We as authors need to kick out as many “middlemen” between ourselves, our books, and our readership as we are able to manage… that will be the only way to prevent ourselves from being subject to none writers whims, bottom lines, or tastes. In this digital age, we as authors can, theoretically not only control the production of the final product (the ebook, and its file) but also, cast a large enough net, and social network to become our own distributors, forgoing all middlemen.
Paypal seems to be the Bank of America, of the internet. What is for all intents and purposes, a bank, a means to move money around has decided to impose its own “moral judgments” (though, as someone pointed out to me on Facebook – this is likely more about taxes, and controlling the flow of information, rather than some entities offended scruples…) onto Smashwords as well as other e-book providers.
The curious thing about this is the books they’re not targeting in this crackdown. Alinsky‘s Rules for Radicals and William Ayers‘ Prairie Fire are far more dangerous to society as a whole then a bit of porn, even if some of it is extreme. Yet it is not those type s of books Paypal is going after.
If this were also truly about “morals” I’m a bit confounded they’re leaving Gay & Lesbian porn alone… I mean, where’s the line? What if we run afoul of Paypals, or any other middleman’s political beliefs? Giving ground here, provides an avenue for offensive political beliefs to be censored as well. Though, you’ll notice I’m skeptical of this being some sort of religious Jihad against people who write pseudo-rape, incest, and bestiality books. I think in the long run, it’s about controlling the internet. None of the Paypal founders from what I’ve learned of them strike me to be far Right-Christians either. If anything they swing to the other side of the political spectrum.
A friend wisely pondered: Where is JK Konrath on all this? Or Barry Eisler? Either of their voices in this issue would help bring a brighter light to it.
Ebook aggregators should just be done with Paypal, and move onto some other means of paying out their writers. That way, the writers, or the aggregator will no longer be subject to their terms of service and can set whatever policy which meets their needs, and values.
Its my intention to try to remove as many middlemen between myself and my potential readership as I can. This might however entail taking a note from a decade past when it comes to the selling of ebooks. The use of any electronic go between in the form of a checkout, or donate button means one would be subject to an outside terms of service – many checkout buttons utilize Paypal anyway. And, I don’t think its much safer to fall back to the behemoth of Google or its checkout utility as that puts us into the same situation as with Amazons near monopoly on e-book selling, or Paypals whims. As we’ve seen recently, Google is more than willing to change the rules of the game. As it is we are subject to the ebb and flow of their search algorithms. Putting our eggs all in one basket is unwise for Indie authors.
I’ve got to consider the logistics a bit further. But once I am confident I’ll post about how you can buy directly from me. That way the exchange is just between the author and reader. That’s called taking full control of your product.
- Legal Censorship: PayPal Makes a Habit of Deciding What Users Can Read (eff.org)
- Paypal, Censorship and the First Amendment End Around (jigsawpress.wordpress.com)
- Smashwords, erotica and Paypal (gillyfraser.wordpress.com)
- A Cup of Joe and an ebook… (raptorsclaw.wordpress.com)
- PayPal cracks down on erotica e-book sales (teleread.com)
- PayPal passes the buck on censorship (sherihart.com)
- Smashwords Introduces New Ebook Gifting Feature (smashwords.com)