In a move that reminds me of the draconian book-banning obscenity laws of the first part of the twentieth century, retail giant Amazon rendered Anaïs Nin’s new erotica collection, Auletris, unsearchable on its website, citing “adult content” as the reason. This is widely known as Amazon’s adult content “dungeon,” and it makes the book practically invisible to readers even if they actively search for the title. The end result is that sales are effectively killed.
But after the media began to cover the controversy earlier this week, Amazon has now reversed its stance and has made Auletris visible to buyers, just as other mainstream erotica is, including Nin’s Delta of Venus and Little Birds, not to mention Fifty Shades of Grey.
Stories by News.co.au and the Guardian slammed Amazon for the practice of censoring books, and there were other news agencies ready to jump on the bandwagon—this, I believe, helped change the minds of Amazon’s shadowy “catalogue team,” which decides which titles are searchable and which are not. I personally think that the people who comprise this modern-day censorship board did not realize who Anaïs Nin is and had no idea about the implications their soft ban of Auletris would have.
I want to thank everyone who participated in spreading the word about this practice, who helped me connect with the media, and who lent moral support and shared outrage at this twenty-first century form of censorship. We, as readers, have the right to make our own decisions about what we read, and it is insulting for Amazon to dictate our choices to us simply because they feel like it and have the economic power to do so. This right, as far as Auletris goes, has finally been upheld, and I want to commend Amazon for making the right decision.
However, what about all of those left in the “dungeon”? What about those authors who are forced to make significant changes to their work to make it searchable? Who will stand up for them? I, for one, think that Amazon needs to rethink its policy have having a “catalogue team” making such decisions, and seemingly on a whim. When one can readily find “dinosaur erotica” in an Amazon search, why is it that other books don’t see the light of day?
Thank you for releasing Anaïs Nin from the dungeon, Amazon. She was perhaps among your most prestigious inmates…but it’s time to eliminate the dungeon altogether.
To purchase Auletris, click here.