Imagine you’re an indie author in Turkey. You’ve been selling ebooks using platforms like Smashwords, StreetLib, D2D, Pronoun, etc, and receiving your payments through Paypal because for most of the above that’s the only option available to you(in Pronoun’s case, the only option available, period.)
From 06 June your writing career is going to be effectively over as Paypal suspends all operations in Turkey.
The Turkish financial authorities have declined to renew Paypal’s licence. (LINK)
The whys and wherefores are neither here nor there.
For these Turkish authors (and ex-pats in Turkey without a Paypal account in another country) sales coming in through Smashwords, StreetLib, D2D, Pronoun, etc will effectively be meaningless unless those authors are able to use one of the very limited alternative payment options available.
Pronoun only offers Paypal. Pronoun no longer has any relevance to Turkish authors. Some of the other distributors offer bank-transfers, but getting money transferred to a European account from the US can be prohibitively expensive ad make smaller payments pointless. Likewise receiving and banking USD cheques/checks outside the US can be a nightmare.
It’s not just Turkish authors. Paypal makes a lot of noise about being a global player in 203 markets worldwide, but here in West Africa I cannot open a Paypal account at all, despite the fact that The Gambia is listed as a Paypal country. Paypal requires street names and zip codes. Only handful of roads here in The Gambia have names, and there is no postal service, only PO Boxes in a handful of big towns, so zip codes don’t exist.
Across much of Asia, Africa and Latin America where Paypal accounts can be opened these are often limited accounts and money cannot be transferred to local banks from Paypal, so receiving payments through Paypal is meaningless.
Many people in the US and Europe have had Paypal accounts closed on a whim by Paypal because of some real or perceived transgression.
To get my payments from Pronoun, Smashwords, etc, I have to have the money paid into a friend’s Paypal account in the UK, and they transfer the money to my bank account. For D2D I have a friend in the USA who receives payments on my behalf, and holds that money to pay for services I may need.
Most people in the world won’t have conveniently-placed friends in rich western countries to help out.
Back in 2009-10 when the global ebook market was US-UK it didn’t matter so much that distributors offered such limited options to receive payments.
In the globile world of 2016 it matters a lot.
And as events in Turkey demonstrate, it could matter a whole lot more in the future.
Being able to sell books around the world through Pronoun, StreetLib, Draft2Digital, Smashwords, etc, is fantastic. Fantastic, that is, for western authors and the handful of global authors who can participate and get paid.
In the light of events in Turkey I would ask all distributors to look again at their payment options for authors and broaden the payment-receiving options.
It’s 2016, not 2009. The ebook market is global. It shouldn’t be a one-way street for authors lucky enough to live in the right place that they can get paid, while other authors are forced to look on enviously, denied the opportunity to participate in the Global New Renaissance.