Erotica and Porn: A polite request for clearer distinctions to be made — and how you can help :)
* * *
I. EROTICA = PORN…NOT!
I recently came across a blog post titled Survival Tips for the Pornocalypse.
The latest news is that books by (some) erotica and erotic romance writers are being filtered and excluded from Amazon’s “All Department” search feature.
The post also mentions that porn is what sold Kindles. Direct quote from the post:
“Porn. Face it, Jeff Bezos [founder of Amazon]. You owe the success of Kindle to me, and to every erotica writer out there making a living writing ‘porn’.”
But…what about the readers and writers who like erotica that’s more artistic and/or personal than pornographic?
“Erotic” Photography by Phillip Ritchie
I host a (sporadic, but in-depth) series of erotic interviews on my 4:Play blog. Those writers write erotica but have their works categorized together with pornographers because there’s little differentiation in the marketplace.
I would really like to see the mainstream retailers come up with an elegant solution to make a clear genre separation between “erotica” and “porn”, when it comes to reading material. Especially in the era of digital publishing, where anyone can write and publish whatever they desire.
I’ll rely on a couple of images in the next section. Time needn’t be wasted showing the clear distinction between porn and erotica.
II. WHY PORN ISN’T THE SAME AS EROTICA
The above picture is a “pornographic” picture. Here is a link to the uncensored version of the image.
In the above image, I blanked out the explicit parts in order to showcase the point that commercial pornography is about explicitness (and making money via the customer’s arousal at the graphic content). This applies to pornographic literature/books as well.
This is a lovely painting by Malcolm T. Liepk.
Doesn’t it make you want to slow down and let your senses take in the scene?
While there’s nudity, this image is more sensuous/erotic than pornographic.
Let’s go through a few word definitions.
(1) Sensuous: Relating to or affecting the senses rather than the intellect.
(2) Pornographic: Sexually explicit pictures, writing, or other material whose primary purpose is to cause sexual arousal.
(3) Erotica: Erotica has high-art aspirations, differentiating it from commercial pornography. The value is in the story and how it’s told, not the number of explicit sex scenes.
There is a powerful difference between each of these terms. Society is not going to progress much in terms of intellect or sexuality if people are not educated or motivated enough to separate erotica from porn.
Quality erotica is a genre I’ll always be passionate about because I believe in the following quote:
“. . .it is vital for good erotica to be published, so that we can see for ourselves the difference between the life-enhancing, and the sordid and destructive.”
~ From Erotica: An Illustrated Anthology of Sexual Art and Literature, by Charlotte Hill and William Wallace
III. SO, WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?
I sent the following email to BISG’s customer service. It is a polite request for clearer distinctions to be made with regards to erotica and porn.
BISG is the organization that compiles the BISAC Subject Codes List — the official genre categorization used by major companies and retailers. I have listed contact pages of various retailers at the end of this post.
Feel free to copy and paste so that you can be heard too :) It is the total sum of everyone’s efforts that really matters in the end.
Request for Division between Erotica and Pornography
I would like to request for a separate genre category for “erotica” and “pornographic” books.
I am making this suggestion as the two genres are distinct from each other. Pornography focuses on explicitness and commercial value, while erotica focuses on artistic merit that isn’t defined solely by explicit content.
It is confusing and distressing for both readers and writers when genre categorization is unclear.
Separating “erotica” from “porn” would have a threefold effect:
(1) Readers of both genres get to FIND and BUY what they WANT,
(2) Retailers retain the customers of both genres, and
(3) Authors of both genres can continue to do what they do without having their books banned, missing from search results, or lumped with works that don’t serve the same readers.
Please refer to this blog post on Erotica Vs. Pornography:
Thank you for your time and consideration.
* * *
 CONTACT: BISG (Book Industry Study Group)
BISG (compiles the official BISAC Codes List — the genre classification standard used by major companies and retailers):
 CONTACT: RETAILERS
Amazon USA: www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/contact-us
Amazon UK: www.amazon.co.uk/gp/help/customer/contact-us
Amazon KDP (authors): www.kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/contact-us
Amazon (authors): www.authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/help/contact-us
Amazon CS (authors): www.createspace.com/Member/Support.do
Barnes and Noble: www.barnesandnoble.com/customerservice/contactus
Smashwords (click the customer support link at top of page): www.smashwords.com
* * *
 FURTHER READING (brought to you by JCS / jessINK)
Art of Erotic Writing (promo eBook by Jess C Scott on erotic fiction — literature which deals openly and excitingly with sexuality as a part of human experience)
“Quality Erotica” Series (recommended books — fiction, non-fiction, poetry, erotic art)
Interviews with Erotica Writers (blog series)
Pornography Vs. Erotica (jessINK)
Media Mentions re: Erotic Writing (jessINK)