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:
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.