There's been quite a bit of nastiness in the online world of publishing as of late and there are some important developments that readers and writers alike need to be aware of.
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.
Initially, the demands were focused on what is known as 'Pseudo Incest' stories. I had no idea this sub-genre of erotica existed myself, and had to do some research to figure out if it was as bad as it seemed. It's not.
These stories are not incest in the true meaning of the word, hence the Pseudo, but they do appeal to a surprisingly large demographic of people for which this is a big sexual fantasy.
It is not my fantasy, but I don't knock other people's kinks so long as they aren't illegal, which, in this case, they are written so that they are within the limits of the law. (Think Woody Allen and his adoptive daughter, kind of icky for me personally, but he was not put in prison for incest now was he?)
Worse, Paypal has now told veteran erotica author and publisher, Selena Kitt, that BDSM is equivalent to rape and is banned as well. As someone who reads and writes BDSM, that is about a million different kinds of wrong. If you are a fan of BDSM, your jaw probably dropped reading that, mine is on the floor.
Even more insidious, to date, only independent authors have been targeted by these Paypal initiated sweeps. I can give you lists and lists of traditionally published books that should be banned on sites using Paypal as a payment processor, but haven't been touched. Why is that?
I don't know, but it worries me and I hope it worries you. Content is being banned with no recourse and publishers are getting away with things Indies cannot. Retailers and Paypal say the problem is the pseudo incest and 'rape', but what they are actually doing does not match their words.
More damning is the fact that Paypal is owned by Ebay, which has multiple BDSM books available for sale. So Paypal's parent company sells the very fiction they are banning. That doesn't make any sense, does it?
The whole thing smells.
If you are a reader who enjoys erotica, you are being denied access to popular books, books that have sold tens of thousands of copies.
If you are a writer, any genre, you begin to see how larger business interests can move against you and your work. Actually, on one site, they have already deleted their entire Indie catalog which makes this a multi-genre issue. Besides, if you can't stand up for erotica who will stand up for you?
Erotica sells too well for me to believe anyone who says they don't read and don't like it. While I'm sure that small percentage exists, most of us have enjoyed a naughty, raunchy tale or two in our time. In light of current events, I wonder how much longer that option will be open to us as readers?
Please consider signing the petition on the Care 2 Petition site and shop at sites like Amazon and Barnes and Noble, which are still selling erotica without silly definitions that equate BDSM with rape. Please make your voice heard and continue to follow this issue.
Before Commenting on this Post:
1.Let's avoid the incest debate and focus more on the fact that Indies are being targeted while traditionally published books are favored. The uneven enforcement deserves attention and I don't want us to get side tracked by sexual fantasies that squick us out, okay? Also, please keep in mind, at least one site banned their entire Indie catalog--so this is bigger than one genre.
2.Please don't bring up the straw man of 'Indies put out crappy books and suck' because we all know traditional publishers are not immune to quality control issues themselves. Don't buy the hype that Indies deserve to be banned and marginalized, at least not in the comments here. Besides, many of the works that were banned, dominated the best seller charts on the sites in question.
More reading on this topic:
Selena Kitt--Slippery Slope: Erotica Censorship (with comments from Joe Konrath)