“Don’t worry, they’re not banning OUR books”

You know, I am a great believer in the free market. I think a company like PayPal can do whatever they wish. If they want to play nanny to consumers by attempting to unduly influence the market, they have that right. Same with BookStrand and Smashwords … if they want to knuckle under, well, they have their own bottom line to think about. But it surprises me that more AUTHORS and ARTISTS aren’t up in arms.

Now me, I write all kinds of stuff. Cozy mysteries. Fantasy adventures. M/M romance. I am not sure if anything I’ve written would be affected by these policy changes. My book SOMETHING DIFFERENT is on Smashwords as of right now … we’ll see. But I find it depressing to see some writers defending PayPal’s new rules on the following grounds.

“Pseudo-incest books are tacky.  It’s not incest, but “Me and Step-Daddy” books are almost incest, and incest is bad, mm-kay?”

Don’t like it?  Don’t read it.  I have enjoyed the amazing experience of being looked down on by “zombie writers” (folks who write exclusively about the Zombie Apocalypse) and vampire writers and “menage” writers (yes, they write romances about threesomes) because some of my books contain erotic content. I know there’s always going to be competition and jealousy in artistic circles but it’s really amusing to find yourself at the bottom of the pecking order with some books, and near the top (mystery) with others.

“Rape fantasy books are disrespectful to rape victims everywhere.  Furthermore, rape is illegal, so why should writing about it be okay?”

Again: don’t like it, don’t read it.  I am not even going to delve into the difference between reality and fantasy, which apparently is too abstract for some professional writers to grasp.  I am going to say this.

ALL murder mysteries deal with illegal acts.  Are all murder mysteries, especially the gritty ones that describe the act from the killer’s viewpoint, disrespectful to murder victims?

ALL woman-in-jeopardy/kidnapped child/slasher/serial killer stories deal with illegal acts.  Same question.  Should victims and surviving families be offended?

In certain places in the world, menage love stories deal with (“glorify”) illegal acts.  Same with my m/m romances. They are disrespectful to  folks who object to homosexual sex and love on the grounds of religious or cultural tradition.

EVERYTHING we write is theoretically disrespectful to someone, if they choose to object to the existence/sale of books that differ from their personal world view.

You know, I really do encourage free speech and disagreement and I don’t give a rat’s ass if you think I’m right or wrong.  But if you’re a published author who feels good about this because YOUR books aren’t affected, I wish you’d reconsider.

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me. — Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)



25 thoughts on ““Don’t worry, they’re not banning OUR books”

  1. Awesome post Stephanie, growing up I’ve read many Teen books with implied sex, descriptive sex from Traditional publishers. Why are indies being singled out. This isn’t just about erotic books, it’s about all books and the readers choices. I thought we were past book burning, I guess not. How do you burn an ebook?

  2. I guess by rendering smaller websites afraid to offer it. I wonder if PayPal is going to clamp down on folks buying such items on their parent company site, eBay? Or withdraw from use with online adult stores? And naturally, they should refuse to let anyone use PayPal to buy R or Mature rated movies that PayPal hasn’t vetted. If they really want to be conscientious and not weirdly hypocritical, PayPal has a lot of housecleaning to do.

    Someone needs to start a funds transfer service called Consumer’s Choice where you can use your own money to buy any darn thing you want. What a concept!

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Lynn! Usually I try to only blog about “light” or “positive” topics but it really disturbs me that so many authors seem okay with this.

  3. All writers and creative people should be concerned whenever anyone tries to control or ban books or subjects they disagree with. Like an avalanche that starts with a tiny pebble, censureship once started takes everything with it. My first book had a lot of explicit sex in it but I have toned down the rest of my books but not taken out sex entirely because it is a natural human occurance. By the way the book is Lightning in the Tunnel written under my pen name AG Moye. I join with you fighting any censorship!

  4. All writers and creative persons of the world should stand up to any censureship for whatever the reason. If the material is unsuitable for that person, then don’t buy it or veiw it but don’t stop those that wish to read or view it, My first book has a lot of explicit sex in it neessary to get the point across to the reader. I toned it down in my other books but sex is still there because it is a normal function of people. By the way my book is called Lightning in the Tunnel under my pen name AGMoye!

  5. Great blog, Steph. I was wondering where the other voices were on this issue (besides mine) and finally found a few of my fellow authors speaking out. Thanks for doing so. We cannot allow this outrage to continue.

  6. I’ve been dealing with this issue for a couple of weeks now (my catalog was removed by Bookstrand), but I still haven’t decided how I feel about it.

    One one hand, I don’t really see it as censorship. If they want to put me in jail for writing about rape fetishists who use safe words, that’s censorship. This is about capitalism and businesses doing what businesses do–trying to keep their customers happy.

    I think what authors need to focus on is finding the appropriate outlet for whatever they want to write.

    The people who I think should be really upset, and aren’t as yet, are the non-author readers. Look, we have something on the line–money. We have self-interest that will work against the perceived legitimacy of our outrage. But readers–readers are being told what they can and can’t buy from the businesses developed to profit off of them. If I read the kind of erotica that is being removed, I would be livid.

    But, as I said, I’m still sorting out my feelings on the issue, so I’ve been pretty much mum.

  7. “EVERYTHING we write is theoretically disrespectful to someone, if they choose to object to the existence/sale of books that differ from their personal world view.”

    This sums up my feelings perfectly. I hate the idea that one group is being attacked like this. It leaves too many doors open to other groups.

    I don’t know what brought all this up so that PayPal decided to do this, but I’m alarmed. If all authors don’t take this seriously, then where will that leave them in the future? People need to consider the long-term implications of this move instead of thinking of what’s happening today.

  8. I hear you, Evelyn.

    Personally, I neither write nor read what’s being currently targeted. BUT two of my books have non-titillating rape scenes on-page because that’s part of the story. Will they be dumped down the slippy slope?

    I was going to keep mum on this issue until I read a blog post today by a ‘soft-focus’ erotica writer saying, don’t sign any petitions, this is GREAT for us normal erotica writers, having all that trash swept away. Then I felt compelled to say, you know, as artist-writers, I think we should all resist attempts at censorship. Just my opinion. You notice I didn’t write “An Open Letter to PayPal” or even to Mark Coker. I don’t expect either of them to care. But those who have artistic leanings … I think they should be a bit worried.

  9. Amen, Ruth Ann. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I loved your comment about your romances including references to God, and would that be the next thing to go?

    I can’t swear that this is accurate, but according to Tyler Perry, it is forbidden on TV to use the name Jesus. You can get by with “God” or “the Lord,” but “Jesus” as a religious entity is a no-go. What if that became the standard in fiction? I am about the LEAST religious person you will ever meet. Yet for whatever reason, one of my protagonists is deeply religious and during a key moment, another character reassures him by saying, “There is no hell. There’s only Christ.” I can’t imagine a world where I would be required to change the line (or some of the other statements of religious faith) to meet the standards of a FUNDS TRANSFER COMPANY. Unbelievable.

  10. “I was going to keep mum on this issue until I read a blog post today by a ‘soft-focus’ erotica writer saying, don’t sign any petitions, this is GREAT for us normal erotica writers, having all that trash swept away. ”

    See, I think that comment pisses me off more than the actual issue at hand. Why do people have to decide that their idea of artistic merit sets the bar for what EVERYONE’S idea of artistic merit should be? And it’s especially great when a comment like that comes from an indie–because, you know–we indies are the artistic renegades. Bullhockey.

  11. Thanks for speaking out on this important topic. I’m blogging and tweeting like crazy, too. Hopefully more authors and book lovers will speak out.

  12. Pingback: PayPal banning certain e-books. Really? « Lisa's Creative Space

  13. Stephanie, Thanks for writing this post. Yet another good reason for me never to use PayPal. I find it incomprehensible that a payment processing service has chosen to do this!! Blows my mind. And, I, too, am wondering and very concerned as to how far this will go. Your post inspired my own post on the subject linking back to yours. Hope that’s okay. http://tinyurl.com/7e8mb4x

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