Kobo's chief content officer Michael Tamblyn has dismissed censorship claims, telling self-published authors that the e-tailer is not interested in selling "'barely legal' erotica or rape fantasies".
Kobo has now completed its review of self-published titles and restored most to its UK store, after temporarily withdrawing them following the furore over explicit material on its site and that of W H Smith. The WHS website is also now selling e-books once more, but is still not selling those which have been self-published.
In a post on author platform Kobo Writing Life, Tamblyn confirmed that "the vast majority" of self-published Kobo Writing Life titles are now available again on Kobo.com in the UK. But Tamblyn told authors: "For those few titles that remain unavailable, some feel that we chose a path of censorship. All I can say is that if your dream is to publish 'barely legal' erotica or exploitative rape fantasies, distribution is probably going to be a struggle for you. We aren’t saying you can’t write them. But we don’t feel compelled to sell them."
Tamblyn said Kobo would continue to sell erotica however. "Many of our readers have no problem with an erotic title in their library next to their romance, literary fiction, investing or high-energy physics books. And we are here for the readers, so erotica stays, a small but interesting part of a multi-million-title catalogue, in all of its grey-shaded glory," he wrote.
The company will "continue to work on reviewing processes and author education about what we can take and what we can't", he added. "It will never be perfect, but our belief continues to be that if we focus on readers and growing our business around them, we will get it right much more often than not."
A W H Smith spokesperson said: “We fully support self-publishing as we believe this gives an opportunity for new authors to have their work published, provided this is subject to appropriate monitoring processes. We are therefore actively working with our e-books provider Kobo and will only reactivate access to self-published e-books on our website once we are confident that the necessary control procedures are in place.”
Tamblyn will be speaking at The Bookseller's FutureBook Conference, to be held on 21st November at the QEII Conference Centre in London.