Update 6/17/2012: I originally finished writing a second (thoroughly researched and edited) post on March 12, 2012. Within minutes of doing so, and before I hit the Publish button, news came across Twitter that PayPal had chosen to revise their policies on all of this. I had invested so much time, effort and research on that post, it put me off from…well…posting it since the issue had been resolved. I’ve decided (two+ months later) to delete the second post from my draft folder and simply provide you with the link (above) to Paypal’s newly revised policies for your review. Time to let go.
A few days ago, I found out that PayPal, a funds transfer business (keep this in mind, please) has decided what you can and cannot sell in your store or on your site. Or excuse me, what products THEY will approve of in order to use their services for money-exchanging between you (your business) and your customers. And, if you don’t remove certain items from your site/store, they will close your account. What the hell?
Does VISA or MC tell you what you can and cannot buy using their credit cards? Does your bank tell you what you can and cannot buy using their checks (as a monetary exchange between business and customer)? No, of course not!
Two blog posts I read were quite good in explaining what this new policy implies, to authors as well as to customers/readers: Michelle McCleod’s post, Banning Books and Blocking Authors: A Reader Alert and Stephanie Abbott’s post, “Don’t worry, they’re not banning OUR books”
Both of these women and authors make excellent points. Michelle states:
“Earlier this week, Paypal sent out directives to various online book retailers and publishers advising that they must eradicate certain erotica stories or lose their account.”
I’m with Michelle in that the real topic is the “uneven enforcement” between Indie authors and publishers and traditionally published authors and publishers.
Upon investigation, she discovered that the initial demands of PayPal “were focused on what is known as ‘Pseudo Incest’ stories.” Read more about her findings here.
Apparently, however, it now looks like PayPal may be expanding their umm…definition of this or their scope of what they deem as “certain erotica stories”. My question is this: Will this (does this) include an erotic scene in a thriller? a mystery? a horror novel?
Now, I’m the first to admit, this issue deserves more research to get all the facts straight but from what I read in these two posts as well as in the comments from various independent (indie) authors is that PayPal seems to be targeting the indie published authors (and publishers) ONLY, and none of the ‘traditionally’ published authors and publishing houses.
Someone mentioned V.C. Andrews’, Flowers in the Attic and honestly, that was the first book I thought of when I read about this a few days ago. I read this book more than two decades ago, and for those of you who don’t know, Flowers in the Attic is about four siblings locked and raised in an attic of a house and the eldest brother and sister have an incestuous relationship.
Understandable as a coming-of-age story goes in that type of horrifying situation (and might I add, fictional situation) but it is what it is. Is it ‘pseudo incest’-uous? Frankly, I don’t know.
I did notice, however, that eBay, (parent company to PayPal), has many copies of Flowers in the Attic for sale on their site as well as DVD’s of the movie. Why have these accounts not been closed? And, will they be closed?
I also think there is a huge issue with someone censoring what I can and cannot buy. As an unpublished but aspiring writer and novelist as well as a reader/customer in addition to a business owner, what sort of money-exchange service tells me what I can and cannot spend my money on, or what I can and cannot sell?
As long as it’s not illegal, I have every right to buy what I want just as I have every right to sell what I want. Their service is integral for me to complete the transaction but that’s all. Their judgment of what I buy or sell is irrelevant to their services – services which I am paying for, by the way.
As an aside, let it be known that I don’t use PayPal and have refused to create any type of merchant account with them.
As Stephanie Abbott pointed out in her post, “Don’t worry, they’re not banning OUR books” I think how someone wants to run their business is up to them, however…be careful of what and ultimately, whom you censor.
I like that Stephanie says: “don’t like it, don’t read it.” I agree. She went on to state what I was thinking in my mind as I read her post. If PayPal or people are upset that covering an illegal topic in their fiction is disrespectful to the victims of those illegal acts, then what about all the murder mysteries out there? What about thrillers (come on, we all know spies kill at times). She also states:
“ALL woman-in-jeopardy/kidnapped child/slasher/serial killer stories deal with illegal acts. Same question. Should victims and surviving families be offended?”
A lot of murder mysteries have illegal acts as well as illegal sexual acts (as stated above) as part of the impetus to their story and characters. Are these e-books going to be banned as well by PayPal?
And, more importantly, should the service you use to transfer money from customer to business impose their views on you as a business owner? or as a customer?
Personally, I don’t read or write erotica and that is irrelevant. These days I’m more into self-help books myself but I do know there are various degrees and definitions of erotic fiction. It seems that PayPal may be targeting erotica in all genres though, which is even more puzzling to me.
I also don’t and can’t watch TV shows or read books about child kidnapping because I’m a parent and it upsets me, so guess what? I don’t. It’s my choice. And that’s what it comes down to. MY CHOICE. If someone wants to buy those books, that’s fine by me. It’s their choice. If someone wants to buy erotica or BDSM e-books, that’s none of my business and they have every right to do so.
It’s like sticking your head in the sand saying, “No one in my state curses.” then telling your local bookstore they shouldn’t be allowed to sell books that have cursing in them. Really? Seriously? Just because you don’t acknowledge it or approve of it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
And if I want to read an erotic romance or fantasy novel, I don’t see why I shouldn’t be able to buy it using any darn money-exchanging service that is available. Period.
Adding this to the discussion: I’ve also read Violet Blue’s post, PayPal Strong-Arms Indie Ebook Publishers Over Erotic Content which is another great read and I don’t buy PayPal’s excuse of handling returns or what they call “charge-backs”.
Who the hell returns a 99-cent e-book? or even $2.99 or $4.99 e-book? Not to mention, Violet is absolutely correct. PayPal doesn’t lose any money on returns at all!! It’s the merchant that handles the returns as well as any returns fee issued by PayPal. Nope, I’m not buying that excuse.
Copyright 2012 – All rights reserved.