A commentary on paypal and smashwords

Posted on March 9, 2012
Filed Under Immanion Press, publishing | 2 Comments

Recently I learned that smashwords, which is an online e-publisher site is getting hit with possible sanctions from paypal, because paypal and credit card companies have decided they have a right to interject their moral codes on other people. Basically paypal is telling smashwords that they’ll shut down the smashwords paypal account as long as smashwords publishes fictitious works that include sexual stories. You can read the article to learn more, but suffice to say I find the matter to be another example of how some people think its perfectly acceptable to impose their moral issues on other people. They want to censor people that don’t comply with their perceptions, and in this case they’re basically censoring fiction.

So why should I care? I write non-fiction, so it doesn’t effect me. That’s true, but it does effect my small press, since publish fiction and some of what we publish fits in the categories they want to ban. But even if that wasn’t the case, I’m opposed to censorship in general, on the basis that when a society bans what people can or can’t write, discuss, etc., then it becomes a case where they are trying to limit essential freedoms. That’s why I care. I like smashwords a lot. While Immanion Press is moving forward with converting books over to Kindle, I like knowing we have an alternative to amazon.

Those are my thoughts on the issue. If it bothers you, speak up and make your voice heard.



I'm not convinced that Paypal is "censoring" Smashwords' material. The term "censoring" for me carries the connotation of actively seeking to suppress or delete something considered objectionable. From what you have stated above, this does not seem to be the case. I think that Paypal is perfectly within its legal rights to do or not to do business with anyone it so chooses. Does the fact that Paypal has announced it's objection to certain material and it's subsequent threat of dissolution of future business constitute censorship? Not in my opinion. Will Smashwords be impacted by Paypal's withdraw of it's services? Most assuredly. However, withdrawal of a service to another business due to "moral objections" does not smell like censorship to my nose.

Magicexperiment moderator

 @KarmaghnaUlrik You might not be convinced of it, but I am. When a company removes specific services because it dislikes what its client is doing, I suppose its within its right, but that doesn't mean the people effected by it should say, "Well that's ok. It's not censorship" It is censorship because its based on the idea that writing and publishing about specific topics is not acceptable and there will be punishments if such topics are written and published.