Erotica Book Banning Roundup – Part 2, and Smashwords Bows Under Pressure

NEWEST UPDATES (currently 4:45 p.m. March 13th) ARE HIGHLIGHTED IN ORANGE.

For previous info on the erotica book banning imbroglio of this past week, please see my previous posts:

PayPal, eBay, Visa, and MasterCard Equate All Kinky Erotica with Pr0n
Erotica Book Banning Round-Up, Part 1

Key Points in the Erotica Book Banning Hijinks
Shilling for Traffic – “Rebuttals” Against Speaking Out Against Censorship Ring Hollow

Smashwords Caves In, Bans Edgy Erotica Categories

If you haven’t heard the bad news by now, Smashwords received a formal demand from PayPal, which was already a sketchy, under-regulated entity long before this, that they remove all erotica with rape-as-titillation, ince$t and pseudo-ince$t, underage characters having sex, and bestiality. Their announcement covering their immediate changes in policy can be read in full at their website.

[ETA: PayPal forbid X-rated content when eBay bought the company, back in 2003. I'm curious as to why it allows some companies to continue to sell erotica and others have one hell of a time trying to work with them.]

Naturally, this was the other shoe dropping that many independent authors and publishers feared; without alternative distributors, most of them have little recourse but to take down their edgier titles and self-censor in the future, as Amazon and Barnes & Noble already have stricter guidelines in place, and Amazon has banned books on a whim in the past.

One small press has come to rescue temporarily. No Boundaries Press, a small ebookstore that opened just last month, has agreed to accept books that BookStrand, All Romance eBooks, and Smashwords have deemed unacceptable for their stores. Contact information and details are here for authors who are interested.

As I discussed in my last post, the future of independently and un-curated literature is more in flux now that ever before. As new systems of commerce evolve and expand, some growing pains are inevitable, but this is not and should not be an inevitable outcome of the rise of ebook dominance. There have to be better ways of categorizing content to distinguish erotic romance from erotica than to simply ban controversial subjects and exclude independent authors from the negotiating table.

Erotica Book Banning Roundup, Part 2

I’ve tried to combine the old links with links to the tons of new posts that have cropped up in the past few days as the story has gained more widespread attention. If you see something I’ve missed, please let me know in a comment and I will try to add it in a timely manner.

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in the posts linked to below are not my own, nor do I endorse any of the views contained therein. The point of this roundup is to signal-boost and document the depth and spread of this story. Any of these sites may or may not be NSFW.

February 16th:
PayPal, BookStrand and Censorship (Marlene Sexton) *
Censorship Spreading to Ebookstores? (Tessie L’Amour) *  ***
All Those Angered by Censorship Should Take Notice (Tessie L’Amour) *
Censorship and PayPal: UnConstitutional and WRONG (J. S. Wayne) *  ***

February 17th:
PayPal, BookStrand and Censorship, Part 2 (Marlene Sexton) *
Bookstrand, Paypal and Site Move… Oh My! (Adelaide Cooper) *

February 19th:
Slippery Slope: Erotica Censorship (Selina Kitt) *  ***, Slippery Slope: Erotica Censorship (cross-posted at her personal blog) *
Censorship… Who Has the Right? (One-Handed Writers) *

February 20th:
PayPal Is At It Again! (Marlene Sexton)
Monday News and Deals: Paypal Obscenity Crackdown, Fake Amazon Reviews, & Earnings Roundup (Dear Author) *

February 20th, Part 2:
A Big Erotica Freeze Is A-Coming… (Many-Eyed Hydra)

February 21st:
Tuesday News: New Nook Pricing, Kindle Rumors, Reader Data, and Paypal Clarification (Dear Author) *  ***
BookStrand No More… (Cat Johnson)
BookStrand Axing Indie Publishers? (KindleBoards)
Episode 213 – Publishing Erotica With Selena Kitt (The Dead Robot’s Society) **
The PayPal Fiasco Continues (Adelaide Cooper) *
Indie Authors Now Banned from BookStrand (Adelaide Cooper) *
BookStrand Stops Selling Indie Titles Entirely (Tessie L’Amour) *
All Romance eBooks Has Unilaterally De-listed Some of My Books  (Tessie L’Amour)  *
Putting the World According to PayPal in Perspective (One-Handed Writers)*
BANNED from BookStrand and All Romance eBooks (Katie Cramer) *
Banned by PayPal (Saffron Sands) *
Here’s the Thing… (Rachel Boleyn) *

February 22nd:
All Romance EBooks Clarification (Dear Author) * ***
Where Is My Smut?! (Abbey Kyner)

February 23rd:
Bookstrand Kicks Out “Most” Indie Authors! (Censorship?) (Giselle London)
How I Became a Dirty Writer and Why I Have the Right To Continue… (Sommer Marsden)
PayPal and Censorship (Musclaneous)
Banning Books and Blocking Authors: A Reader Alert (Michelle McCleod)
Erotica Is Not Bad (Rayven York)
S-E-X (Alessia Brio)

February 23rd, Part 2:
Censorship in the Land of the Free (Molly Wens)
In Defense of Erotica (Leighann Phoenix)
About “Barely Legal” (Emily Veinglory, Erotic Romance Publishers)

February 24th:
Slippery Slope Part 2: Why Frogs Boil (Selena Kitt), Slippery Slope Part 2: Why Frogs Boil (Cross-posted at The Self-Publishing Revolution)
To All Smashwords Authors, Publishers, and Literary Authors Who Publish Erotica at Smashwords (Smashwords)
Saturday News: No Deals Just Stupidity and Smashwords Concedes to Paypal Terms (Dear Author) ***
An Open Letter to PayPal (Lauren Gallagher / L. A. Witt)
Paypal Moves Against Smashwords, Mark Coker Responds (MERGED THREAD) (KindleBoards) ***
CENSORSHIP BE DAMNED! (Rusty Nale)
In Defense of Erotica (Violet Williams)
Smashwords Falls Victim to PayPal (Marlene Sexton)
(Adelaide Cooper)
Censorship and Erotica (Suzi Gorse)
PayPal – The Internet Censor (Maggie Chatterley)
More Censorship (Esmeralda Greene)
CENSORSHIP BE DAMNED! – [Reblog of Rusty Nale's Post] (Black Door Press)
Don’t Blame Smashwords or Paypal: The Frontier Moved for Indie Authors, It’s Time to Move With It (Dan Holloway)

February 24th, Part 2:
Marketplace Censors (Candace Blevins, Kinky Ever After)
On the Front Lines of Erotica (Jennifer Campbell)
I’m Not 18 Anymore (Giselle Renarde)

Soon You’ll Need To Visit a Back Alley… (Ms. T. Garden)

February 25th:
Saturday News: No Deals Just Stupidity and Smashwords Concedes to Paypal Terms (Dear Author) ***
PayPal Cracks Down on Erotica E-book Sales (TeleRead)
Erotic Censorship and a Home for the Homeless Books (Erica Pike — thanks for the link back, Erica!)
Addressing a “Getting Out There” Question (No Boundaries Press)
Smashwords Succumbs to Censorship (The Digital Reader)
Paypal Enforces Vanilla Sex Only Erotica (Morgan Drake)
IMPORTANT: Smashwords Forced to Censor Books by Paypal: Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, Sony Customers Affected (Katie Cramer)
Two Legs Bad: An Open Letter to Mark Coker (Remittance Girl)
Paypal: Taking a Sledgehammer to Artistic Freedom (Alexx Andria)
Smashwords Bans Erotica – Sort Of (Fighting Monkey Press)
Paypal Is a Fascist Librarian and Here’s What To Do About It (Michelle McCleod)
“I Know It When I See It” and Other Random Thoughts (Something More)
And There Goes Another One (Smashwords) (Rayven York)
SWIMMING WITH SHARKS: PayPal and Censorship (Virginia Wade)
PayPal Decides It Is the Morality Police (Ruth Madison)
Workblog for the Week: Awards! Plague! Censorship! (Sin Is Beautiful)
Help! Help! I’m Being Repressed! (Saffron Sands)
Censorship Anyone? (Shauna Klein)
The Changing Dystopian World of Erotica (Aurelia T. Evans)
Censorship of Erotica is Bad and Wrong (Sidonie Spice)
(L. B. Darling)
PayPal Censoring Erotica Writers – Who Will They Censor Next? (Mid-Journey)
An Update on Damaged Goods and the PayPal/Smashwords Fiasco (Lucy Rodgers)
Smashwords and PayPal – Erotica Dispute (Adelaye Hearst)
PayPal – The Morality Dictator (Rae Spencer)
Don’t Tell Me What I Can’t Do (Amelia James) ***
CENSORED – All Over the Internet (Amanda Charvi)
Censorship – Another Slippery Slope (Steve Perry)
The Missionary Position (Polly J. Adams)
Humans Are Sexual Creatures (S. J. Reiner / Anne O’Connell, The Quadrant)
Do You Want Me Barefoot and Pregnant, Too? An Open Letter to PayPal (Eden Connor) ***
Smashwords Begins to Censor Its Erotica Titles. (Mari Stroud)
PayPal-Imposed Morality (Alessia Brio)
Smashwords to Remove Countless Erotica Titles from Its Store (M.K. Elliott)
A Brief Message from Our Sponsor, Freedom of Speech (Gigglegasm)
An Open Letter to Mark Coker (Jesse V. Coffey)
WELP. SmashWords Has Fallen. (and Other News) (Abbey Kypner)
More Thoughts On PayPal’s Latest Erotica Ban. (Corinna Parr)
Yep, Life Is Getting Harder for the Indie Author (Ruth Ann Nordin, Self-Published Authors Lounge)
Paypal, Smashwords and Bookstrand – Erotic Romance/Erotica and Pr0n (Valerie Douglas)

February 26th:
PayPal As Moral Police?  Forces E-Book Sellers To Remove Certain Erotica Content (Ingrid Lunden, TechCrunch)
Agreements Are Complete–Indie Authors and Publishers — NBP as Vendor (also NBP)
I Wasn’t Raped by a Guy Not My Dad, during which No Children and Animals Were Present (Cherry Allen, One-Handed Writers)

February 26th, Part 2:
I Like My Erotica Uncensored! (C. J. Roberts)
PayPal Censoring Books: Apocalypse to Follow (Renee Miller)
Time for a Confession (Maggie Chatterley)
Smashwords Tightens Up On Permitted Erotica (Ebooks R Us)
The Price of Freedom of Speech (Alt-World)
Smashwords Clamps Down on Bestiality, Rape and Ince$t Erotica (Indie BookSpot)
It’s Obscene: PayPal, Erotica and Censorship (loveyoudivine)

In Other Possibly Related News:
Gingrich, Santorum & Romney Vow to Make Porn Illegal if Elected President (Unicorn Booty)

February 26th, Part 3:
My Thoughts on Censorship (Heather Killough-Walden)
The Censorgasm (J. S. Wayne)
Smashwords & PayPal: Perfect Together (K. H. Koehler)
Dear Smashwords, Why Do You Suck? (John A. Burks, Jr.)

February 26th, Part 4:
PayPal Is Watching You (Jessica Freely)
Reading the Blogs, On Paypal Censorship, Pornography and Erotica (Mid-Journey)
The Paypal Fiction Crackdown Roundup (Dear Author)
Pragmatic Compromises & the Moral Hazard of Expediency (Remittance Girl)
PayPal Knows What’s Best (Lilac Sunday)
Speak Up Against PayPal’s Censorship (Sheri Hart, Hart Times)
PayPal Censorship – Is It Really All About Genre? (Maggie Chatterley)

February 28th, Part 5:
Paypal Decides What Content Is Appropriate, Threatens Ebook Retailers
(Brad’s Reader)
http://eldink.co.uk/content/banned-books-paypal-doesnt-want-you-read (Misogynist, ableist rant, but I’m including it here because some of the rebuttals in the comments are awesome)

February 27th:
PayPal Update #2 – Deadline for ToS Complaince Extended (Smashwords)
Led By PayPal, Smashwords Updates Erotica Rules (MediaBistro)
PayPal Takes Controversial Stance Against Sex (Andrew Shaffer, Huffington Post)
PayPal Strong-Arms Indie Ebook Publishers Over Erotic Content (Violet Blue, ZDNet)
PayPal Launches New Internet Controversy Over Decision to Censor Erotica Content Sold Through Platform (Silicon Valley IP Liscensing Law Blog)
PayPal Tells E-Book Distributor To Remove Sexually Taboo Titles (Consumerist)
Banning Books? The Thin End of the Wedge… (Sessha Batto, Diary of a Desperate Exmoor Woman)
Debit Cards, Definitions and Door Mats (Eden Connor)
Playthings in the Hands of the Arbiters of Decency (Raymond Frazee)
A Call to Action – Help Defeat Censorship! (Marlene Sexton) Thanks for the links, Marlene!

February 27th, Part 2:
PayPal Puts the Screws on Erotica (Walter Jon Williams)

February 27th, Part 3:
Smashwords, “Censorship” and Godwin’s Law (Marion Stein)
Reputation Impacts Sales (One-Handed Writers)

February 28th:
Censorship in Literature (Sooz Says Stuff)
The PayPal “censorship” on [sic] Erotica, and Why Financial Institutions May Win This War. (Dianna Hardy)
PayPal Has Become the Morals Police (Wild, Wicked, & Wacky)
PayPal Censors Smashwords (Karen M. Frontain)
You’re Next. (Annetta Ribken)
PayPal, Credit Cards, Transgressive Fiction, and The New Day (J.R. Wesley, Crimson Melodies Publishing)
Paypal to Loosen Grip on Erotica Ban (Maybe) (The Digital Reader)
Paypal Forces E-Book Publisher To Censor Erotic Content (Slashdot)

February 28th, Part 2:
Splitting Pubic Hairs About Pseudo-Incest (Amber Adams, One-Handed Writers)

February 29th:
Addressing More Questions (No Boundaries Press)
Erotica Writers: Be Passionate But Be Careful With Your Facts (Remittance Girl)
New Development in Erotic Censorship (Erica Pike)
Contest: Stop Censorship, Win a Book (Jessica Freely)
On Paypal, Erotica, and ‘Censorship.’ (Sin Is Beautiful)
An Invitation to the “Banned Writers” Blog (Banned Writers)
Paypal Censorship Spreads to Publishers (Michelle McCleod)

February 29th, Part 2:
Please Spread the Word About Paypal Censoring Ebook Retailers! (naamah_darling@Journal) ***
Self-Righteous Censorship: It’s the New Black (Erica L. Firanc, Forbidden Fiction)
Legal Censorship: PayPal Makes a Habit of Deciding What Users Can Read (Electronic Frontier Foundation)
The Business Rusch: You Asked For My Opinion… (The Business Rusch) ***
More on the PayPal/Smashwords Saga (Suzan Harden)
Golden Rule: He Who Has the Gold Makes the Rules (Michael Stackpole)
PayPal Banning Certain E-Books. Really? (Lisa’s Creative Space)
That Charming Bastard, Censorship (Justine Graykin)
Why Mark Coker and Smashwords Are NOT the Enemy (Rachel Boleyn)
Legal Censorship: PayPal Makes a Habit of Deciding What Users Can Read (CK Geek)
PayPal & the Ebook Revolution’s Moral Clause (BitchBuzz)

March 1st:
Corporate Censorship Reborn: PayPal Bans Erotic Fiction (Tech Crunch)
Paypal Does Not Want You To Read Erotica (Melville House Books)

March 2nd:
Books and the Selling of (Talkapedia)
Why Corporate Censorship May Succeed (Write Anything)
[Writing] Signal Boost (RaeRaSama@LiveJournal)
The Pure Idiocy That Is Paypal (FireBird Bloggers)
NCAC, ABFFE Protest PayPal Ban on Erotic Material and ABFFE Protests PayPal Ban (National Coalition Against Censorship / American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression) (via PayPal Censorship Fight Gains Muscle (Hart Times)) – see Original Letter sent to PayPal/eBay [PDF]
Dirty Mind vs. Debit Card – Banned Author Interview (Eden Connor)
Because I Said So… It Wasn’t Good Enough When My Mama Said It, Either. (Michele Bekemeyer)
The Genesis Point (Jayme Whitfield)
Game On, Asshole! (Alchemy of the Word)
Smashwords – Censored. (Sheta Storm)

March 3rd:
The Corporate Censorship of Erotica (Pegasus Pulp)
The PayPal Morality (The Edge of Vanilla)

March 6th:
Balancing Beliefs and Business (Ms. T. Garden) (thanks to Banned Writers for the link)

March 8th:
PayPal’s Acceptable Use Policy on Sale of Certain “Erotica” (Official PayPal Blog)

March 10th:
Visa Writes Us Back! “This is Not Our Doing.” (Banned Writers) ***

March 12th:
Censorship and PayPal (The Empiricist) (thanks to Banned Writers for the link)

March 13th:
Paypal’s Clarification of Their Terms of Service (Banned Writers)
UPDATE: PayPal’s Acceptable Use Policy (Official PayPal Blog)
Paypal Capitulates – Sort Of (Banned Writers)

* Indicates old links already included in Roundup – Part 1.
** I highly recommend listening to this podcast, as Mz. Kitt discusses in-depth the problems of distribution with payment processors and possible ideas for soldiering on despite the corporate pressure. Her interview starts around the 12 min. mark where Kitt reveals how she started her online writing business, and she begins to talk about Amazon banning incest at around 18 min., and that leads to the latest banning discussion.
*** Have a large amount of comments.

I’m going to keep updating links on THIS PAGE rather than creating another new link roundup. Please leave a comment if you find a link you think should be included here.

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15 responses to Erotica Book Banning Roundup – Part 2, and Smashwords Bows Under Pressure


  1. Pingback: [SEE NEWER LIST] Erotica Book Banning Round-Up | S. V. Rowle

  2. Thank you for adding your voice to the growing outcry against Paypal’s censorship. I just wanted to clarify that I reblogged a post from Rusty Nale and am not the original author of “Censorship by Damned.” Rusty was forced to unpublish her BDSM writing.

    http://rustynale.com/2012/02/24/censorship-be-damned/

    • svrowle

      Thanks for telling me, Gillian! I’ll add Rusty Nale’s post and put up a clarification. :)

  3. Thanks much for putting this together. Oh, by the way, in case anyone is looking for Paypal alternatives, Google Checkout isn’t what you want. See their policies: https://support.google.com/checkout/sell/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=75724 You can’t use them to buy “adult” goods or services either, including “literature”.

  4. I put up another and Mark Coker has a new press release. I also link to some news article (The Consumerist, ZDNet and Huffington Post) I don’t think you have. Thanks for keeping the list up to date!

  5. There’s been a new development on Paypal and the credit card companies: http://eripike.blogspot.com/2012/02/new-development-in-erotic-censorship.html

    • svrowle

      Thanks, Erica!

      I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical of PP’s claims that we should blame the cc companies for higher risk assignment to erotica, especially because it was only certain types of erotica. Why wouldn’t all erotica be affected? If PayPal is averse to erotica (which according to some people it has always been), why doesn’t simply ban all erotica?

      Because erotica makes PayPal money. that’s why.

  6. What a wonderful resource. Thank you so much for doing this.

    I’ve posted about this issue here:
    http://www.friskbiskit.com/2012/02/paypal-is-watching-you.html

    And I’m currently running a contest to encourage people to sign the petition, here:
    http://www.friskbiskit.com/2012/02/contest-stop-censorship-win-a-book.html

  7. Pingback: Writers & Publishers Blogs: A link List #censorship #paypal #erotica | Banned Writers