Two Different Worlds
Then I thought about it some more, like I generally do about most things I read. So I read a few more viewpoints, and finally decided this post was worth making. Consider it food for thought or a way to put things in perspective.
#1 When a book is marketed in the romance genre it's going to come with certain expectations. Romance is a fairly clear cut genre as far a genres go. There's a whole lot of leeway when you label something simply General Fiction or Fiction-Drama. But Romance and even Dark Romance has its boundaries. If the story goes too far out of the box, well it's simply not romance anymore. I should add to that that there are some themes and content that straight out aren't romantic. If a plot incorporates those real life issues that have extensive consequences, legal ramifications, and far reaching effects, then narrowing down the appropriate audience becomes even more important. There are some things not to be taken lightly in any kind of fiction. Social consciousness is important. An author can write anything they desire for themselves, but once that work, even of fiction, becomes a published piece, it's open to analysis, critique, and discussion by the general public. And romance readers are probably going to be particularly sensitive to certain content because most of us read to escape.
[Fun Fact: Is it a coincidence that National Book Lovers Day coincides with the anniversary of the Mason murders and the Nagasaki bombing? Probably, but it sure doesn't hurt to have an uplifting book to escape from reminders of those horrors of history.]
#2 Amazon deciding to no longer offer a title for sale is not book banning. Amazon is a retailer, not a government organization or some kind of bureaucratic affiliate tying to dictate to the public what one can and can't read. Censureship does happen. In fact, I see it from time to time in the book world in all kinds of subtle ways, often in regards to suppressing lower star reviews. But Amazon or any retailer "passing" on a title or deeming that it doesn't meet their publishing guidelines, mission statement, or product line is not true censorship.
To be clear, I'm not an Amazon fan girl. I have my own complaints about the company, largely in regards to their inconsistent and misleading policies regarding their gift cards. (A totally different issue, by the way.) Are they also inconsistent though on other things like what passes their review? I don't doubt. But the overall issue at hand here, their ability to sell and not sell certain titles, is nothing new in the book industry. Indie authors may have become accustomed to having their titles available on all of the major online platforms, but as I imagine some authors who've published professionally or someone who's worked in the publishing profession as I have can tell you, retailers "pass" all the time on what they stock, especially when it comes to brick and mortar stores where space is limited. Publishers make sales presentations to the buyers in specific categories and what those buyers order can be affected by various factors from sales projections to content. As I once explained many a time to published authors when I worked for a traditional publisher, the publisher or sales rep could not control what a specific distributor, store, or venue stocked. They could only make the sales pitch and provide the buyer with the required information to make their purchasing decisions. And it's much the same way for indie authors selling today. Ultimately, the decision is the retailer's. But that's not stopping the book from being sold other places or directly by the author. It just means that labeling the title in the most fitting genre, targeting the correct market, and being a little creative (but never deceptive) with marketing is a bigger deal than ever.
Now I'm going back to worrying about the bigger problems in the world as two egomaniac man-children hold their fingers over the nuke buttons. In the end, I'm far more concerned that that drama resolves itself peacefully. ☮