Kobo quarantines self-publishers

Kobo is quarantining self-published ebooks after it deleted thousands of unoffending titles in a panic reaction to media porn revelations.

The move seems sure to undermine confidence in Kobo’s Writing Life programme for self-publishers which launched last year.

As reported here yesterday, Kobo reacted to media reports that its site contained ebooks featuring extreme porn with sweeping deletions of self-published books, including thousands of fiction and non-fiction works with no questionable content.

It took the action in response to a Mail On Sunday newspaper report in the UK about extreme porn on the WH Smith website which takes an automated feed from Kobo.

Today, in an email to Writing Life authors, Mark Lefebvre, Director, Kobo Writing Life says: “As you may be aware, there has been a significant amount of negative media attention in the UK regarding offensive material that became available across a number of eBook platforms.

“Kobo was included in the reports from media and we are taking immediate action to resolve an issue that is the direct result of a select few authors and publishers violating Kobo’s content policies.

“In order to address the situation Kobo is taking the following steps:

“1. We are removing titles in question from the Kobo platform.

“2. We are quarantining and reviewing titles to ensure that compliance to our policies is met by all authors and publishers. We will ensure that content meeting the policy is made available online as soon as possible.

“3. We are reviewing our policies and procedures to implement safeguards that will ensure this situation does not happen in the future.

“We are working hard to get back to business as usual, as quickly as possible. We appreciate your patience and understanding in this matter.

“Our goal at Kobo is not to censor material; we support freedom of expression. Further, we want to protect the reputation of self-publishing as a whole. You have our promise that we will do all we can to ensure the exceptions that have caused this current situation will not have a lasting effect on what is an exciting new channel that connects readers to a wealth of books.”

The questions remain on how the offending titles got through Kobo approval in the first place as they would be remarkably easy to spot by their titles alone and why thousands of innocent authors are being penalised by having their books removed.