Sadly, I am not talking about the oh-so-sexy swashbuckling types. But, I am talking about thieves just the same. Digital thieves. Virtual menaces. The electronic scourge. Sorry, shutting down the flow on creative tap. J
I am not the first author to comment on pirates, nor will I be the last. I was trying to explain to my dear husband (DH), why this is so annoying the other night as I vented to him. (Yes, I managed to control the urge to go nuts online about it.) So, it seems my cherry has been popped. I knew this day would come (not unlike the real one, heh) but I hadn’t expected to be so damn mad about it.
As I tried to explain to DH, I’m mad at the pirates (of course), but I am equally mad at the consumers of the pirated material. First, let me say I am under no illusions that the consumers of the pirated books would EVER spend money on a book. I did not just fall off the turnip truck. S-U-C-K-E-R is NOT tattooed across my forehead. These people that download this material talk a good game, mostly to justify what they are doing to themselves and anyone who may listen. I call bullshit. And I do so as a frequent consumer of Amazon’s free books. In very, VERY, rare circumstances does a free download translate into future book sales for me, as a reader. Specifically, I can think of 2 times in 3 years that has been true. One was Lorelie James’ Rough Riders series and the other was Jess Haines’ Other books (Hunted By The Others, etc.). And folks, I have downloaded a metric ton of free books. So why would I believe that someone willing to steal the books would ever actually buy one?
That said, I am angry because the bottom line is this: If there was no demand for stolen books, there’d be no supply. Supply and demand is how an economy works. It’s how the black-market works. It’s how the barter system works. DH still didn’t see my argument, not until I put it in terms of a hooker and a john. Johns can be arrested for soliciting a prostitute. Consumers of stolen goods should be in the same boat. And legally, in most states they are.
Oh, but it’s no different than lending a book to a friend. Au contraire mon frère. As a lover of physical books, again I call bullshit. Look, I might buy a book and love it, love it so much I just know my mom will too, and I send it to her. Here is where things diverge. First, I personally know the person to whom I am loaning the book. I’d even be okay loaning the book to a friend of a friend, but the fact of the matter is I do not walk down the street passing my books out to complete and utter strangers. Second, when I pass my one and only copy off to someone I no longer retain possession of the book. The book is not being reproduced illegally and passed to all and sundry. A single copy has changed hands, not multiple. With piracy, a single copy is “acquired” and then multiplied or reproduced with each successive download of the material. NOT the same thing.
Now, Kindle and Nook, along with many other ereaders, offer a lending function. I am all for this when used appropriately. I can even live with you and five of your friends loaning each other books, essentially defraying the cost of those books for each other. But joining a “lending” site where you and a few thousand total strangers engage in loaning each other books is theft. That’s how I see it.
Look as a writer I might one day earn as much as *gasp* 30K a year. I couldn’t even buy myself lunch every day on what I currently make. I have a day job as a result. I go to work just like you and earn a paycheck. Hell, I might even be the schlub sitting next to you every day at work. Go on, look around you at the office tomorrow.
As long as people continue to steal books, it will continue to be difficult for writers to make a living doing what they love. We’ve all seen the ramifications of piracy. Book prices go up or authors stop writing a series smack in the middle because the publisher isn’t making enough on the product.
I’m sure I am preaching to the choir here. Let’s face it, if you are a reader who follows this blog you’re probably not a thief. But, on the off chance just one consumer of stolen ebooks stumbles across this post and suddenly sees the light…it’s worth the time I took to write it. Now, I retreat back into my editing cave where Love Redeemed (The Market Series, Book 2) awaits me.
To those who have bought or legally borrowed my book from a friend, I say thank you for your support.