Wednesday, October 07, 2015

The Meaning of "Erotica"

Within specific communities it is often assumed that words like pornography, erotica, romance, and erotic romance all have fixed and universal definitions.  When in fact these defintions are varied, changeable, disputed, and any shared meaning the do have is highly specific to particular communities and subcultures.

Consider for example this article about the use of sexual materials by sex offenders.  Here erotica rather than being a more refined and 'worthy' subset of pornography distinguished by artistic merit, is in fact a much more broader category including things not deliberately created to be erotic at all. Specifically "Erotica can include almost any object that has become sexually meaningful to a person, including but not limited to vibrators, dolls, specific clothing (e.g., undergarments), naked orclothed pictures of a child or adult, whips, magazines..."

My point here is not to start an argument about which definitions are correct, but rather to draw attention to the fact that definitions do not generally express a pure truth about our shared reality--more often they are created  by a person or group of people with a specific goal in mind.  Erotica and erotic romance is often defined by authors who create or consume this work so as to distinguish it from other sexually explicit work.  An approach that simultaneously elevates and demeans sexually explicit work in general by suggesting only certain 'special' forms are artistic, moral or otherwise acceptable, while others (and perhaps sex itself) remains generally shameful.

Of course when you look at the full range of sexualized material out there it is hard not to feel that some of it is in fact shameful.  But I would strongly suggest that the shameful quality is not sex itself.  Even the US supreme court recognizes that an interest in sex per se is healthy and not obscene.  So any material we wish to argue is objectionable it must be on some other basis (the possibilities being too complex and fraught to get into here). 

In other circles the goal of the definition of 'erotica' is quite different such as in the paper cited above which looks at any materials that may influence a person with a predisposition to sexual violence to develop and perhaps act on those fantasies.  A categorization that explicitly does not depend on the intent of the creator of the material or its effects on a psychologically normal person.  And as such leads to a very broad definition indeed.

Both of these definitions of erotica serve the purposes for which they are created.  One to help people identify when sex offenders are in possession of material that may feed into dangerous fantasies, and the other to help writers described a "good" type of sexually explicit prose.  But both of these definitions are built on complex assumptions about how these materials interact with the psyche of the people consuming them--assumptions that should not go unexamined.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Copyright

Leaks surround this new trade deal have shown that there will be some significant effects on copyright with impacts on creative professionals and consumers.  Effectively this deal with make the eleven other nations* in the new zone align with US copyright laws. 

Previously these nations differed in some significant ways. For example in New Zealand and India copyright extended 50 years past the life the artist rather than the US/DMCA's 70 years. (Japan did not pass this aspect of the agreement.)

Some countries held out on other points, for example to get a webhost must take down potentially copyright-infringing material upon receipt of a simple notice from the rights holder in the US, but this will still require a judicial order in Chile.

Other nations already well-aligned with the United States, such as Australia, will not experience any changes in the handling of copyright.

Overall synchronizing approaches to copyright and data handing should add the free trade of works including e-books, to the overall benefit of the industry.  However authors and publishers affected will need to brush up on the new rules when they come into force in their jurisdiction.

* Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore & Vietnam

Sunday, October 04, 2015

MARKET Luminosity Publishing

Luminosity Publishing is an erotic romance publisher looking for fast-paced romance at 10,000 -- 100,000 words.  

Thursday, October 01, 2015

MARKET: Fireborn Publishing

Fireborn Publishing is seeking "everything from romantic, through all heat levels of romance, and erotica."  The take lengths from 5000 words and up. Currently short on M/M ad ménage, The current site seems to be a bit of a placeholder, hence the Web 1.0 coding.

MARKET Adore Publishing

Adore Publishing is seeking "urban fiction, African American romance, street lit, woman's fiction, and interracial romance". Their website does not exactly fill me with confidence. I am going to guess the two owners of this startup are also the two authors they currently list.

Spero Publishing acquired Eternal Press and Damnation Books

In a move that came to a surprise to many of their authors, Eternal Press/Damnation Books and all titles under contract have reported been acquired by Alan Leddon of Spero Publishing.  At least some of the related announcements for and communications with authors are occurring on their Facebook page.

Spero Publishing seems to be a small publisher of children's and role-playing game books.  There is not much to suggest an ability to easily onboard and skillfully market a large catalog of genre fiction.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Do Third Party Sellers Deliberately Create Duplicate Listings on Amazon?

I keep noticing duplicate listings for my books on Amazon.  Only the paperback format, and marked "This item is only available from third-party sellers."  And listed by a single third party seller at an inflated price.

It is no mystery how the duplicate listing is created.  Even a small difference in just the title of the data entered will create a separate listing, not connected to the real listing where customers can by the book new and at list price. In these cases the new listing is generally created by putting brackets around the title. 

This as now happened often enough that I think it is a deliberate tactic by these sellers to avoid having to compete directly with the properly priced books.  Even if their listing gets much less traffic it has some chance of winning them the sale.

I keep reporting these listings, some of which now incorrectly say my titles are out of print.  But it seems to take careful explanations to several tiers of customer service every single time.  Amazon is quick to crack down on a lot of things, currently deleting reviews on the east suspicion of impropriety, but how long will it take them to catch on to this little scheme?