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Monday, July 18, 2011

Don't Ask, Don't Tell...About Kindle, That Is

I've been considering doing a few books and stories and using self-publishing via the Amazon Kindle. Mostly, the stories would be under some of my pen names, but I might do some under my real name in the erotica romance genre, or maybe even into the straight erotica genre.

I was a little concerned by some of the wording in the Kindle/Amazon terms of service about “inappropriate content”, so I had a person on my team contact Amazon for clarification.

After all, I don't want to jump through the hoops of getting the book into the proper format, having cover art done, edits, and all the rest only to find out that the book can't be sold via Kindle.

I should add that most of my erotica romance stories are now available on Kindle from Amazon. That leads me to believe that all is well with the genre, but it never hurts to ask.

Or does it?

This is a quote from the letter sent to Amazon...

I am considering using Kindle and Amazon to publish my works from my pen names and my real name, but your FAQs and TOS are very fuzzy on what is meant by "inappropriate content".

I am hoping you can clarify this for me.

Specifically, I am considering Kindle for my works in the genre of "Erotic Romance". Works in this genre are, as you know, sexually explicit and use adult language. Many of my works in this genre under my real name of Melodee Aaron are available on Amazon in the Kindle format.

This leads me to believe that the erotic romance genre is indeed in compliance with the TOS and are not considered "inappropriate content" for the program, but as I said, the TOS and FAQs are very fuzzy.

Before I spend a lot of time and effort to self-publish works on Kindle, I want to make sure that it will not be wasted.

Clear enough, I think.

Now here is the reply we received from Amazon...

Our content guidelines are published on the Kindle Direct Publishing website.

To learn more, please see: Content Guidelines.

[link added]

Content that is violation of these guidelines will not be offered for sale.

As stated in our content guidelines, we reserve the right to determine what content we consider to be appropriate. This content includes both the cover art image and the content within the book.

We’re unable to elaborate further on specific details regarding our content guidelines.

If you follow the link above, you find the most interesting of the few lines to state:

What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect. Amazon Digital Services, Inc. reserves the right to determine the appropriateness of Titles sold on our site.

Further, near the top, the guidelines state:

If Amazon Digital Services, Inc. determines the content of a Title is prohibited, we may summarily remove or alter it without returning any fees.

[emphasis mine]

Anyone see a problem here?

To summarize for you, what all of this means is:

We will take and keep your money if we decide that your content is inappropriate, but we won't tell you what is or is not appropriate before we take your money.

That hardly seems right to me.

At first, I was upset. I called my lawyer and wanted someone's head on a platter. But he's used to me, and calmed me down. BTW, he said I wasn't upset. I believe the legal term he used was “Fucking Pissed Off”. Anyway, he told me he would look into things.

This evening, I had an E-Mail from the legal department, and they told me, “...publish anything you like. That policy will not hold up in court and Amazon will look like morons by the time we get done with them in front of a judge...”

In other words, you can't enforce a policy that no one knows about and you refuse to disclose. So long as it's legal, Amazon is shit out of luck.

As to if I will put some works on Kindle or not, who can say? I did a fast count, and of the 237 books I have available in electronic formats now, only two of them are not available on Kindle at this time. Doesn't really seem worth the work.


Keep Loving!

Melodee Aaron, Erotica Romance Author
Home Page
Melodee's Books at BookStrand


  1. Fascinating conundrum. Sounds like your lawyer is on the ball, though. Still, I don't see - from your point of view - where it's worth the risk. Unless there's a huge payoff, something you don't get from your current publication channels, I don't see the value in risking having to go to litigation in the first place.

    Just a thought from somebody not in the profession...

  2. It's a matter of always looking for new distribution channels. Never close a door.

    Litigation costs wouldn't be a factor. They work for me. :)

    The biggest thing making me lean away from direct Kindle publication is that all of my current publishers (40-odd at last count) already take care of that. The royalties would be about the same in most cases.