Not About Read an Ebook Week Anymore

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RogerLairdWriting
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Not About Read an Ebook Week Anymore

Postby RogerLairdWriting » Sun Mar 04, 2012 9:08 pm

I was recently informed by my ebook publisher that this week is officially Read an Ebook week. My publisher Smashwords is having a week long sale on books that authors choose to enroll. Authors decide on the discount at different levels, 75%, 50%, 25%, or free. I already have a few free ebooks but have also enrolled my first novel, Legacy: A Father's Tale available, in the 75% off coupon group. Has anyone else found any promotions or information about Read an Ebook Week? I think this is a great time to get your name out as an Indie writer. Best.

Roger Laird

PS. I believewas that the coupon code for the book discounts on Smashwords.com is REW50 or the respective discount amount ie: REW75 and so on.
Last edited by RogerLairdWriting on Tue Mar 06, 2012 3:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: National Read an Ebook Week

Postby Strycher » Tue Mar 06, 2012 7:32 am

Smashwords Member Alert - March 5, 2012


1. SMASHWORDS READ AN EBOOK WEEK SALE!
________________________________________

Our annual Read an Ebook Week sale is now underway. The sale ends Saturday.
Access over 20,000 free and deep-discounted ebooks.
Simply click to http://www.smashwords.com then click to the Read an Ebook promotion catalog.
Here’s the direct link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/category/1/newest/1

There are four coupon codes you can use for participating books:

25% off: REW25 – 2,300+ ebooks
50% off: REW50 – 5,700+ ebooks
75% off: REW75 – 900+ ebooks
100% off: RE100 – 2,800+ ebooks

In addition to the limited-time deals above, Smashwords offers over 100,000 original ebooks at everyday low prices. Over 13,000 Smashwords ebooks are regularly priced at FREE. The average price of a Smashwords ebook is under $5.00.

Why are our prices so low? It’s because you’re purchasing direct from the author. When you purchase a Smashwords book, the author earns 85% of the net proceeds from the sale. Thank you for supporting our authors!

Smashwords ebooks are multi-format and DRM-free, so you can read them on virtually an e-reading device, including the Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Apple iPad/iPhone/Touch, Sony Reader, Kobo Reader, personal computers and most smart phones and tablets.

You can also purchase most Smashwords ebooks at your favorite ebook retailers, including the Apple iBookstore, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Kobo and the Diesel eBook Store. The codes above are only available for books purchased at the Smashwords store. In the future, we hope to expand this annual promotion to our retail partners.

________________________________________

2. PayPal Censorship
________________________________________

PayPal, the online payment service we use to process credit card payments, has asked Smashwords to remove fiction that contains themes of bestiality, rape and incest. They tell us they are compelled to do this to remain compliant with the rules of the banks and credit card companies. Regardless on one’s opinions about these objectionable topics, we view this attempted censorship as a bad precedent. Fiction is fantasy. It’s not real.

PayPal’s request has caused a firestorm of debate on the Internet about censorship, and what this means for the future of ebook publishing. Most people are horrified at the thought of any censorship, while others believe such content should be restricted. It’s a contentious debate.

This story, out today by TechDirt, does a good job of summarizing the timeline of events and the issues involved: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/201203 ... hors.shtml

The case has even spawned a brilliant and hilarious $.99 parody ebook titled, TWO PEOPLE HAVING SEX https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/139100

There’s a petition at Change.org if you wish to sign it: http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-censorship-2

A few independent privacy-rights and anti-censorship organizations have stepped in to challenge PayPal on their policies, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) and the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC). More are likely to sign on. Here are some quick links:
The Electronic Frontier Foundation: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/02/l ... s-can-read
ABFFE/NCAC: http://www.ncac.org/NCAC-ABFFE-Send-Let ... ayPal-eBay

Our view at Smashwords: We believe it’s wrong for credit card companies, banks and other financial institutions to censor legal fiction. We believe this censorship is targeting a small subset of erotica fiction. The same censored themes are prevalent in much mainstream fiction. We believe it would be unfair to authors and readers alike for any organization to censor what writers are allowed to imagine and what readers are allowed to read. If the PayPal restrictions were taken to the extreme, many mainstream classics including Nabokov’s Lolita or Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with The Wind could technically be banned. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with its depiction of rape could be banned. Even the Bible could fall under the net since it contains scenes of rape and incest. Although such extreme censorship is unlikely, what about moderate censorship? Therein lies the danger of censorship. Where does it stop, and where do we draw the line? It’s difficult for Smashwords or any other retailer, distributor or publisher to assume the role of moral arbiter when there’s so much grey area. We’re engaged in ongoing discussions with our counterparts at PayPal to reach an equitable solution.

If you’re interested to learn more, or learn what you can do to help fight censorship, you can read my most recent email to Smashwords authors on this topic here: https://www.smashwords.com/press/release/30

Enjoy Read an Ebook Week! If your favorite author isn’t yet at Smashwords, please ask them to publish with us.

Best wishes,

Mark

Mark Coker
Founder
Smashwords
http://www.smashwords.com
twitter: http://twitter.com/markcoker

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Re: National Read an Ebook Week

Postby Strycher » Tue Mar 06, 2012 7:35 am

smashwords wrote:contains themes of bestiality, rape and incest.


But not pedophilia? Wha . . .?

RogerLairdWriting
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Re: National Read an Ebook Week

Postby RogerLairdWriting » Tue Mar 06, 2012 8:37 am

I personally think that PayPal is overstepping their boundaries with this demand.

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Re: National Read an Ebook Week

Postby Strycher » Tue Mar 06, 2012 8:38 am

I'm just confused on who would object to rape and bestiality without objecting to pedophilia?

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Re: National Read an Ebook Week

Postby morshana » Tue Mar 06, 2012 11:56 am

Strycher wrote:I'm just confused on who would object to rape and bestiality without objecting to pedophilia?


Maybe they consider pedophilia a subset of rape?
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Re: National Read an Ebook Week

Postby Grayson Morris » Tue Mar 06, 2012 12:43 pm

morshana wrote:
Strycher wrote:I'm just confused on who would object to rape and bestiality without objecting to pedophilia?


Maybe they consider pedophilia a subset of rape?

Then wouldn't bestiality be a subset of rape, too? Can't see how the animal could give consent....
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Re: National Read an Ebook Week

Postby morshana » Tue Mar 06, 2012 1:09 pm

Grayson Morris wrote:
morshana wrote:
Strycher wrote:I'm just confused on who would object to rape and bestiality without objecting to pedophilia?


Maybe they consider pedophilia a subset of rape?

Then wouldn't bestiality be a subset of rape, too? Can't see how the animal could give consent....


True. *shudders and backs out of this conversation*
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Re: National Read an Ebook Week

Postby RogerLairdWriting » Tue Mar 06, 2012 1:35 pm

The point isn't about what is in the content of the books but the fact that they are trying to sensor it out. Another thing I was thinking is what if I was writing a documentary and in an interview a brave individual shared details of their rape and gave permission to publish the info to raise awareness and share their experience. Would that be censored out too? I think they are stepping over the line. I have not written anything in these categories nor do I read them, but don't think that it is right for PayPal to make these kinds of demands.

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Re: National Read an Ebook Week

Postby george nik. » Tue Mar 06, 2012 2:56 pm

RogerLairdWriting wrote:The point isn't about what is in the content of the books but the fact that they are trying to sensor it out. Another thing I was thinking is what if I was writing a documentary and in an interview a brave individual shared details of their rape and gave permission to publish the info to raise awareness and share their experience. Would that be censored out too? I think they are stepping over the line. I have not written anything in these categories nor do I read them, but don't think that it is right for PayPal to make these kinds of demands.

PayPal are certainly stepping over the line here. Censorship is bad anyway, but bankers and financiers trying to censor literature is really despicable.
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RogerLairdWriting
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Re: National Read an Ebook Week

Postby RogerLairdWriting » Tue Mar 06, 2012 3:16 pm

Though this is not why I originally posted this, thanks for the responses. It is always good to talk about this sort of thing.

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Re: National Read an Ebook Week

Postby Strycher » Wed Mar 07, 2012 5:26 am

RogerLairdWriting wrote:The point isn't about what is in the content of the books but the fact that they are trying to sensor it out. Another thing I was thinking is what if I was writing a documentary and in an interview a brave individual shared details of their rape and gave permission to publish the info to raise awareness and share their experience. Would that be censored out too? I think they are stepping over the line. I have not written anything in these categories nor do I read them, but don't think that it is right for PayPal to make these kinds of demands.


I understand that it's not their point. I was making my own, separate, point.

I don't know what the logistics of censorship would be, but they couldn't cut all of these topics out without also cutting out a significant body of respectable literature that already exists. It seems like a way for the financial institutions to placate their probably conservative backers. If one of their important members or customers gets offended by a specific piece, then the piece will be censored. The problem I see is that if you wanted to write anti-financial-institution propaganda they could shut you up and that's not cool.

However, I can't say that I would be too terribly upset if another The Pedophile’s Guide To Love And Pleasure: A Child-Lover’s Code Of Conduct gets banned. wotf017

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Re: National Read an Ebook Week

Postby Grayson Morris » Wed Mar 07, 2012 5:42 am

Strycher wrote:However, I can't say that I would be too terribly upset if another The Pedophile’s Guide To Love And Pleasure: A Child-Lover’s Code Of Conduct gets banned. wotf017

If by "ban" you mean "choose not to sell," I'm 100 percent with you. Amazon is free to decline any book it doesn't want to sell. In that same vein, PayPal is free to decline any sales transaction it doesn't want to process. Smashwords is, in turn, free to decline to do business with PayPal (or to continue doing business with PayPal).

The greater issue of whether the aforementioned book should be declared illegal is stickier. Moral questions are always sticky -- beyond a very, very few issues, there's no global consensus on what is moral and what is immoral. My personal belief is "sticks and stones": a book doesn't hurt anyone. It won't turn anyone into a pedophile. It doesn't violate any children in the being read. But I understand how hard it is to separate preserving the right to sell/write/read the book from condoning the acts the book promotes.
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Re: National Read an Ebook Week

Postby Strycher » Wed Mar 07, 2012 6:00 am

Grayson Morris wrote:
Strycher wrote:However, I can't say that I would be too terribly upset if another The Pedophile’s Guide To Love And Pleasure: A Child-Lover’s Code Of Conduct gets banned. wotf017

If by "ban" you mean "choose not to sell," I'm 100 percent with you. Amazon is free to decline any book it doesn't want to sell. In that same vein, PayPal is free to decline any sales transaction it doesn't want to process. Smashwords is, in turn, free to decline to do business with PayPal (or to continue doing business with PayPal).


Right. If I implied that I thought legal action should be taken, I apologize. Legal action can't be taken until there's a victim, and the publishing of the book itself does not create a victim. People's action do that. But as a consumer, I am more likely to do buy from a company that doesn't insinuate that they endorse pedophilia, so it's in their best interest, if they want my business, to choose not to sell this type of literature.

The greater issue of whether the aforementioned book should be declared illegal is stickier. Moral questions are always sticky -- beyond a very, very few issues, there's no global consensus on what is moral and what is immoral. My personal belief is "sticks and stones": a book doesn't hurt anyone. It won't turn anyone into a pedophile. It doesn't violate any children in the being read. But I understand how hard it is to separate preserving the right to sell/write/read the book from condoning the acts the book promotes.


This is an issue, because the subjectivity of morals can be used as a weapon to control people or turn certain groups into second class citizens. (Both of which are happening right now. In 3rd and 1st world countries.) So, yes making it illegal is difficult without opening Pandora's box. But I do think that having a guidebook for how to get away with molesting children being widely available to pedophiles is going to cause social harm. Conveniently, in this instance, public boycotting persuaded Amazon to work within the bounds of the applicable society's morals and it became a non-issue.

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Re: Not About Read an Ebook Week Anymore

Postby RogerLairdWriting » Wed Mar 07, 2012 10:52 am

Strycher, I am glad that you made this separate point. I think that it is an important discussion that needs to take place. That is the main part of why I changed the title of this thread, the other very small part is my sense of humor. The fact is that I personally don't view that by processing a payment for a book that contains this type of material says that the company implicitly supports that type of act, especially when the source book is fictional and not a direct guide on how to do something. While I understand that PayPal is trying to make an ethical statement, I feel that they are making one in a way that is harmful. Consider this, if PayPal refuses to process payments for books that contain this type of criminal material because they don't condone it, does that mean that they support other crimes such as murder and thievery that are rampant in fiction. The fact is that it is fiction, non-truth. I am unsure of how fiction that contains sex crimes affects society, in all likelihood; it is not a good thing. Reading about such an act may lead to desensitization to the ethical and moral wrongness of the act and lead someone to doing it. However, I believe that it is a slippery slope. What is to keep them from saying that they won't serve authors who have racism, homosexuality, religious themes, etc. in their works? These are heavily conflicted themes that I don't believe should be determined by a company who has very little involvement in the actual production and sale of the literature. It is a bad precedent. PayPal has the right to service whomever they want, but I don't like the fact that it is taking place. These are my opinions, but I feel strongly about them.

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Re: Not About Read an Ebook Week Anymore

Postby Strycher » Wed Mar 07, 2012 12:38 pm

I was saying that if a product contains information that could be harmful to society (ie a manual with instructions or advice on how to successfully abuse a child) then it is up to society to censor itself by boycotting that product.

I mentioned earlier that the implementation of the proposed censorship is a logistical nightmare, because as Grayson pointed out, morals are subjective. As I said above, there's a lot of respectable literature that fits into the proposed perimeters that should not be censored--that they would loose money if they did censor. They probably wouldn't censor most literature that contains rape, incest, and bestiality. I think it's just them trying to establish a backdoor so that they can block content in the future that is harmful for their respective institutions.

I don't think that's really fair. But they are allowed to make their own business partners because it is a privately owned business. If you do feel strongly about it--you should petition them and let them know that they will miss out of your business if they go through with the proposal.

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Re: Not About Read an Ebook Week Anymore

Postby RogerLairdWriting » Wed Mar 07, 2012 1:14 pm

Smashwords has sent out an email about a petition that is online for this issue already.

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Re: Not About Read an Ebook Week Anymore

Postby wellsdesigned » Fri Mar 09, 2012 5:48 am

I’m guessing that most of the people who don’t like Pay Pal’s action, sympathize with advertisers who have pulled their ads from the Rush Limbaugh show. There are plenty of market listings for fiction (including the Writers of the Future) that specifically state that they will not accept stories that have the same elements Pay Pal does not want to be a part of. Is that censorship on their part? With the freedom of speech comes the freedom of choice. If Pay Pal chooses not to support the stories that have rape and bestiality, it is as much of a right as the writer has to pen the story.

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Re: Not About Read an Ebook Week Anymore

Postby Fobok1 » Fri Mar 09, 2012 11:33 pm

The difference in my mind is the fact that Paypal is enforcing their beliefs on other businesses, thus per the definition of censorship suppressing sales based on content. Yes, it's totally within their rights and legal, but just because it's legal and not the government doing it doesn't mean it's not censorship.
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Re: Not About Read an Ebook Week Anymore

Postby Patrick S. McGinnity » Sat Mar 10, 2012 6:21 am

Good point. It would seem without question to amount to censorship if, for example, Visa suddenly stopped allowing purchases of anything their board considered objectionable, right? What if they decided to limit our access to music with "objectionable content," or movies that are critical of large financial institutions?

These services, while businesses in their own right, of course, are intended to give us flexibility with how we spend our money, not to police what we spend it on. I appreciate the concerns with certain content, especially in a market like e-pub, where it would seem the traditional content filters (agents, editors, publishers, etc.) have been circumvented, but since the problem originated with people who wanted to start a new system for distribution (both producers and consumers), the solution to such problems should arise from the same people, not be imposed by a company one might say has a virtual stranglehold on a certain type of online buying and selling. I don't have a solution, but having each financial institution enforcing its own idiosyncratic set of moral standards is not a solution.

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Re: Not About Read an Ebook Week Anymore

Postby Grayson Morris » Sat Mar 10, 2012 6:39 am

What would happen is that VISA would lose a huge percentage of its market share as merchants switched to MasterCard. If MasterCard followed suit, someone would start a new rival to fill the gap. No company with a stranglehold (=huge market share) will stay so if it starts limiting its customers. Someone else will jump in and start a new one to fulfill the newly freed consumer demand.

And I respectfully disagree, Patrick: these services are intended to earn money for the company's shareholders, period. VISA is not a public service; it's a company that saw something people might pay for. If they take a stand, whether based on principle or economics, they will ultimately succeed or fail based on whether they continue to be profitable. Consumers (in VISA's case, including merchants) are free to switch to another company or another methodology. Yes, it may be a pain in the butt if the company in question has a large market share and is thus very convenient, but the choice is there. Not so with legislation.
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Re: Not About Read an Ebook Week Anymore

Postby Patrick S. McGinnity » Sat Mar 10, 2012 6:59 am

You're right, of course. When I referred to them as "services," though, I really meant the whole category of business, which in general exists to give us flexibility with our money. Each business is in it for the money, not the service, but as a whole, the purpose of such businesses is to increase access and flexibility. Sure, censorship by the state (in the larger political sense) through legislation and regulation is what the bill of rights protects us from, while a business is free to do what it pleases.

The consumers deciding by being deliberate in how they spend their money, and through whom, is kind of what I was getting at, except from the other end. The consumers and producers of content may need to figure out how to set standards that, while they may not prevent Joe Schmoe from putting his necrophiliac, bestiality, rape fantasy up for sale, will at least differentiate one type of e-pub from another. Whether that comes in the form of something as silly as the equivalent of a nutrition label (100% organic, free range, pedophilia free fiction), or a warning label for works that are questionable, I don't know.
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Re: Not About Read an Ebook Week Anymore

Postby Fobok1 » Sat Mar 10, 2012 7:02 am

Grayson Morris wrote:Not so with legislation.


What does legislation have to do with anything? I'm basing my comments on the dictionary definition of censorship. Which is, according to Merriam-Webster, 'the institution, system, or practice of censoring'. Censoring is defined as, 'to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable <censor the news>; also : to suppress or delete as objectionable <censor out indecent passages>'

What Paypal is doing is suppressing objectionable content. They are using the authority of the fact that sites like Smashwords depend on their services (and can't switch due to the level of integration in their site) to function to stop the sale of objectionable content.
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