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I have received this informative email from Kobo (read below) and decided to re-post it here for the benefit of all Indie authors. It appears that Kobo Writing Life -the Indie publishing arm of the company – has received bad press in the United Kingdom for allegedly not screening the books they have on sale and therefore violating their own guidelines. As a result, Kobo initiated a massive Indie book removal and inspection. If you publish with Kobo in the UK and were affected by mistake, the email below is straight out of the horse’s mouth and explains Kobo’s position.

I understand the books targeted by this removal are basically hard-core erotica and such. I must say that regardless of the type of books Kobo is presently reviewing, I for one am very happy they are actually taking an interest in addressing some of their problems, which are many. I sincerely hope they become more responsive and more responsible about their Indie publishing service soon.

Although my rant below may seem slightly off topic, but it illustrates vividly Kobo’s desire to jump on the ebook and indie publishing bandwagon, while failing to take their responsibility seriously. The only reason I’m writing this is that I sincerely hope someone at Kobo sees it and finally takes action!

Here goes: I opened an account with Kobo Writing Life a while back, planning on listing with them directly, however, the royalty info page refused to take my bank aba, although I tried several different options on multiple occasions. Because of that, I was unablle to complete my registration process. Glitches happen, you say. I thought so too, until I realized that the Kobo Writing Life website contained no customer service email or phone number whatsoever, which made it impossible to advise them of the problem and to resolve it. After an extensive Google search for any contact info, I gave up on trying to work with Kobo Writing Life. Although I do list my books with Kobo, I presently do so through Smashwords. Another problem is that they are very slow to list titles. It seems, books easily fall between the cracks with Kobo. To this day, one of my books is still not listed, although it was submitted several months ago!

I’d love to work with them directly, but they really have to get their act together!

If anyone at Kobo is reading this, please correct your royalty/bank info glitch and list a customer service email on your site! Thank you!

We, Indies, talk a lot about the need to broaden our reach through diversification via different sources and the need to create a healthy competition for the Amazon/ Kindle near monopoly. Yet other retailers are not making it easy! To this day, only Amazon, with the exception of Smashwords, answers emails promptly, updates book content quickly and does everything else with decent turnaround. I love Barnes&Noble, but they take their sweet time answering email inquiries and correcting problems. Although, I must say their reply time has decreased significantly from several weeks in the past to just a week or so. That’s already a huge improvement! Hope Kobo takes the leaf from BN’s book soon!

Kobo, I want to work with you – please make it easier to do so!

A Kobo Writing Life UpdateI’d like to give our authors a quick update on Kobo Writing Life in the UK and elsewhere.As you may be aware, in the face of some fairly intense media scrutiny, we launched a major review of the books we offer for sale to make sure they comply with our content policy on offensive material. We cast a wide net across our catalogue that included genres and books coming from self-published authors, aggregators, and publishers, and we quarantined many of these while we conducted the review which made them unavailable in the UK during that time. The review had to happen fast, and we didn’t enjoy it, but with our esteemed 300-year-old retail partner on the front page of major newspapers and some content clearly in violation of our posted standards, we needed to move quickly. Almost everyone on the Kobo Content Team, spread across a dozen countries and time zones, was involved at one point or another. The urgency was driven by our desire to make sure we were running a store that met our own expectations and equally by the need to get our authors back up and available for sale again in the UK as fast as possible.The good news is that the vast majority of self-published Kobo Writing Life titles are once again available on Kobo.com in the UK, with most authors experiencing a gap of only a few days before their books were once again in the catalogue. As well, we have been working closely with our self-publishing aggregation partners. Most of their titles are once again available in the UK or will be in the coming hours. If your book is still unavailable and you think it shouldn’t be, send a message to writinglife@kobo.com and the team will get on it.For those few titles that remain unavailable, some feel that we chose a path of censorship. All I can say is that if your dream is to publish “barely legal” erotica or exploitative rape fantasies, distribution is probably going to be a struggle for you. We aren’t saying you can’t write them. But we don’t feel compelled to sell them. And yes, many titles live in a grey zone with far more shades than the fifty that sold so well in the past year, but that is what makes this all so challenging and so interesting. Many of our readers have no problem with an erotic title in their library next to their romance, literary fiction, investing or high-energy physics books. And we are here for the readers, so erotica stays, a small but interesting part of a multi-million-title catalogue, in all of its grey-shaded glory. My thanks go out to Mark Lefebvre and the whole Kobo Writing Life team and to all of our authors who have been so supportive and understanding in the past two weeks. We will continue to work on reviewing processes and author education about what we can take and what we can’t. It will never be perfect, but our belief continues to be that if we focus on readers and growing our business around them, we will get it right much more often than not.Sincerely yours,
Michael Tamblyn
Chief Content Officer
Kobo
@mtamblyn
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