Thursday, December 14, 2017

"It's a compliment, really!"

"If you were in charge, what one change would you make to the world of publishing?"

by Catriona

Easy! I'd make the penalties so horrendous that people were too scared to . . . or just tweak people's brains so they didn't want to . . . or maybe do something technologically so far beyond me that I can't even imagine it that meant no one was able to . . . have you guessed yet? . . . pirate e-books.

It's weird, but even people who're not Zen Buddhists most of the time, people who believe in possessions as a concept and disapprove of theft like they disapprove of assault, somehow have a blind spot when it comes to pirated books.

I've heard:

  • It's flattering. You should be grateful they want to read your books at all.
  • Maybe they'll read one for free and then buy the rest.
  • Everyone in sales gives out samples of merchandise.

And usually I've bitten my lip and not said:

  • No it's not. Buying them would be flattering. And there's no way to tell if the pirated books are read.
  • Or maybe they'll read one free one and then another free one and then another. 
  • But that doesn't mean they welcome shoplifters. 
If we could stop pirated books, writers would be paid more fairly for their work and more people would be able to keep writing and the literary landscape as a whole would benefit. Like music would be the winner if people would stop downloading illicit album files. (Are they still called albums?) And everyone in the film community from directors to corn-poppers would be well served if YouTube went down in flames, and don't get me started about the plight of photographers and . . .

Just this morning, fellow writer and pal Dean James outed "Open Library", a website that not only provides thousands of books, including thirteen of his and two of mine, free to download, but also has a Wikipedia style pop-up on the homepage saying  'please donate money to Open Library so we can keep stealing'.  Words fail me. And it's uncool to make words fail writers.


Ann said...

In this house we pirate nothing. I’d be happy to go out there a shame a few people for you. Could you give me an idea, maybe using a percentage, of the difference this makes the n your income?

Your honest stalker who buys every one of your books

catriona said...

No one really knows, Ann.I don't know how you would guess.

Kathy Reel said...

I just can't imagine how anyone thinks it's okay to steal authors' hard work. I don't consider people who do that book lovers. When you truly love books and appreciate the work the authors do to create them, you support the book world and authors by buying books. Pirating is dishonoring an author, nothing flattering about it.

catriona said...

Right? And film-makers, musicians, painters, photographers . . .

clpauwels said...

It's a FT job (for indie authors or those without agents) to monitor pirated MSs and send take-down requests. Thank goodness for Google Alerts!

Susan C Shea said...

Hear, hear! My son is a professional photographer who has just about given up. Post something and it's grabbed by thieves in an instant. Don't post and no one knows that you can do and what your style is.

Someone explained to me why it's impossible to stop music, film, and book thefts. The files are broken up among the subscribers' computers and only gathered and assembled into the product when someone wants a copy. So you can't find and eliminate the hydra's head. Thank you, Sean Parker.

Paul D. Marks said...

Love everything you said, Catriona. And agree. I get Google Alerts almost every day talking about pirate websites with my books for free. I could spend all of my time just policing them, but to what end? Close one down, another pops up. I always say that for whatever reasons people seem to think it's okay not to pay writers or not to pay them well. And that includes not only the people who pirate books, both "sellers" and customers, but also the publishing industry and magazines that pay little to literally nothing for short stories, etc. There are some places out there who pay fairly well, but they're few and far between. So I agree with your anger and wish there was more we could do about it.

Unknown said...

That's disgusting and depressing. I'd forgotten about this problem with the internet. Hope they can work around it someday soon.