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Paypal Puts Publishers’ Panties In A Wad

Cracking Down Smells Like Censorship To Some

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So what’s got e-book publisher for independent authors Smashwords and others who are concerned about censorship all worked up? Apparently, PayPal issued Smashwords an ultimatum regarding certain categories of erotica published through the site. Mark Coker, Smashwords founder reported the payment processor PayPal had told the publisher to remove books in certain categories (erotica) and threatened to stop doing business with them if they didn’t comply. In an e-mail issued to Smashwords’ Authors, Publishers and Literary Agents, Coker alerted and apologized for having to modify the site’s Terms of Service regarding erotic fiction containing bestiality, rape and incest.

“Paypal is requiring Smashwords to immediately remove the above mentioned categories of books. Please review your title(s) and proactively remove and archive such works if you are affected. I apologize for the short notice, and I’m especially sorry for any financial or emotional hardship this may cause the authors and publishers affected by this change. As you may have heard, in the last couple of weeks PayPal began aggressively enforcing a prohibition against online retailers with certain types of ‘obscene’ content.”

Response to the news and the issue has been heated. An article written by Selena Kitt, entitled, “Slippery Slope: Erotica Censorship” posted on her blog had a big response. Here’s an example:

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Erotica is one of the most popular genres on the net today and according to Chris Meadows in TeleRead, (news and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics) Erotica has played a key role in the early adoption of e-books, which allowed people to read what they wanted, anywhere, without having to be embarrassed by any sexy book jackets or covers. It’s really a shame that payment processing concerns from companies like Amazon and PayPal are making it harder for online retailers to sell.

@jane_l Thx for keeping the PayPal #censorship front and centre. Hopefully more #writers, #booklovers and bloggers will speak up.(image) 2 hours ago via web ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

@thDigitalReader No, PayPal isn’t stopping Smashwords from doing business. They’re just stopping them from using PayPal. @EvilWylie(image) 2 days ago via TweetDeck ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

Paypal Puts Publishers’ Panties In A Wad


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  • http://www.mstgarden.com Ms T.

    If Paypal didn’t currently have a monopoly as a currency processor, they wouldn’t be able to do what they have done. That being said, people are looking for ways to never have to do business with them again. Many whose livings aren’t tied to Paypal have already begun closing their accounts over this debacle.

  • http://www.purpleprosaic.com Alessia Brio

    Most small press publishers rely on PayPal not only for transaction processing but for payroll distributions.

    Virtually all indie publishers are dependent upon PayPal for credit card processing.

    If your BANK told you that you could not use your money to purchase a LEGAL product, you’d raise holy hell. As you should. This is essentially the same thing.

    • STR82U

      No, it’s not the same. PayPal isn’t a bank, it’s an independant business, just like Google. Who is anyone else to say what they can and can’t do with their business as long as no one has gets their rights violated. It’s understandable that those two companies would be under more scrutiny for their actions and have to excersize a more global attitude, but the bottom line is it’s their business if they don’t want to promote something.

  • http://thewebsensesolution.com Jon

    There has always been viable alternatives to Paypal that are actually cheaper too. This move by Paypal will be great for my business.

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