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Amazon Pulls, Then Returns, Yaoi Manga Publisher To Kindle For Mysterious Reasons

All manga is not pornography. When put like that, it just sounds like common sense, doesn’t it? Sadly, it’s an argument that one manga publisher had to make when Amazon suspended the entire Kindle output from Digital Manga Publishing, Inc. due to an undefined “content violation” that even the publisher didn’t understand. DMP, which describes itself as “specializing in building corporate and cultural bridges from Japan to the Western Hemisphere,” digitally distributes a large number of yaoi titles that focus on male/male romances aimed at female readers.The publisher announced the news in a blog post that described the suspension as occurring “under troubling circumstances.” Particularly troubling was the fact that there wasn’t a clear reason given for the decision, leading to suspicions that the publisher was targeted for its yaoi content, although suspending its account meant that all of its books became inaccessible, including non-yaoi books like Hideyuki Kikuchi’s Vampire Hunter D.

“[W]ith such vague guidelines [from Amazon] and a veritable library of erotica in written and drawn form already available on the Kindle, it is difficult to discern exactly what rules Amazon wanted us to comply with,” the blog post explained, adding “We also find it disheartening that our titles depicting male homosexual romance have been banned while erotica depicting other forms of intercourse flourishes. What makes relationships between men more objectionable than erotic tristes between men and women? This is a question we imagine you’re all asking yourselves right now, and a question that we need Amazon to answer for us.”

Nor is this the first time that DMP has had its content removal from the Kindle store without concrete explanation from Amazon, an issue that Brigid Alversion of Robot 6 has covered several times before. Ken Lui, the vice president of production at DMP, told Publishers Weekly at the time that he had recently submitted a book that Amazon rejected, despite carrying the print version:

“I did try to publish a couple of new books and one didn’t pass,” Lui said. “I was quite surprised, and I told them, ‘You are selling the print edition of the book. How is this any different?’ and they just took a stubborn stand to it and said they are going to hold on their decision, and they didn’t give any real solid reasoning for it.”

A day after this most recent incident, however, Amazon reversed its suspension, writing in an email that the account was reinstated “after reviewing [DMP]‘s response,” but adding that “if any future submissions fail to comply with our Content Guidelines, your account may be terminated.” DMP thanked fans who helped raise awareness of the issue by contacting Amazon.

While this is clearly a happy ending, it doesn’t necessarily seem to be a satisfying one; Amazon’s reinstatement comes with a clear “we reserve the right to do it again whenever we want,” and just as worryingly, no further explanation of what was so offensive to cause the suspension in the first place. Yes, sure, it’s good news for Digital Manga that its suspension was reversed, but this ultimately feels more like Amazon reacting to bad publicity than any shift in how it makes decisions based on content. How long will we have to wait before the same thing happens again?

(Via The Mary Sue)

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