Cerys Goodall, senior director of public relations at Kobo, said, "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. While some may find our measures extreme, we are confident that we are taking the necessary measures 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." These "measures" referred to by Goodall include shutting down Kobo's self-publishing ebook store until they can review the catalog and decide which books are appropriate to sell.
Each of these ebook retailers and distributors has a policy against "inappropriate material," but the writers seem to be the ones who decide whether or not their own material is appropriate. The thing is that some of this material is reported to be wildly inappropriate: graphic rape, incest, and worse. The United Kingdom's Ministry of Justice has said that some of these websites may have breached the Obscene Publications Act, which is a law requiring publishers "to protect shoppers from inadvertently finding content that outrages public decency."
In the meantime, many writers are pulling out their thesauruses to lambast Kobo. Kobo is draconian, violating civil rights, ridiculous, and even insane. I've never heard such wailing about freedom of expression and censorship. Doesn't freedom of expression end when hurting other people begins? Just this week two middle school girls in Florida were arrested for the cruel things they said to a classmate. At some point, these girls crossed the line from freedom of expression to crime. Yes, these inappropriate ebooks are mostly fiction, but they have the power to cause just as much destruction, especially to young people.
A couple of my self-published books sell through Kobo, so I won't see any sales from them this week, but I'm more than happy to take the hit if it means less destructive material out there where my kids and other kids won't stumble across it when they're looking for a book to read.
One thing has me puzzled, however. It seems that Kobo is still selling traditionally published pornography. How's that?