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General Fiction > Your Opinions on Book Piracy

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message 1: by KatieBookQueen (new)

KatieBookQueen (QueenOfTeenFiction) | 9 comments Hello everyone!

I'm a journalism student and i'm currently writing a report about eBook piracy and I'd really like to hear authors and readers opinions for my research.

If you could just comment below with what you think on the matter then that would be a big help! Thanks. :)

message 2: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Lawston (AndrewLawston) | 223 comments Sounds cool, and good luck with the report!

I'm an author, not successful enough to worry too much about being pirated, but I know some big name creators for whom it's a real concern.

Book piracy is indefensible. It is theft, and any arguments that attempt to justify piracy are usually over-entitled rants that come down to: "But I want it!"

There's a free book culture springing up thanks to initiatives like Amazon's Select, but this shouldn't muddy the water. There's a huge difference between an author making a book free to boost downloads, reviews and visibility in a crowded marketplace, and simply nicking someone's work because you don't want to have to pay for it.

My book costs $0.99. If you don't want to pay that, then don't read my book. I am totally fine with you not reading my book if you can't or won't pay for it. And while you'll be missing out on some darn good stories, I must admit that you're probably not going to suffer any form of hardship whatsoever by not reading my book.

So, yes, eBook piracy is theft, and it's contemptible.

message 3: by Naiya (new)

Naiya | 27 comments In between my library accounts and my friends, I find that I can get pretty much any book I am interested in (or sample most authors out there) without resorting to illegal downloads. Sometimes it takes a bit of sitting on a waitlist, but my currently-reading shelf is long enough to tide me over. (Yes, I may have worked weekends at a used bookstore at minimum wage while in college just for the books.)

Financially, I wouldn't be able to afford my book-reading habit otherwise - at least, not at retail price.

There are only a few books that I know the library won't be getting that I must have now, and for those, I bite the bullet and buy through my Nook.

If the urge to read really is that great, but I don't want to buy, I sometimes go over and skim the google preview (there's a can of worms, right there, by the way). But because the preview nips out a page here or there, the "sometimes" tends to be be pretty infrequent.

As a reader, I've gotten to a point where pirating a book feels damn uncomfortable. It's also unnecessary when getting the books through 'legal' but equally free channels is easy enough, if a little more time-consuming. (Whether there is a meaningful difference between getting it free one way over another is a different discussion altogether.)

message 4: by Doc (new)

Doc (doc_coleman) | 14 comments I have to agree with Andrew. I would also like to point out that if you want reading material for free, then you should support your local library. Libraries are closing all over the place because their funding is being cut due to lack of circulation. Libraries have to be used in order to get funded.

And you CAN get e-books at libraries.

Piracy hurts the author more than anyone else. And if author's can't afford to write... no more books.


Michael Cargill Cargill (MichaelCargill) | 217 comments I'm an author, and I've uploaded all my books onto numerous torrent sites. I've posted in the forums of these torrent websites encouraging people to download my work, and the signature I use in Gmail and various other Internet forums provides links to the torrents.

My website also contains the links to the torrents.

Katie, you may find an article I wrote about ebook piracy interesting. You can read it here - http://makingconnectionsgroup.blogspo...

Feel free to qoute/reference it if you want.

message 6: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (RDouglass) | 208 comments Big difference between piracy and getting books free through legit channels like the library. With the latter, the publisher /author gets paid. Overdrive, for example, pays a certain amount for every X number of downloads.

message 7: by Naiya (new)

Naiya | 27 comments Rebecca wrote: "Big difference between piracy and getting books free through legit channels like the library. With the latter, the publisher /author gets paid. Overdrive, for example, pays a certain amount for ..."

I was thinking more about the gray of borrowing from friends and family. It's not distribution, but it doesn't put money in the author's pocket (though one could draw the link to expanding the author's potential fan-base).

message 8: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (RDouglass) | 208 comments Well, Canary, that is more challenging. Obviously, with print books we expect people will pass them around (as an environmentalist, I'd be sad if a book were read only once then tossed!). Digital is tougher, but I think the way B&N set it up is reasonable--a limited number of loans, and only one at a time, just as a "real" book would have. I'm good with that. Passing on ten copies to ten friends all at once, and them passing them on. . .well, not likely to happen to me, and part of me would be thrilled if anyone were excited enough about my book to steal it on a large scale :D But I do think I deserve to be paid for my work.

message 9: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (ALB2012) | 848 comments Theft is theft... whether it is stealing a book or a pint of milk.
There are people on KDP who admit to it, or at least threaten it. Either scraping or simply stealing another author's work and marketing at their own. One recently confessed to taking 10 book with exactly the same content (not theirs) and then sticking assorted covers on and selling. Amazon shuts them down eventually but the damage is done.

Piracy hurts the authors, it hurts the industry and plagarism reflects badly on those who have actaully put the work in. If someone buys a dodgy book and it turns out to be a real lemon that person might think all indie authors are like that.

I think the question of lending to family friends is a little grey but the original author has received the royalty- a friend reading it might then go to buy their own copy or a following book.

message 10: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Pearl (StephenP11) | 271 comments I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If you are unwilling to pay for the time and effort that goes into making a book by the author then be prepared for all new works coming out to be at the level of fan fic. Thank you for doing this essay Katie.

message 11: by M.A. (last edited Nov 07, 2012 01:32PM) (new)

M.A. Demers | 43 comments The only people piracy helps are those who get the book for free and the pirates who make loads of money off advertising (usually porn) on their sites. Contrary to their garbage comparisons to Wikileaks, these pirate sites are not sticking it to "the man," they ARE the man. The Pirate Bay makes something like six figures PER MONTH in advertising revenue while paying NOTHING for the content it distributes. And when its four original owners were prosecuted for it and sentenced to prison, one fled to Cambodia. Nothing like standing behind your convictions, so to speak. Now The Pirate Bay is registered in the Seychelles where they enjoy full director privacy: no names mentioned, no need to file annual reports, nada. Just pure white collar criminals.

message 12: by M.A. (new)

M.A. Demers | 43 comments Katie, I should also mention that my book, The Global Indie Author: How anyone can self-publish in the U.S. and worldwide markets (now in its 2nd edition), devotes about 15 pages to deconstructing the pro-piracy arguments. If you like, I can email you a PDF of those pages as well as the title page and copyright page so you can quote it properly. Message me if you're interested.

message 13: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (RDouglass) | 208 comments M.A., you open my eyes. I had no idea anyone actually argued that book piracy was in any way right or legit. Once again proving my naïveté. I was willing to cut individuals who over-shared a book some slack, but people who profit from the work of others and pay no royalties--they suck.

message 14: by KatieBookQueen (new)

KatieBookQueen (QueenOfTeenFiction) | 9 comments Thanks for all of your amazing replies, they're much appreciated! :)

message 15: by Denise (last edited Nov 09, 2012 02:10AM) (new)

Denise Baer | 301 comments Good luck with your report.

Piracy is stealing, plain and simple. I'm not a well-known published author, and I self-published my book. It not only took me time to write it, but it also took me time to format, publish and promote.

If someone doesn't want to pay the price for my book in electronic ($6.50) then that's okay, they don't have to. But taking it without it being offered free is stealing. It applies to anything else that isn't offered for free.

abby_horan, I haven't seen that movie yet, but I'd like to.

message 16: by Michael Cargill (new)

Michael Cargill Cargill (MichaelCargill) | 217 comments There are plenty of independent studies that show piracy has a positive effect.

At the very least, the claims that piracy is killing the music/film/games/ebook industry are nonsense.

message 17: by Michael Cargill (new)

Michael Cargill Cargill (MichaelCargill) | 217 comments I'm sorry, but the notion that Metallica were some unstoppable force that were destined to sell millions of albums forever, is absurd.

The Beatles don't seem to have any problems flogging their wares, and they haven't released anything new for decades.

If my plant dies, can I blame global warming? I mean, never mind the fact that I always forgot to water it...

message 18: by Michael Cargill (new)

Michael Cargill Cargill (MichaelCargill) | 217 comments If the ratings for a TV show drop, is it because of piracy?
If a film does poorly at the box office, is it because of piracy?
If an artist was popular in the 1960s, but not in the 1970s, was it because of piracy?

You talk about not believing in coincidences, so here are some more:

The sales of console/computer games has increased, whilst the sales of Metallica have decreased.

If Metallica's sales were indicative of the damage that piracy causes, the sales for other forms of media would be down as well.

Here's a YouTube video of author Neil Gaiman stating that piracy of his books, led to an increase in sales -

message 19: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Pearl (StephenP11) | 271 comments Here is simple reality. Pirates are thieves. They are stealing from an author as surly as if they broke into the authors home and took there television of mugged the author on the street. If 10 people want a book five pay for it and five pirate it that cuts the authors profit in half. The profit margin in the industry is marginal at best. Now it may be true that of the five that pirated the book two wouldn’t have paid for it no mater what. Frankly those two are of no value to me because they take and don’t return anyway. There word of mouth is likely to be non existent. If you defend piracy you defend theft. I wonder how they’d like to have some one open their wallet and randomly pull out bills.

All money is simply a representation of a person’s life. The hours spent earning it Terry Pratchett makes this point in Going Postal quite eloquently. The hours an author dedicates to their craft they will never get back. In short, I pirate is in effect slipping into a persons home and saying you don’t deserve to live because I’m greedy and selfish and have no respect for others so I’ll slit your throat. That is what piracy is, now justify slow murder, go ahead tell me how it’s fare and right.

By the by. I pay for television with minuets of my life watching commercials so that is a non argument.

Piracy does affect film profits and it is a non point anyway. No mater how bad the film would do better without piracy. You logic is flawed.

Market trends change over time it is true but theft is always an unacceptable drain on the energy of any business. Success or failure of a piece isn’t an issue it is how much of its financial momentum is lost to thieves.

message 20: by Michael Cargill (new)

Michael Cargill Cargill (MichaelCargill) | 217 comments Stephen wrote: "Piracy does affect film profits and it is a non point anyway. No mater how bad the film would do better without piracy. You logic is flawed."

This is an opinion, nothing more. There is no evidence for what you are saying.

I've provided you with a video of Neil Gaiman stating that his sales increased with piracy. Is he lying?

message 21: by Rebecca (last edited Nov 09, 2012 07:54AM) (new)

Rebecca Douglass (RDouglass) | 208 comments Michael, maybe it's worked for Gaiman. But I see two points here.
1. Unless or until we significantly restructure the means of paying artists, piracy remains theft. Theft is wrong. If someone comes and steals everything out of my basement, they have probably done me a favor. But they are still a thief and a criminal
2. Gaiman's experience is not necessarily typical. I've seen other writers saying that after their work was pirated sales fell off dramatically. Now, maybe there are other reasons for that--just as making your book free on Kindle works for some, not for others. I would prefer it to remain my choice.

Sharing books, fine. Profiting from the work of others, a moral and criminal offense that I will not condone even if it increased my sales..

message 22: by Michael Cargill (new)

Michael Cargill Cargill (MichaelCargill) | 217 comments I'm not arguing against the notion that piracy is theft - I'm talking specifically about the effect it has on sales.

Anyone making statements like "No mater how bad the film would do better without piracy" is speaking without having any credible evidence for it.

message 23: by Angelo (new)

Angelo Marcos (AngeloMarcos) | 97 comments I watched the Neil Gaiman interview, and wanted to make some points about it.

He initially talks about WHERE his books were pirated, and uses the example of people translating his work into Russian and putting it online, which allowed him to reach a Russian audience. The people doing this were therefore, in his view, helping him to reach an audience who otherwise wouldn’t be able to read his work. This is totally different to a person uploading, say, an English language book for English language readers to download for free, or to a person illegally downloading a book in their own language because they don’t want to pay for it. At least the Russian readers could make the argument that they couldn’t read Neil Gaiman’s book in any other way!

He then talks about convincing his publisher to put one of his books online for free for a month, and the positive effect that he feels this had. But the salient point here is that he CHOSE to do this. He told his publisher to make the book available for free online, for a period of time. Plenty of authors do this with their ebooks on Amazon etc. But there is a huge difference between choosing to make your work available for free, for a limited time, in places that you nominate, and having a third party take your work and make it available for free wherever they choose to do so.

He also mentions that most people seemed to discover their favourite author through borrowing a book, not buying it. I agree with this point, but this still cannot in any way be a justification for piracy anymore than it could be a justification for going to a bookshop and stealing a book off the shelf. Other than the physical exertion involved, what is the difference?

And I think this is the key point here, once there’s an acknowledgement that piracy is theft, surely any further argument ends there.

In what other context would we agree that something is criminal, but because there’s a chance it might have a positive effect at some point down the line, then we’ll allow it?

I respect all the views expressed here, and Michael I did find your blog post interesting, but I do feel that if we’re all agreeing that piracy is theft, then surely it can’t be condoned on the possibility that it might have fortunate side-effects.

message 24: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Pearl (StephenP11) | 271 comments Ten people see a bad film. Five of them pirate it thus the grouse take of the film is cut in half no mater how small that take is. No sir, your prow thievery argument has no legs you don’t need *“lies dam lies and statistics” to see that.

I will now be leaving to a marketing event that is costing me approximately three hundred dollars all told to attend where I will sell maybe 20 books at, to round things up, $20.00 a piece. Thus a grouse sale of $400.00 dollars. I get the books from my publisher at a 40% discount and I have to pay for the shipping so let's call it 35% off the retail price, so my net sales will be $140.00 meaning that the opportunity to increase my visibility is only costing me $160.00 . So how much further into the hole should I go so some cheep thief can read a work that it took me a year to create for free? Do you condone shop lifting because piracy is no different than if some one walked by my table and took a book? The value of my intellectual property is still taken with no remuneration to me. Hours of my life are still stolen. Piracy takes the bread out of author’s mouths. If I choose to give away promotional materials that is one thing I target them and go in accepting the loss for the promise of future gain. If some one pirates my work I have a loss imposed upon me.

*Mark Twain

message 25: by Michael Cargill (new)

Michael Cargill Cargill (MichaelCargill) | 217 comments Stephen, if you're unwilling to read even the most basic evidence on this issue, it renders your input into the debate utterly worthless.

In these days of information being instantly available at your fingertips, there is no excuse at all for being wilfully ignorant.

I don't 'condone' piracy per se, but I can see the positive effects it can have. If more authors realised this, they would change their stance towards piracy... meaning it was no longer piracy at all.

message 26: by Lauryn (new)

Lauryn April (LaurynApril) | 43 comments Okay, haveing been dealing with piracy myself and fighting with sites to take down illegal copies of my book I have to say that in no way is piracy a good thing.

Even if it were to boost my sales, I wouldn't care. I want it to stop. The whole idea of what these people and websites do is wrong.

Now, if I want to give my book out for free to promote it myself... if I want to put it up on free book sites and give it away then that's my choice, but for other people to take my work and give it away takes away my choice as an author.

I have to disagree that if more authors realized the positive effects of piracy that then they would be okay with it. No, absolutly not. Understanding how piracy has helped some book sales may make me change my mind on how to market my book, but regardless of the effects of piracy, it is stealing and it is not okay.

And when it comes to the argument that books are overpriced and that the consumer is being taken advantage of I have to call bullshit. This may very well be the case for some books, but I sell by book at 2.99 and regularly drop my price to .99cents or give it away for free on Amazon, or in giveways. None of my readers are being taking advantage of. Piracy isn't just happening to books under big publishing companies, it's happening to indie and self-published authors as well.

And one last thing, borrowing a book from a friend is in no way the same thing to me as pirating. The way I feel is that once you buy my book then that copy is yours, lend it to whoever you want, give it away, resell it. Just don't copy it and make a profit off it.

message 27: by Justin (new)

Justin (JustinBienvenue) | 2048 comments I'm not really sure where I stand on the whole e-book piracy issue or even piracy period. I mean obviously I think it's wrong authors like us are trying to make money off our work and knowing somewhere out there its been taken for free? yeah that's a bit messed, if only someone found a way that an author could still somehow make money off piracy without the person even knowing it. Some people actually welcome piracy now I don't know about that I mean my books doing poor and yes I'd be happy to know tons of people are buying it but for free without my knowledge? No!

E-book Piracy is a dirty thing, its a dirty little thing. You gotta be careful as an author and make sure your book is safe and make sure if you do hand out or give out free copies that your giving to the right people otherwise this issue really starts going. Now there are other ways people get a hold of your book however it might be but again this is where an author really must try as much as they can to make sure a book pirate doesn't take your booty(sorry i couldn't resist the pun and joke). Last, I think in a small way I say piracy could be good..IF and only IF you knew that the first couple stealers decided to buy or recommend or even review your book but yeah I know the likelihood for this is probably not happening but if you did get something good out of a pirate stealing your book would you be mad? I'm not saying its right by any means I'm merely asking, bottom line I think it should be stopped and websites and people gotta try to crack down on this issue.

Natasha (Diarist) Holme (natashaholme) | 104 comments Michael wrote: "I'm not arguing against the notion that piracy is theft - I'm talking specifically about the effect it has on sales ..."

I agree with Michael. Piracy is exposure. It's free advertising. I'd be tickled pink to find my book as an unsolicited free download somewhere.

message 29: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Lawston (AndrewLawston) | 223 comments To briefly address the points raised by Awake at Midnight, all this 'steal or starve' imagery is all very impressive, apart from the inconvenient detail that no one has, to my knowledge, ever died as a result of failing to acquire the latest Rihanna single.

message 30: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (RDouglass) | 208 comments Andrew wrote: "To briefly address the points raised by Awake at Midnight, all this 'steal or starve' imagery is all very impressive, apart from the inconvenient detail that no one has, to my knowledge, ever died ..."

Agreed. Plus, as I'm self-published, there is very little middle-man. I mean, yeah, stores that carry it (including Amazon) take a cut. That's actually fair, you know, though I could wish Amazon took a smaller cut of the paperback. But don't go stealing my book, electronic or otherwise, in order to stick it to the Man, because it's me, ye olde starving artist, you're robbing.

message 31: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Pearl (StephenP11) | 271 comments Michael I would hazard that the only reason you don’t like my input in to this debate is that I am plane spoken and call a spade a spade. If a person takes an item and gives nothing back in exchange it is theft and it diminishes the person who rightfully owns the item.

You have posted nothing but your opinion which reads like a justification for a behaviour that all civilizations that have incorporated the concept of private ownership have held as unacceptable. Theft within the tribe. While I have reduced the issue and showed how it would be viewed in other arrears of life and society to give a working comparison.

Most authors sell between one and two hundred copies in a year. If some jomoke buys a copy and sells illegal copies of it he, she or it can easily flood the market and the author his or her publisher (usually a small one barely scraping by) and everyone else associated with the book suffer.

My friend, Ira Nayman, makes the full content of his Alternative Reality News Service Books available on line. That is his choice and he does it for promotion. They are building an audience for his soon to be released novel. I have free short stories up for much the same reason. Those posts are our choice and that is the difference. They are also limited and targeted at sectors where they are likely to do the most good. If some guy in India buys a copy of my book and posts it on a server in India for ninety nine cents I get nothing and he will gut my e-book sales. The fact that the common consumer doesn’t know that they are buying an illegal product is the most insidious part of this. The buyer, by in large, may be unaware that they are participating in theft. Long before I understood the significance of a cover being torn off a book I bought some coverless books. I felt awful when I did learn what the missing cover meant and have not repeated the mistake. The problem is a pirate may appear like a legitimate vender having a promotional sale thus they hurt the legitimate venders as well. From one author to anyone unknowing caught in a scam like this, it isn’t your fault, peace.

Further more, the illegal sales outlet damages the publisher by employing unfair practices because the illegal outlet has none of the expenses of going through the slush pile, editing, getting cover art isbn and all the rest. In short like most thieves they take the profit and run.

Like most people in my industry I have reviewed information on piracy, I simply hold the pro-piracy claims to be the self-serving rationalization of thieves and scoundrels. Nice try at trying to discredit the person who disagrees with you with a snide comment, Michael. It nearly approached whit, keep trying you may get there.

Piracy is theft; pirates are unlikely to write a review because it exposes their piracy. It floods the market and steals control of ones intellectual property away from one and forces an added level of diligence into an already crowded schedule as you have to watch for it.

I’m not referring to the person who downloads a book and shares the file with a friend like they would a paper book. I would suggest that good manners would dictate no more than one loan at a time and maybe a maximum of ten loans so you mimic the nature of a paperback, a little etiquette can go a long way, but this is not what I consider piracy. A person who spreads copies around wily nilly but for no profit is annoying and should think about the consequences of their action but still not a pirate.

My focus is the book sites that sell other people’s work and give the author and publisher nothing for it. Think of any kind of craftsman or artist. Suppose someone waked into your shop or studio randomly took a piece of your work and walked out. Why is a book any different?

The thief may hang a stolen painting on the wall and say it is wonderful to his guests, or will he? If he is open about the ownership of the art he may be caught.

Now for the loaf of bread arguments. There is a mass of free content on the web and through Libraries. It may not be up to date, but no one with access to a computer and the web is in the position of having to steal an intellectual loaf of bread. If people are hard up they can still readily access the works of Mark Twain, Shakespeare, H.G. Wells, H.P. Lovecraft brilliant writers of the past and newer material as well. Book piracy is like having a society where everyone has free access to healthy, basic food and someone decides to steal lobster.

It is wrong to steal we teach this to five year olds or at least should.

message 32: by Michael Cargill (new)

Michael Cargill Cargill (MichaelCargill) | 217 comments No, the reason that I don't like your input is as I said before - you are indulging yourself in ignorance on the issue.

I have provided more than just an opinion, as anyone who has read this thread can see. The article I posted in my first post contains two links to studies that back my point up, and then I posted a Neil Garman clip.

Your point about pirates not writing reviews doesn't make any sense at all, as no-one would ever know how the person obtained the book.

And given that many of the studies done on piracy have been done by economists, I'm not sure where the "self-serving rationalization of thieves and scoundrels" comes from.

It suggests that you haven't actually read anything on it at all.

message 33: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Pearl (StephenP11) | 271 comments Not worth any more of my time. Thevery is bad and all the lies in the world doesn't make it good. I am not ignorant on the issue as myself and my pears live with it and it is a common topic on con panels that I attend.

message 34: by Lauryn (last edited Nov 12, 2012 03:29PM) (new)

Lauryn April (LaurynApril) | 43 comments Natasha wrote: "Michael wrote: "I'm not arguing against the notion that piracy is theft - I'm talking specifically about the effect it has on sales ..."

I agree with Michael. Piracy is exposure. It's free adverti..."

Free exposure or not, you as the author should be the one making the decision to give your book out for free. It's not right for someone to make that choice for you.

You could go and upload your book to free sites just like the pirates do and give it away legally and recieve the same "benefits" that could possibly come from piracy, but that should be your choice. No one else should be taking it and doing it themselves.

Natasha (Diarist) Holme (natashaholme) | 104 comments But the fact is that pirate sites do exist and we can't do anything about it.

And I don't think it's a problem.

Someone pointed out, in a discussion similar to this that, very often, people who use pirate sites for books are *downloaders* not *readers*. They collect several gigabytes of material on their hard drives just because it's available. They probably won't read them, and they certainly would never have bought them.

message 36: by A.K. (new)

A.K. Hill (akhill) | 7 comments One way for a new author who self-publishes to get noticed is to take off the copy protection, allowing the ebook to be 'pirated'.

While it is technically a breach of copyright to share the book without permission, the author will be well aware that it could help spread the word about a new author with a new book. Which in turn could lead to more sales through word of mouth.

This limited form of piracy can help an author, however a more aggressive form of piracy such as selling the ebook at a much discounted price with none of the royalties going to the author will be nothing but a nail in the coffin for a new author.

message 37: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Lawston (AndrewLawston) | 223 comments There are two arguments going on here.

1) The pragmatic: piracy can increase exposure, and indirectly lead to extra sales.

2) The moral: piracy is theft, and theft is wrong.

The fact is that these two arguments are almost entirely unrelated, which is probably what's causing the friction.

For my own part, I lean heavily on the moral side. I think nicking someone's work just because you can't or won't pay for it is reprehensible behaviour, however you choose to dress it up. If an author chooses to give away their work for free to boost exposure, fine, but it must be their choice.

On the pragmatic side, yes, Neil Gaiman gets brought up every single time piracy is discussed online. And the fact is that although Neil Gaiman was able to show an increase in sales for his book, and all the rest of it, that's at least in part due to the fact that he's Neil Gaiman, with Neil Gaiman's massive profile, Neil Gaiman's publisher and Neil Gaiman's marketing machine helping out behind the scenes.

If you're not Neil Gaiman, which last time I checked was everyone on the face of the planet minus one, you might find that your competent but basically very ordinary book by a competent but basically very ordinary writer might have some difficulty replicating his success.

So while I wouldn't dispute the findings of economists or Neil Gaiman, I'd suggest you need to look a little bit beyond the headline numbers. People have got it into their heads now that if they give their book away they'll build a massive international fanbase overnight and buy a yacht, and it's quite sweet to see them on various forums scratching their heads to try and work out why that hasn't yet happened.

In fact, it's like an even more bizarre iteration of South Park's Underpants Gnomes:

Step 1: Give book away
Step 2: *shrug*
Step 3: PROFIT!!!

message 38: by Richard (new)

Richard Sutton (RichardSutton) | 198 comments It's a multi-level question. I agree with Andrew. As an Indie Author myself, I have seen the explosion of "marketing" tactics borne out of the industry's exerting control of the playing field. Now, however, worldwide and even targeted distribution at least, is available for writers with even very shallow pockets (like mine!). That leaves finding ways to make your book discoverable. It used to be the area where the publisher's publicist/marketing department would work with an author to create as much buzz as possible. Part of that was always the distribution of free "reader proof copies" before publication. Free books were always a part of the marketing, but when publishers had deeper pockets, there were other means at their disposal, including paid advertising of the title. Remember full page, color ads in the NY Times for a book you never heard of? Now, Indies have few choices for getting lots of buzz. Basically, online social networking, seo tricks such as tagging parties, and giveaways. Giveaways have two unfortunate side effects: first, a whole army of readers who don't think they have to pay for a book has sprung up, and a corollary is that they often don't see "piracy" as any different than a giveaway. It's often also supported by some online "philosophers" that are of the opinion that the internet should offer only free material. Now that we don't even have to carry paper books, there are those who have become "collectors", actually competing with friends as to who can fill up their E-reader's memory chips with free books, first. Will they read them? Maybe. Will they feel any obligation to review or leave any feedback for the writer? Probably not, which points out how disingenuous the whole Indie Review process is getting. I've given books away, and will continue to do so, selectively. My work won't ever be best-seller, mass market stuff anyway; but when I see an entire generation of readers grow up believing that intellectual property has no actual monetary value, it makes me glad I have a day job!

message 39: by Jim (new)

Jim Crocker | 97 comments I utterly despise book piracy. However, with my relatives having lived in Olde Cornwall, back in the days of Shiver Me Timbers, they probably would have pirated books, too. Then there's some Viking blood that's in there, too. God know what they'd have done. I don't think the Somali pirates are on to this yet. I don't think they can actually read. Of course, the picture books would be a big hit. Especially the ones with the pop-up animals. Hell, (pardon me) I love 'em, too.

Seriously, book pirates are the lowest form of scum and should be hunted down and locked in the basement of the local library. Then they're REALLY gonna get it.

message 40: by Rachael (new)

Rachael (la_primavera_bella) | 10 comments mmm...

In copyright law, it states that you can make a copy of something for personal, "scholarly use", and that it does not infringe on the rights of authors because you are not distributing it for people to read and taking away from that creator's hard work.
If you want to strip the DRM off a book so you can read it across multiple ereaders that you own personally, I think that is acceptable; calibre is good for that and honestly, two weeks to rea a downloaded book from the library is not long enough, especially if you have a busy life.

But don't go giving it to a million other people - that is wrong and you are taking away from those who worked so hard to create that work in the first place.

message 41: by Richard (new)

Richard Sutton (RichardSutton) | 198 comments The digital age has certainly forced huge change on the concepts of intellectual property and copyright. I don;t think it's even begun to settle out yet.

message 42: by Justin (new)

Justin Stallings | 5 comments Piracy is certainly bad, but it is not theft. If piracy is stealing, then shoplifting is stealing twice, because the owner of the shop also loses the copy of the item it originally owned. Of course, that's not the case. Shoplifting is theft. Piracy is piracy.

Theft is an act that has an adverse affect on its victim. Piracy does not have an adverse affect on its victim. You could argue that it does, but you would be wrong. Say someone saw me walking on the street and thought to himself "I'm going to give that man a dollar". He begins walking towards me, but then decides not to give me a dollar. He walks away. Is he hurting me by not giving me that dollar? Of course not.

Because theft hurts people and simple piracy does not hurt people, you cannot argue that they are one and the same.

message 43: by Richard (new)

Richard Sutton (RichardSutton) | 198 comments As far as piracy goes, I disagree. Let's assume you have a debt. You see the man walking down the street towards you and recognize him as the person you owe the debt to. Instead of paying him, you dodge across the street, or around a corner. Now, you have victimized the man you owe, plus you have demeaned yourself. That makes two victims. Authors have the right to payment from anyone who uses their intellectual property. They have created something that didn't exist as such before, so it is their property, as much as a kid's bike is his bike. If you take it without his leave, you're a thief. Authors may not know their readers personally, but readers who think that pirated books, or music or film or software belongs to "the world" have demeaned themselves and stolen from the author/musician/filmmaker. I would have a very hard time feeling good about myself if I made that a regular practice. Besides, free reads are given away so frequently by writers looking to attract a readership, that pirating someone's book to read it is just mean-spirited and petty. IMHO, of course.

message 44: by James (new)

James Rhodes Warning, reading the following costs One Groat:

Words are the abstract rendering of an idea and electronic piracy is the abstract theft of an abstract ideas. You cannot steal an idea or a character you can only re-render it. You cannot steal words, you can only read them.

That said, I have placed an arbitrary value of One Groat on this post and if you have read it then that is stealing from me.

message 45: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (RDouglass) | 208 comments James, your posts smack of rationalization.

message 46: by James (last edited May 08, 2013 08:08AM) (new)

James Rhodes Rationality Rebecca. I don't steal ebooks because I don't have a kindle but I make sure that no one can steal mine by simply giving them away for free. Words are nothing unless they have been read. You can't steal nothing.

Also, you owe me One Groat.

message 47: by James (new)

James Rhodes Furthermore, you could argue that selling a used copy of a book is piracy because it has already been read. The issue of tangibility is crucial to the argument of electronic piracy. Electronic words are simply light. Is light tangible? Can you steal it?

message 48: by Richard (new)

Richard Sutton (RichardSutton) | 198 comments James, you can't steal an idea until the idea is made into something of substance: a book or a file, then it is something that can be owned. Check your legal definitions. Groats add up, anyway.

message 49: by Richard (new)

Richard Sutton (RichardSutton) | 198 comments James -- check your legal definitions. An idea isn't tangible property until it becomes something of substance, like a book, a recording of a song, a performance of a song, or a file. Then it becomes property and retains value as well as ownership. All of those examples of intellectual property are legally owned by their authors and their performers.

Besides, groats add up, anyway.

message 50: by James (new)

James Rhodes Legal schmegal. I'm talking philosophy. Making something into a file doesn't make it tangible, as a matter of fact it alters the words into a ascii coding system that is no longer the product that you created. If you believe that the words are yours then making them into a file negates that matter because you have stopped them from being words. They are now the coded signifiers of words rendered in a shape that people can understand. Who gets the translation rights on that?

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