|Posted on March 6, 2012 at 1:30 AM|
PayPal. Censorship. Controversy.
You know what I'm talking about: PayPal's been throwing its weight around in the ebook world, urging booksellers to unpublish and disallow certain types of erotica--"taboo" topics--upon punishment of account closure. The main players in this unjust brouhaha have been Bookstrand (the first to come out with the news, as far as I can recall), Smashwords, and one of my publishers, eXcessica. Threatened with the prospect of PayPal ceasing to do business with their companies, all have taken steps to appease the giant.
And, hell, if it were me making the decisions, I'd probably end up doing the same thing. Well, maybe not cutting ties with all indie publishers like Bookstrand has chosen to do... actually, yeah, I totally wouldn't have done that...
Anyway, what I came here to talk about is the curious All Romance offshoot of this conversation. ARe's been taking heat for a while now from readers who were squicked by the abundance of "I F*cked My D&ddy's G0at While My Step-Br0thers G&ng-B&nged Me" literature popping up on the site.
Though these ebooks were immediate best-sellers, topping pretty much every list I perused (well, not so much the gay romance section, but everywhere else), the outcry I heard from a lot of readers was that All Romance is a romance bookseller, not a porn site, and shouldn't be allowing publishers to upload these un-romance titles. So, obviously there's a disconnect somewhere, if readers are calling for best-selling titles to be banned. Right? Right.
If you've visited ARe's site recently, you'll certainly have noticed the changes. At least, you'll have noticed SOME of the changes. You might not notice, at a glance, that books like my gay menage story A DESCENT INTO THE MAILROOM was quietly removed from ARe's bookshelf.
ARe maintains that they were not contacted by PayPal, and site reorganization was entirely their own doing and has been in the pipeline for months.
This is a big-ass net, and my big ass is caught in it. Why? Well, that's a damn good question. My answer is... I don't know. My publisher wasn't given a reason as to why DESCENT was taken off the market, nor was I. BDSM titles seem to have been targetted--some, but not others. Or maybe they object to the presence of a fucking machine in the story--not a sensient being, after all.
When I tweeted that this popular short had been removed from ARe's bookshelf and I didn't know why, one follower read the blurb and except at eXcessica (where DESCENT is #3 on the gay male bestsellers list) and suggested it was likely the words BOY and LAD in the excerpt setting off alarms. Maybe those words tripped their "barely legal" sensor.
Oh, that's right, I forgot to mention: on top of everything else, ARe seems to be having a field day removing titles that appear to feature 18-19 year old characters. I hear there used to be a "May-December" category that has recently been scrapped. Older people with younger people? No. Sorry, but no.
Yet another net my big ass is caught in. Boy, this is getting fun. Ooops... I said, "Boy." The barely legal police are going to be coming after me, I bet. Apparently you can't say BOY anymore without being tagged as a perv.
Which is really too bad, because in a BDSM title where the "boy" in question is in fact a 30-something business exec being called BOY by a silver fox who happens to be his boss, the very use of the word BOY is titillating in the extreme. To some people. Not everyone, granted, but where is the line? If you can't have a hot boss calling his 30-something employee BOY before boinking him with a makeshift fucking machine, what the hell can you write about?
As far as I know, A DESCENT INTO THE MAILROOM has only been taken off ARe's bookshelves. It's still available from eXcessica and other retailers. But my point is, if the barely legal net is catching office workers in their 30s... well, then it's really not functioning properly, is it?
Also, until conditions improve for erotica writers, be very careful not to use the word BOY.
Guys Growl for G.R. Richards Erotica