PayPal Pain

It’s been all over the writer’s gossip circles this week, but a lot of you may not know what’s going on with Paypal.

This article gives a good summary of the situation. And the lovely and talented Stephanie Draven posted this excellent summary of the legal issues involved.

Essentially what’s going on is that PayPal – a company that processes online payments – has told some of its vendors that they cannot sell certain kinds of books. Smashwords, which is a self-publishing service, has agreed to comply, though the founder is unhappy. All Romance eBooks has apparently been asked to comply. What’s extraordinary about this is that PayPal is dictating what kind of erotica is okay to sell. While some of their no-no topics are consistent with many publishers – no rape for titillation, no bestiality, no pedophilia, no incest – they’ve verged into other areas as well, such as BDSM.

It’s not at all clear what kind of standard they’re applying. Even more unclear is why they get to. PayPal is a merchant attempting to apply pressure on other merchants dependent on their services to censor certain books.

Now I am a believer in access to books. To all books.

I’ve never subscribed to the idea that it somehow damages or poisons a person to read anything. All knowledge is worth having. It’s up to us, as thinking human beings, to decide what ideas to keep and which to discard. Also, I believe erotic fiction provides an outlet for enjoying the concept of a sexual practice that may never occur in real life.

Finally, I think allowing any censorship, on any basis, allows for censorship on other bases. One of my friends said a reader contacted her because she was upset about the presence of the “Christian Devil” in her books. It’s always an option, not to read. But other people should have the freedom to do so.

So, I’ve decided to close my PayPal account. I’m sorry, because I found their service convenient. I now have to mail a check where I once would have used PayPal. Some merchants, who only use PayPal, will no longer be accessible to me.

However, I cannot support their attempts at censorship.

16 Replies to “PayPal Pain”

  1. Egh….
    And of course PayPal is my only option for payment online for sites outside of the Netherlands.
    I might have to look into getting a credit card.

    1. I was thinking of you when I wrote this, Carien. Such a pain, I know, but I don’t know what else in good conscience I can do.

  2. In taking it a tiny step further, not only do I not believe it poisons someone to read something, I really REALLY don’t believe it poisons someone to use the same pay service as was used to transact the purchase of of someone else’s reading.

    When the sentences get that complicated, the situation has become stupid.

  3. That really sucks. However, they can make that choice. It just means, the money will not go to them. And the way of the world….money talks…everything else walks.

  4. Uhhh, who’s bright idea was that? Wow. Talk about stupid. Well, it is their company, and they can do what they want, but that’s one way to cut off their nose to spite their face. I haven’t had a PayPal acct in years, but I’d close my account today if I did. Tell me what I can and can’t buy? I think not.

  5. My jaw dropped when I read this. Since when does a payment service get to dictate something that is their customers’ right to choose? Really stupid move, IMHO.

    I wonder if anyone has started an online petition to let Paypal know how many oppose their act of censorship?

    I’m going to post some links to this post. Great article, Jeffe.

    1. Thanks, Laurie! I suggested to some of the LERA board that we consider dropping PayPal as a form of payment for The Rebecca. It would be hugely inconvenient, but I think it’s the right thing to do.

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