Forbes Suggests Solutions to Porn E-book Problems

Oct 18, 2013 8:00 AM PST

NEW YORK — Reacting to recent controversy over the distribution of objectionable e-book porn, and how online retail giants like Amazon can stay in the game and sidestep censorship, Forbes has suggested some solutions.

Just last week, news broke about Amazon, WH Smith, Barnes & Noble and other retailers selling "porn e-books" featuring incest, rape and bestiality on their sites, igniting an e-book backlash that caused WH Smith to take down its entire site to clear its "unacceptable" titles.

Pointing out that completely clamping down on e-book erotica could “throw out the baby with the bath water,” and virtually stop the sale of erotic e-books like publishing phenomena “Fifty Shades of Grey,” Forbes advises online retailers to create sections on their sites similar to the “adult” sections that were common in movie rental stores and some bookstores back in the day.

“Amazon and others should remove all potentially objectionable content from the main sections of their e-book stores and relegate them to special sections given suggestive names like “Naughty Kindle” or “Kobo After Dark.” Cheesy, I know, but you get the idea," Forbes said.

The article argues that this method could protect children from accessing objectionable content and allow retailers to continue giving readers the erotic content they want.

Forbes however raised two major questions: how will Amazon and others determine just what is porn, and how to block seriously objectionable material like rape and incest content?

Addressing the first concern, Forbes suggests that retailers use software like BookLamp that determines what’s actually inside a book without having to spend the time reading it. BookLamp analyzes erotic fiction to show just how erotic it is, and uses technology based on its BookLamp Book Genome Project that acts like Pandora’s Music Genome Project but for books, Forbes explained.

The other method is to have humans read the material and sort it out.

“Censorship is a dirty word in the U.S. and abroad but if Amazon and others want to run family-friendly businesses, they might have to embrace and enforce stricter and smarter content policies,” Forbes said.

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