As the debacle continues in the erotic eBook community for authors that have had their titles booted off of Amazon for being “outside of sexual normalcy”, I spent a bit of time talking to erotic book authors and publishers this week about what they thought was going on. Lots of opinions, but no one seems to have a great deal of clarity about how to confidently work with the largest retailer of ebooks in the world. A few observations have come up that were consistent though:
- Amazon’s “rules” for what can and can’t go into the publishing platform are vague, to say the least, leaving authors wondering if they can use certain words (like “sisters” or “babysitter”) in the titles or descriptions of their books, even when such words are not used in any sort of sexual context.
- One would “think” that a tech giant like Amazon would have some sort of parental filtering system in place for not just ebooks, but their entire product inventory. They don’t. Even though they have complete lines of sex toys and other adult products with porny descriptions just sitting there waiting for youngsters to stumble upon.
So, let’s pretend! Pretend we are curious 12 year old kids not looking for anything naughty, but just stuff to ask Santa for this Christmas, with some pretty obvious kid’s search inquiries.
Type in “twin doll” (PBS TV “Sesame Street” mentioned so kids look for this) and you’ll get this right up at the top of the list with no “mature content” warning:
Product Description: Double your pleasure and double your fun, 2 sexy bitches are better than one! Create your own threesome with the hottest set of twin sisters ever to tag-team your cock! Teach these curious co-eds about the school of hard cocks– they’re just begging for an after school lesson in advanced sex ed! With six tight love holes to choose from, you get a double dosage of tasty teens. You do the math. Luv Twins Double Date Dream Dolls Package Depth 4 inches, Width 7.5 inches, Height 12 inches, Sex Toy Weighs 2 pounds.
Not Available For Amazon Prime
2257 Age Verification Of Product Box Models Not Included.
Okay. THAT was weird! Particularly as it was filed in the “Beauty” category.
Let’s keep looking for a doll, assuming this was some sort of fluke.
Simpler Search for “Dolls”
Now it gets even more interesting, this one stashed in the “Health” section and, again, with no “mature content warning:
Product Description: Just-In Beaver Love Doll. Meet Just-In Beaver, the barely legal boy-toy who has waited 18 long years to stick his lil’ dicky in something sticky! When he is not busy beating up paparazzi or beating off, he’s up to his high-tops in hot Hollywood tail! But the Beave-ster doesn’t have this effect just on women, he turns straight men gay faster than you can peel his skinny jeans off! So what are you waiting for, inflate this lil pricks’s ego even more and have your very own Beaver bash! Warning: if you have experience moist panties or erections lasting more than 4 hours you may be suffering from a severe case of Beaver Fever. Male inflatable love doll. Features and Functions: Vibrates. Material:Vinyl. Country of Origin: China. The blowup doll is between 50″ – 55″ (4 ft) tall.
Although 4 ft tall is just about right for a life-sized celebrity blow up sex doll of this young man, the description on that one pretty much made every erotic ebook author blush!
Okay, as searching for “Doll” at Amazon was just getting scary, I thought maybe I would go shopping for a stuffed animal or cat toy. The common word in my “let’s pretend to be 12 years old” vocabulary that came to mind was “Pussy”. Let’s see what THAT brought up in the top listings, again with no “mature content” advisory:
- She’s fresh, she’s young and she’s the hottest new porn star on the scene Lily LaBeau, wholesome little schoolgirl likes it dirty too and she’d love you to show her how it’s done
- Molded directly from Lily’s tight, young pussy this masturbator feels as it real as it gets and because it’s discreet you can take your Doc Johnson All-Star Porn Star anywhere!
I like Lily Labeau from last years hit porn movie “Wasteland” and feel she really deserves to have a casting of her hot box for her fans to enjoy. But in the Beauty section at Amazon?
So, what’s my beef with Amazon that prompted me to sit down and write this up?
Whilst Bezos Borg is busy banning eBooks with the words “sisters” in them, right there on aisle 2 near the candy section is a remarkable collection of sex toys whose product descriptions sound more like movies on a Russian Tube Site. I really am okay with that though. Amazon SHOULD be carrying adult pleasure products and dirty DVDs. IT’s a free country after all (well. sorta).
Where my issue lies is that all of this is not tagged as “mature content”, leaving every lad and lass that are looking for “A pair of hop-along boots and a pistol that shoots (for Barney and Ben), and “Dolls that can talk and can go for a walk (the hopes of Janice and Jen).
I’m about the furthest thing you’ve ever seen from some nutbar Christian-right, Tea Bagging, Morality in Media dunderhead, but I do believe that kids should be protected from certain things in their formative years. Playing with guns unsupervised. Easy access to cigarettes and booze. Mexican Donkey Porn. Justin Beiber blow up sex dolls. You get the idea.
Over here in Porn-Land, we’ve all been responsible publishers on the internet for going on 20 years now. Most sites (well, except the tubes and other free stolen content sites selling sex video chat) have either an “adult warning” page that can be recognized by parental filters, or at the very least, some meta-tags on the pages that offer the same home-control for parents of children that all now own a desktop, laptop, iPad and iPhone and spend most of their time online rather than building tree forts.. A very effective one in widespread use is the RTA (Restricted To Adult) labeling which most sites have used for many years.
As we’re talking about online sex toys in the retail sector, let’s take a look at a good company, The Stockroom, that does everything it can to avoid this sort of thing of curious 12 year olds exploring anal probe equipement for BDSM play. Now, mind you Stockroom specializes in “kinky sex gear”, but are pretty representative of what sellers and distributors of sex toys do with their websites. Go here And Look
The first thing you notice on the home page are three doors to sort folks out for who should go (or not go) where:
- “Men And Women” (that’s code for “straight folks”)
- “All Male” (thinly coded for “gay”)
- “Under 18? EXIT! (takes the surfer to Google. Not my first choice for giving someone free traffic, but hey)
Of course, Amazon can’t have some sort of “adult warning” page on the front of their site, but they “could” easily have a system for any products that are tagged as “mature”.
Producers of adult movies, sex toys and erotic ebooks do this sort of “self tagging” every day and are happy to do so when adding items to a store, uploading a photo to Pinterest, Flickr or Tumblr, and even for text based things like Yahoo Groups, Goodreads.com Reviews, and so forth. Even the Libertarian, Bongo-Playing, Occupy-Something Hippies at Reddit have a NSFW category that they do a fine job of running and monitoring.
How to implement this “self rating” system?
Easy: When a seller or manufacturer is adding an item to Amazon, be it an eBook, Sex Toy or other “adult product”, just have a simple little checkbox:
[ ] NSFW (check here if your item is only for adults)
Pretty much everyone knows what “NSFW” means: Not Safe For Work. That, by default, probably makes it not safe for the rugrats at home or your elderly Aunt Mary in the assisted living community you stuck her in last year.
Then, through the magic of technology (Google has for “safe search” on web pages and image search that is literally 14 lines of code), if the user has turned on the filter, VOILA!
No butt plugs or anal beads or penis pumps or blow up sex dolls for your 12 year old kids to have nightmares and therapy from seeing! (Or Aunt Mary skipping out after hours from the retirement home for a Cocoon sexual adventure, but breaking a hip climbing a tree.)
So, Mr. Jeff Bezos. I suspect you are all busy and such with trying to figure out how to save the Washington Post and get it bringing in revenue, but might be good to take a peek at this issue.
The random banning of eBook authors that helped make Amazon successful has done significant harm to many authors. The current “vague” guidelines and pretty minimal Amazon systems for redress and such are in need of serious attention. At the very least, maybe put out a call to all publishers, authors and hard goods folks that are on Amazon with a 30-60 day deadline to review their products and mark as “NSFW” as needed.
Rather than do an 11-page “acceptable content guideline” page, maybe just send them this as a global example of what might need to be tagged as “mature” or NSFW if their product or book even smell a little like this:
Just-In Beaver Love Doll. Meet Just-In Beaver, the barely legal boy-toy who has waited 18 long years to stick his lil’ dicky in something sticky! When he is not busy beating up paparazzi or beating off, he’s up to his high-tops in hot Hollywood tail! But the Beave-ster doesn’t have this effect just on women, he turns straight men gay faster than you can peel his skinny jeans off! So what are you waiting for, inflate this lil pricks’s ego even more and have your very own Beaver bash! Warning: if you have experience moist panties or erections lasting more than 4 hours you may be suffering from a severe case of Beaver Fever. Male inflatable love doll.
Merry Christmas Shopping To All, And To All A Good Night (with the exception of Cindy Loo Hu that fell into the Hentai Monster With Tentacles genre and is now in need of therapy)
Oh. don’t forget that 2257 Age verification before the Blackhawks land on your roof!