Seeking inmates of Amazon’s dungeon

As you may know, The Anaïs Nin Podcast is a monthly program that touches upon anything and everything having to do with Nin and her work. This month we saw the release of her new erotica collection Auletris by Sky Blue Press, and when Amazon placed it into its “adult content dungeon,” which rendered it unsearchable, a controversy arose that led to media coverage and, amazingly, Amazon’s changing their mind.

cover170x170But not everyone is so lucky. Amazon’s dungeon is still filled with several books that will never see the light of day.

Now, to my point: this practice of making books invisible is the topic of the next podcast. It amounts to modern-day censorship. Are you an author or publisher who is in the dungeon, or have been? If so, I want to hear your story. You can write me at skybluepress @ skybluepress . com. I plan on airing in mid-November.

Perhaps together we can make a difference.

To order Auletris: Erotica, click here.

Amazon Releases Anaïs Nin’s Auletris From Its “Dungeon”

auletriscoverIn 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.

How to purchase Anais Nin’s Auletris Erotica


NOTE: Amazon has since rescinded it censorship of Auletris. I am leaving this post up as a matter of history.

As you may know, Amazon.com has censored Anaïs Nin’s new collection of erotica, Auletris, having it flagged as “adult.” This flag, known as the “adult content dungeon,” renders the book unsearchable unless the seeker is adept at getting around the fact nothing shows up when the title is entered in the search bar under “all products,” which is how most people search for books. Most people would simply give up at this point, although some have dug and dug and finally find ways around the block. When all is said and done, my guess is that the vast majority of people seeking Auletris in their library will fail in their endeavors, which is not only a shame, but is utterly unfair in light of the fact that something like “dinosaur erotica” is easily found and purchased, whereas arguably the most important erotica writer of all, Anaïs Nin, is not.

auletriscoverI have argued with Amazon that if someone is actively seeking the book, they should at least be able to find it. It’s bad enough Auletris doesn’t appear automatically, and totally unthinkable that someone who wants it cannot find a way to purchase it. It’s also bad business for everyone involved.

So, I am offering you, the reader, easy ways to get around Amazon’s morality police. Below are links that will take you directly to Auletris without having to search for it. Simply find your country and click on either print book or ebook (assuming each is available).

Amazon (USA) print book
Amazon (USA) ebook

Amazon (UK) print book
Amazon (UK) ebook

Amazon (Australia) ebook

Amazon (France) print book
Amazon (France) ebook

Amazon (Canada) print book
Amazon (Canada) ebook

Amazon (Italy) print book
Amazon (Italy) ebook

Amazon (Spain) print book
Amazon (Spain) ebook

Amazon (Netherlands) ebook

Amazon (Japan) ebook

Amazon (Mexico) print book UNAVAILABLE
Amazon (Mexico) ebook UNAVAILABLE

Amazon.com (India) print book

Amazon.com (Brazil) print book
Amazon.com (Brazil) ebook

Amazon.com (Germany) print book
Amazon.com (Germany) ebook

Barnes & Noble print book

Please share this post with your friends and fellow readers.

To complain to Amazon about their censorship of Auletris, take a moment and call them at 866-216-1072 (USA only). Amazon should not treat their customers as if they are incapable of making their own decisions about what to read.

Anaïs Nin’s Auletris Erotica Censored by Amazon

NOTE: Amazon has since rescinded it censorship of Auletris. I am leaving this post up as a matter of history.

Anaïs Nin’s new erotica collection, Auletris, has achieved a status that no Nin book has had since The Winter of Artifice (1939) was banned in the USA: censored by the world’s largest bookseller, Amazon. If one does a search for “Auletris,” nothing shows up unless one does the search in “books” or “Kindle store.” So, to the casual observer, Auletris does not exist. There has been a concerted effort on the part of Amazon to block customers from this book.

auletriscensoredAmazon says that it has made the decision that Auletris shall not be searchable because of its “adult content.” Even the cover is obscene, they say. Delta of Venus? Searchable. Little Birds? Searchable. Auletris? In a class by itself. Why?

The contents of all three books are written by the same author, in the same fashion, touching upon many of the same taboos. Delta of Venus has incest, rape, necrophilia, among other topics, and yet anyone can find it easily on Amazon. What sets Auletris apart? What is it about the book that has Amazon skittish about its status? Has Nin gone too far? It is true that Auletris exceeds the taboo standards set by its predecessors, but is that the reason for the censorship?

Or is it a sign that the literary climate in America is returning to the days when censorship boards, whether governmental or private, decide for us what we can see or not see?

Sky Blue Press was told to make changes to Auletris if it is to be deemed searchable: to change the cover, which contains an image from an erotic card from Nin’s personal collection; to change the contents, which is tantamount to telling an artist to alter a masterpiece to make it more palatable to the masses. Sky Blue Press has refused this request. Auletris, it says, is pure Nin, and no changes will be made.

There is only one way to solve this problem—and to make a statement—buy the book from Amazon and prove that censorship will not deter sales.

To order a print copy of Auletris, click here.

To order a digital copy, click here.

How Anaïs Nin’s Auletris Erotica Got Published

When I first discovered a folder from Gunther Stuhlmann’s archive that read “Provincetown Erotica??” I had no idea what was about to happen. I hurried through the correspondence from late 1985 to early 1986, which discussed the fact that a copy of Auletris by “ANin” was up for auction—and that no one, not even Anaïs Nin’s executor, agent or editor, had ever heard of it—and got to the Xeroxed pages from the book itself. I read the following words which open “Life in Provincetown,” the collection’s first section:

aulterisfolderOne long main street running along the Bay outline, Portuguese fishermen sitting in circles like the Italians and chatting. Behind the houses on the main street are wharves which project out on the water at various lengths. On these wharves are the huts, shacks, which the fishermen once used to store their nets, tools, and the boats to be repaired. It is here that the artists live. The roofs are peaked and beamed. Everything is made of rough wood like the inside of some old ship. At high tide the water runs under the wharves, at low tide it exposes a long stretch of sand.

The walls are thin. One can hear everything. Often the shades are not down, and one can see everything.

There are no guardians, no one to say: stop the noise, or to see at what time one comes home. No superintendents, house owners. Just the lonely wharves, in darkness at night, the sound of the water, and little crooked shack-like studios occupied by a variety of people.

The town is full of soldiers, sailors, and beautiful Portuguese girls…and summer visitors in shorts.

There is one movie, one bar where women are not admitted and several night clubs.

In one studio there lived one of the artist’s models, whose mouth was so big, so full, so prominent, that one could see nothing else. When she looked at one, one could notice only the mouth, like the mouth of a negress. She rouged too heavily, and then powdered her face white, so that the mouth stood out even more and was able to eclipse the rest of the face and even the body.

As one knew she was a model, well known in the Village in New York, one assumed she had a beautiful body, but somehow one only looked at the mouth. Somehow or other one imagined the other mouth to be equally luxuriant, equally prominent. Just as one felt that the thin-lipped mouths of Puritan women must he the exact replicas of their thin-lipped sexuality.

Then it stopped. Just like that, I was at the end of the copy, and I could tell just by this short passage that Auletris contained classic Nin prose and heralded a very erotic story. It was this passage, stuck in the folder and hidden there for thirty years, that drove me to find the rest of the book. I had to know what came next! It was a supreme tease, you see.

Once I located a copy, I prayed that the rest of it would fulfill the promise that Nin seems to make in the opening pages. As they say, the rest is history. Not only does Auletris deliver on its promise, but it exceeds much of Delta of Venus or Little Birds in its boldness and variety.

I decided to publish it because, as far as I’m concerned, it deserved to be. The book came out yesterday. Now, at last, the world can discover this treasure for itself.

To order a print copy of Auletris, click here.

To order a digital copy, click here.

To listen to an expert panel discussion of Auletris, click here.

Podcast 21: Lost Anaïs Nin Erotica Part 2

We are celebrating the publication of the new collection of Anaïs Nin’s new book! Listen as The Anaïs Nin Podcast gathers some dynamic experts who discuss the long-lost collection of original Anaïs Nin erotica, Auletris, which is being published today.

My guests—erotica writer, reader and popular podcaster Rose Caraway; women’s sexuality expert Anaín Bjorkquist; erotic writer and publisher Lana Fox; and Nin scholar Jessica Gilbey—have all read Auletris and give their reactions. It is a lively, sometimes hilarious and yet serious discussion of Anaïs Nin’s demolishment of taboo, poetic descriptions of even the most forbidden topics, the effect her erotica has on the reader, and the standing it has in the world of literature. And featured in this podcast is Rose Caraway reading from Auletris.

This is a must-listen for any fan of Anaïs Nin, erotic fiction, or both.

Run time: 53 minutes

To listen with iTunes, click here.

To listen without iTunes, click here.

To order a print copy of Auletris, click here.

To order a digital copy of Auletris, click here.

For a brief history of the discovery of Auletris, click here.

auletriscover

The Cover of Anaïs Nin’s Auletris Revealed

As you may know, Auletris, the new collection of Nin erotica, is about to be released. But first, let’s take a look at the cover of this long lost and fabled book.

The inspiration for the artwork came from the discovery of an erotic card among Nin’s personal collection, one that is very old, somewhat faded, and with a thumbtack hole at the top. When I found this card, I remembered I had read that the young Anaïs, newly married and having recently moved to Paris (which she found revolting at the time for its sexual openness and debauched mores), had found erotic photographs tacked to the walls of an apartment they had rented from a friend. This is portrayed in the film Henry and June, where she finds the photos (and cards) in a drawer…and this symbolizes her sexual awakening.

In any event, at the time, several years ago, I felt the card would come in handy someday, so I made a high-res copy of it.

Earlier this year, when I found out about the existence of Nin erotica that had never been published before, I naturally jumped at the chance to share it with the world. Once the transcription was done, it was time to design a cover. Both Delta of Venus and Little Birds incorporated vintage photographs, but I wanted to set Auletris apart somehow. Then I remembered the card. Not only is it perfect visually, it actually belonged to Anaïs Nin.

While we’ll never know if it came from the wall of her friend’s apartment, I like to think it did.

This post is sponsored by The Quotable Anaïs Nin: 365 Quotations with Citations.

To read more about Auletris, click here.

auletriscover

 

 

 

Henry and June, the Movie

On this day in 1990, Henry and June, the first NC-17 movie, premiered. The only reason I wanted to see it was because of the rating—I had to know what it meant. I knew it was the new X, so there had to be sex, and lots of it. I could tell from the trailer that it wasn’t the American formula of sex and violence, which I abhor (think Basic Instinct), and that it was set in Paris in the 1930s, which intrigued me, so off we went.

hjmovieWhen the film began, I must have missed the part that said it was based on the diary of Anaïs Nin, so I thought that Nin and Henry Miller were fictional characters. The theatre was mostly empty—I was later to find out that the NC-17 rating killed any chance for a wide audience. I feel that the rating was uncalled for, that there was nothing in the film that didn’t cry out “R”—but I suppose it was because of the so-called “lesbian scene,” during which Nin asks two female prostitutes to make love while she watched (and most of that scene was left to the imagination). Henry and June would never be rated NC-17 today, and I imagine the rating still keeps many from seeing it, which is a shame, in my opinion.

The film, I thought, was a bit over-acted, and it was not, by any stretch of the imagination, the sexiest of films—and yet it “got” me. I felt the same way I did when I saw the first Star Wars film—like a kid on an adventure. Only this adventure was of the mind, of sensuality, of freedom, of daring, risk-taking, creativity, and joy. It was a rebellion against the status quo.

And then, when the final credits rolled, I discovered that not only were Nin and Miller real people, they wrote about everything I’d just seen. On the way home, we stopped at the used book store and I bought Diary 1 and Tropic of Cancer.

Little did I know that my curiosity about a sexy movie would shape the rest of my life and career.

To order Henry and June, the movie, click here.

To see the full trailer of the movie, click here.

This blog post is sponsored by The Quotable Anaïs Nin: 365 Quotations with Citations and The Portable Anaïs Nin.

Podcast 20: Lost Anaïs Nin Erotica Part 1

Listen to how Anaïs Nin’s erotica collection was lost during the 1940s and has only resurfaced today under the title Auletris.

Auletris is virtually unknown to Nin scholars and readers alike. Originally written for Barnett Ruder in the early 1940s, it was sold to a California collector in the 1940s, and five copies were typed up and sold under the table in 1950. Amazingly, its existence became known in 1985 when a copy was being auctioned—but it was never published, and the public never knew about it.

Unknown to all, a copy of this mysterious book was housed at a major university library, and after much detective work, it was located, transcribed, and will be published in October by Sky Blue Press.

This is nothing short of a major literary event. Be among the first to learn about the details of this find.

Run time: 11 minutes

To listen with iTunes, click here.

To listen without iTunes, click here.

This podcast is sponsored by The Quotable Anaïs Nin: 365 Quotations with Citations

Detail of cover, from a card in Nin's collection

Detail of erotic postcard from the private collection of Anais Nin.

Auletris: Long Lost Anaïs Nin Erotica

This is the story of how I discovered that not all of Anaïs Nin’s erotica has been published, despite Delta of Venus and Little Birds editor John Ferrone’s insistence to the contrary.

When Ferrone approached Nin in the 1970s about publishing the erotica she had written in the 1940s for a collector at a dollar a page, she initially bristled at the idea, fearing it may taint her reputation as a serious writer. However, Ferrone made a convincing argument after reassuring Nin that not only would it not harm her reputation, but it would bolster it since the writing was, as we now know, brilliant and ground-breaking. The rest is history—Delta of Venus and Little Birds became New York Times bestsellers shortly after Nin’s death in 1977 and have been translated into dozens of languages across the world.

Ferrone said that of the 850 pages of raw material he was given, only scraps remained, nothing worth publishing. But I, by a minor miracle, was to find out that this is not so.

Gunther Stuhlmann was Nin’s longtime literary agent and, I’m proud to say, a friend of mine. After he passed, his wife Barbara gave me much of his archive because she felt I might be able to do something with it. One day, not long ago, I was going through a folder that held a collection of correspondence from the 1980s, and among it was a letter from Ferrone to Stuhlmann saying that an auction house was selling a copy of a book illicitly printed in 1950 called Auletris, which supposedly contained original Nin erotica. The book was one of five copies in existence and contained two stories—“Marcel,” which is about 50 pages long, and “Life in Provincetown,” which is a similar length. A severely edited version of the former story appears in Delta (17 pages long), while the latter is nowhere to be found in any Nin book or archive.

What intrigued me were the half dozen opening pages of “Life in Provincetown” (page 1 is below) that the auctioneer had Xeroxed for Stuhlmann—they most definitely contained Nin’s writing, and they seemed to indicate she was at the top of her game when they were written. I had to find the rest of this book!

After a lot of research, I found out that a copy was hiding in plain sight in the special collections of a university library, and I was able to obtain a copy of the text. When I read the entire manuscript, I knew it had to be published, because it is valuable for three reasons—first, not a word of the Provincetown story has ever seen the light of day; second, “Marcel” appears in its original form, unedited, with several lengthy passages that landed on the cutting room floor, never to be seen again; and third, because the quality of the writing is superb and not tinkered with for commercial reasons.

Auletris breaks many taboos—there are tales of incest, sex with children, rape, voyeurism, cutting, sadomasochism, homoeroticism (both male and female), autoerotic asphyxiation, to name a few, all set in old Provincetown, Paris, and other exotic locales; the characters are deliciously decadent, and the themes are largely based on Nin’s own experiences recorded in her unexpurgated diaries. This book comes along just as interest in both Nin and the genre of erotica is booming.

Auletris will be published by Sky Blue Press this autumn.

facsimileLIP

Page 1 of “Life in Provincetown” (click to enlarge)

Another book inspired by the Stuhlmann archive: The Portable Anais Nin.

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