Erotica and Pornography


Erotica and Porn: A polite request for clearer distinctions to be made — and how you can help :)

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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.



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.

erotic art

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


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

Dear Sir/Madam:

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.

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[1] CONTACT: BISG (Book Industry Study Group)

BISG (compiles the official BISAC Codes List — the genre classification standard used by major companies and retailers):

Website | Twitter


Amazon USA:

Amazon UK:

Amazon KDP (authors):

Amazon (authors):

Amazon CS (authors):

Barnes and Noble:

Smashwords (click the customer support link at top of page):



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[3] 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)


21 thoughts on “Erotica and Pornography

    • Most welcome — I enjoyed your Fifty Shades post very much too. I love Anais Nin. I will be back to your blog later :)!

      Now I have to (politely) email the other retailers before I forget…


    • Thanks! I personally would like to be able to find the “type” of erotica I enjoy reading. Right now there’s a lot of porn-type erotica mixed together with the less explicit but still sexually-themed material.

      I wrote to BISG (Book industry Study Group) as they compile the BISAC Subject Codes List — it is the official genre classification standard used by many companies and retailers.

      I hope for a change some day :)


  1. Matthew Chiglinsky

    Why is it that “nonconformists” and “liberals” are always sociopaths and sexual perverts? It’s like you people just want to rebel for no reason.

    If you think sex outside the context of marriage is healthy, then you’re riding a drug high, and you simply haven’t crashed yet. Wait.

    All sex on public display is porn.

    Respect and decency is the new rebellion. Your castles built in the sand will one day crumble.


    • Hi Matthew,

      Thanks for your comments — I enjoyed your recent blog post about how sexiness isn’t the same thing as femininity (I saw it in my WP dashboard). I’ve enjoyed reading some of your older posts as well.

      I have an interest in sociopathic behavior(s) because I am intrigued by both the higher and baser aspects of human nature. I’m not sure about other nonconformists/liberals, though many artistic types throughout history have had an extremely high level of interest in sex and sexuality.

      I do not think I wrote in my blog post above that sex outside the context of a marriage was healthy. Marriage does not automatically make a relationship or sexual interaction “right.” It can be very unhealthy if people get married or stay in it for misguided reasons.

      Of course there are happy, successful marriages, which is what a marriage should ideally be. But not everyone wants that kind of arrangement. People can be monogamous without having a piece of paper tell them they “should” be.

      “All sex on public display is porn.”

      If ALL sex on public display is porn, how is a person ever going to be exposed to depictions of healthy sexual interactions and behaviors?

      When a person represses their own sexual desires and impulses, they are not respecting their own sexual natures. Some people have more unconventional or “twisted” impulses than others. To bury or pretend these impulses don’t exist doesn’t mean the impulses evaporate.

      Personally, I am interested in the person’s ability and capacity to consent to having sex. That is why there is a difference between incest, abuse, rape, and pedophilia (as an example; I have heard from some people who think that all these terms are interchangeable).

      Perhaps you might like to ponder over the following two quotes I included in my eBook on erotic writing:

      * * *

      (1) “. . .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

      (2) “Real sex is the sort our culture and most mass media propaganda don’t recognize: not that intercourse, or masturbation, or genital kisses aren’t real sex, but some other things are real sex too, which people need, but which don’t excite our time and age.”

      ~ From The Joy of Sex, by Dr. Alex Comfort

      * * *


  2. Matthew Chiglinsky

    I have a question about the enticing woman in the Phillip Ritchie photograph. Who is her present or future husband, and why am I seeing another man’s wife half-naked? That picture would offend any man who respects his wife and his marriage.


    • What makes you think she is going to, or even wants to, get married in the first place?

      And if you find “enticing” women or photos of such women offensive, why are you viewing it in the first place?

      The title of this post is “Erotica and Pornography.” If either is offensive to you, there’s no need to read or view anything to do with the subject matter — textual, visual or otherwise.


  3. Matthew Chiglinsky

    I think you have the word “pornography” confused with the word “obscenity”.

    The word “pornography” really is just a synonym for “erotica” (in the dictionary anyway). It’s the concept of “obscenity” that people disagree about. To some (like me), women in magazines wearing lingerie and bikinis are obscene.

    According to

    pornography: the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement

    erotica: literary or artistic works having a theme or quality of, devoted to, or tending to arouse sexual love or desire

    obscenity: the quality or state of being repulsive by reason of crass disregard of moral or ethical principles


    • It’s the concept of “obscenity” that people disagree about. — very true!

      There are a few keywords in those Merriam Webster definitions which point at a differentiation between “pornography” and “erotica.”

      The latter term refers to “literary or artistic works” tending to “arouse sexual love or desire.” Whereas the former makes no mention about the material containing a drop of “literary or artistic” merit.

      Exploring the varied, complex themes of sexual “love or desire” between human beings also differs from base sexual “excitement” (i.e. “erotic” vs. “pornographic”).


  4. Matthew Chiglinsky

    The distinction you were looking for between the two images above is “softcore” and “hardcore”. Traditionally, “softcore porn” refers to nudity and simulated sex (like on late-night cable), while “hardcore porn” refers to explicit close-ups of genitals and real sex.

    They’re both disrespectful, one just slightly more than the other (and also slightly more physically dangerous because of the risk of contracting sexually-transmitted diseases).

    When you subscribed to my blog, did you happen to notice the numerous posts I have condemning the downward spiral of unhealthy sexual activity that is destroying our society?


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