[ETA 1: For my previous in-depth post on the PayPal / Visa / MasterCard / Siren-BookStrand / All Romance eBooks Book Banning Fiasco, go here.]
[ETA 2: I made a new updated round-up. All of the updates will be on Part 2. Please link there, not here. Thanks!]
Let’s Get Serious
I really don’t think it has hit home to the vast numbers of writers who publish ebooks how tenuous our hold on internet distribution really is. No one in my RSS subscriptions outside of the tech world save Sarah Hoyt and David Gaughran commented when half of the Internet protested SOPA and PIPA. It’s unclear whether most independent authors just didn’t understand how dangerous those bills were or somehow thought they were beneficial (!) to them out of some misguided belief that it’s important to fight “piracy” using a sledgehammer when a scalpel is required.
I realize it’s hard to show sympathy for fiction mixed in with bad fiction (poorly produced content in this case), especially if the writers affected write in subgenres you may find offensive. The problem is that with categories so broadly defined as “rape for titillation,” you’re talking about subjective opinions. I think a lot of people secretly get off on sexual violence in crime novels. So what? Under these terms, any police procedural or SVU-like story with any details whatsoever could run afoul of such guidelines. They’re so broad as to be meaningless, even though what they’re meant to do is shame erotica writers into quitting or writing vanilla sex scenes. Because that’s the ultimate goal here: to make business run as smoothly as possible without customer complaints and payments in danger.
Here’s what I posted to Tessie L’Amour’s first post:
Ah. As you said, good implies a value judgment. Perhaps different labels would have been clearer.
Of course companies have the right to choose what they publish. What concerns me is the tendency of some authors to breathe a sigh of relief because the majority of THEIR work isn’t on the ban list…yet. Instead of calling Visa, MasterCard, and Pay Pal to contest their conflation of erotica with pr0n, Bookstrand caved in right away and starting deleting and quarantining books. This is their right; it doesn’t make it ethical or reasonable or even a good business decision.
PayPal has indicated to Selina Kitt — who, for those who don’t know, runs her own estore for erotica — that it’s not just the step-children and barely legal stories that are unacceptable. Their rep made clear that PayPal (eBay) considers BDSM, an incredibly broad term encompassing everything from silk scarves to dungeon play and beyond, to be rape and therefore in violation of their policies, no matter what Visa and MasterCard may say. While this sounds ridiculous, it should make all writers extremely nervous. The slippery slope of pr0n police ‘creep’ has turned into a full-on series of broad ‘lurches’ and ‘leaps.’
To me, this indicates that they are simply doing keyword searches to find ‘obscene’ titles and are too lazy to actually screen samples and such, meaning that there are likely many, MANY more titles not in compliance with their policies that have slipped through the cracks because authors weren’t as overt in labeling them. All it will take is one irate, prudish customer to complain, and the whole process could start all over again. PayPal may arbitrarily decide that romance bookstores aren’t worth the hassle and simply freeze the accounts anyway and seize the funds without explanation. They do this ALL OF THE TIME.
The bottom line is this: when a few companies with enormous amounts of power suddenly decide to cut out half of your revenue stream (whether or not there is a fundamental misunderstanding of your business), the only option left that will ensure the other half of your revenue stays viable in the future is to fight, and fight publicly.
Monday News and Deals: Paypal Obscenity Crackdown, Fake Amazon Reviews, & Earnings Roundup
Tuesday News: New Nook Pricing, Kindle Rumors, Reader Data, and Paypal Clarification
All Romance Ebooks Clarification
Censorship spreading to eBookstores?
All those angered by censorship should take notice
BookStrand stops selling Indie titles entirely
All Romance eBooks has unilaterally de-listed some of my books
Censorship… Who Has the Right?
Putting the World According to PayPal in Perspective (Funny)
BANNED from BookStrand and All Romance eBooks (Katie Cramer)
Banned by PayPal (Saffron Sands)
Here’s the Thing… (Rachel Boleyn)
Censorship And PayPal: UnConstitutional and WRONG (J. S. Wayne)