we really need to point out the difference between these two sexualities?
      A homosexual relationship = two adults engaging in a consenting emotional and/or physical relationship.
      A pedophilic relationship = one adult using their authority or physical strength to sexual exploit and coerce a powerless child.
      And Amazon would prefer to defend the latter?

    • http://www.extremelydissatisfied.wordpress.com Adam R. Charpentier

      Is all erotica automatically considered literature? Because I’ve seen quite a few dick drawings on restroom stalls that I wouldn’t consider art.

      I’m not arguing with the subject matter, I wholeheartedly agree, but I’m not sure about your word choice.

    • Akaskillz

      I think you need to take context into consideration. We’re talking about erotica on Amazon – an online company that sells books and literature. Last time I checked, Amazon doesn’t sell bathroom stall doors.

    • http://www.extremelydissatisfied.wordpress.com Adam R. Charpentier

      But Amazon does sell pornography.

    • http://amidstdancers.blogspot.com/ Shard Aerliss

      I’m not sure that straight erotic lit is intended mainly for a male audience. It’s not WRITTEN by men, for the most part. I’ve never come across erotica written by a man (and I mean erotica, not books in other genres that have a couple of sex scenes in). A quick Amazon search for “erotica” shows up one gay male author, a whole bunch of female authors, and a translation of Erotica Romana by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann_Wolfgang_von_Goethe#Eroticism

      Obviously there are male writers who write under female names but I doubt that this is a large number.

      I am really peeved about this latest fail though; yaoi was one of the three reasons I even bought a Kindle. If I’d have known they’d be removing titles I might not have bothered.

    • http://amidstdancers.blogspot.com/ Shard Aerliss

      “Erotica” is generally considered to be porn with plot and SHOULD involve some form of emotional relationship to go along with the sex. It should be well made, in all possible ways.

      Erotic literature should fill all the usual requirements of “literature” (well written, plot, reasonably developed characters) and also contain a very high proportion of detailed sex scenes. Instead of say action scenes.

      Porn should focus on the sex and pretty much leave out the character development and plot.

      However, as with all things, personal opinion on what constitutes ‘plot’ and ‘developed characters’ will mean some things one person considers porn another will consider erotica. What one person considers literature another will consider pulp.

    • http://www.extremelydissatisfied.wordpress.com Adam R. Charpentier

      I think there’s a certain amount of manga that exists solely for a money shot on every other page…and then whatever you would call a certain fetish I’ve seen, which is about breasts growing to an enormous size, doesn’t strike me as literature whether there is a plot to be found or not.

      Still, I can see that it is down to personal opinion and I’m not going to be holding a book burning anytime soon. I’m just not sure if certain subjects (e.g. the super-sizing of breasts to fullfill whatever fetish) should be given any credence.

      About your outrage, I wouldn’t fret overly. I’m sure Yaoi will become available from a legit source, even Amazon if they backpedal, and (I am sure you know) it will always be available from less respectable but no less competent websites.

    • http://amidstdancers.blogspot.com/ Shard Aerliss

      Oh there is some pretty hard core yaoi porn out there, and it’s porn, not erotica. If the sole purpose of the production is to arouse through sexual images (be they visual or described) then it’s porn. That’s the commonly accepted distinction. Porn is just ‘teh sex’ whereas erotica has more than just sex.

      Erotica does, after all, literally mean “caused by passionate love.” Eros being the god of love and erao means “to be in love.”

      Yaoi, though it pretty much means “Plot? What plot?”, is used (correctly or not) to cover far more than just the porn section. Anything that is written primarily for a straight female audience (talk about a bizarre mothering instinct) about male characters that have a relationship that is anything more than platonic is considered yaoi (if it’s written for gay men it’s usually called bara, but not always; see Yaoi911′s comics). A lot of yaoi isn’t really yaoi though, it’s shounen-ai, Boys Love or BL. This is less explicit, a lot more cuddly, is often aimed at young adults (and in the fanfic world, written by young adults) and the characters are often both young adults.

      Some of Yaoi Press’ titles that have been removed by Amazon fall into the 16+ range. Also, The Selfish Demon King is prose, not manga. This isn’t just affecting the graphic novels.

      If Amazon want to not sell erotic titles, fine… but they’re not pulling erotic titles, they’re pulling random erotic titles (not just yaoi but het prose as well). We don’t have the full picture, of course. Amazon are being their usual secretive selves and not working with publishers and authors very well, possibly due to the sheer numbers of requests for information they might be receiving.

      As for these titles being available from ‘less respectable’ websites; meaning? Also; I bought a Kindle BECAUSE Amazon sell and were rapidly increasing their yaoi and BL title range. Now they turn around and start pulling the exact titles I bought the Kindle for.

      Ever so slightly annoying, to say the least. I should have just bought a Nook >_>

      NB: If you know and understand all of the above, I apologise for reiterating… sometimes I just like the sound of my own keyboard.

    • http://profiles.google.com/pandachan7 Alicia Little

      Okay, we can’t have all the titles because that’s just how it is, but removing an entire genre that was previously available? Its censorship! Amazon doesn’t want us reading Yaoi just because they don’t like it. Way to be evil Amazon! >:(

    • http://www.extremelydissatisfied.wordpress.com Adam R. Charpentier

      ^_^ No problem. I was nitpicking more than anything. In the end, regardless of what you call it, censorship is a bad thing.

    • Anonymous

      This is one of the main reasons I didn’t buy a Kindle when I was researching eReaders. When Amazon starts pulling books for reasons unknown and being uncommunicative about it, that’s when I decide that their eReader isn’t the one I’m going to buy. I will not stand for my reading to be censored by anyone. I don’t buy books from Amazon anymore either, I can get them just as inexpensively at used bookstores. As for ebooks, there are a lot more places I can find ebooks for my Nook than I would ever be able to find for a Kindle (not to mention my library loans ebooks on the Nook).

    • Rebekah Clark

      I’ve been a fan of yaoi almost as long as I’ve been a fan of general manga/anime, and having recently purchased a Kindle only to find many articles referring to Amazons blatant homophobic attitude, I can’t help but feel some regret. I read a huge range of genre’s, from fantasy, autobiographies, suspense thrillers, horror all the way to manga and manga-novels or varying themes. To find that Amazon are removing yaoi titles simply because there is homosexual content instead of heterosexual makes me more than a little angry. One gets the feeling that Amazon are living in the past.

      Also, to see other titles removed for no apparant reason… The Colour Purple for example. Yes, in some american states it is still a banned book – but for the rest of america, not to mention the world – its considered a well written and extremely emotional book. Having read it myself and studied it for an english paper in college, to find it removed from kindle was a little bit of a shock. Amazon are quite happy to promote and sell purely pornographic content, but when it comes to potentially touchy-themes it just initiates a ban.

      All I can really say is Amazon needs to get its head into the 21st century and grow a pair whilst its at it.

    • Giuilia Sinope

      Hey.  Not into Yaoi, or gay literature but I think if Amazon thinks it a little too touchy, they should just give it its own category in the bookstore.

      Okay, I guess I have something at stake since I did WRITE and DRAW the former mentioned “Little Lorna” comic book series BUT I’m totally upset that Amazon did not tuck it away behind the counter under the COMICS>EROTICA section.  They just threw it in the general population of other books for anyone to stumble across.

      I go to Amazon and see if I can find my adult comic book.  Typing in small search strings like “Lorna” or “Resort” will pull up my ADULT comic!  Terrible!  Although the exposure is nice, I absolutely do not want someone who is not looking for erotica to stumble across my comic.  Yes… my comic sells very well and gets a high search ranking but so it scores high when you do these searches but believe me, even someone who can potentially profit off of this is not keen on having something seedy on public display.  Shame!

      If someone doesn’t want to see a dirty comic book they shouldn’t have to… but if they do, they can pull back the curtain and see it.  Same thing with Gay literature/comics.

      I think Amazon should make a EROTICA>GAY section!

    • http://twitter.com/clintiskeen Clinton Kean

      Except the reason for removing the yaoi wasn’t because it wasn’t because of the homosexuality, but because of the fact that depicting minors in explicit sexual scenarios is illegal.