unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
[personal profile] unjapanologist
It seems Amazon just suspended Digital Manga Inc. from publishing on Kindle entirely. Reportedly, this was done over an ill-defined "content violation" related to Digital Manga's yaoi titles. It's not the first time that yaoi titles are the subject of censorship kerfuffles, but apparently Amazon is still not planning to clarify its famously vague guidelines about "pornography" versus "erotica".

(Apple is engaging in disturbingly similar practices, apparently keeping out yaoi titles and other LGBTQ content from its iBooks store. Digital Manga was told to remove its yaoi titles from its iPad app on February 2. It's a bad, bad thing when distributors get to control what appears on people's reading devices and can use drm to lock people even further into their walled gardens.)

Amazon can be contacted at ecr@amazon.com (Digital Manga's recommendation) or via the online Kindle customer service (a rather well-hidden page, I must say). I've contacted Amazon to ask why I'm no longer allowed to put Digital Manga's titles on my Kindle; feel free to use the text below in full or in part. Here's another letter.

Dear Amazon,

On March 15, 2012, Amazon suspended publisher Digital Manga Inc.’s account from distributing its books on the Kindle platform because of "content violation" (1). The grounds on which Digital Manga Inc.'s account was suspended seem extremely questionable to me, not just because Amazon's content guidelines appear to be very vague and difficult to comply with, but also because this suspension comes after previous incidents in which Amazon was taken to task for removing manga with even fairly tame same-sex content while leaving manga with more explicit heterosexual content untouched.

As Kindle owner and paying Amazon customer, I'm dismayed to hear that Amazon may be trying to keep perfectly legal content off my device. Because I don't want to take any action without having all the facts, I would like to request some information from you.

As far as I can determine, Digital Manga Inc.’s books may have been objectionable to you because of the either of the following clauses in Amazon's content guidelines for sellers (2):

  • Pornography. Pornography; X-rated movies; home porn; hard-core material, including magazines, that depict graphic sexual acts, amateur porn and soiled undergarments. Unrated erotic videos and DVDs and properly censored erotic artwork and magazines of the type you'd find at a typical bookstore are permitted. Nudity, graphic titles, and descriptions must be sufficiently concealed with censor strips on all items containing such content.

  • Offensive material. What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect. This includes items such as crime-scene photos or human organs and body parts. Amazon.com reserves the right to determine the appropriateness of items sold on our site. Also, be aware of cultural differences and sensitivities. Some items may be acceptable in one country, but unacceptable in another. Please keep in mind our global community of customers.

Could you please inform me as soon as possible, and in detail, which of the abovementioned guidelines were violated by Digital Manga Inc., so I can determine for myself whether Amazon is keeping their content from me for a good reason? If there were any other reasons behind the suspension, such as complaints from other customers, please let me know about these as well so I can make an informed decision.

Also, allow me to say that I profoundly object to turns of phrase such as "What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect". This sort of language gives Amazon carte blanche to act in a completely arbitrary fashion when determining which content is "appropriate" for sale on its site.

Please be assured that I will be buying all my digital and print books via other sellers until you provide me with a satisfactory answer to my questions. Censorship is abhorrent, and as the largest distributor of e-books on the market, Amazon has a responsibility to ensure that its store welcomes all legal content.



(1) http://www.digitalmanga.com/blog/2356/important-announcement-dmps-kindle-publishing-suspended
(2) http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=hp_rel_topic?ie=UTF8&nodeId=15015801

ETA: The text above contained a reference to taking my business to the The Book Depository, but [personal profile] eggsbenedict points out that The Book Depository was bought by Amazon last year. I don't know exactly how this is impacting the running of the company, but removed the reference just to make sure. Apparently Amazon also owns Abebooks and a bunch of other book-related companies, including some I use and give money to, such as LibraryThing.

Again, I don't know what being owned by Amazon means for these companies and if it has any influence on, for instance, their content policies. Maybe there's no influence. However, it does seem clear that I'm absolutely unable to buy legal copies of some of the e-books I want or need for work without financially benefiting Amazon. It's not a sign of a healthy system if it's completely impossible anywhere in the world to buy a legal copy of a certain book without somehow going through this one single distributor.
Date: 2012-03-16 04:06 am (UTC)

eggsbenedict: (Wesker)
From: [personal profile] eggsbenedict
Just so you know, Amazon bought Book Depository last year, so that threat doesn't hold much water. :(
Date: 2012-03-16 09:08 am (UTC)

From: [identity profile] lunafana.livejournal.com
Did this measure also remove the copies of the works from the individual user accounts? That's a fear of mine regarding Kindle (and likely why I don't have one yet), that my purchased copies could disappear at the store's whim. Even though the things I read are highly unlikely to be subject to this kind of deletion, who knows? *is paranoid*
Date: 2012-03-16 11:23 am (UTC)


anotherslashfan: sign reading amazon fail (amazonfail)
From: [personal profile] anotherslashfan
Okay, if both Abebooks and TheBookDepository are also owned by Amazon, I'm running out of options... the only reason I even use these services is because most of their sellers accept Paypal (another problematic service), and I don't have a credit card. And some of the books I'm interested in are not easily available in German bookstores. Argh grmbl.
Date: 2012-03-16 01:36 pm (UTC)

From: (Anonymous)
I don't know about Digital Manga but a lot of e-book-publishers offer the possibility to buy books from them directly instead of going through a reseller like amazon & co. And they offer different formats.

By buying books from the publishers directly you also do a great service to the authors and artists as they usually get a bigger percentage from the sales than from copies sold via resellers. Yes, it might be a bit more hassle for us as users but honestly, I prefer it when my money goes to the writers and artists and small publishers directly than to the big companies.


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