Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Money rules PayPal censorship

The Smashwords PayPal censorship saga continues...much to my surprise.

One of the strangest ideas that I have seen being floated is that this is merely a ploy by Smashwords to get rid of all those "icky" books. The person who said this obviously does not realize that economics is driving this particular situation. If Smashwords actually just wanted to make the forbidden four disappear, they could have easily done so long before this point. But I imagine that Smashwords, like most indie writers sooner or later, realizes that some dubious books actually make a decent amount of money. And considering that Smashwords makes their money by taking a percentage of the money a writer earns, it does not make any sense for them to kill the forbidden four (at least one of the forbidden four is a gold mine).

On the other hand, PayPal has every reason to want to kill off the forbidden four. After all, PayPal is trying to run their business as cheaply as they can. And the forbidden four generate more costs than other types of transactions.

One thing that I have yet to locate is an actual figure for the percentage of returns/chargebacks that there is for ebooks. In fact, I cannot think of a single outlet that gives refunds on ebooks. Then again, I never thought about claiming that my ebook purchases were a mistake, fraud, or "not to my taste." Honestly, I am not sure that ebooks, even the forbidden four, really create more chargebacks than the normal stuff, like food and gas.

But Morgan, what about the two romance outlets that killed off the forbidden four. Well, one of the outlets killed off ALL indie writers using the forbidden four as an excuse, then left all their own in-house stuff with the forbidden four up. And the other one wasn't someplace I would have thought about looking for the forbidden four on in the first place. So I am guessing that the forbidden four were not earning that much money for those two outlets--at least, in the hands of indie writers.

And if you think Amazon counts, well, go over on Amazon and search for the forbidden four. Amazon is still knee deep in the forbidden four; the only real change is that Amazon has managed to get rid of their legal responsibility if the s*** hits the fan.

Of course, if you do not think that economics do not drive the engines of censorship attempts, just watch the matchup between One Million Moms and Toys R' Us. “Please remove all the same-sex ‘Just Married – Archie’ comic books immediately from your shelves. My decision to shop in your stores depends on it.” Whether Toys R' Us pulls the issue from sale will depend on whether they think that conservative moms outweigh the same-sex marriage rights market share--whoever represents a bigger slice of pie will win that battle.

(I find it interesting that there is research showing that the most conservative regions of the United States consume the most porn--I am guessing that they also consume the most forbidden four erotica also.)

And that brings me to tonight's final point about the Smashwords PayPal censorship saga: The only way that PayPal will allow the forbidden four to exist will be if PayPal discovers that they will lose more money getting rid of the forbidden categories than they will save. Money talks when it comes to corporate censorship.

1 comment:

Rufus Opus said...

How do you know the forbidden four generate more costs than other types of transactions?