Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Sordid Story of PayPal – And the Light at the End of the Tunnel (Part 3)

NCP had no choice but to pull the first three books of the Clans of Kalquor series due to valid reasons:

However, like so many other publishers, we can't afford to have every one of our books removed from all of or distributors, or to have PayPal confiscate our funds and shut down our account.  There is no option left open to us-or to anyone else dealing with any of the distributors.  If we don't remove these titles from sale, they will remove ALL of our titles from sale.  So for the time being, we have no choice but to remove the books we know the Morality Police find offensive

Please note this part:  ...or to have PayPal confiscate our funds and shut down our account.  That's right.  PayPal would take away money people paid for our product.  Money we authors and NCP worked hard to earn.  And yes, it is legal for them to do so, because under their suddenly enforced vague guidelines, we were in violation of their terms of agreement and subject to this action.

Many have said, just take PayPal out of the equation.  But as you can see from the letter from Mark Coker in Part One, it's not that simple.  Selena Kitt, whose Excessica publishing line was also targeted by PayPal, weighs in on this issue on her blog (for full article, go to http://selenakitt.com/blog/index.php/2012/19/slippery-slope-erotica-censorship/ ).

So I started to search for alternatives to Paypal. Not an easy task, I might add. Like Amazon, they are a veritable monopoly in their field. At least they graciously (ha) gave us thirty days to comply, after which the account would be frozen or cancelled. So I had some time. What I discovered was that most merchant-services (i.e. companies that allow you to use Visa and MasterCard on their site) which allow adult products charge a $5000 up-front fee to use their service. Then, they take exorbitant percentages from each transaction. Some 5%, some 14%, some as high as 25%.

Now it was starting to make more sense. The credit card companies charge higher fees for these “high-risk” accounts because there is a higher rate of what they call “chargebacks.” You know that protection on your credit card, where if you dispute the charge, you don’t have to pay for it? Well they’ve determined that happens more with porn and gambling and other “high-risk” sites than others, so they’re justified in charging more money to process payment for those sites.

So now we’re getting a picture here:  the credit card companies are looking for more money.  Small surprise, given the huge and growing-ever-larger-by-the-second erotica literature market.  By classifying erotica as high-risk adult products, they can get themselves a piece of it.  And for the banking industry to preach the moral high ground when it has been so publicly lacking in ethics these last few years is absolutely ludicrous.

While some might not worry too much about PayPal’s crackdown on erotic literature because it doesn’t affect them, this attitude is dangerous.  Sure, it’s naughty sex now.  But what happens when, emboldened by success in banning one small portion of legal commerce, PayPal and credit card companies turn to the political views they don’t agree with?  Or the religions they don’t subscribe to?  Before you accuse me of wild-eyed conspiracy theories, let me point out that PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel contributed heavily … 1.7 million dollars … to Ron Paul’s Super Pac.  And nevermind that Ron Paul may have never supported book banning.  Nevermind he probably won’t be nominated as the Republican nominee.  PayPay is nosing into politics, just as the banking industry heavyweights do.  And when they successfully get a candidate they support into Congress or the Presidency, you know they’ll be looking for those newly elected lawmakers to return the favor.  Stroke for stroke, don’t you know?

So what do you and I do about this?  The only thing we can do:  A.  Scream so loud they can’t help but hear us;  and B.  Refuse to support their companies.   In the body of Mark Coker’s letter above you will find links to all the credit card companies.   In addition, here are the links for PayPal and Ebay (who owns PayPal).  By the way, Ebay is happily selling paperback versions of the very books PayPal is insisting disappear.  And you can buy them using PayPal.  Hmm.  Oh yeah, the links:

I also ask you to check out this link in which the National Coalition Against Censorship and American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression have banded together to protest PayPal's actions:   http://ncac.org/NCAC-ABFFE-Send-Letter-To-PayPal-eBay#.T1UddFUT23k.facebook

I have permission to share this letter a reader sent to eBay and PayPal.  I thought it was rather good:

Dear Sir,

This letter is written in response to the recent ‘crackdown’ PayPal has committed against small publishers and e-book distributors who offer erotic stories for sale.  Your company’s attempts at censorship are not appreciated.  I am an adult who is perfectly capable of determining how I spend my money.  I do not need a corporation holding my hand as if I were a child in need of guidance.

I have read a few of the books removed from sale, books that were banned supposedly because of “incest, rape, or bestiality” as your reasons allege.  None of the books fell into those categories.  One did contain a rape scene, but it was from the heroine’s past and no more graphic, gratuitous, nor obscene than the scene from the movie ‘The Accused’.  It was not the main thrust of the book; it was one scene.  It was obviously not written to titillate the reader, serving instead to underline the heroine’s plight as so many crime and thriller novels do.  As for the other books, none of them contained the material PayPal supposedly objects to.  They contained consensual intimate encounters with non-family members and no animals.   In short, the books were arbitrarily selected and banned on baseless grounds.  The Bible, however, does include much of what you are so pointedly against.  Will you be determining my religion for me next by banning holy works?

I have read PayPal’s assertion that you are pressured by the credit card companies in your actions.  That argument doesn’t wash when the paperback versions of the books you have pulled support from are readily available for sale on Ebay.  Obviously, you have no problem making money off these works that do not conform to your standards while forcing out of business small publishers, distributors, and independent authors, who are simply trying to feed their families in these harsh economic times.  It sickens me that banking services are touting morals when they have shown in the last few years how few ethics and morals they possess.

If the material is not illegal, you have no true basis for telling us what we may and may not spend our money on.  You are a financial intermediary, not my priest or government.  I, for one, will not be using PayPal or Ebay ever until you stop persecuting those who do not conform to your so-called morals.

Let me wrap up this insanely long blog with a bit of good news.  New Concepts Publishing has assured me that they are working hard to secure an alternative to PayPal and expect to have all my books (along with other blocked authors) back on the site soon.  And it also looks as if the removal of Alien Embrace, Alien Rule, and Alien Conquest from various distributors could be temporary.  Yes, you could soon see all three gracing Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the rest once more in the near future.  So it’s not time to bury my babies … but it is time to put on trial those who would have killed them off.


  1. " Yes, you could soon see all three gracing Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the rest once more in the near future. So it’s not time to bury my babies … but it is time to put on trial those who would have killed them off."

    Amen, ditto, d'accord. I'm well over 18 and don't need someone else deciding what I can and/or should read or avoid reading. 2 days off in a row coming up shortly, time to send letters & close accounts. Thanks for the various links. The reader's letter you included is great, wish I was that eloquent.