What does "adult content" mean to Amazon, Smashwords?

This weekend I finished book two of my Peers of Beinan series.  Ghosts of the Past is a murder-mystery where no character (except, perhaps, Princess Anyu, the narrator of the first three books in the series) is truly safe.  Looking at my list of characters published as part of the book (indicative of the character lists typically included with stage plays), more than 80% of them are killed -- or possibly killed -- by the end of the book.

I also have a certain theme regarding sexual violence, making a certain point that sexual violence is, on many levels, worse for the victim than murder (especially in a society that tends to believe in reincarnation).  

This being a book covering four generations, there is sex in it; characters fall in love, get married, and raise children.  I tend to keep it more or less cut away -- no 50 shades of grey sort of narration.

So I find myself a bit confused when I look at the check boxes on Amazon and Smashwords that say "adult content."  To me, adult is something with explicit sex or particularly graphic violence.  Mine is more PG 13 level; kids see a LOT worse in more than half of the media they are exposed to.

Should a five year old read my books?  Hell no.  But I cannot imagine a 16 year old being shocked or ill-effected by them either.  Sixteen year olds, I presume, know where babies come from (there is at least one childbirth scene too).  Sixteen year olds, I hope, understand that rape is a terrible thing and that raping someone is a villainous act.

What do they mean with their boxes and am I fine leaving my boxes checked as "no adult content?"

Tags: Amazon, Smashwords, adult, content, definition, publishing, rating, sex, violence

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You're probably fine, but I'm paranoid - if I use one swear word (not even the "big one") then I check the box and consider it adult content.  Is it really?  Probably not.  Rather than have an irate parent or someone who's easily offended blast me, I err on the side of caution. 

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