Yes, that's right, some have expressed relief. Good riddance to bad rubbish, some folks have said, in direct reaction to the Literotica-for-pay, Letters-to-Penthouse-styled-work that had suddenly flooded these sites. Did I find some of these titles distasteful? Yes. Did some of these sites need to do a better job of vetting and then re-categorizing some of these titles? Yes. But instead, it seems it's easier to pull these titles and deny not only the authors or publishers a place to vend their wares but the readers a place to buy them.
Before anyone argues this doesn't affect us "erotic romance" folks because somehow we are above the "pr0n" set and so have nothing to fear, here are
1. Multi-published M/M author Amanda Young reports two of her titles are no longer available on Smashwords or All Romance due to twincest themes.
2. Yaoi-prose author Silapa Jarun reports Katana Duet (which I reviewed here and contains twincest elements) has been pulled from Siren/Bookstrand.
3. M/M and yaoi-prose co-authors Jaye Valentine and Reno MacCleod report their Starcrossed series and other titles have been removed from Smashwords and OmniLit/All Romance due to twincest themes.
"But eeeewww Kitty, that's incest!" I can hear some of you saying. (Even as others are wondering where they can find these books...) Well, let's move on to my next concern: let's talk "barely legal". Yes, I totally understand removing titles featuring underage sex because, hello, it's illegal and wrong! Even with the age of consent being 16 in most of the United States, I understand a line has to be drawn to ensure we keep out the real perverts, pedos, and deviants, otherwise we'd have sick bastards trying to market stories about 5-year-olds. I thought keeping our characters ages 18+ made sense, seeing as 18-yr-olds are, you know, ADULTS, but according to All Romance's new guidelines, 18 is now possibly too young as is age 19. As a result, titles deemed as targeting the "barely legal" market are being pulled from the virtual shelves as well.
"How does this affect me?" you may ask. "I don't read that trash!" you might argue. Folks, that means if the Powers That Be get picky enough about "barely legal", my Blue Ruin series could eventually be removed, as would Sleight of Hand and some of my Eldritch Legacy titles. Why? Because each of those books includes a romantic lead aged 19. Never mind that I hear from readers aged 18 to 20 (who themselves qualify as "barely legal") who say they read my books in part because -- guess what?? -- they don't want to read erotic romance about "old" people like me getting it on! And never mind a good portion of my readers are also middle age women who cite 19-yr-old Blue as their favorite character and want to see more of him and his boyfriend Derek (who is 11 years Blue's senior).
Honestly? I'll admit I'd be a bit dismayed to see one of my books featured on the front page next to a story titled something like "Doing It for Daddy". (Unless Pat Califia wrote it, then I'd be stoked!) However, I'd be much more distressed to find my book no longer available for purchase at all because it, too, was deemed in violation of the distributor's updated TOS. When it comes to slippery slopes, one should never assume they're safe from getting caught in the downhill slide.
From a purely legal defintion, is this "censorship"? No, these are private vendors who can do what they want. But does it smack of moral judgment as determined by a small group or entity that then affects a broader group while restricting perfectly legal content? Totally. It may not "technically" be censorship but it sure as hell reeks of it. It also can't technically qualify as "chilling effect", since no laws have been imposed or suits filed to discourage free speech or press, but it sure is feeling drafty in here. Brrrr.
What can we do about it? I don't know just yet. There's a petition you can sign, but I suspect PayPal doesn't give a shit. What I do think we all can do is stay abreast of what, exactly, the situation with PayPal entails. Ericka Pike has posted about it here, as has Emily Veinglory at Erecsite here. Most importantly, I think we should all avoid smugly assuming this only affects "other authors" or "those kind of readers", because you may well wake up one day to find your books or your favorite authors have been displaced, too. Blue's 19-yr-old ass appears to be safe for now, but I'm watching closely in the event that changes.