Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Playster Shenanigans

Authors recently began noticing their books with any sexual content were being blocked, without explanation, by the subscription-based e-tailer Playster.

An apparently official response from Playster gave a belated explanation: "We can assure you that Playster is in absolutely no way discriminating against LGBTQ+ content.  We've been receiving books with underage characters, and therefore put a temporary ban on all books labelled 'erotica' that are delivered from self-publishing platforms.  We acknowledge that this is a cautious approach, but we're working diligently towards a long-term resolution.  We're committed to providing authors with an alternative revenue stream but, as a small company, we don't yet have a QA team large enough to go through books at the rate we receive them. We're taking all of your comments into consideration, and we're investigating the possibility that some books have been mislabeled. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through this."

Here's a wacky suggestion, Playster.  Howabouts actually keeping both authors and readers informed about what you are doing and (ostensibly) why. That would really cut down on the alarm and speculation.

It would also help if your explanation covered why authors publishing both gay and straight material are having only the gay material blocked, and the blocking of books not even in the erotica genre.  Playster's approach to the problem of non-compliant underage material seems, in effect, to discriminate against gay material--whether that was their intent or not.

Edited to Add: One plausible explanation for this is that the category GLBT was included as meaning "erotica". This matches authors saying their GLBT romance was blocked but not their straight romance, and that books with GLBT material but that were not placed in that category were not blocked.

Edited to Add #2: It turns out this explanation was correct, update from Playster below

"After careful investigation of each step of our content ingestion process for self-publishing platforms, we discovered that our restriction on the 'erotica' category had unintentionally affected other tags and genres, including LGBTQ+ fiction.  We are extremely sorry for our mistake and any hurt it may have caused - it was never our intention to block these titles.

What happens now?  The books that were wrongfully declined are currently being added to the Playster catalog where they will join our existing collection of LGBTQ+ titles previously delivered by our other major publishing partners.

Playster takes an extra cautious approach when it comes to self-published fiction because we do not have a large in-house team that is able to thoroughly read and review all titles that are submitted.  However, we accept that, in this case, our efforts to solve one problem inadvertently caused another.

We strongly encourage authors to contact us if they have any further problems submitting books to Playster or notice that any titles that should be present are missing.  They can do so by emailing us directly at support@playster.com."

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