Light novel and manga publishers have recently discovered that the American arm of Amazon has been delisting numerous manga and light novel titles from their Kindle platform, providing no explanation or reason as to why certain titles were subjected to this removal.
This move has prompted a response by the books’ respective publishers expressing their confusion and disappointment in these sudden and unexplained actions.
In recent months, anime fans have noticed curious removals of anime-related items from Amazon store fronts.
In March, the online shopping platform removed various, non-sexualized anime figures from various storefronts, asserting that these items “promote child exploitation.”
Related: Amazon Removes Various Anime Figures Including Hatsune Miku and Kaitō Tenshi Twin Angel from Storefront Claiming Items “Promote Child Exploitation”
Starting on July 11th, manga fans began to notice that titles such as No Game No Life and How Not to Summon A Demon Lord had been quietly made unavailable on Kindle.
On July 14th, light novel and manga publishers J-Novel Club and Yen Press confirmed that the online retailer had begun removing titles from their libraries from the American storefront, with J-Novel noting that their books were still available on Amazon Japan.
J-Novel wrote on Twitter, “We verified today that starting July 11th, all book sin the series The Greatest Magicmaster’s Retirement Plan, I Shall Survive Using Potions (Manga+LN), How Not to Summon a Demon Lord, and Clockwork Planet (LN) are no longer available for sale on Amazon Kindle.”
Yen Press also posted to Twitter, “Sadly, we have confirmed with Amazon they have opted to remove our No Game No Life titles from their platform.”
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They added, “Happily, there are other retailers, both physical and digital, that are thrilled to help you support for these titles in the form of cash exchanged for goods!”
J-Novel Club also stated that they had “received no notification whatsoever about this, and only noticed due to user complaints.”
They noted that Amazon’s actions resulted in “all preorders for Magicmaster 6 [being] forcibly cancelled.”
They also detailed that that Amazon representatives “couldn’t say why” these removals were taking place.
Speaking to Crunchyroll News, J-Novel Club founder Sam Piansky revealed that, despite multiple attempts to reach them via phone support and online support tickets, Amazon would “only reply to us (eventually) with the same generic emails.”
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That email read:
“As stated in our guidelines, we reserve the right to determine what we consider to be appropriate, which includes cover images and content within the book. We’re unable to elaborate further on specific details regarding our content guidelines beyond what is available here.”
Due to the lack of clarification regarding which specific rules the books had violated, Piansky speculated that “if there is a review process that’s actually going on, it is a complete black-box and the opposite of transparent.”
Piansky further speculated that this wave of removals was due to a reliance on “more heavily on automated systems to detect problematic content …. due to COVID-19.”
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Piansky stated, “This is due to the Kindle Content Review black box beginning to rely more heavily on automated systems to detect problematic content … due to COVID-19, so my suspicion is they sped up the process and cut out a significant amount of human checking relying on some auto-recognition system.”
Managing Director of Yen Press Kurt Hassler also provided a statement to Crunchyroll News, stating that the company was “informed that a determination had been made that the books did not fall within [Amazon’s] global content guidelines.”
Hassler did thank fans saying, “Nevertheless, we’re grateful to fans who have expressed their support and to the many other outlets that continue to make the books available.”
The following light novel and manga titles, compiled by Crunchyroll News, are currently confirmed to have been removed from the Kindle store:
- The Greatest Magicmaster’s Retirement Plan (Light Novel) – J-Novel Club
- I Shall Survive Using Potions (Manga and Light Novel) – J-Novel Club
- How NOT to Summon a Demon Lord (Light Novel) – J-Novel Club
- Clockwork Planet (Light Novel) – J-Novel Club
- Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash Volume 1 (Light Novel) – J-Novel Club
- Infinite Stratos Volume 3 (Light Novel) – J-Novel Club
- No Game No Life (Light Novel) – Yen Press
- Oreimo (Light Novel) – Dark Horse Comics
- Eromanga Sensei (Light Novel) – Dark Horse Comics
Related: Love Hina Mangaka Warns About A Future “Where Japanese Works Are Regulated By Foreign Standards”
Earlier this month, Love Hina and UQ Holder mangaka Ken Akamatsu spoke before the Japanese government warning of the uncertain future of manga if the industry moved towards “a future where Japanese works are regulated by foreign standards.”
It looks like that future might already be here.