While Maya Cross and other authors tried to figure out why their e-books couldn’t get past #126 on Barnes & Noble bestseller list, some authors who had books in B&N’s UK store noticed something even stranger. Their e-books went missing altogether.
Barnes & Noble didn’t make an announcement to authors or readers, but the company seemingly removed many adult-themed romance books from its store without prompt.
Last Friday, May 24, author Portia Da Costa mentioned on the KBoards something she’d spotted in April:
“It’s not just Barnes and Noble. Nook UK has simply DELETED thousands of erotic romance/erotica titles. No algorithm shenanigans, no rank tinkering… just gone, completely. All enquiries get either an unhelpful pass the buck reply, or ignored. It took one of my publishers to get an answer. Nook UK had decided they wanted to ‘clean house’ because they were doing a promo for kids and teens, so they just removed what they considered questionable material from their catalogue. But they wouldn’t admit that to individual authors.”
Da Costa wasn’t the only one who saw her titles disappear. Just in the one thread, authors Meg Harris, Deanna Roy, Zelah Meyer, Andrew Ashling, Deanna Chase, Lolita Lopez and others saw titles missing from the UK online store as well.
B&N hasn’t given a suitable explanation to any of the authors or publishers as to why books were removed from the UK website. (I also sent them a message, and I’m still waiting to hear back.)
There is speculation that some of the titles were taken off based on themes. Many erotic books were wiped out without notice. And if it wasn’t for the aforementioned KBoards thread, many authors wouldn’t have noticed for quite some time. As it is, it took several weeks from Da Costa’s initial discovery for others to take notice.
Online booksellers have been cracking down on erotica since some customers have complained about having those options in their searches. But there is an easy answer here. Smashwords, for instance, is able to set up its website for users to block out any erotic titles; B&N and Amazon could employ the same type of option without alienating authors in the process.
At the very least, Barnes & Noble should have informed authors and publishers that it was removing books from the UK store. Authors need to make contingency plans for the marketing and distribution of their books if they are no longer in the store.
To me, it seems like a bad model to follow if B&N is removing these types of romance novels.
No one wants to use the ugly “C” word when it comes to a media company, but it’s comes to mind when I hear about these types of practices.
Granted, the books are already part of the marketplace and were once in the UK store. But where would this type of practice end? Will companies start having an approval process for books? If they don’t like the content, even if it’s not morally objectionable (which is also questionable), where does it end?
Many of the authors noted that some of the books that disappeared didn’t have many or major sexual encounters. They seem to be just bewildered by the whole process and confused as to why no one would tell them about their books.