Mar 092012
 

I have a few things I want to discuss today, and I even wrote a post-it note to myself earlier this week so I wouldn’t miss anything.

Apology and Thank You
First up is an apology to anyone who has emailed me in the February. I got really far behind in my emails and haven’t respond to most of them. I am slowly getting to them, so expect replies soon. This particularly applies to all the awesome authors who contacted me about donating prizes to the reading challenges. Melissa Foster, this month’s feature author for both challenges, contacted several author friends about the challenges, and I got a huge reply from all of them. I am so happy and thankful for Melissa’s help.

Paypal Controversy
As you know, I am a huge supporter for Smashwords. I got an email this week that Paypal is trying to censor the subjects of the books sold using them. Taken straight from the Smashwords email I received:

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/20120301/17363217939/paypal-pressured-to-play-morality-cop-forces-smashwords-to-censor-authors.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/legal-censorship-paypal-makes-habit-deciding-what-users-can-read
ABFFE/NCAC
:  http://www.ncac.org/NCAC-ABFFE-Send-Letter-To-PayPal-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

I have added a link to the petition in the right sidebar and will leave it up for everyone to see and click on.

Book Tagged
I’ve been tagged by Kristyn at A Turn of Page for a new meme, book tagged, a fun new way for book bloggers to get to know one another. It’s super easy and a great way to learn more about some of your favourite bloggers. Here are the rules:

1) Post the rules.
2) Answer the questions by your tagger and make your own questions for the bloggers you’ve tagged.
3) Tag 10 people and link them in your post.
4) Let the people you’ve tagged know you’ve tagged them.

My answers to Kristyn’s questions:
Do you prefer book series or stand alone novels? Why?
I like both. Series let you really get to know characters and watch them grow and change over time, while stand alone novels are great for when you just want a story.

How much time do you spend reading per week & what are your other hobbies?

I spend several hours reading a week. Mostly on the weekend and Tuesday night. I don’t have many other hobbies except playing with my son.

Do you write in addition to being a book blogger? If so, what genre do you write?
I do not write. And really have no desire to try.

What is your favorite movie based on a book? Why?
This is a hard one. I don’t watch many movies. I really liked The Lord of the Rings movies.

What is your least favorite movie based on a book? Why?

Any Stephen King movie. I am a wimp and hate horror movies. I used to love his books, but couldn’t stand any of the movies.

Name one book you simply couldn’t put down and explain why.

There are so many I could list here. My favourite so far this year has been God’s Eye.

If you were going to recommend one book, what would it be and why?

Just one? The Mists of Avalon.  It’s one of my favourite books of all time. And if you read it all, you will feel like you accomplished something big because it is a really long book.

Do you have a Kindle or the like? Do you read e-books? Why or why not?

I have a Sony ereader and love it! It so much lighter and easier to read, and I never have to carry an extra book around, just in case I finish the one I’m reading now.

What is the first book you remember reading?
I started reading when I was so young that I don’t remember the first book. I remember loving The Babysitter’s Club series and The Little House on the Prairie.

Are you more likely to read a bad book with a good cover, or a good book with a bad cover? Also, does a cover affect how you feel about a book, whether good or bad?

I love covers, and a good one may entice me to try the book, but I don’t let bad covers deter me. There are many great stories hidden behind bad covers.

The people I’m tagging for this meme include:

Marie at Ramblings of a Daydreamer
Teddy Rose at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Evie at Bookish
Erika at Suddenly Books
Krystal at Live to Read
Zoe at In The Next Room
April at My Shelf Confessions
Barbara and Cait at Basia’s Bookshelf
Lori at Pure Imagination

And here are my questions for you to answer:

1. What is your favourite read of 2012 so far?
2. Are you participating in any reading challenges this year?
3. When do you usually read?
4. Do you have an ereader? Do you love it or want a new one?
5. Do you read self-published books? Why or why not?
6. Have you ever read a book based on the cover?
7. Do you have a blogging goal you are working towards?
8. Do have any blogs you read on an obsessively regular basis?
9. How many unread books do you have waiting for you right now?
10. What is your favourite book meme or hop?

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