Some thoughts on International “Please Don’t Pirate My Book!” Day

First and foremost, if you haven’t read Chuck Wendig’s post on piracy, and his declaration of today as the above-titled Day of Import, then by all means please go there at once. The post itself is funny and thought-provoking, and a quick glance through the comments showed a surprising and heartening level of thoughtful conversation. (That could well have changed, but it was quite civil when I looked.)

 

Now, since he invited others to write down some of their thoughts on the subject, I thought I’d take him up on his offer. I think it’s something that should be talked about. It certainly weighs heavily on my mind.

You might ask why, seeing as I haven’t managed to have any of my books published yet. Right now, none of my original works are available for piracy, whether of the modern e-piracy variety, or the old-fashioned steal-a-book-from-the-library or print-a-bunch-of-copies-in-China sort.

But there could be. Self-publishing is an increasing trend. I could have made a book or two available through Amazon, or TinyPress, or some other venue, anytime in the last few years.

One of the reasons why I have not yet decided to venture into those waters – yet – is the fear of e-piracy. Authors who are published through a publishing house – whether paper or purely e-press – have the resources of those houses behind them. Some publishers offer a lot of resources to help combat the problem; others almost none. But all of them probably have a better idea of how to handle the problem of e-piracy better than I do.

And I do think it’s a problem. Not just because it’s stealing, although that’s certainly something I object to on general principles.  But because it devalues the worth of the work that I and other authors do, the effort that is put in trying to write good, compelling stories that entertain readers. That is WORK, and work that should be respected. While I have heard the argument that sometimes e-pirates go out and purchase books they actually like afterwards, how true is that? Is it apocryphal? Is it a small percentage? And should an author have to depend on the after-ethics of the effect of theft?

I don’t think so. Promotion is good, great even. Word of mouth is very powerful. But I hope that can happen without piracy.

I’m also a huge fan of libraries. Most of the books (including ebooks) I read these days come from the library. And one of the major problems facing libraries these days is the need to defend their ebooks from piracy. They have to pay a lot of money (that frankly our overburdened and under-supported library systems don’t have) trying to protect their books against piracy. They have to pay more money to publishers, who are naturally quite wary about how library e-books affect their bottom line.

And because of this, there are a number of books that I can’t get from the library, because either the ebook edition is so locked down I can’t figure out how to get it open on my computer (true, alas!), or it’s only available as a Kindle ebook USB direct-transfer edition, or simply isn’t available at all, because it’s too small/obscure/limited a title.

That doesn’t make me happy, of course. But I don’t blame the library system. I don’t blame the publishers. I don’t blame the authors.

I do blame my own technological incompetence, at least a bit. And the e-piracy realities that makes the problem that much worse.

This entry was posted in writing.

One comment on “Some thoughts on International “Please Don’t Pirate My Book!” Day

  1. Maia Strong says:

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the piratical head when you said this: “…it devalues the worth of the work that I and other authors do, the effort that is put in trying to write good, compelling stories that entertain readers. That is WORK, and work that should be respected.” Pirates are showing no respect whatsoever for authors (and editors) when they illegally download an ebook. Many might claim that they’ll go buy it later, but I suspect the percentage of pirates who then do go and purchase an ebook that they already have for free is miniscule. There are probably also those who, once it is driven home to them that authors need royalties to buy groceries, feed their kids, pay their mortgage, etc., cease and desist in their piracy. Sadly, I suspect those people are as limited in number as the post-pirating-purchasers. (Me, cynical? Absolutely.)

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