Friday, April 8, 2011

Der be Books on thee Internet: Pirating and E-Books

It's almost been a year since I've been introduced to Tess Gerritsen's works. Around the time I became emotionally involved with her duo, Rizzoli and Isles, I also discovered Gerritsen's blog. It was this post that almost caused me to put down the novels

Like several other celebrities - mostly those in music and the porn industry - Gerritsen is grossly misled by the suits who publish her books. Where she sees her book sales being injured, I see it as boosting them. Let's face it, if it weren't for pirating, I probably would never have picked up The Surgeon in the first place. Of course, I purchased a used copy of the novel from Amazon shortly after, but my urge wouldn't have been there had it not been for the copy I downloaded. Does this pardon me? No, of course not. In the eyes of the industry, I'm still a monster, despite that I purchased used and new copies of the other novels in the series without downloading their pirated counterparts. 

I'm a book lover, however. That is, I love books. I love owning them, which is why owning an Amazon Kindle was a difficult transition for me. While I own the digital copy of a novel, I didn't physically own it. Which means, later on, the itch will happen and I will have two copies of a novel - one digital and one hardback (of course with the exception of those only offered in one medium). 

I'm not the only one who feels that piracy can boost book sales. There are others and evidence to back up the claim. Even Paulo Coelho, author of the best-selling novel The Alchemist, decided to use Bittorrent and filesharing sites as a way to promote his book. Did it work? Well, his sells went from 3,000 to 100,000 to one million in three years

So why is pirating seen as something wrong by several authors? That's something I'm still trying to figure out. We can always blame the suits. Notice how it's mostly industries that are suing individuals rather than the people they supposedly represent. Several authors, actors, musicians, etc. buy into the lie that pirating is hurting their sales. Actors get paid even before the movie is released, first of all. They get residuals, sure, but it's chump change most of the time. Musicians are known to make most of their money via concerts and merchandise. So what about writers? Do you really make that much money from your book sales? From those I've known who are in the publishing world - not just small time hacks like myself - the most they get is 15% of each sale. Where does the rest go? Oh, yeah, the suits. 

And now with the era of the e-book, readers are realizing how much they're being taken for fools. In some cases, purchasing a digital copy of a novel isn't always the least expensive. Some new releases are just a few dollars less than their hard copy counterparts. Book pirates are in mass now, aren't they? And it would see that Amazon Kindle has heightened the need for them. And as long as publishing companies continue to think they can screw over the fans, pirating will never truly go away. If anything pirates will become the thorn in their side and not even the threat of lawsuit will hinder their activities. Like cockroaches, if you stomp one out more will come and take their place. 

Solution? Lower e-book prices to something reasonable. Asking them to remove the DRM is bit much, but when you own a physical copy of a novel, you get to lend them to others. Kindle offers this service for Kindle users. However, if your buddy has the misfortune of owning a BN Nook, he's pretty much shit out of luck.

There are also other sites that offer e-books at a discount price - normally their own, but a few by authors we recognize. Some even offer free e-books, though these are usually in the public domain category - the real reason I wanted a Kindle in the first place. But don't be fooled and, most of all, don't do anything illegal. There are ways to spot a pirating site

What side am I on? Neither. Both are being foolish - one playing fast and loose with the law and the other with their readers. I'm an old fashion, printed word type of man. And you can't pirate those.

...well, you can, but that's for another post.

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