The story of corporate interests banning of books continues with sad news today. Paypal moved against Smashwords this past week and, last night, the email went out to authors with instructions to delete specific content or else the company would delete it for them. Unlike other book retailers, Smashwords actually put up a vigorous fight and their communication to authors was filled with regret, respect for authors and anger against the latest chess move in the bigger game of corporate censorship.
The end result of Paypal's edicts against erotica over the past weeks has been to contribute to Amazon's market share and shrink ebook distribution options for independent writers. While it's good to have at least one place still standing that will continue to sell what the customer wants, I am uncomfortable with the quickening pace of Amazon's growth into an online monopoly.
Business competition is good and healthy for consumers and artists. The lack of payment processor competition has enabled Paypal to essentially do whatever it wants with impunity--not just in regards to book content, but in all areas of online business. There's a reason why sites like Paypal Sucks exist.
The last thing authors and readers need is one single retailer distributing the lion's share of ebooks. That will be the point where Amazon can do whatever it want, just as Paypal has, with almost no avenue for recourse.
What's a little person to do?
We can vote with our dollars and our feet.
How? Let me count the ways, because, no matter how little we may feel, we do matter and our actions do invoke consequences. We can choose a future that doesn't let corporate censorship thrive without opposition and it's not that hard to do.
1.Open an account with another payment processor such as Verotel.
2.Write to Smashwords, Bookstrand, All Romance ebooks and other retailers to ask them to do the same and demonstrate your willingness to make the switch with them. They need to know you're not afraid to leave Paypal's "trusted brand" behind.
3.Like Paypal Sucks on Facebook and keep up with the latest in the fight for the right to buy what you want to buy without Paypal punishing retailers you rely on.
4.Keep buying erotica. Write reviews. Support the authors, some of whom have lost thousands of dollars in the last ten days.
5.Support retailers other than Amazon when possible--Smashwords is a great place to start.
Things won't change tomorrow or even next month, but these actions will start the forward motion we need to create the retailer diversity that both readers and writers want.
And be warned, Barnes and Noble accepts Paypal ,meaning they are likely in the cross hairs next. Are they too big for Paypal to take out or will the corporate censorship continue unabated?
Good Reading on this Topic Elsewhere:
Two Legs Bad: An Open Letter to Mark Coker
Slippery Slope 2: Why Frogs Boil
And There Goes Another One (Smashwords)
Paypal: Taking a Sledgehammer to Artistic Freedom
Smashwords Falls Victim to Paypal