Don't Blame Smashwords Or Paypal: The Frontier Moved For Indie Authors, It's Time To Move With It

This post, by Dan Holloway, originally appeared on his The Man Who Painted Agnieszka’s Shoes site on 2/25/12.

As this post and many others currently mushrooming on the web are commentating, indie ebook distributor Smashwords has asked authors of certain kinds of erotica to remove their content in order to satisfy an ultimatum from Paypal that such content be removed or the payment processing facility be withdrawn.

Now argument is raging on all kinds of fronts. Some have to do with US consitution, on which I’m not going to offer comment. Thankfully, very little debate has focussed on the type of material under discussion – that doesn’t seem, to me, to be the point.

The two points that seem to me to be most pertinent (others will have different opinions) are these:
– what do we think of Paypal makin this request?

– what kind of organisation does Smashwords want to be?

To take the latter first, Mark Coker, an inveterate champion of indie publishing, has regularly portrayed Smashwords as a champion of all things indie. It is this that I think has so many authors angry. I won’t harp on too much about this, but much confusion comes from what we mean by "indie", as I’m always saying. The more the indie book world looks like the regular book world (and as more people self-publish the more it *does*) the more we should expect indie champions to behave like people in the mainstream. Erotica authors were amonst the earliest adopters of epublishing – they were indie frontierspeople, and I think they still share a pioneering view of what indie means (as I tend to), hence they feel sold down the river first and foremost because what they thought of as a safe haven for boundary pushers has been colonised by the "safe" making it no longer safe for them. As it were.


Read the rest of the post on The Man Who Painted Agnieszka’s Shoes. Also see this related post on TechCrunch and this related post on The Digital Reader, which includes the text of the email Smashwords sent to affected authors and publishers.

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