Amazon Canceling More Manga and Light Novels

Amazon Canceling More Manga and Light Novels

Last summer, Amazon decided to cancel a number of light novels and manga titles from their store, both physical copies and digital copies. Some of the titles were ecchi in nature, to varying degrees. On a personal level, I was never going to read Oreimo or Eromanga Sensei, two of the banned works. I was reading the No Game, No Life manga, and thankfully I scored volume 2 before it was canceled.

Most shockingly, and displaying how arbitrary the cancel policy at Amazon is, Amazon purged all of the digital versions of My Monster Secret from the site. The only volume you can get a digital copy of My Monster Secret is volume 22.

Sadly, it appears that in the wake of other figurative book burnings, Amazon has decided to cull more light novels and manga from its site.

More Banned Titles

Late last night after I finished working, I had decided to update my manga and light novel purchase checklist. I apparently failed to remove titles from my last purchase, but I needed to check them to see if I had previously purchased. When I came to Haganai Volume 18, I was surprised that it wasn’t showing up. Amazon went from volume 17 to the forthcoming volume 19.

I went to my purchase history and did a manual search. I discovered I had previously purchased volume 18 (still haven’t read it though). However, the link to the book’s page revealed Amazon had canceled the book by removing it. I actually went and dug the volume out from the piles of unread manga that I have. At least imagery-wise, the only thing mildly objectionable is a flashback of a female character, who’s asleep naked on a bed. But the nudity is rough and Barbie Doll in nature.

Today, I was notified of this.

And so it continues…

Free Market and Private Business

Before I go off ranting, let me say that I do believe in the rights of a private business to sell or not sell whatever they want. And thankfully in the case of manga and light novels, there isn’t a coordinated effort to remove titles from other places, like RightStuf…at least, not yet. (There is an effort being made to try to force anime, manga, and light novel publishers in Japan to change their content to meet ever shifting “Western” standards, as declared by folks who’ve turn political notions into a religion, but that’s a tale for another time.)

My gripe with Amazon is two-fold. First, Amazon got its start by being a place that sold pretty much any kind of published work you can imagine. But that was what made them great–one could buy any kind of book from a single store rather than having to hit multiple stores. After than, Amazon branched out into selling DVDs. Finally, Amazon set themselves up as a one-stop shop for almost all of your needs.

Once having dominated the landscape, both on the web and crushing physical book stores, only then does Amazon suddenly find its brand of morality. And with that sense of righteousness, Amazon can rid the world “filth”, as it  inconsistently defines it.

Haiyore! Nyaruko-san Episode 04

Inconsistent Morality

This brings me to the second gripe I have with Amazon. They have no consistency on what fails to meet their ever shifting moral ceiling (or floor, as the case may be). Look hard enough on Amazon, you can find all kinds of stuff that would offend anyone, not just the woke zealots.

However, Amazon’s manga and light novel bannings make little sense. Initially, folks speculated that it was lolicon content or incestuous content. Maybe that’s a factor. However, if that kind of content is objectionable, why not remove whole series rather than specific volumes?

Further, some titles, like My Monster Secret, got bans for one kind of media but not another. That series doesn’t have an incest theme nor a lolicon theme. There is male pervert and female pervert. So why ban MOST of the digital copies of the manga, but not the physical copies? It makes no sense! And naturally, Amazon isn’t stating why, beyond pointing to their arbitrary rules.

Alternate Sources

For physical copies of the banned manga and light novels on Amazon, there are alternatives, at least for the present. There hasn’t been a concerted effort to get said titles banned from other sellers, nor has their been pressure to force publishers to stop producing said works. But who knows what could happen in the future, based on the stupidity of today.

For digital copies, that’s a trickier situation. For a start, if you bought a digital copy of a book from Bookseller X, and then Bookseller X cancels said book, they might well remove your access to said book, even though you paid for it. And then there’s the annoyance of possibly having to have multiple digital reader apps because a title disappears from one digital store.

That said, there are alternatives to Amazon for the time being. And maybe it is time for all of us to shift to those sources.

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20 Responses to “Amazon Canceling More Manga and Light Novels”

  1. arimareiji says:

    I present to you, a rare jewel: A Wikipedia article that’s very relevant and hasn’t been too screwed-up by POV pushing and edit warring. (^_~)

    Fortunately, Catch-22 still works both ways in some areas: We can also do anything (refuse to purchase) they can’t stop us from doing. But generally, these windows are closing.

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      I really wish the world wasn’t becoming as insane as it is. But I guess it has been insane in the past and will be again in the future.

  2. shadowofthevoid says:

    The real problems are monopolies/oligopolies and modern copyright law. No business should be able to attain so much market share, and therefore power over the market, that they exert undue influence on the free trade of goods and services. Amazon makes up the majority of book sales in the U.S., and I imagine most of the rest is Barnes & Noble, Walmart, and Target. If there were more retailers, both general and specialty, with each of them holding more equitable market shares, it wouldn’t be such a big deal of one of them decided to stop carrying a particular book, movie, video game, etc.

    Now for copyright, First off, I know we’re going to disagree a fair amount on this point, but I think the conservative outrage over the past week or so over Dr. Seuss, The Muppets, and Mr. Potato Head has been embarrassing and ridiculous (you’d think it was the most pressing issue facing America at the moment). While I do think liberals do their fair share of embarrassing things by taking things too far themselves. For example, racism is real and a problem, but a white guy making ethnic cuisine from non-white cultures isn’t racist or otherwise “problematic,” and sexism is real and a problem, but somebody enjoying smutty works of fiction isn’t necessarily sexist. But liberal stupidity doesn’t justify conservative stupidity. I can’t take anyone seriously if they’re flying off the handle over the legitimate rights holder of a series of children’s books ceasing publication of some of them over perceived racial caricatures as if it were part of a plot to destroy America. Doesn’t anybody in this country know how to act like an adult anymore?

    But with that being said, none of this recent fiasco would have been an issue in the first place if copyright terms weren’t so ridiculously long. Under current law, Dr. Seuss’ bibliography won’t be public domain until 2061, The Muppet Show not until 2071, and Mr. Potato Head not until 2047. That’s absurd given how old those things already are. While the Constitution does dictate that copyrights shall be granted “for limited times,” and the Supreme Court has signed off on the current length of copyrights, I don’t think 95+ years was what the Founders had in mind. Copyright wasn’t intended to be a perpetual money-making scheme. It was intended to “promote the progressive of the useful arts and sciences.” The very first Copyright Act provided for a 14-year copyright term with the option for a second 14-year term, for a maximum of 28 years. Sure, people living longer on average today, but that doesn’t justify century-long copyright terms. Something more reasonable, like 40 or 50 years max, would be more than sufficient for an author or company to make a profit off of a creative work. And with a 50-year copyright term, all of the subjects of national controversy over the past couple of weeks would already be in the public domain or close to it, and therefore anybody and everybody could distribute those works. Furthermore, I believe copyright should have a “use it or lose it” provision where any works that are abandoned for a period of more than, say, five years shall automatically enter the public domain (with safeguards to prevent loopholes, like the rights holder republishing a work digitally-only for a day to just restart the clock).

    And that’s all I have to say about that.

    Have you read the new UQ Holder chapter yet? It’s great.

    • arimareiji says:

      Indeed. It’s sad to see how many works have fallen into what I call “copyright hell”, where they’ve long been unavailable but they’ve been scrubbed from the internet (and will almost certainly end up in history’s dumpster). And I still worry about the coming reckoning wherein Cool Japan and its funders will finish C&Ding the last of the sites that make fan translations available, despite having no intention of providing their own translations. (To be fair, people who leak full chapters before the raw has even been published really aren’t helping matters.)

      It’s somewhat histrionic… but it’s not without reason that in some circles they call organizations like Elsevier and Getty the “copyright cartel”, or call the RIAA, MPAA, etc the “MAFIAA”.

      Wrt histrionics elsewhere: It’s just my opinion, but I think the echo chambers created by duopolized corporate media for Reds and Blues have taken a murderous toll. On both cognitive function, and our ability to maintain a civilization (versus a collection of tribes who will excuse anything done by Us and condemn anything done by Them).

      • shadowofthevoid says:

        There’s an actual “Cool Japan” group? I always thought it was just a nickname for all the interesting Japanese cultural exports we get. Is this group trying to eradicate all scanlators out there? That would indeed suck, because there’s so many manga series out there that have never been licensed for release in North America.

        And yeah, copyright reform is an issue of interest for me, one that doesn’t get a lot of attention in the mainstream. Too much power has been yielded to big publishers, and it’s high time some of the laws passed in their favor get reversed to something more reasonable.

        Regarding the mainstream media cartel, too much of cable news is op-ed material, just a bunch of pundits and talking heads screeching about how awful they think the other side is, seemingly always in the most hyperbolic and dehumanizing way possible. I don’t like to “both sides” things, and my positions put me firmly on the left (by American standards), but I do see this stuff coming from both sides in the media, be it radio, TV, or the internet. If you can simply convince your audience that your political opponents are “Nazis” or “communists” or some other nefarious evil force, it lets you categorically dismiss anything the other side says out of hand. No need for all that complicated, messy stuff like meaningful, substantive debate. Just spend an hour or three opining. And that allows you to make up whatever you want, even the most patently ridiculous conspiracy theories, with no need for any fact checkers or anyone who might present an opposing viewpoint. Facts are always optional. The job of the pundit is not to inform, but to persuade. They’re propagandists. And because all that propaganda works at keeping audiences eyes and/or ears glued to the station, it’s a highly profitable enterprise to be a professional opinion-giver.

        • arimareiji says:

          Cool Japan has tried to be sly about their long-term obliteration of manga sites, but they keep pissing off the community with brilliant moves like “Take down your site and post a literally-groveling apology explaining how evil you were to pirate manga” or “We can sue you for cosplaying without a license.” They try to stay behind the scenes, but they keep tipping their hand or being overbearing. (Which makes unfortunate sense, given that iirc they’re getting advice from the “You wouldn’t steal a car” MPAA.

          Wrt corporate-owned Red and Blue, I’ve been known to refer to them as hate televangelists. Nowadays they’re both far more akin to Westboro Baptist Church… than they are to neutral delivery of relevant, accurate information in a manner that’s designed to inform rather than mislead.

          Everything is the fault of Them (whether Them is Red or Blue), just using different buzzwords. Nothing is the fault of the people who literally own >95% of both sides of corporate media, and dictate policy to both parties. Them are Evil Liars who should never be trusted, especially if they say they have the same core needs and you should work together against the people who are screwing you both. Only your designated color of televangelist will tell you the truth.

          • shadowofthevoid says:

            So “Cool Japan” is an actual government initiative that works at the behest of Japanese corporations?

          • arimareiji says:

            To be fair, that’s another disease that appears to be spreading around the world these days. The USTR’s target list of “notorious markets” to be sanctioned for copyright (made at the behest of the MPAA and friends to target cyberlockers, ISPs, and even countries they don’t think have been obedient enough) is a relatively minor example.

          • AstroNerdBoy says:

            I don’t know how this ended up in the spam folder. 😑 You should have an automatic pass.

          • arimareiji says:

            I’ve been wondering if I got the filter’s attention by including three URLs in the previous post, and now when it sees my name it’s like (O_o).
            (^_~)

            Edit: Well, that’s good news. I know the most recent post, and iirc the one before, both went straight in with no chance to edit — this one didn’t, obviously. Also, here’s the URL I wanted to add to the previous one: https://torrentfreak.com/us-govt-brands-torrent-streaming-cyberlocker-sites-as-notorious-markets-180115/

        • AstroNerdBoy says:

          And yeah, copyright reform is an issue of interest for me, one that doesn’t get a lot of attention in the mainstream.

          Ditto. I know I did several “Piracy Wars” series where copyright was part of the discussion. It has really gotten more and more insane. Big Entertainment tried to crush innovative VHS tapes over copyright “concerns”. They lost and then made big bank from VHS sales. But then these big copyright holders would rather sit on their laurels rather than be innovative.

      • AstroNerdBoy says:

        Indeed. It’s sad to see how many works have fallen into what I call “copyright hell”, where they’ve long been unavailable but they’ve been scrubbed from the internet (and will almost certainly end up in history’s dumpster).

        I agree. I never heard of the term “copyright hell” until I got into anime and manga. Hand Maid May had a sequel called Hand Maid Mai. But the distribution company went out of business after the first episode was released. Reportedly, the other two OVA episodes were done by Wonder Farm (the production company), but due to copyright hell, they will never see the light of day.

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      Sorry for the delay. 😅

      I think the conservative outrage over the past week or so over Dr. Seuss, The Muppets, and Mr. Potato Head has been embarrassing and ridiculous

      The outrage is due to the fact that this problem is getting worse and worse. How much longer until Monty Python’s Flying Circus gets the axe? They already tried going after Faulty Towers, which pissed off John Cleese, who’s no conservative. And because someone was offended, that’s why Amazon has quietly been banning manga and light novels. I’ve never supported banning stuff. But, this canceling of the past won’t end unless someone stands up to it. And it is getting to the point to where some folks on the left are going, “You know, this is a bridge too far.”

      none of this recent fiasco would have been an issue in the first place if copyright terms weren’t so ridiculously long.

      I’m all for creators being paid, but almost nothing goes into the public domain any more. Great innovations are to be made from the public domain. Take Lupin III. Ignoring the fact that Monkey Punch did not get permission to use the name Arsène Lupin, Monkey Punch took a fairly unknown French novel series and turned it into something special. That’s innovation. Had the Leblanc family tried to stop it in Japan before it was too late, look what the world would have been denied.

      So yeah, the copyright laws are broken, in part because of companies like Disney. They will never let Steamboat Willie go into the public domain.

      Furthermore, I believe copyright should have a “use it or lose it” provision where any works that are abandoned for a period of more than, say, five years shall automatically enter the public domain (with safeguards to prevent loopholes, like the rights holder republishing a work digitally-only for a day to just restart the clock).

      You may or may not like him, but I heard that Ben Shapiro suggested a 2-year period, but otherwise stated what you stated. I’m more for the 2-year thing.

      Have you read the new UQ Holder chapter yet? It’s great.

      I have read it. I haven’t been able to blog about it because I am literally working night and day. I couldn’t tell you the last time I watched an anime episode. It is rather sad. But I’m getting paid, so there’s that.

      • shadowofthevoid says:

        The outrage is due to the fact that this problem is getting worse and worse. How much longer until Monty Python’s Flying Circus gets the axe? They already tried going after Faulty Towers, which pissed off John Cleese, who’s no conservative. And because someone was offended, that’s why Amazon has quietly been banning manga and light novels. I’ve never supported banning stuff. But, this canceling of the past won’t end unless someone stands up to it. And it is getting to the point to where some folks on the left are going, “You know, this is a bridge too far.”

        I’ll object to it when the government starts mandating these things. But to this date, none of the stuff that gets brought up as part of some celebrity or political or company being “cancelled” has been a legitimate First Amendment issue, because the state is not banning anything. The First Amendment has always been strictly a check on government power, not on private individuals & groups.

        And if it’s a private individual choosing to do these things with their own property, there’s not a thing I can do about it. Whether I like it or not is irrelevant. If Dr. Seuss Enterprises decides they don’t want to continue publishing books that have perceived racial caricatures in them, that’s their prerogative. Companies stop publishing things all the time for various reasons. If Hasbro wants a toy brand’s name to have a gender-neutral name, that’s their prerogative. Besides, the Mr. Potato Head toy itself will still exist. If Disney wants to put a content disclaimer in front of episodes of The Muppets, that’s their prerogative. It’s not like they’re getting rid the show entirely (they episodes they don’t have up are because of music rights issues, except for that one episode where the guest host was some convicted sex creep).

        If these companies think these things will improve their public image and therefore potentially their bottom line, that’s on them. Nobody “cancelled” anything in any of those circumstances. Nobody was even putting any direct pressure on them to do these things. That’s why I focus more on the copyright law side of this. If copyright terms were more reasonable, then all of those things would be public domain or close to it and therefore we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

        And I’ll take complaints about “cancel culture” more seriously when the Dixie Chicks and Colin Kaepernick get an apology from American conservatives. They had their livelihoods ruined by being “cancelled” for saying or doing things conservatives found offensive. How is that any different from, say, Gina Carano getting written out of The Mandalorian for making a hyperbolic Holocaust reference that offended some people? The door swings both ways. Either people should face social opprobrium for saying or doing things that are merely offensive, or they should not. Either private businesses should be allowed to choose who they employ or do business with for public image reasons, or they should not. But if we’re going to condemn “cancel culture,” we need to be consistent about it.

        I personally wish everybody left, right, and center would stop being so sensitive and outraged all the time. Nobody, and I mean nobody has the right to go through life without being expose to things that might offend their sensibilities. So long as someone isn’t being an abusive a-hole (and being offensive is not inherently abusive) or spreading harmful conspiracy theories, I don’t particularly care if what they have to say rustles a few jimmies.

        You may or may not like him, but I heard that Ben Shapiro suggested a 2-year period, but otherwise stated what you stated. I’m more for the 2-year thing.

        He has had some “stopped clock” moments, and I fully agree with his famous aphorism “the facts don’t care about your feelings” (whether or not he realizes that said saying also applies to him is up for debate), but I’m not a fan of his so I didn’t know he’s talked about copyright reform before. Can’t seem to find anything about it on the Google at the moment. Maybe I’m not using the right search terms.

        I have read it. I haven’t been able to blog about it because I am literally working night and day. I couldn’t tell you the last time I watched an anime episode. It is rather sad. But I’m getting paid, so there’s that.

        So you’ve been getting run through the wringer at work lately, huh? That sucks. Hopefully you get some time off soon.

        But I will say, I’m glad my preferred ship in UQ Holder is now absolutely canon, with the deal being sealed by the duo in question getting their freak on. Hopefully you can get some free time to post about the new chapter sometime soon. That and the latest episode of Tenchi.

        • AstroNerdBoy says:

          I’ll object to it when the government starts mandating these things.

          Ah. But when massive corporations do what those in government want of their own validations, what then? It has been years since I read 1984, but I seem to recall that Big Brother used technology to control the population. We are increasingly living in a world of 1984.

          We have the Thought Police, only they are on social media rather than being some officially sanctioned government entity. We have Newspeak, where words are being created to promote a certain ideology. Further, existing words are getting redefined to whatever the woke masses seem to want on a given day. And that leads to Doublespeak.

          Then there’s the Fahrenheit 451 elements. Again, corporations are doing what they know those in power now want–digitally burning any book that doesn’t meet the woke religious criteria for morality and such. I’ve seen this coming for ages and indeed, I took a figurative beating many years ago when certain anime/manga series were getting canceled by their American licensors. But I digress…

          Nobody was even putting any direct pressure on them to do these things.

          There have been articles for several years now, decrying Dr. Seuss as an evil racist. Ironically, the man was a liberal of his time and was very much against racism and such. Being branded as a racist or a homophobe in today’s society is in some ways worse than being a child rapist. There is so much fear of this that some companies do whatever to avoid the figurative burning at the stake. Other companies do it because they are run by folks who are members of the woke religion. Many religious people will happily do things to encourage morality as they define it. I know, ’cause I grew up in the South.

          I didn’t know he’s talked about copyright reform before. Can’t seem to find anything about it on the Google at the moment.

          This is Ben talking about copyright.

          https://youtu.be/cCZGms1dtTk?t=420

          So you’ve been getting run through the wringer at work lately, huh? That sucks. Hopefully you get some time off soon.

          Yeah. I haven’t been able to stream in a long while. I haven’t been able to play The Outer Worlds or Minecraft. I do still do some stuff in the mobile game Marvel Strike Force, but mobile games are easy to just to a couple of quick things and move on. I haven’t watched an anime episode in many weeks (well, I did watch OVA 5 ep. 5 at 3am when it came out). And I can barely read any manga chapters. I pretty much live in my office any more. But I get overtime, so that’s good.

          Hopefully you can get some free time to post about the new chapter sometime soon. That and the latest episode of Tenchi.

          Heh! Yeah, for sure.

          • arimareiji says:

            Between corporations and billionaires, or the politicians, your mileage may vary on who’s giving the orders and who’s executing the will of their masters. (^_~)

          • AstroNerdBoy says:

            Corporations are run by people. There’s a symbiotic relationship between them and politicians. That’s why the folks at Google will say, “Oh, we support regulations on X.” They’ll send campaign contributions to said politician, then draft the regulation they claim to support. Except said regulation is such that Google is minimally impacted by it (cost of business), but anyone who would dare rise up to challenge them, they would be crushed.

            So the person running the corporation has protected the business and the politician has money for their next campaign AND can say, “We care!” But that’s why I became a libertarian and want term limits.

          • shadowofthevoid says:

            Apologies for the belated reply. I had a lot to say about this subject, but what I was writing got overly long (like, worthy of an article in its own regard), so I’ll try to summarize it.

            Comparing so-called “cancel culture” to 1984 is, like nearly every other occasion of people (left, right, or center) comparing things to Orwell’s popular writings, complete and utter hyperbole. I know. I’ve read 1984 in its entirety, front to back. What’s going on these days is nothing like the totalitarianism-on-steroids described by Orwell’s book. Oceania made the USSR look like summer camp. A few manga titles getting de-listed by some idiotic, pearl-clutching fuddy-duddy Kindle content manager that thinks those titles violate Amazon’s content policy is hardly the equivalent of sending those titles down the “Memory Hole,” nor is it evocative of “a boot stamping on a human face, forever.” Same for McElligott’s Pool no longer being published, or some fruitcake on Twitter getting banned for spreading racist memes or dangerous conspiracy theories.

            We can have a debate about whether specific “cancellations” are warranted or not. Yes, a lot of the time it is just people with nothing better to do than gripe about trivial BS and other things that are mostly harmless (like feminists complaining about anime boobs, or rightoids complaining about that Lil Nas X video). But “cancelling” people and things is not in and of itself “literally 1984” like some people think, regardless of the relative merits of the outrage in question. And “cancel culture” has been a thing since the dawn of human civilization. “Nothing new under the Sun,” and all that. People have always engaged in criticisms of, boycotts against, and sometimes even attempts to outright ban things that they feel run contrary to their values. If using social pressure to “cancel” things we don’t like is just like 1984, then apparently we’ve seen living under Big Brother since the Bronze Age (and probably before). And it’s something literally everybody gets in on at some point in their lives, regardless of their political views. Even conservatives have been cancelling people for centuries, including here in modern times. But I can’t take them seriously on the subject when they claim to be against “cancel culture” and then turn around and engage in it themselves. The only reason conservative pundits dedicate so much energy to this subject is because keeping their audience outraged over penny-ante non-issues like Mr. Potato Head and Pepe Le Pew is good for ratings and therefore profitable, but they clearly aren’t opposed to cancel culture in and of itself. I’m tired of the double standards.

            Colin Kaepernick and The Dixie Chicks had their careers ruined because they offended conservatives, and those are just two recent examples. Compared to that, Dr. Seuss Enterprises ceasing publication of some of Mr. Geisel’s less popular books for having racial caricatures in them is hardly an affront to free speech. It’s no different, and no more “1984-ish,” than, say, Disney having refused to ever release Song of the South on home video. And even if there was a mass movement trying to get those books “cancelled” (no, a handful of “blue checkmarks” on Twitter doesn’t count as a mass movement, nor does people merely critiquing the racial caricatures in the books in question), the publisher was not forced to do anything. They chose to do that of their own volition. And they have the right to do so. We can debate the merits of Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ choice to discontinue those six books, but we can’t pretend their choice is an assault on our liberties. It’s not “book burning.” No laws have been passed banning them. We’re not entitled to those books. It’s not our IP and therefore we have no say in the matter. That’s why I said the real issue with the Seuss books is with the current state of copyright law (oh, and I did watch that clip of Mr. Shapiro, and that was indeed a “stopped clock” moment for him when he said what I’ve been saying for years that copyright should have a “use it or lose it” provision, even if he reached a reasonable conclusion from farcical premises). They really ought to be in the public domain right now.

            (And yes, that is the short version.)

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