Yesterday, ANN revealed that Amazon pulled a number of yaoi and boys’ love manga titles from their Kindle store. Manga and written titles from Digita Manga and Yaoi Press were both yanked from the service. Named titles include The Color of Love, Weekend Lovers, and The Selfish Demon King. Yaoi Press’s Yamila Abraham mentioned that the company will edit its works for the Kindle store, though Digital Manga’s representatives expressed the opposite intention.

This is a decision that has me conflicted. On one hand, Amazon’s posted guidelines prohibit the sale of pornography, or the ever-vague “Offensive Material.” Pornography seems like no-brainer, but the “offensive material” restriction strikes me as particularly troubling. The description leaves no clear explanation of what is or isn’t offensive. Instead, Amazon refers to offensive material as “…probably about what you would expect.”

I can’t help but find this just a tad unusual. On one hand, Amazon does have a clear “no porn” policy. This is something they are free to enforce, as it’s their own store, and their regulation to enforce. However, it’s the fact that they selectively call for edits on homoerotic material that really disturbs me. At the moment, there are at least a few dozen titles that are far more explicit, far more potentially offensive titles on the Kindle store that aren’t being actively blocked or removed. Titles like the Kama Sutra or “Lust in Japan”, which is actively being advertised as pornography, are available definitely raises questions to the motives for the title removals.

What were the circumstances for the removal? Were the characters underage? Was there something that could be construed as potentially illegal?

Frankly, unless we know this much, all we’re doing is jabbing in the dark. I’ve already seen many jump to conclusions, and decry Amazon as the antichrist. And, frankly, people have the right to be a bit worried. The removal does stand out as a bit “Big Brother”-ish in a lot of senses. The fact that the removed titles were all boys-love, all homoerotic raises a large number of red flags. I personally won’t pass judgment on this just yet, but I will be sure to keep an eye on things as they develop. The pattern for removals will be a telling factor in Amazon’s real policies, and their true intentions. The removals so far have created a number of concerns that need to be addressed before the dust can begin to settle across the market.