Flutterby™! : Smashwords shoots itself

Next unread comment / Catchup all unread comments User Account Info | Logout | XML/Pilot/etc versions | Long version (with comments) | Weblog archives | Site Map | | Browse Topics

Smashwords shoots itself

2012-02-27 15:04:11.657771+00 by Dan Lyke 6 comments

Last week, Smashwords, an online publisher of ebooks, modified their terms of service to forbid "...erotic fiction that contains bestiality, rape and incest.".

Remittance Girl has an open letter to Smashwords' Mark Coker on the new policy that's well worth reading.

No, sir. Smashwords is requiring the removal of these books to maintain its relationship with Paypal. Please let us be clear on this. I am sure your aspirations regarding the founding of Smashwords were and are very noble. But it is YOU who have decided to let a financial services provider dictate your TOS and therefore impose censorship on the authors who post their works on your site.

Secondly, you, like so many other people seem to have intellectual difficulty in distinguishing between the textual, fictional representation of something and reality. The language you use in your letter is evidence of a conceptual inability to do so. You are not alone in this: forces within our society who wish to ‘protect us’ from ourselves have used this blurring of the fictional with the concrete to great effect, whipping people who also can’t distinguish the fundamental difference up into froths of moral outrage.

No Boundaries Press sees this as an opportunity.

[ related topics: Books Erotic Ethics Free Speech Invention and Design ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2012-02-27 16:54:39.922369+00 by: Larry Burton

I'm really feeling sorry for Smashwords on this. I think they are being stuck between a rock and a hard place and having to make a lot of pragmatic decisions which might appear to go against their principles but also allows them more time to work out a long term resolution to this problem. I can't condemn them for continuing their relationship with PayPal when that might be instrumental to their own survival. I like what Mark Corker, Smashwords founder says in his 26-Feb-2012 post.
It's not so simple to just unplug PayPal. Their policy originates with the banks and credit card companies that power them, and if we want to continue accepting credit cards either with PayPal or any other payment provider, we need to understand from where this originates. I'll continue to work on behalf of all our authors to stand up against this, but I'm unwilling to martyr our business for the sake of one day's battle. We live to continue the fight on another day."

#Comment Re: made: 2012-02-27 22:30:36.039597+00 by: Dan Lyke

I think Mark Corker could have expressed their feeling of being squeezed much better, in a way that wouldn't have totally tweaked so many authors.

#Comment Re: made: 2012-02-27 22:38:15.153699+00 by: meuon

In a fav piece of fantasy, (like Harry Potter for adults), some late teen wizard/witch kids are transformed to foxes... and while frolicking as foxes, get it on like they do on the animal channel. I'll post the title when I get home, it's a good fun read. But it would violate those ToS. Sad.

#Comment Re: made: 2012-02-28 15:34:45.815659+00 by: Dan Lyke

Another update in which Mark Coker pushes more responsibility over on PayPal, extends the deadline for removal, and generally works to smooth things over.

#Comment Re: made: 2012-03-06 15:30:00.014321+00 by: Dan Lyke

Michael Stackpole: Golden Rule: He who has the gold makes the rules.

And Smashwords sent around this TechDirt artcile on the whole thing, along with (and this also came recommended from a few other sources, though I haven't read it yet) Two People Having Sex (An Erotic Parody) ($.99 on Smashwords).

#Comment Re: made: 2012-03-10 05:05:01.608159+00 by: Dan Lyke

Remittance Girl: Visa Writes Us Back! “This is Not Our Doing”. #paypal #censorship #erotica