selling indie books that contain explicit and unpleasant topics. I won't debate whether it's right or wrong to publish these kinds of stories, but I think we can all agree the approach Kobo took is out of line. While Amazon went in and swept a whole bunch of books offline, some adult and some not, Kobo shut down its entire self-publishing line. In other words, Kobo pulled all indie books off of its store.
Kobo says they'll be restoring the books after a "careful review," but the damage has already been done. "Kobogeddon" is the term started by indie author Rayne Hall to describe the shutdown, and she and other authors have set up protests and are promoting other services. But to me, their response shows a major problem with the fledgling indie book industry.
Notice in my title, I didn't say the crackdown is the end of selfpublishing. I said it could be. Why is that? Because it shows how incredibly vulnerable we as indie authors are. Before Kobo pulled this, if someone had asked me if I thought all self-published books would or could be pulled from the service, I would have said no. I mean, why would they? They have as much to gain from indie authors as we do: we're another source of revenue. Besides, it would be so unfair to just pull indie books and not trad books. They wouldn't do that to us. Well, they did. And we have nothing we can do about it.
The lesson learned is that indie publishing is entirely at the mercy of the ebookstores. At any time, Amazon or Kobo or Smashwords or all of the above could say, "You know what? We're done with self-publishing," and the entire industry could be shut down. It's not even a hypothetical situation any more. It's happened. It could happen again. And there's nothing we could do about it.
So what should indie authors do? Protest the ebookstores? Start their own ebookstores? Sell their books directly on their websites? I don't know the answer, but I know that whatever indie authors do, it has to start now. The damage has already been done.
Oh, and in case you're wondering, I don't have any books on Kobo. After this fiasco, I never will.
What do you think is the answer?
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