Amazon Filtering

Can't find what you want on Amazon? Feeling the need for a “naughty” book, but can't find it when you search? Can't find the author you were looking for on Amazon?

Welcome to the Adult Filter.

This last week, Amazon started adult filtering a random smattering of erotica. I am in touch with a lot of amazing erotica writers, and this is rough news for them.

What is the Adult Filter? The adult filter makes books unsearchable from the main/All Department Search page. This is a good thing in some cases- you don't want your kid looking up “Fun things to do with Daddy” and seeing some of the erotica that comes out of that search. To get around this, you have to go to the kindle store (drop down menu) and search from there. It seems as though this happens automatically on your kindle, so you will be able to find things that way.

Why is this a problem then? It isn't being applied equally or with any rhyme or reason. Do a search for “Breeding” and see what comes up on the main page. Then do one in the Kindle store. How are these erotic titles showing up while I have friends whose entire catalogues have been filtered? (and they are the equivalent stories).  This is a big deal because we are talking about people's livelihoods.  There is a lot of money being spent on erotic fiction, and the industry is only growing.

I understand that Amazon doesn't want to be labeled as a “Smut” store. But their guidelines, and feedback once something is filtered, is so generic it borders on absurd. They want to keep the income from erotica, but they don't want the fall out from it either. There is no transparency or consistency. If you want to sell erotica, but keep moral superiority, then put ALL the erotica behind a filter. Not just some of it.

This “adult filter” is fairly ridiculous. It is applied by Amazon automated bots, and as such doesn't catch everything and filters things that don't need filtering.  Amazon simply needs an “adult” checkbox option for their search engine. If you click it, you can see adult stuff. Then put anything with a pg13 rating and up in that filter. Make it all or nothing, not this maybe some stuff. If a reader is looking for “Breeding” and the box isn't checked, they get animal husbandry. If it is checked, they get sex toys, dirty books, and everything their little hearts desire.

Selena Kitt, http://selenakitt.com/blog/index.php/2012/03/20/corporate-bullies/ explains this much eloquently than I do. This post is over a year old, but it has come up again. (The filtering issue occurred last year around this time for pseudo-incest, and now it is occurring again but for a broader range of erotic topics).

My racier stories haven't been filtered (yet), but I know a lot of people who this does really affect. And if Amazon doesn't explain why they filtered certain stories (other than “we have found filterable content”) it could happen to a romance writer like me.