Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Piracy Is Bad

From the comments on the thread regarding the copyrights of readers, it appears that some authors believe that they aren’t getting a sufficient forum on Dear Author to air their frustrations and concerns about piracy. The pressing need to talk about piracy whenever the subject of ebooks comes up appears to overwhelm any other thoughts about digital books and readers. This post is a forum for those authors.

Before we get to the comments, though, I want to state two things.

First, Dear Author is not a blog devoted to authors or author causes or author issues. We are a reader blog and our focus is for the readers, from the reviews, to the giveaways, to the opinion pieces. We are not author advocates and yes, often our reader interest is at odds with the authors. We do not exist to advance any author position nor any particular author. If it appears that we do, it is because we have an interest in an author topic or a particular author, not because we exist to do service on behalf of authors and their self interests. To state it more bluntly, we at Dear Author owe you, the author, nothing.

Second, we do not condone piracy at Dear Author. We understand that piracy causes us pain in terms of enabling author and publisher hysteria, increasing the costs of ebooks, and contributing to stupid publishing tricks such as super premium pricing, delaying of the books, and DRM. But we also understand that fighting piracy is not the best use of our time. The best use of our time and space here at Dear Author is to discuss the book, spread the love of the book, and seed interest in the book.

Yes, publishing is tough these days. Publishers are turning away books they may have bought in the past. Booksellers are cutting back on their orders and contracts are being canceled. This is not the result of piracy, but you can certainly try to sell me on the idea that it is. I am convinced that the best thing for authors and publishers to do is to make sure that the pirate has the least attractive option. This is a phenomenal article on the futility of fighting piracy. Piracy, like the poor as Matthew says, will always be with us. Nothing the RIAA or MPAA has done in terms of anti pirate measures has worked. The pirates will always make material available for free. The goal then must be to make the legitimate purchase equal to or better than the pirating experience.

“Well, maybe we were focused on trying to disrupt the networks and we should have focused on a technological solution to mass notification.” Well be on to the next thing. Well spend some number of months–I’m just essentially recounting the music industry’s journey–filing vast numbers of infringement notifications, letting everybody and their granny know you’re infringing our content. They’ll take the temperature and they’ll do surveys and collect data and they’ll try to convince themselves that this is having a real effect in reversing the tide and then after some period it will just not have been convincingly demonstrated to have worked. And they’ll realize that by any number of measures the piracy problem has only grown worse. But they will have to exhaust all of those things and more. They will have to chase legal remedies, legislative agendas, all the way to what they view as being the end of the line before they say “OK, so this really is the landscape we’re stuck with. As much as we didn’t want it, this appears to be it. Now we have to just dive in and make businesses that work here.”

Having said that, some authors clearly believe that we, as readers, need to hear them on this issue. So authors, here is your space. You can tell us why we shouldn’t pirate even if most of us have already said we don’t. You can tell us in what ways piracy has hurt your career (empirical evidence and studies not funded by the RIAA or MPAA are helpful). You can tell us why you think it is the reader’s obligation to pursue piracy and enumerate the ways in which you think readers should act to help you prevent piracy.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

315 Comments

  1. Donna Alward
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 12:18:24

    You know, I blogged on this very thing today or at least close to it – talking about sharing vs. piracy.

    There will ALWAYS be those who stick books up on torrent sites. As a consumer of other copyrighted material (and as a reader, heck writers are readers too) I absolutely agree with your statement that

    The goal then must be to make the legitimate purchase equal to or better than the pirating experience.

    Nothing burns my biscuits more than trying to legitimately purchase a product and have to jump through so many logistical hoops that I want to throw my monitor out the window and say bugger it all.

    It’s no small task figuring out how to do that while still upholding copyright laws. I don’t condone piracy, but I do support legal accessibility.

    My 2 cents.

  2. joanne
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 12:24:11

    I’m a reader and although I don’t find anything funny about ebook piracy I have to say that it’s a bit ironic that Everything I Know About Piracy Sites I learned from authors.

    Authors who name sites on their blogs or on comment threads aren’t doing themselves or their fellow authors any favors.

    Just sayin’.

  3. Janet W
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 13:34:23

    http://www.monkeybearreviews.com/2009/10/27/piracy-dilemmas-part-iv-the-missed-episode/ … another great spot for examining this issue: monkeybearreviews.com … fascinating 4-part series on piracy dilemmas.

  4. JulieB
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 13:36:32

    Thanks for linking to that article. A very interesting read.

    Pardon me while I try to balance both my author and reader hats on my noggin – I agree with you 100%.

    Yes, I want to get paid for my work. Yes, I hate piracy. Yet, I also know that every time someone concocts a new DRM scheme, someone else breaks it. The war is escalating, and BOTH readers and authors are losing. Readers lose out when they refuse to buy locked books, and authors lose out on sales.

    P.S. Thanks for your help via Twitter yesterday re: ebook readers. Very much appreciated.

  5. sarah mayberry
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 13:45:33

    Thanks for this, Jane. Yes, this is a very emotive topic for writers. As you all probably know, it’s not like many of us are buying mansions off the back of our book sales. (That’s not a moan, by the way, just a statement of fact. If you’re curious about what many authors are earning per book, check out Brenda Hiatt’s Show Me The Money site. It’s probably worth pointing out that the total earn out we receive per book is delivered over three years, and that advances are deducted from earn outs. Still, between script writing and books, I make a reasonably comfortable living, and I consider myself to be one lucky cow to be able to do something I love for a living) so when you find a website where someone has loaded up not one, not two but several of your books and you can see thousands of people have downloaded them already, it’s pretty easy to see red.

    It’s possible that most of these readers might never read one of my books if it wasn’t available for free. It’s also possible that a few of them might like it enough to go looking for legitimate copies of my backlist. I suspect we will never know what the changeover rate is on that issue. Like most writers, it takes me months to write a book and it really pushes my “that’s just not fair” button when I see that someone has stolen my creative work. And it is theft, of course it is. If it was a physical book, it would be shoplifting (or shopstealing, not sure what USA calls this). It feels like a really personal theft, too. I put a lot of myself into my books and it feels like a real violation to know that someone has absolutely no respect for that.

    I understand the arguments about trying to combat piracy being futile, that it will always exist. But that’s a rational argument, and the outrage an author feels when she finds her work being given away for free is definitely a monkey-brain, knee-jerk, gut-driven reaction. I am genuinely interested to know what people who download pirated books are thinking when they grab hundreds of books for free. Do they think about the authors of those works? Or is it a bit like stealing office stationary – you’re sticking it to the big guys? Or is it simply that it’s there, this is the modern age, why not take advantage of it? Do they understand that sometimes taking what they enjoy for free might mean that it will no longer be available at all?

    I would like to state, for the record, that I have no issue with book sharing, electronic or old skool. In fact, I encourage it. I borrow books from the library, and I know exactly how powerful the “try before you buy” idea is first hand. I read my first Sherry Thomas from the library before I bought her backlist. (Thanks, DA, for the review that spurred me on). I borrowed Lisa Kleypas’s Texas contemporaries, gobbled them up, gave the books to my good friend to read, and we both adored them so much we both bought our own copies because we wanted to own those books. That’s six sales from a library loan. So, please, by all means, share my books! Word of mouth is the best marketing there is. I definitely don’t equate book sharers with pirates. I think book lovers have an innate respect for authors, especially authors they enjoy. That’s how I feel, anyway, as a reader. I want to give them my money, frankly. Maybe it’s different for me because I’m a writer as well as a reader, but I want to support the writers who fire my imagination and give me access to new worlds and lives. I want them to keep writing and I want to say “thank you, thank you” for the hours of pleasure they have given me.

    There’s also another issue here for me as a category writer. A few years ago, my books would have come out for 30 days, sat on the shelf and sold or not sold, and it would have all been over. Whatever opportunity I had as an author to make my mark and my sales was limited to this very tight window, and then, apart from the second hand market, the book would have effectively ceased to exist. These days, my books are available as ebooks from a number of sources, and, thankfully, Harlequin acquires global ebook rights and they are available everywhere, all the time. Which means my earlier books are still earning out, and I still get mail from readers from my first books. So, at the end of the day, I have to say that as a category author the benefits of the ebook market far outweigh the piracy factor and I feel extremely fortunate that I am writing at this time.

    Sorry for the long post! I didn’t jump into the reader’s rights discussion the other day but have been thinking about it ever since, and the above is what has popped out of my brain. Thanks, DA, for offering writers the opportunity to have a soap box for the day. Happy reading, everyone!

  6. gwen hayes
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 13:48:46

    I don’t know the answer. I think that the best way to combat piracy is education. I had to explain to my kids why they aren’t allowed to download music from Limewire–most people just don’t think of it as stealing.

  7. Carolyn Jewel
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 13:48:55

    Jane:

    Thank you very much for this Author Opportunity!

    Until about yesterday (seriously) I was undecided on the issue of piracy. Today, I am closer to forming my opinion, which I will get to in a bit.

    There is hysteria and dogmatic opinion on both sides of the issue. And both those extremist positions tend to give me a headache.

    Until yesterday, I had never seen any evidence to support either side. I haven’t yet seen any author or publisher come forward with numbers that prove piracy hurts their bottom line. But I’ve also been at the torrent sites and come away feeling like the file uploaders know perfectly well that they’ve done something unethical and illegal. The downloaders know it, too.

    As a midlist author, I feel my chest go tight when I see my brand-new just released book on a torrent site. If those downloads represent lost sales, at my level, that’s my career going down the toilet. But I also understand I can’t prove it.

    It is not, at this point, possible for anyone to know whether piracy hurts or helps or does something in between. There is not sufficient evidence to be sure one way or the other.

    By way of background, at this point, just about all of my books are on torrent sites unauthorized by me or my publishers. I know that on October 4, someone was at a file sharing site asking that my October 6th release be uploaded. Which would mean illegally obtained. So it’s not that I’m not affected by piracy. I am a midlist author and I’m as worried as any writer today about whether I’m going to stay published.

    The question is, HOW am I affected by piracy?

    To my knowledge, only one person has undertaken a reasonably rigorous study of the effects of free and of piracy on books sales. That person is Brian O’Leary, who wrote “Impact of P2P and Free Distribution on Book Sales” for Tools of Change For Publishing (O’Reilly). It is available for download for $99. Yikes!

    I emailed Mr. O’Leary earlier this week and told him I thought he should contact RWA because the organization would be a rich source of the data he’s looking to acquire. (He’s revising his report.) Apparently, RWA thought so too (before I so brilliantly suggested it!) My understanding is that they are discussing matters.

    Mr. O’Leary was kind enough to send me a copy of his report. I’m almost done reading it. It’s taking me a while as I want to be sure I understand his methodology and his conclusions and what I think about the rigor of his work. I have a few questions, but I do think it’s fairly solid. On the other hand, I am not a statistician.

    Fiction WAS included in his data set.

    The EARLY evidence points to these results, which I am paraphrasing.

    If you are a debut or midlist author, piracy *increases* your sales by 18-42%.

    If you are an established, best-selling author, piracy looks like it hurts.

    These conclusions may not, of course, hold up when there is more data, better data or if circumstances change (number or piraters and downloaders, for example) or when others have had a chance to take a look at his methods and data.

    So, what do I think?

    I’m not all that surprised by the results. The anecdotal evidence of an increase in sales has been pretty persistent for at least a decade in gaming and software.

    I think authors who are up in arms over the issue need to take a deep breath. Really.

    I think publishers need to rethink their strategies about digital formats and to help researchers like O’Leary gather the data that will help them make a reasoned response to piracy and, frankly, understand consumers a little better.

    So. There you have it. I fully recognize that nothing is resolved yet and that the issues are complex. I urge authors to come out of the extreme position and press for the data and analysis that will give us a fair shot at understanding what’s going on and what the consequences are.

    I urge readers to, well, please keep reading.

  8. GrowlyCub
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 13:58:44

    I know this is for authors, but as a reader I just want to share a recent e-book experience.

    On another thread people recommended several books I was interested in. Only 1 was available at my preferred outlet (and the others did not seem to be available anywhere legally).

    That’s several sales lost. I watch with growing exasperation the publisher shenanigans (Macmillan’s greed really teed me off today) and even though I love reading on my Sony, I’ve bought fewer e-books since I got it because publishers are not putting out e-books in my preferred format any longer or for higher prices or much later than the print book.

    Why entities that are in the business of making money are making it so hard for me to spend it on their product, baffles me, but I’m not dumb enough to pay more for less or supporting even more publisher greed, so I’m also insulted out the wazoo by this bs.

    It’s like they are *trying* to send us all into the arms of pirates.

  9. Donna Alward
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 14:06:20

    It's like they are *trying* to send us all into the arms of pirates

    This is what I mean. I don’t have the answer, but I know it’s in the best interest to make things easier for the consumer, not harder!

    That smell is my biscuits burnin’ on your behalf, Growlycub. :-)

  10. HollyM
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 14:11:52

    Carolyn Jewel’s latest book Indiscreet is not available for ebook sale outside US and CA due to geographical restrictions. What is a reader to do? If a book is pirated that is not otherwise available, it is hardly a lost sale. The publishers are costing authors potential sales due to poor, outdated business practices.

  11. Angelia Sparrow
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 14:28:21

    Just a few recent numbers here.

    I’ve sold 16 copies of my latest release, rated. (very small press)
    Pirates had download 32 copies before before Naomi got the link taken down.
    The theft soared after a 4.5 star rating at Rainbow reviews. I expect the 5 star at Literary Nymphs will only spark more requests.

    I’m not a huge seller. I have a small devoted fan core, but haven’t even made it out to major e-book appeal. Knowing that my $15 check could and should be almost $50 hurts in a visceral sort of way.

  12. DS
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 14:45:24

    @Angelia Sparrow: I haven’t illegally downloaded any of your books but I just bought The Curse of the Pharaoh’s Manicurists (great title, BTW), which I would probably never have seen if you hadn’t posted about piracy.

  13. Chicklet
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 14:47:22

    Another reader butting in to say that I just saw a publisher decision that seems designed to throw readers toward the pirate sites: Scribner is delaying the ebook release of Stephen King’s latest novel for an entire month. The novel is 1,088 pages long — practically made for reading in ebook form instead of a two-pound hardcover — but will be available in print copy only until December 24.

    I can guarandamntee you the pirates will have it uploaded within a day of print publication. I’m not sure how the delay helps anyone except the pirates.

  14. ann
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 14:53:10

    Knowing that my $15 check could and should be almost $50 hurts in a visceral sort of way.

    How exactly do you know this? Just because someone downloads your book does not mean they had any intention of buying it. In fact it suggests the opposite. If they know where to find pirate sites then they had no intention of buying your book. They were most likely just downloading it because it was free.

  15. an author
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 15:02:54

    So I’m an author, but I’m also a reader. And I feel that my peers will get pretty angry at me for posting this, so I’m electing to remain anonymous.

    I’m multi-published, in e-book and print format. And to me, the issue of piracy is kind of a shrug. I don’t make tons of money from my writing, but it doesn’t piss me off to think that people might be stealing my books.

    Piracy’s going to happen. There isn’t much anyone can do about it, and I’m not going to wage any wars over it. It seems like fighting it makes it worse, and ranting and raving about it only makes me look like a lunatic who’s all up in arms over losing a few bucks. I’ll probably lose a few sales. I might have already. It doesn’t bother me.

    Plagiarism, now, that bothers me. Piracy? Not so much.

    And as a reader – I have never stolen an ebook, and I never will. I actually don’t believe that most readers are going to steal ebooks. I choose to believe that the greater majority of people are decent. And if they don’t “understand”, or claim to not understand, that piracy is stealing – well, I’m not going to go all righteously-indignant-author on them.

  16. Lynne Connolly
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 15:34:03

    As an author – it hurts, but it’s negative and I try to avoid things that impact on my writing. Especially when I’m in a writing part of my cycle (FYI, promotion, general admin, editing, revising and planning are other parts). I also think that too much publicity lights up their little lives.
    But it’s morally wrong, and it’s against the law.
    But if we don’t uphold our copyright, our licenses and the right to retain all the rights to our work, then we stand to lose them. Sending the letters is dispiriting, but I’ve tried to work it into my writing routine, as a neccessary evil.
    Ministers have been discussing the problem in the UK. They, too, believe that education is the key. They are proposing identifying people who are pirating films, books, music and sending them a warning letter, a “we know who you are” kind of letter. Then if the perp continues to do it, they get cut off. They say they’ve had experience in chasing up TV licences, that the majority of offenders correct their behaviour before it gets to court.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8328820.stm

    As a reader – I have an ebookwise, so every book I buy requires formatting before I can upload it to my device. DRM is beyond irritating. I don’t buy DRM’d books, which means I can’t buy from Harlequin, or I have to use an illegal program to take DRM off it (I don’t have one). It punishes the legitimate reader, not the pirate. And I won’t pay a premium price for an ebook, but it’s no worse than waiting for a hardback to come out in paperback, so while that’s an irritant, I don’t mind so much.

  17. RStewie
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 15:35:09

    Another reader chiming in here–with the same problem as @Growlycub. I have ventured onto the ebook path, and wanted a copy of a certain recent release for my collection. It was not available in the format I wanted, except at the outrageous price of $20+. I didn’t buy it…I went to the bookstore and read the hardcopy.

    I will buy it when it’s released in MMP and the price goes down (if ever it IS in the right format and the price DOES go down). Otherwise, that’s a lost sale, because the publisher’s ebook strategy is sucky. If I were a bad person, I would have torrented it now for my collection. Since I’m only marginally bad (and in an area with a substandard library system), I read it at the bookstore and soothed my conscience by buying an overpriced coffee.

    The mess the publishing industry has created around ebooks with their late releases and ridiculous pricing strategies is hurting the author more than piracy is, to my mind. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Ebook piracy is not the same as music piracy…the differences in the product and the consumers are too great to lump the two together.

  18. Shannon Stacey
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 15:49:51

    *From my royalty statement (direct sales/no 3rd party #s as yet): 222 copies sold
    *From just two of the sites offering illegal copies: 297 copies downloaded

    That hurts.

    I don’t believe those 297 people would have bought my book if it weren’t available to them free. But I think they would have bought somebody’s, which means it hurts the industry as a whole, which trickles down to me. I find it hard to believe people want to fill up their harddrive with stuff just because it’s free which implies, to me, that they’re readers.

    Now, I’m going to totally pull a number out of my ass: let’s say a mere 5% of them are a part of the romance reading community (maybe even people I know). Times are tough, money’s tight, all that jazz. For all intents and purposes, you can’t get my books at the library. The temptation’s there if somebody wants to read it.

    5% of 297 is about 15 people. If those 15 people like the book and talk about in the community (because nobody will know how they got it) and they get more people to buy it and the word spreads—I’ve paid more than $27.00 for promo before and it was far less effective than word of mouth.

    The other 282 people? I can’t do anything about them. I wish I could, but I’ve found the outrage and offense to be a waste of my energy.

    That’s the only way I can look at piracy and not drive myself mad.

    It’s also, when you see shitty shenanigans like they’re pulling with Stephen King’s book and the pricing on LK’s last book, easy to blame the publishers. They make it too hard for customers willing to pay and too easy for those who aren’t.

  19. anon author
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 15:58:47

    After a few frustrating hours doing take-down complaints, this hits a raw nerve. My books are available only in electronic format. I’ve gone along for quite a long time without my books showing up on any theft sites. Sales have steadily risen and things were going fine.

    Well, in May, they found me. And oddly enough, my backlist sales dried up. Coincidence? Who knows. My best-selling backlist title debuted at a site on Monday, and within the hour, it had been downloaded nearly 100 times. I’ll be interested to see how that reflects on the book’s sales in the future. Hopefully, it’ll have no impact at all.

    At the end of the day, it’s just simple theft, exactly the same as walking into Borders and shoplifting. Downloading e books from theft sites is illegal. Period. No excuses. (and I’ve heard them all.) Do you really need something so badly that you would compromise your morals to have it? To steal from the author?

  20. Anah Crow
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 16:09:07

    First, the impact of piracy on me as a writer:

    I don’t consider illegal downloads to be lost sales. If I did, I’d probably lose my ****. If 10% of illegal downloads of most of my books WERE lost sales — 1 in 10 — the difference would impact my lifestyle positively. On the lowest end of the numbers I’ve seen, my sales would double if 10% of those downloads were sales.

    I hit a point just as my career was picking up a little that DLs of one of my books on one site outnumbered the total sales I had ever made. Emotionally, it’s exhausting, because writers have to protect themselves and their publishers by issuing take down notices and writers often have alerts associated with their name. It’s not like writers can look the other way. People who illegally acquire our work are not discreet! There’s no reason for them to do so.

    On all distribution sites, I have to give my name and address and email address and phone number to the admins. If I want my copyright protected, I have to give my personal contact information to random people I don’t know and have no reason to trust. If they get around to it, they then contact the person who uploaded my copyrighted material that I have requested a takedown, and then they remove the material. The uploader is immediately put in a position of direct opposition to me. I just screwed them over. There is no in between and, from what I’ve seen, the response is not, “aw, shucks.” The response has, when I’ve seen it, involved profanity and even a promise to be back in 5 minutes with my backlist. And, yes, they were. The worst thing that happens is the uploader has to make a new account.

    Piracy IS tiring and demoralizing and irritating and puts me in a constant state of conflict with people who, apparently, like my work. There is a cost to piracy that has no immediate dollar value but it does definitely affect my productivity in both practical and intangible ways. It is a pain in the ass to see someone posting, “u guyz im gonna buy it when it comes out, so dont, ok?” about my upcoming release. I’m not flattered to read, “i rilly luv this writer so som1 plz upload [my backlist]”. I’m not flattered that the lag between my release and the first piracy uploads is down to hours. I don’t have Google Alerts on and I deal with this enough to make me tested. If I had Google Alerts on, I’d be losing my mind.

  21. RStewie
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 16:25:41

    One question: Aren’t the publishers responsible for the copywrite protection of the material during the contractual term they have the right to publish it?? Or does this responsibility rest solely with the author?

    God, I would LOVE to get my hands on a publishing contract. That would really help me understand some of the nuances of the industry… that and a distribution contract. But I’m a nerd like that…

  22. Anah Crow
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 16:40:41

    Piracy in general:

    What bothers me most is the culture of piracy. I think that media piracy has its own culture and it has NOTHING to do with Open Source and Creative Commons culture. The people in the latter groups are generally honest about their use of work and giving credit where it’s due, and protecting the rights that producers request. The culture of piracy completely ignores me as having any rights where my own work is concerned. It disrespects me, because I’ve chosen a given method of publication. It is oppositional and entitled and positions me in the place of the enemy.

    And, I guess that’s where it comes down to. The clash of big business and ‘pirates’ have created a culture of disrespect and dishonesty that posits all damage in terms of profit and all attempt at ‘ownership’ as a violation of some random person’s right to the material, and that uses the sins of the other side as justification for abrogating the rights of both readers and writers/publishers.

    Where e-book buyers in general come in:

    I know that the general e-book readership is not part of that culture. People who insist on conflating the lenders and borrowers of e-books with piracy culture are to be resisted and rejected. E-book buyers are people who want to be treated fairly, just like anyone else. I don’t want anyone feeling crappy or cheated or thwarted when they want to buy my work, just like I don’t want to feel crappy or cheated or thwart it when I sell it.

    I think the best thing we can do, all of us, to prevent piracy is to hang onto our little culture and to learn from the experiences of internet cultures like Open Source and Creative Commons. If I wished for anything, it would be that readers were more involved in insisting on their rights, because appears at this point it is not DRM that prevents ‘piracy’ (I would love to see this term disappear and never be used again with regard to acquisition of electronic media, except in the most extreme cases, maybe, if the culprits are wearing eyepatches) or damage to writers/distributors/publishers, it is a culture of readers that rejects actions that are inherently damaging to the system that produces what they read.

  23. Anah Crow
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 17:00:38

    @RStewie:

    A number of publishing houses post a sample contract. You could probably Google for it. (I can’t tell you because *shame* Dianne does all that stuff for me. Bad writer. Bad.) Distribution seems to be murkier. Wikipedia and other sites have excellent breakdowns of DMCA and OCILLA and obligations to protect copyright. My understanding, though, from volunteering at LJ back in the day, is that all persons who hold copyright share rights and obligations to protect it. (Please, correct me if I’m wrong, someone, I’d love to quit doing DMCAs!)

  24. Anon
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 17:21:59

    I’m anonymous here so feel free to hurl abuse and call me names. I confess that I’m one of those who have downloaded torrents. However, this was in situations where there was no other way of getting the book – so basically books which had geographic restrictions, or books which were only available in a format that was not compatible with my ereader.

    I would MUCH rather have purchased these books legally – quite apart from the moral considerations, it’s so much more convenient and also no fear of also downloading viruses. After having found out how to get around geo restrictions and strip DRM, I haven’t downloaded a torrent since. I’m still breaking the law but at least authors are now getting paid, which I think is a better situation all round.

    Yes, my morality in this respect was certainly rather suspect – if I was whiter than white, then I would have held off or purchased the book in print. But then I’m living in a non-English speaking third world country where post is not reliable and prohibitively expensive so I am basically reliant on ebooks, and would just have gone without. And I think this is probably true of a lot of people who download illegally – if something is not available through legal channels, then it’s human nature to get it through shadier means. Unfortunately, we’re not all angels here.

    I have to admit that the whole DRM/geo rights pissed me off so much that part of the motivation for downloading from a torrent was a big “F**K YOU!” to a publishing industry that was forcing me to jump through so many hoops just a buy a book. I know authors are getting hit. I apologies to you for my past misdeeds and would also advise you to have a way to pay directly on your website so that people can transfer money to you after having downloaded a pirated version of your book. That would have been something I would have gleefully done – if only as another “up yours” to the industry.

  25. ardeatine
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 17:48:55

    .
    Anon, you must forgive me for not worrying about downloaders of torrents getting viruses. At least there’s something to smile about in all this.

    My books aren’t DRM, but they’re stolen on a regular basis. They’re available all over the world, but still stolen on a regular basis. I’d like to hear the excuses for that. Don’t suppose the downloaders care that I’m trying to pay two sons through university with my writing?

  26. Nicola Griffith
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 18:04:28

    Publishers are turning away books they may have bought in the past. Booksellers are cutting back on their orders and contracts are being canceled. This is not the result of piracy, but you can certainly try to sell me on the idea that it is.

    In my opinion it simply shows that publishers are learning: not all books should be published. Nothing whatever to do with piracy.

  27. Elly
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 18:13:15

    @Lynne Connolly:

    They are proposing identifying people who are pirating films, books, music and sending them a warning letter, a “we know who you are” kind of letter.

    Living in Canada, I actually got a letter like this from my ISP – it just informed me that we had been observed to have downloaded a particular movie from a particular website. In Canada, I am pretty sure this is not technically illegal, eg, no possible charges/lawsuits over it, but it still scared me into making sure we stopped all our movie downloading… Could be particular effective if sent to the ISP bill payer in a larger household as that person might not be aware such activity is taking place in their home.

  28. Likari
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 18:58:29

    I don’t understand this: I couldn’t get it legally, so I had to steal it.

    To the person who justifies downloading from a torrent site that way, I’d say: It’s a book. It’s not like that reader is Jean Veljean, stealing bread to feed her family.

    Actually, it’s the opposite, she’s stealing the bread from someone else’s family. For her entertainment. Because she can.

    People who are willing to take what they want because it makes them happy will always exist and they will always devise justifications. As good writers know, the villain always thinks he/she is the hero. So I don’t think piracy can ever be stamped out.

    It can be reduced, though. People won’t steal if it’s not worth it. Viruses help. And criminal prosecution would help, too.

    My solution to piracy? exempt authors from income taxes on e-book sales, and add a VAT tax to ebooks.

    That way, governments will have a monetary interest in stopping piracy. Thieves and fences might not be afraid of individual romance novelists, but they might think twice if the Internal Revenue Service took notice of their activities.

    DISCLAIMER: I think sharing is wonderful and good, and libraries are the measure of refined civilization. I’m not talking about sharing. I’m talking about torrent-type stealing.

  29. Courtney Milan
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 19:18:24

    @Likari:

    My solution to piracy? exempt authors from income taxes on e-book sales, and add a VAT tax to ebooks.

    That way, governments will have a monetary interest in stopping piracy. Thieves and fences might not be afraid of individual romance novelists, but they might think twice if the Internal Revenue Service took notice of their activities.

    This is extremely unlikely to have the effect you desire unless the VAT is massive (which would discourage legitimate purchase).

    The IRS already taxes income from whatever source derived, including income in barter and in kind. Copyright infringement already counts as income. If you don’t claim it on your taxes, you’re an income tax evader. Same is true for regular ol’ theft, drug money, and just about every other illegal activity you can engage in for profit (whether that profit is actually money or profit in kind, as copyright infringement would be). My guess is that no pirate claims their pirated goods on their income taxes; and yet the IRS has not gone after any of them thus far, and that is with an already effective income tax for their piracy of 10% to 35% of the value of an entire book.

    The income tax laws almost never serve as an incentive for the IRS to police regular old criminals. Instead, it gives the feds another way to get regular old criminals when they can’t prove the regular old crimes in court.

  30. Likari
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 19:25:45

    @Courtney Milan:

    ha! Why did I know you would have a thoughtful response to the VAT proposition? I see what you’re saying.

    I was just trying to think of a way to create an institutional means of thwarting piracy, but of course my idea wouldn’t work for the reasons you state.

    So far, the best strategy seems to be to make the ebook version of a title available from day one, in as many formats as possible, in as many jurisdictions as possible, and at a reasonable price.

  31. Courtney Milan
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 19:30:14

    @Likari: Because I’m the kind of fun author you can count on to come up with Exciting Things like that?

    Yes, everyone–read Courtney Milan! Her books will transport you to a world as fun and exciting as the minor arcana of the IRS Income Tax Regulations.

    #bookpitchfail

  32. Anon
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 19:30:35

    You’re right, of course, Jane. Dear Author is a reader’s site, and not meant for authors. The fact that you write to us by name is just a gimmick, not an invitation for us to feel at home here. My mistake. Naturally, readers shouldn’t concern themselves with issues which may be killing the careers of authors — our concerns are clearly orthogonal to your own.

    When authors have jumped in on, possibly off topic, crying about maleficence and theft, it disturbs the zen of the gentle reader, so you’ve given us our own place to play. That’s almost as thoughtful as the “Free Speech Zones” provided by the secret service. Don’t worry, I feel the love.

    Publicly, I’ve been pretty quiet, but I’ve seen my back-list sales dwindling concurrent with tens of thousands of illegal downloads of the same titles. No, I can’t prove causality, that would require a control — a popular book NOT torrented to hell and gone, but the data is clear enough for my eyes.

    I didn’t weigh in on the reader’s rights topic. Readers should have rights, and publishers, desperately seeking a way to remain profitable, have done some dumb things that hurt readers, like DRM. Some authors have also seen red and said some stupid things, like screaming about sharing without reading all the fine print. Considering that we’re watching the profit generation of our industry being eroded, a little desperation should be expected. Nota Bene: cornered rats may bite.

    However, I DID notice your comments Jane. Publishers should immediately remove all impediments to piracy, and honor the first-sale doctrine for ebooks. Never mind that doing so would effectively make it impossible to ever prosecute anyone for book piracy. You believe sharing to be a RIGHT of the purchaser (where, exactly is that right granted?), but there’s no certain limit to the extent of that right. Six people, twelve, two million? When does sharing become piracy? Oh well, not a concern for the reader.

    Later, you mention that it’s not a reader’s job to make sure that authors can make a living writing. Or to ensure that they get better royalties, or to act in the interest of the author. Got it. When the chips are down, it’s every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.

    Nobody is asking the reader to do anything other than behave with some honesty and a minimum of integrity. Authors are crying out for a fair shake, a chance to make it or break it based on the merits of our work and our ability to connect with readers. Piracy is a way for the dear reader to screw the dear author. Hey, but blame the victim is a popular game, I hear it’s all the rage in political circles. Didn’t expect to see it here. But doubtless you’re right. It’s not the READER’s concern — they’re just trying to get their fix and the lowest possible cost. Free is good.

    Hopefully the book industry will crash soon — after all, they’re all overpaid, stupid, and inept. Ask any pirate. I believe that the demise of the publishing industry is inevitable at this time. I hope all the readers who feel this is none of their concern are happy wading through the slush-pile of unedited fanfic that will spring up in its place. I’m about to retire, so it won’t hurt me much.

    So, having mostly gotten the dagger out of my back, I’m signing off of Dear Author. Jane, you really showed your true colors. Maybe someday you’ll be drowning and I can throw you an anchor to return the favor.

    Adieu!

  33. gwen hayes
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 19:39:16

    Just wow.

  34. catie james
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 20:02:17

    While I agree book bloggers/readers/reviewers have no inherent obligation to “educate” the masses about e-piracy, and 90-95% of those catching flak for a handful of bad apples are undeserving of the resulting ire, this particular post strikes a sour note in my book. Its explicit presentation as a forum for authors to vent their frustrations stands in direct opposition to the underlying tenor of its author’s hostility. DA should not be anything other than what its owners/members wish to create, but conciliatory overtures mean nothing if they lack sincerity.

  35. Mezza
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 20:16:04

    @32 anon

    You said

    Nobody is asking the reader to do anything other than behave with some honesty and a minimum of integrity

    So let me just pull the dagger out of my own back. Your implication being that most of us readers have little honour and little care.

    This ‘discussion’ about e-books, sharing and piracy has lead me to count my book purchasing up and in the past 12 months I have legally purchased 379 e-books and probably 100 print books. I am reading more and more widely and want to do so more easily (hate geographic restrictions and DRM). Much of my reading has been driven by the reviews and blogging on ‘dear author’ and other sites. Authors write the books but I wouldn’t know about them without sites like this, so it is ‘dear author’ that leads me to the next step of purchasing. It is a partnership of sorts.

    I am very appreciative of the work that Jane and the ‘dear author’ site do in thinking about and helping to grow the e-book/digital publishing model; documenting what e-readers want, trying to clarify the complexities. I feel sad at the disrespect that she has been shown by many authors in this and the other thread on readers having rights too.

    Dear Author gets it, we readers get it; piracy is bad. But I’m not a pirate. I’m the person who is likely to buy your next book or pick up the rest of a series. So don’t harangue me or insult me over the sins of others.

  36. Blue Tyson
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 20:42:24

    10

    Yep. I deleted about 20 odd books the other day from my Fictionwise wishlist, as I can’t buy them. That’s money lost to authors and publishers, forever.

    16

    You want people to be disconnected from the internet? Imagine if they do that to 25% of people or whatever percentage download tv, movies, etc. Think what that would do to economies. No online banking, billpaying, etc. – all the physical services that would have to be reinstituted to serve these people so companies didn’t collapse.

    If you are an ebook only author, that would be 25% of people that would NEVER be able to buy anything from you or your publisher. Marketing couldn’t reach them. Apart from not being able to, they’d definitely never want to give you money ever again.

    Some tv downloading authors would get busted, too, so they’d have to use regular phone, fax, snail mail, etc. No email for them. :)

    28

    Flip your statement – why don’t authors and publishers want to sell us books? Mostly for reasons they see as financially advantageous to them. (And possibly just outright luddite stubbornness sometimes – e.g. Rowling, the Tolkien holdout, etc.). If you and yours refuse to sell a book to someone, they can’t be taking money from anyone as it is money that it is impossible for them to give.

    That argument is just silly, when you apply it. If everyone not in the USA downloads a USA only title e.g. 6 billion people or so, you then suggest that said yank author has been deprived of 6 billion dollars?

    Remember this – if electronic book use keeps growing and overall book purchasing numbers end staying around the same order of magnitude, people who have georestricted books will see their sales drop as people that previously would have purchased now want ebooks, and can’t buy them, so they will buy someone else’s.

  37. Edie
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 20:42:58

    I was going to throw in a little mini rant, but will just say ditto to Mezza

  38. Whisky
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 22:41:37

    I am writing a non-fiction book for a biggish publisher and I am an avid reader of ebooks.
    I feel both authors and readers are caught between publishers’ lawyers and scummy thieves who think nothing of taking someone else’s bread for their own entertainment.
    It seems clear to me that DRM free books without geographical restrictions will significantly expand the market. I desperately want my publisher to publish my book in this way. But I doubt my publisher will agree because they seem to have adopted a self defeating and control freakish strategy. (Don’t mention the retailers like Amazon and BandN. Their involvement with DRM is just all about getting a stranglehold on the market).
    The combination of DRM and geographical restrictions (the ebook format war is not such an issue) means that it is actually often impossible to buy the books one wants. It is usually harder to buy a book legitimately than it is to pirate it, in my experience (unless you submit to getting ripped off and controlled by something like the Kindle market). That means the writers are losing their livelihoods. I have actually found myself on two occuastions downloading ebooks on torrents (because that is what I wanted to buy) and then buying the hardback version of the book to compensate the author/publishers.
    On the other side of the fence, there are the scum who pirate. They make this whole environment in which DRM is justifiable. I didn’t really realise how immoral these people were until I read threads like this:
    http://digg.com/tech_news/Music_Pirates_are_Immoral_Cheapskates_Or_Are_They
    The responses to that Digg posting were, for me, quite frightening: people who could convince themselves that they were not actually stealing from people when they “duplicated” things; that they were fighting on behalf of the artists by stealing their livelihoods etc. etc..

  39. Nina Brand
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 23:23:50

    @Anah Crow:

    Anah you and I are persistent victims of a certain site which (under my author name) uploaded my entire backlist with multiple mirror links last week. I spent a valuable day and a half filing DMCA notices on each and every title and obviously, each separate link.
    I feel exactly as you do. I became exhausted and had to go back the next day and complete my takedown notices.
    One user is fond of those multiple mirror uploads and it KILLS me when I see the huge numbers of downloads when my backlist sales have completely dried up as a result of the – admit it everybody – escalated pace of ebook theft.
    In the last few months, there has been a ferocity of speed with which they download. They have my brand new books up within hours, then back up again as soon as some cyber-idiot whines for it.
    That same user uploaded all my books to two outside file-sharing sites under my book titles to throw me off in my search for anything under my name. I got all the links removed but I know tomorrow they’ll be back up again.
    This user uploaded 250 ebooks to one site and I knew most of the authors and alerted them.
    What gets me is that the general board chat on the original site features candid chats where they totally disrespect authors and claim only the ‘lackluster’ ones care about piracy. They do not. All authors care – or they do when it starts happening to them.
    Last week I had a freakout when I saw my entire catalogue dumped on this site. It hurt. I also noticed they’re demanding the free books I give to paying book buyers. I try to do my best for my readers. I give ‘em free books constantly. I give them great prizes, I exchange emails…I am at a loss with how to deal with this. I do know I can’t afford to ignore it. And I refuse to apologize for trying to protect my work.

  40. Likari
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 00:00:44

    Nina and Anah, I think you should contact this guy and see if he has any ideas.

    oops. he looks like a defense type.

    [edit] anyway, there has to be a way to prosecute this kind of theft. I don’t understand why the businesses that enable the sites to operate — such as the ISPs — aren’t liable.

    [final edit] — this is the guy I meant: http://www.hro.com/attorneys/view/timothy-reynolds

  41. Kelly
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 00:24:32

    As a reader in Australia, georgraphic restrictions drive me crazy. What is the point. Congratulations, Heap Big Publishers, you’ve lost my sale. I can’t get the book, it’s not been released here in Australia, I can’t get the actual book, I can’t get the eBook. Fail.

    I have tentatively dipped my toe into eBooks, and I love them. My eBook collection has supplemented my library card. I’ve found a few new authors through eBooks I didn’t know about, have fallen in love with them, and bought rest of the series in real books. Or in eBooks, if I couldn’t get the actual books.

    I’ve not pirated a book before, and I think it’s Bad. I have recieved copies of pirated TV series and movies. I have shared CDs. I have shared actual books. It seems more wrong to pirate books than anything else. I don’t know why I think this, perhaps because I’m a books person.

    That was my two cents. Do with it what you will.

  42. Gary Gibson
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 00:38:32

    Well, like a couple of other people here, I’m a pro writer with several books out, and I’m not worried by piracy. If you want to stop it, you’re not only going to have to stop people’s internet connections, you’re also going to have to ban photocopiers, computer scanners, OCR software and computers.

    The vast majority of those books floating around on bittorrent sites were derived from print copies of books. You scan the pages with a scanner and run OCR software that creates an unedited, error-filled file that is then saved as a PDF – surely the most unwieldy ebook format ever created – and uploaded.

    All right; you’ve banned scanners. Nobody scans any more. OCR software is out the window too. Perfect world, right? And … oh look, the new Harry Potter is online an hour after publication. How do you get that book online despite the new anti-OCR and scanner laws?

    Easy. Find a hundred obsessed teenage Hogwarts fans online (oops, you’re going to have to ban forums too. And possibly places where people gather in public in crowds of more than two). Use incredibly simple software to assign each of them four or five pages from the book (a copy having already been breathlessly acquired at a special midnight opening from some downtown bookstore). Each one then types those few pages up , and either someone at the heart of the operation manually stitches them together or, more likely, writes some simple piece of code (oops, gotta ban programming too) that automatically puts the pages in order. Presto, one instant online pirate copy of Rowling. Of course, to get hold of it you have to know what a bittorrent site is, where to find it, how to run a bittorrent client, and a whole range of what might be relatively mundane online tasks to some of us but represent some kind of weird tech voodoo to the majority who can’t even get sufficiently motivated to set the time on their video players.

    Of course, if we do manage to ban computers, emailing, the writing of software, computer scanners and so forth, we’re also going to have to ban those temples of criminal sin so extravagant as to flaunt themselves openly on our streets: I am, of course, talking about second-hand bookshops, who flagrantly refuse to pay authors their copyright on each book sold.

    And then there’s the libraries, which equally allow people to read books *for free* without paying the author (unless your books are stocked in UK libraries). You’re also going to have to ban people from loaning each other physical paperbacks. Or, you know, leaving them lying around in public places for other people to read (oops, there goes bookcrossing.com) without paying the author.

    And the charity shops! That also sell used books! The staff would, of course, have to be rounded up and fined for acting as participants in a criminal movement of money away from the author. Or, more likely, the publisher. Or, even more likely, whoever recognises social paranoia as an important business niche, sets themselves up as a ‘copyright protection agency’ and starts raking in the money, like all those pesky DRM companies that make it nearly impossible to read ebooks on my Sony Reader even though I buy dozens of books every year.

    Does this mean I’m an advocate of piracy? Of course not. But most of them are hyperactive teenagers with too much time on their hands who probably aren’t going to read 98% of what they download. It’s also worth remembering that the people who download the most have been shown to be the people who spend the most – ie, your biggest fans.

    Remember, also, that word of mouth publicity is the most efficient way of making a book popular; how many authors did you get into because somebody insisted you read their copy of one of their books, or you found it free on the shelves of a library, or for loose change in a charity shop? That 13-year old pirate might just turn into your biggest (paying) fan, especially in another ten years when they’ve graduated, bought a nice house to go with the job in computer engineering and look longingly at those empty shelves just waiting to be filled with books by their favourite authors.

    Before the internet, if I wanted to read an author I liked I had to go into the city from the small town where I lived and hope they had his or her new book on the shelves. If they didn’t, I might have to wait weeks or months for it to appear. I had no access to reviews of genre works because they rarely if ever appeared in the press, whereas now I can find dozens of such reviews at the click of a mouse. My only other alternative to get my hands on the writing I craved was to go on an occasional spending spree when a science fiction convention came to town, maybe once every couple of years.

    I remember getting a friend to hunt down a book I desperately wanted to get hold of when he went on a trip to the States in the early Nineties, when there was no other way to get my hands on it (no Amazon!). Between first hearing of the book and actually getting hold of a copy, something like a decade had passed.

    I don’t ever want to go back to those times. If I could have bittorrented that book, I would have in a flash, despite the inevitable tweak of guilt. If I could have bought an ebook of it for a few measly pounds or dollars, let alone an actual paperback via some online store, I wouldn’t even have had to think about it (I now own it in paper – second-hand, since it’s also long out of print. Ironic, or what?)

    This is the future. Get used to it, take advantage of it, or take the risk of being left behind. Instead of focusing on ridiculous messages of doom, find a way to make the online world work for you and make the vast majority who do pay aware of your work.Baen Books practically gives away the majority of its titles away as free e-documents, and I don’t recall hearing any stories about them having to panhandle on the street for money for food. Rather the opposite, I suspect.

  43. Reg
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 01:03:18

    @Likari:

    DISCLAIMER: I think sharing is wonderful and good, and libraries are the measure of refined civilization. I'm not talking about sharing. I'm talking about torrent-type stealing.

    But is sharing not in the same realm? I mean, with file-sharing, someone had to have bought the text originally before anyone else could have access to it. With book-sharing, someone also had to have bought the text before it could be passed around. Neither of these necessarily result in more than one sale. What’s the distinction?

  44. anon #47
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 01:42:12

    Gary & Likari: right the hell ON.

    Authors say they don’t mind loaning, but that is and is not an equivalent. Most of us just plain don’t have five thousand friends who’d all want to borrow the same book. (And if we did, it’d make the christmas card list totally unmanageable, anyway.) But I know where you can borrow a book, the same physical book, that’s been paid for once but read by anywhere from a hundred to a thousand or more people. Hello, local library!

    If an author finds out they’re one of the most popular authors at a library branch, is the author pleased or frustrated? If the book is checked out constantly in four-day stretches, that’s just shy of 100 readers per year. Do authors lose sleep about how this was 1 paid sale and 99 lost sales?

    If authors had access to some kind of massive google-ized version of library tracking stats, and could see their title(s) were checked out by X times at Y libraries* in Z months, would the author bitterly tally up the amount before going online and lambasting library-goers and ranting about how reading without paying is a financial and personal affront to the author?

    (Ballpark is about 168,000 total of public, school, and academic libraries in the US alone.)

    If we could go online with our local library and check out a PDF, I betcha plenty of people would do that instead of deal with pirate sites & the malware risk. In the eyes of the reader, what’s the freaking difference, in the end? The books were purchased by the library or original poster and the rest of us are loan-reading. Thing is, I doubt we’re d/ing anywhere near the number of total check-outs of a title if all our local libraries each had a copy of the book.

    An awful lot of the time, I suspect authors find it easier to lash out at second-hand readers rather than face the fact that some readers just don’t consider the author’s book to be worth any investment beyond that of time. Those authors are just the newest generation of authors stymied by the library model of one buyer + multiple readers. They’re being read in decent numbers, sure, but they haven’t managed to write something those readers will believe is worth paying for.

    [Aside: what moron torrents a PDF? Even on dialup, you can d/l a PDF’s teeny 900kB in a minute or less. Torrent is for major files, like the 8.7GIG I d/led last night of an entire season of my favorite Korean drama. Below 50MB (approx 60 PDFs zipped), it’s easier to download direct, or via services like Rapidshare, and that’s assuming the files aren’t even zipped. Torrenting a PDF, even a bundle of PDFs, is akin to using a snowblower to sweep a few crumbs off your countertop. It’s so overkill it makes overkill look like underkill.

    Shorter version: when you bellyache about “torrenting” ebooks, any humor you note is definitely at you and not with you.]

  45. Keishon
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 01:59:35

    I’d like to know how people who pirate your books (authors) are supposedly your readers? Huh? Can you explain this? Can you prove this? How is it that people who steal are supposedly your fans? What? Didn’t hear you? That’s what is so puzzling with the “I’m losing money” theme that seems to be going around. Those people who are allegedly “stealing” are not your fans or your regular readers. They’re thieves. They wouldn’t buy your books if they weren’t free otherwise. Why can’t you all understand this?

    /done

    ETA: I don’t advocate piracy. It’s bad. That’s all.

  46. Blue Tyson
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 02:41:21

    45

    Because you are flat out wrong with this silly simplification.

    It should be obvious to anyone that you can be a reader, fan of or combination of these two and anything else of someone without ever paying them a cent.

    Happens all the time, in multiple media.

    For example, the number of Stephen King books I have read is in double figures, easily. Well over an hundred short stories I think.

    The only Stephen King I ever paid any money for directly was a 50c used copy of The Dead Zone. A couple of new anthologies with stories by him, the odd used one or two.

    So, care to explain how your loopy argument finagles me into not being one of Stephen King’s readers for all the work I didn’t pay for?

  47. Zealot
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 02:48:06

    I know a lot of people who pirate things online, and I completely understand and agree with authors who are upset by this behavior. There is no question, whether it is a book or music or a film or software, online piracy is stealing and a problem.

    Unfortunately, just like stealing in the real world there is no way to stop all of it. You can stop some of it, sure…but never all of it. Real world retailers and wholesalers build into their financial plans a certain amount of stock lost to theft, insurance companies offer Theft Protection in their policies. Stealing is just a fact of life that anyone selling something needs to adapt to, at least to a small degree.

    However, there are certain nuances to online theft that aren’t true of more tangible thieving and work to the advantage of authors and publishers.

    First of all, as Gary mentioned above, most pirated versions of books are poor scans, often filled with errors and scan anomalies that make a certain amount if not unreadable, then no fun to try to read. Even the best rarely include covers or illustrations and many include malware or spyware. As for the others, there is still a certain amount of arcane knowledge behind producing and uploading these pirated versions, not to mention finding them and downloading them. Pirated books are not as ubiquitous as MP3 or such, therefore you usually need to know what you are looking for in order to find them.

    Next, I would say very few sales are actually lost through piracy. Of the people downloading from pirate sites or forums, likely only 1 in 50 would actually buy your book if the pirate copy were not available?

    Why not? Well, most pirates are collectors, not connoisseurs. Almost all serious pirates are going for sheer numbers in their collections, not selecting books to read.

    They do it because

    * They want Bragging rights (“I have 350,000 ebooks, man! I must be SO damn smart now!),

    * They are overwhelmed by the need for the personal obsessive satisfaction of a collector (“On this drive I have every Ebook produced by Hubba Hubba Romance Publishers since 2001…and on this one I have every copy of Hassler Mostly Legal XXX Babes ever produced…I have the Ebooks and the pictorials cross referenced by hair color, build and chest size! Want to see my catalog files? Excel or Crystal Reports?”)

    * They want to offer a wider range of warez on their own pirate sites or forums (“OK, I know you are here to download the new Metallica video and the game Left4Dead III: Zombie Boogaloo, but I also have a vast catalog of cracked or DRM-free pictures, old time radio shows, faked celebrity nude scenes, ebooks, and needlepoint patterns, SO CLICK ON MY SPONSER ADS!”)

    * They note it as they are going through the FTP site and think they may want to read it someday and what the hell it is free so they download it, and then never touch it until they delete it while reformatting their drive next year after briefly noting the file name and wondering what the crap that is but not opening it cause they might have gotten it from that Chinese site with all the viruses.

    * They CAN.

    If they had the option to, these people would never buy your book if you paid them, so you aren’t losing a sale.

    In the minority of cases, people are downloading a pirated copy of your book to actually read it. These are usually people who are seeking out the title, you as the author, or the genre for purposes of reading and lovingly collecting. In most cases these readers…

    * Can’t pay for it (poverty, lack of online purchasing ability, or their ebook consumption is too vast to support with mere money)

    * Can’t find it (either not available online or inaccessible due to their region or format)

    or in the case of some true fans…

    * Have already bought the printed version and want it as an ebook, but can’t justify buying it twice.

    Of course, remember there are always exceptions to these rules and none of this makes piracy right or good, but neither is it usually the economic disaster it can appear to be for some of the authors who have commented here. If you have sold 100 ebooks and had 100 copies pirated doesn’t mean you would have sold 200 copies if there were no pirates…more like maybe 110 with no pirates.

    I am sure there must be a way to turn those 10 pirated copies into sales with good marketing and more effective anti-piracy education.

    As for the other 90, nothing will ever turn them into sales, pirates or no pirates. Don’t even try.

  48. Rowan McBride
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 03:37:13

    @45

    A lot of the people who pirate my books read them as well. I know this because on the pirating forums they request books by me, specifically, or specific books I have written. Many times the requests come with tags like “I love his work!” or “I’m dying to read this book!” or “I’m such a big fan of his!”

    This same scenario plays out for a lot of the writers I know.

    The “they wouldn’t buy your books anyway” rationalization has always confused me. Just because I don’t really *want* something, doesn’t entitle me to *have* it, right?

    At any rate, I have no empirical evidence that pirating costs me sales. I know first-hand what pirating costs *me,* though. It’s disheartening. When I see the pirates stating how very much they love my stories, and how they call their uploads “releases,” I don’t feel the hell like writing. But I keep at it, because that’s what we do.

    Writers write.
    Readers read.
    Fans remember your name and buy your next book.
    And pirates steal.

  49. Blue Tyson
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 03:41:18

    32

    /You’re right, of course, Jane. Dear Author is a reader’s site, and not meant for authors. The fact that you write to us by name is just a gimmick, not an invitation for us to feel at home here. My mistake. Naturally, readers shouldn’t concern themselves with issues which may be killing the careers of authors — our concerns are clearly orthogonal to your own./

    — Authors careers get killed all the time. By their publishers, by bad luck, by lack of talent, by inability to adapt, or whatever. So what? In some ways you are helping to kill each other off as more and more books are published every year. In other words, there are always more of you. Particularly in the lower sigma range. Pretty sure the increasing availability of a commodity is likely to drive the price of it down.

    /When authors have jumped in on, possibly off topic, crying about maleficence and theft, it disturbs the zen of the gentle reader, so you’ve given us our own place to play. That’s almost as thoughtful as the “Free Speech Zones” provided by the secret service. Don’t worry, I feel the love./

    — Nice, so an anonymous commenter accuses a blogger of Secret Police actions? Funny.

    /Publicly, I’ve been pretty quiet, but I’ve seen my back-list sales dwindling concurrent with tens of thousands of illegal downloads of the same titles. No, I can’t prove causality, that would require a control — a popular book NOT torrented to hell and gone, but the data is clear enough for my eyes./

    — No, you can’t prove that. It may also be that your day is done. You are no longer relevant, or good enough, or people don’t care any more. Entertainers generally have limited lifespans as far as interest goes, in the main. That happens all the time, too.

    /I didn’t weigh in on the reader’s rights topic. Readers should have rights, and publishers, desperately seeking a way to remain profitable, have done some dumb things that hurt readers, like DRM. Some authors have also seen red and said some stupid things, like screaming about sharing without reading all the fine print. Considering that we’re watching the profit generation of our industry being eroded, a little desperation should be expected. Nota Bene: cornered rats may bite./

    — No industry has a right to expect continued growth. In fact, if they knew the slighest bit about probability (or economics, even :) )and continue to expect such they are completely and utterly delusional. NB: outnumbered rats get quickly crushed, too.

    /However, I DID notice your comments Jane. Publishers should immediately remove all impediments to piracy, and honor the first-sale doctrine for ebooks. Never mind that doing so would effectively make it impossible to ever prosecute anyone for book piracy. You believe sharing to be a RIGHT of the purchaser (where, exactly is that right granted?), but there’s no certain limit to the extent of that right. Six people, twelve, two million? When does sharing become piracy? Oh well, not a concern for the reader./

    — Publishers have been doing one thing that can probably slow this down a bit. Refusing to sell many of us books. That produces a few other problems for them as well, though. :)

    /Later, you mention that it’s not a reader’s job to make sure that authors can make a living writing. Or to ensure that they get better royalties, or to act in the interest of the author. Got it. When the chips are down, it’s every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost./

    — Not if you want to yell at us and call us criminals, no. In the case of some authors indulging in this then we’re more likely to be handing Asmodeus his pitchfork and some matches.

    /Nobody is asking the reader to do anything other than behave with some honesty and a minimum of integrity. Authors are crying out for a fair shake, a chance to make it or break it based on the merits of our work and our ability to connect with readers. Piracy is a way for the dear reader to screw the dear author. Hey, but blame the victim is a popular game, I hear it’s all the rage in political circles. Didn’t expect to see it here. But doubtless you’re right. It’s not the READER’s concern they’re just trying to get their fix and the lowest possible cost. Free is good./

    — A fair shake? The chance that any of you will make it is small. A much larger percentage than that labour under the misapprehension that they will be included in that small number. Also it is ok for authors to try and get the best deal, but not readers? As long as we are clear what you mean. The media conglomerates have been part of the drive for globalisation. Too bad if it has also empowered consumers just a little more than they like. Pretty sure the whole capitalism thing is about trying to buy low where you can. Artificial controls and restrictions like DRM and region coding stuff are _exactly_ the sort of things that drive black markets. Prohibition is not so bright. You’d think Americans at least might understand that. Apparently not. Let’s see, DRM. No text to speech, no sharing, no converting CDs to mp3s. The litany of boost the black market insanity is rather long.

    So, as far as screwing you over, your publishers do the best job. They limit your sales. They make the readers dislike them. They pay money to anti-piracy tool snake oil salesmen, reducing the money they have to pay for authors and marketing, and lowering their sales. They lose readers permanently by pissing them off. They refuse to sell to people based on where they live, when they will happily send them the dead tree version. AUTHORS are completely complicit in this prohibition as a group (although not all agree with it, or do it) by wanting to split up rights to make themselves the most short term money.

    /Hopefully the book industry will crash soon — after all, they’re all overpaid, stupid, and inept. Ask any pirate. I believe that the demise of the publishing industry is inevitable at this time. I hope all the readers who feel this is none of their concern are happy wading through the slush-pile of unedited fanfic that will spring up in its place. I’m about to retire, so it won’t hurt me much./

    — They’re doing a good job of directing themselves that way. It is absolutely clear that some of the media executives are inept. Some of the people running publishing might just have something to do with the music and movie business, too. When you assume best era ever type profits will continue indefinitely and have not addressed any strategic planning, then yes, you are definitely stupid.
    If they continue down the path some of them going, better they fail fast, so reorganisation can produce something better.

    /So, having mostly gotten the dagger out of my back, I’m signing off of Dear Author. Jane, you really showed your true colors. Maybe someday you’ll be drowning and I can throw you an anchor to return the favor./

    — Take your bat and ball and go home then. ;-) Australians are pretty good at the whole swimming thing, so we have a lifeguard or three ready to save her. :)

    Try and keep your bloodstains off Jane’s carpet, too, please.

  50. Donna Alward
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 05:21:29

    I’ve been keeping up with posts and what’s a little disheartening to me is that there *is* blood on the carpet here and to me it makes no sense. I’m operating under the assumption that, like the e-book market, the vast majority of people here don’t agree with piracy either. Truly – we should be on the same team. Piracy makes it hard on the author and it makes it hard for YOU, the legitimate reader. Someone in the comments mentioned that it was that minority that made publishers use DRM and you’re right in my opinion.

    Let’s look at a few things we all want:

    1) Authors want it to be easy for readers to acquire their titles legally.

    2) Readers want restrictions changed so they can acquire an author’s titles without worrying about format, geographical restrictions, etc.

    Do I know how this will happen? Nope.

    Gary, the distinction between a library loaning my books or UBSs is that there is still only one copy in existence. The moment you upload an e-book, you’ve made another copy. The first instance is your right of first sale. The second is a violation of copyright.

    FWIW, not only the UK has PLR programs. So does Canada. It’s a pity the US doesn’t as well. Once a year, I do receive a cheque from that program that is equal to the royalties I would have made on several hundred books, and it can increase as your number of titles in circulation also increases.

  51. Shannon Stacey
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 05:59:23

    FWIW, not only the UK has PLR programs. So does Canada. It's a pity the US doesn't as well. Once a year, I do receive a cheque from that program that is equal to the royalties I would have made on several hundred books, and it can increase as your number of titles in circulation also increases.

    Who foots the bill for those payments?

  52. mina kelly
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 06:26:30

    Who foots the bill for those payments?

    The taxpayer, I think (in the UK at least). It comes out of the Department for Culture, Media and Sports (rather than the individual library’s budget). More info here. There is a cap on the amount an author can earn from PLR, £6600, and earning of less than £1 aren’t paid.

    ETA It’s worth browsing the PLR site just for the stats, too. Nora Roberts was the second most borrowed adult author 07/08, clocking up over 1 million loans.

  53. mia madwyn
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 06:47:08

    It seems to me, after watching these discussions for several months, that just as it annoys ebook readers to have “piracy” tossed into the fray as an issue every time the discussion of book-sharing comes up, it must be equally annoying to authors to be told “you have no idea that any of those pirated books would have been bought, you can’t claim you’re losing money through piracy sites.”

    It sounds as if somebody is making excuses for the piracy sites when they find it necessary to point out to the authors that such books might not have/probably wouldn’t have earned them royalties anyway. If copies exist, royalties were owed.

    If somebody steals a print book, somebody lost money on that print book–whether the person who stole it would have paid money for it otherwise or not.

    The fact that nobody can discern how many pirated books might have been paid for without the pirate sites is a straw horse. Pirate sites are illegal. They are indefensible. Implying to authors that they probably didn’t lose much money through that process is waving as big a red flag as authors crying “piracy” or “thief” when people share electronic books.

  54. RStewie
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 07:19:23

    @ Donna Alward
    The blood on the carpet is from the lack of recognition by the authors commenting that, while ranting feels good, the readers of Dear Author ARE against pirating. We don’t deserve your rants. We are loyal readers who buy books.

    I believe the comments Jane was looking for can be exemplified by Carolyn Jewel’s comment at #7, Sarah Mayberry’s at #5, and Anah Crow’s at #s 20 & 22. You know, real discourse, that isn’t generalizing all readers as pirates/theives and actually provides the reader with an author’s perspective.

    The blood on the floor is from those authors/commentors that read “piracy” and decided to go off on some rant that, while it IS what they’re feeling, should NOT be directed at the readers of Dear Author, in general. We are not your target. I don’t appreciate being called a thief, nor do I appreciate having my integrity called into question for the sole reason that I am a reader with a computer and the Internet.

    I notice most of the really insulting comments are anon, as well…this was a good call. I DO buy books with the Internet actions of authors in mind, and I know I am not alone in this.

  55. Jane
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 07:32:33

    @anon: You said:

    However, I DID notice your comments Jane. Publishers should immediately remove all impediments to piracy, and honor the first-sale doctrine for ebooks. Never mind that doing so would effectively make it impossible to ever prosecute anyone for book piracy. You believe sharing to be a RIGHT of the purchaser (where, exactly is that right granted?), but there's no certain limit to the extent of that right. Six people, twelve, two million? When does sharing become piracy? Oh well, not a concern for the reader.

    I’ve made those arguments because I don’t think those impediments are deterring piracy but increasing it. I believe that there are limits to sharing and I believe in rewarding, via my money, work that I want to support. There is nothing about my statements that could be seen as pro piracy. I’ll just assume that you are engaging in hyperbole in assigning to me beliefs I have not advocated.

    I am perfectly happy to have the rights of an ebook reader to be the same as that as the rights of a print book reader. A LendMe program like BN which would remove access to a reader’s book while it is being lent out (one at a time) seems reasonable and I would even agree that some limit to how many times it could be lent would be reasonable (like7-8 times). In a situation like the Kindle, where the book is a lease, then it seems like simultaneous downloads between a number of devices also seems fair. What do you see as fair?

    You said:

    Later, you mention that it's not a reader's job to make sure that authors can make a living writing. Or to ensure that they get better royalties, or to act in the interest of the author. Got it. When the chips are down, it's every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.

    I still believe this. Readers don’t have obligations to authors. Their obligation is to follow the law and if they believe in supporting a particular trope/author/etc, then they can try to do things in voicing their support via the pocketbook but the latter is not an obligation. The Author/Reader relationship is no different than any consumer transaction, in my opinion. I don’t owe the Ford manufacturers or even the creator of a piece of art on my walls any duty. I buy a piece of art at an art fair and my obligation ends when I pay them. If that artist is suffering because of a lack of purchasers or someone engaged in some wrongdoing toward that artist, I am not under an obligation to help that artist. I can and might do so because I am moved to do so, but that is different than owing or being obligated to do something.

    You said:

    Nobody is asking the reader to do anything other than behave with some honesty and a minimum of integrity. Authors are crying out for a fair shake, a chance to make it or break it based on the merits of our work and our ability to connect with readers. Piracy is a way for the dear reader to screw the dear author. Hey, but blame the victim is a popular game, I hear it's all the rage in political circles. Didn't expect to see it here. But doubtless you're right. It's not the READER's concern -‘ they're just trying to get their fix and the lowest possible cost. Free is good.

    To me this implicates us all as not engaging in honesty and integrity. The fact is that lots of authors have asked readers to join the fight against piracy. And my question is what is it that you want readers to do?

  56. Jane A
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 08:09:24

    @anon

    Nobody is asking the reader to do anything other than behave with some honesty and a minimum of integrity. Authors are crying out for a fair shake, a chance to make it or break it based on the merits of our work and our ability to connect with readers. Piracy is a way for the dear reader to screw the dear author. Hey, but blame the victim is a popular game, I hear it's all the rage in political circles. Didn't expect to see it here. But doubtless you're right. It's not the READER's concern -‘ they're just trying to get their fix and the lowest possible cost. Free is good.

    Wow, thank you for tarring us all with the same brush. I am a READER, ergo I am a thief and a cheat who could care less about an author’s career. Lashing out in this way is pretty immature, IMO. As has been stated above, those of us who are honest are on the side of the authors, we want to continue to read the works of those we enjoy. Therefore, being intelligent, we realize you must be paid. It’s hardly useful to bite at the hand that literally feeds you.

  57. Shannon Stacey
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 08:15:10

    The taxpayer, I think (in the UK at least). It comes out of the Department for Culture, Media and Sports (rather than the individual library's budget). More info here.

    Thank you for the link. It’s an interesting program, though one I doubt we’d ever see implemented in the US.

  58. Keishon
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 08:24:35

    It should be obvious to anyone that you can be a reader, fan of or combination of these two and anything else of someone without ever paying them a cent

    .

    Ah, you’re right! I forgot about that. There are readers who will read an authors work and don’t feel they are worth the money and won’t pay a dime for it (I know some people like that) and there are readers who, if they love the author’s work, they will actually buy the book(s) because they are “so good.” Yep. Readers will differentiate because as we all know, not everything out there is worth publishing let alone worth buying. You are so correct on that point.

    I’m a reader. While I don’t advocate piracy or support it, it’s not a priority for me nor is it something I think about unless an author mentions it. There are a lot of things authors would like for readers to do like “buy new” and “buy on release day” that I just give a passing glance or thought to. I think it goes beyond a reader’s responsibility to keep those things in mind when purchasing books. Unless you’re an author yourself of which I am not. I choose another career that is just as stressful and demanding.

    I didn’t mean to offend anyway with my “silly oversimplification” as you put it but I think it’s well known fact that piracy doesn’t affect “real sales” and my theory behind it was just shot down so, there you go. Have a great day.

  59. carolyn crane
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 09:14:21

    I clicked through to a piracy site off one of these discussions, and it just pissed me off. Especially the whole deluded Robin Hood attitude of it. Stealing from the rich and giving to the poor? Honestly? I was shocked. But I guess most criminals have stories and elaborate justifications they tell themselves too, usually involving them “not hurting anyone” or they “deserved it” in some way.

    I don’t know why the Robin Hood attitude so bugged me, though. And they are not Guy of Gisborne either. At least not a certain one.

    Anyway, my little thing was to click on a few of the ads and email the companies that they were supporting piracy, and that I’d never ever buy their stuff again. I don’t know if it did anything, but it felt like something. Do all these sites take advertising? Is this how they’re making money? or do they do it for the “cause?” If there was a list of common advertisers I’d post it and boycott the $#% out of them.

  60. Donna Alward
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 09:15:17

    PLR in Canada is sponsored by the Canada Council for the Arts, I believe.

    RStewie:

    The blood on the floor is from those authors/commentors that read “piracy” and decided to go off on some rant that, while it IS what they're feeling, should NOT be directed at the readers of Dear Author, in general. We are not your target. I don't appreciate being called a thief, nor do I appreciate having my integrity called into question for the sole reason that I am a reader with a computer and the Internet.

    Just for the record…I hope you realize that in both my previous posts I agree with you – you are not the target. Harsh words and finger pointing, from any side, doesn’t help solve the real problem in my view of how to protect copyright while making e-book buying easier for your average Joe consumer e-book buyer.

    Donna, trying to remain bloodless, lol

  61. A Reader
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 09:21:48

    @carolyn crane: Pirates are like child molestors? Really? Fuck you.

  62. carolyn crane
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 09:27:32

    @A Reader:

    Reader! As soon as I hit submit I was like, oops, and I pulled back on that because I realized it was a bit harsh and hasty and could be misconstrued in a horrible way, and I sincerely apologize if it seemed like I was talking about readers who have ever downloaded books – I TOTALLY WASN’T. I feel really terrible about seeming to say that on all levels, including for pirate site runners.

    My meaning was, people who RUN pirate sites justify their actions like any criminal – I shouldn’t have put in the worst criminals I could think of, and I really do apologize. A tad excessive!!!

    The Robin Hood justification just offends me, that was my point.

    Really, I did mean the people who run the sites! – I wasn’t talking about the downloaders. I actually downloaded music once before I really thought it through, and I sort of still feel bad. And I wouldn’t want to be compared to a horrible criminal, either.

  63. Angela James
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 09:36:11

    I was reading an article on piracy yesterday (of an iPhone app, some of you may have seen it since I tweeted it. Link is here for those interested) and in the article they linked to a case ruling from early this year. That article on the case ruling is here, but I thought it was appropriate for this conversation and the idea that everyone who pirates a book wouldn’t have bought it. Here’s the main quote from the article:

    Judge: 17,000 illegal downloads don’t equal 17,000 lost sales

    If a song has been downloaded from a torrent site 17,000 times, it doesn’t necessarily equal 17,000 lost sales, according to US District Judge James P. Jones. The judge recently ruled against using this kind of reasoning in determining restitution in a criminal copyright case, though it doesn’t necessarily affect civil cases against downloaders.

    I believe this to be true. People will take something they’d never otherwise spend money on, because it’s there in front of them and it’s free. I do it all the time (legally) with free downloads from Harlequin, Kindle and others. My iPhone is filled with books I may never read but that I downloaded because they’re free and I *might* have some interest in reading them someday.

    For those who don’t read ebooks, I’ll give you a print example. If you’ve ever been to a conference, whether it’s RT, RWA Nationals or another conference where free books are offered, have you ever yourself gone or watched people go to that free book room/signing and come away with stacks and stacks of books? Books you (or they) would not have bought, and may not read, but they’re there and they’re free so you/they grab as much as possible? It’s the same (albeit illegal) mechanism on pirating sites. People take because it’s there and they can.

    From my experience of pirate sites (I watch several for trends, patterns and conversations about the pirating itself), this is especially true for unknown or barely known authors. As the previously-quoted-in-this-thread research is showing, if you’re an unknown author, most people are pirating your book because it’s there, not because they would ever have bought it or sought it out at a bookstore. With no offense to anyone intended, if you’re an author at a small publisher and your name is only known to people you have directly marketed to, it’s unlikely that those 10,000 people who pirated your book had ever heard of you before, let alone planned on buying your book, or ever would have had they heard of you. On the other hand, I think it’s true that the very well known authors like Stephen King, Nora Roberts, PC Cast and others ARE losing sales to piracy, though a percentage of those downloads are still the “just because it’s there” downloads.

    Piracy sucks, but I encourage authors to stop thinking of every book pirated as a lost sale, because that’s the way to mental exhaustion, disillusionment and madness. You’re going to wear yourself out and stifle your creative energy.

  64. Becca
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 09:45:07

    Just a quick question for authors who aggressively fight piracy sites: do you find that sales of your backlist increase when your works are taken off a piracy site?

  65. Likari
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 10:26:05

    @Jane:

    I am perfectly happy to have the rights of an ebook reader to be the same as that as the rights of a print book reader. A LendMe program like BN which would remove access to a reader's book while it is being lent out (one at a time) seems reasonable and I would even agree that some limit to how many times it could be lent would be reasonable (like7-8 times). In a situation like the Kindle, where the book is a lease, then it seems like simultaneous downloads between a number of devices also seems fair. What do you see as fair?

    I think this is the key. What I hate about the whole piracy thing is the gleeful trashing of the content creators, whether it be books, movies, songs — and it’s not just authors being stolen from. It’s editors, designers, actors, directors, studio musicians — you get the idea.

    The argument that 17,000 steals does not equal 17,000 lost sales is a red herring — a good one because it’s true. But it’s not the point.

    The point is that the culture of giving away other people’s stuff hurts. Maybe only psychically. But it’s crappy, and nobody should have to just shut up and deal with the fact that the bullies have taken all the cookies you made for the bake sale because nobody was going to buy them anyway. (not a perfect analogy, but close)

    Anyway, about the lending I quoted above: I don’t think it should even be limited. If you buy an ebook, and you lend it to anybody, if you can’t access it while they have it, how is that any different than a physical book? Nobody limits the number of times you can lend that. I think if it could work that way, then lending shouldn’t be limited to X number of lends.

    sigh. Now I have to go to work. Back later.

  66. Ciar Cullen
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 10:45:18

    I saw a lovely blouse in an upscale shop the other day. I’m not going to steal it because 1) I really want it but can’t afford it, 2) I found it cheaper at another venue, 3) the salepeople were unhelpful, 3) the store has terrible hours and is very hard to get to.

    Is the store losing out by not being nicer, easier, priced better, etc.? Sure, my sale is lost. Does it give me the right to shoplift from them? Not according to the law or my personal moral code.

    If I would have bought the shirt legitimately, do I have the right to loan it out? How many times? Of course I do.

    The first instance–stealing, is so clear to me, I can’t understand how people justify this sense of entitlement. The second–not sure how the industry can solve it to be fair to consumers and vendors.

    I think these two issues get really muddied in these discussions.

  67. MaryK
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 10:48:53

    @Lynne Connolly:

    I don't buy DRM'd books, which means I can't buy from Harlequin, or I have to use an illegal program to take DRM off it (I don't have one). It punishes the legitimate reader, not the pirate.

    That is my situation exactly.

    Maybe I should be glad that Harlequin DRM is so particularly horrid, God only knows how much money I’d spend there if it weren’t.

  68. Anne Douglas
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 10:52:00

    @Becca: For those aggressively tagged by downloading sites I don’t know there is any way to tell. No sooner than you’ve sent off one takedown notice, there’s already another link somewhere else. So even if you’re aggressive with following up, I don’t know there’s ever a point where there isn’t a link/s somewhere so it’s impossible to track.

    When you get lists of ebooks (101 of them) like those below (yes, this is copy and pasted right from a download site – this was posted for download at 3 sites btw) you don’t often find out until someone else finds it and lets the author loops know. Google alerts are great when your name is prominent, but they only go so far.

    I always preferred a full figured heroine and is somewhat hard these days to find those books. Here’s the first of a series of rubenesque torrents. So you don’t have to live the same as me trying to search for all these books. Here’s the list of rubenesque ebooks that I have in this torrent; Andre, Bella: Authors in Ecstasy, Candy Store, Christmas Cuffs, Shooting Star, Take Me, Tempt Me Taste Me Touch Me. (Take me is the BBW themed, but all of her books are so good!) Eloisa James – Pleasure for pleasure Marilyn Lee – Fantasy Knights, Tempting Neal, The Fall of Troy, Full Body Charmer (sequel of the fall of troy), Trina’s Afternoon Delight N. J. Walters – Unsmaking Kelly Lucky Number Seven Colette Howard – His Black Pearl Leila Brown – Pleasuring a Pirate Cameron Dane – The Ultimate Kink Kori Roberts – Love on the Run Louisa Trent – Bring It Rena Marks – Shared by Wolves Tuesday Morrigan – (A Christmas Cookie) Frostbite, Fantasy Man, Sugar Mama, Blue Jeans Melinda Barron – (Tales of the magician, book one) The Captive One Vivian Arend – Wolf Signs Cris Anson – (last installment of Dance of the seven veils series)Dance of the rogue Camille Anthony Ebook Collection Regina Carlysle – Lone Star Lycan Titania Ladley – Aurora’s Triangle Daisy Dexter Dobbs – Absolutely Not! Cynthia Raine – Bedrooms and Broomsticks Madison Hayes – Calendar Girls – Miss May Koko Brown – Charmed Dakota Cassidy – Chunky Butt Funky Terri Pray – Courvaceous Heart Nia K. Foxx – Gargoyle’s Challenge Flesa Black – Masquerade Tuesday Morrigan – Wicked Intentions Madison Hayes – Calendar Girls – Miss September Ciarra Sims – Possession, Obsession Anne Douglas – Red Skirt Cool Fountain Camille Anthony – Runaway Home Cher Gorman – Sherriff in ther stocking Barbara Sheridan & Anne Cain – Silver Moon Melinda Barron – Sweet Vibrations Camille Anthony – The Christmas Bunny Lena Matthews – When Angels Fall Sandy Lynn – Kiss and Tell Zena Wynn – True Mates Lia Connor – Full Moon Heat Celia Kyle – Yeti! Were? & Not Yeti Daisy Dexter Dobbs – Wicked Payback (one of the most bizarre reads in bbw romance) AnnMarie McKenna – Blackmailed Tayla Bosco – Kansas City Shuffle Liz Andrews – Wounded Hearts Melinda Barron – Graceful Submission, Graceful Mischief, Undercover Submission (in that order) Jennifer Cole – Pursuing Zarah The wild wild mess: Atlanta Shelly Laurenston – Distressing Damsel Tuesday Morrigan – Monstrous Kink Robin L. Rotham – Alien Overnight Camille Anthony – (Agency of Extraordinary Mates or AOEM for short, excellent series it has all for all tastes)Dinner For Three Anne DouglasTea for Three Solange Ayre – One Thousand Brides Kit Tunstall – Wrong Groom Lacey Thorn – Merciful Angel Melissa Schroeder – Quick Shoppe Book 1 Tempting Prudence Mechele Armstrong – Another Night, Another Dream Maggie Casper – Santa in spurs Ann Vremont – Reluctant Muse Anthology Big Spankable Asses – Angie Daniels, Kimberly Kaye Terry & Lisa G. Riley Marilyn Lee – Nice Girls do Ann Leod – Naughty Nuptials – Lucky Number Seven Camille Anthony – Sideway Glance Laura Guevara – Weekend Chase Marilyn Lee – Teacher’s Pet ***Bonus eBooks: Karen Chance – Cassandra Palmer Series books 1 to 4 and Midnight Daughter Eden Rivers – Blazing Pentacle Regina Carlysle – Ringo’s Ride Evangeline Anderson – Defiled Keri Thomas – Temptation Unleashed Christine Feehan – Dark Curse, Dark Slayer C. L. Wilson – Tairen Soul Series Book 1 to 3 (Fourth book will be out in Oct. 27 and fifth in 2010, Fantastic Epic serie!) J. R. Ward – Black Daggerhood Series Book 1 to 7 Some ebooks are repeated because there’s different formats, most of them are in lit format, so activate your microsoft reader if you can. Thanks for all of the members in demonoid and my contacts (via email) that helped me find most of the ebooks I lost when my hard drive fried. The bonus ebooks are the most common requests that I receive by email. Hope you enjoy this rubenesque torrent and remember to seed. I’ll seed for at least a year. Will do a second rubenesque torrent when I have more bbw ebooks. Any ebook request, please email me at

  69. Lane
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 10:56:56

    @A Reader: …. I actually had to re-read Carolyn’s post when I read this.

    While I find it …. interesting that your mind seems to leap to child molestation when Carolyn talks about the justification that pirates give when they post on share sites, I have to break it to you that this mind set is actually quite common across the board for most criminal activities. Minimizing that you are actually hurting another human being makes it easier to accomplish.

  70. Jane
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 11:02:50

    @Lane: Carolyn edited her comment and I think A Reader was referring to the original unedited version.

  71. carolyn crane
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 11:13:19

    For full disclosure, in my unedited comment, I thoughtlessly used examples of child molesters and wife beaters in place of “any criminal” and I felt really bad after I posted it and changed it – but not quickly enough (and honestly, have felt sick about it ever since! Esp after a reader’s response) but Lane, that was my point – it was about the justification. Like, all criminals tell themselves stories to minimize their harm.

  72. Lane
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 11:15:22

    I actually think the illegal copy/distribution of e-books is closer to Counterfeit than outright theft.

    I understand that there is not enough information to show how sales are affected by illegal downloads, especially for those individuals who cannot go more than a week without having their work publicly posted.

    What you have is effectively a competitive counterfeit product on the file share sites. It may or may not be of sufficient quality to compete evenly, but it still competes unfairly with the legitimate copy. With the American NET act, such digital counterfeits are viewed as having the same value as the original work.

    Still, I can’t exactly blame authors for getting frustrated, jaded and angry when they get their rights repeatedly violated, and essentially get told they have no right to protect their own work.

    ETA – Please note that this does not mean that I think that the NET act is either practical or effective. I’m just using it as an analogy to properly describe the perceived loss.

  73. carolyn crane
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 11:19:53

    I am thinking about putting a Post-it on my computer that says, if you have to think about whether to hit submit or not, it means you DEFINITELY shouldn’t !!

  74. Viv
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 11:21:53

    There’s a neat Piracy article on MLR’s site that has a lot of author reactions to the problem.

    http://www.mlrpressauthors.com/2009/10/piratesnot-the-sexy-kind-by-luisa-prieto/

    It’s one of the few I’d seen that mananged to talk about it without a lot of the anger.

  75. Jane
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 11:26:01

    @Viv: I don’t think its necessary for authors not to be angry about it. I’m just wondering what I am supposed to do as a reader, other than not pirate.

    The other thread had a lot of calls for readers to join in the fight and I’m asking why and how?

    If it is just that authors want to feel like we hear them, then okay. But if it is action other than listening, then what is it?

  76. Viv
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 11:46:23

    I actually think you are doing a lot just creating a forum like this. It is invaluable to see readers saying essentially: ‘Dude- Pirating? Not Cool.’

    I also think it’s important to bring up the intersecting issues about availability, price and format, for the very reasons you’ve pointed out. Because I doubt very much anyone here genuinely wants to help the pirates, and by pointing out how the issues intersect can be a big step forward in untangling the mess.

  77. Estara
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 12:46:10

    Somewhat off-topic

    @Blue Tyson:

    Authors careers get killed all the time. By their publishers, by bad luck, by lack of talent, by inability to adapt, or whatever. So what? In some ways you are helping to kill each other off as more and more books are published every year. In other words, there are always more of you. Particularly in the lower sigma range. Pretty sure the increasing availability of a commodity is likely to drive the price of it down.

    I don’t want to address all of your comment only this part because I disagreed with part of it so strongly – “there are always more of you”. I’m only interested in certain stories and then by certain writers when I’m lucky enough to discover them. If the market doesn’t support their work anymore I read less new books or reread the old ones, I don’t automatically move on to the next big thing.

    Personal example, most of the current crop of ya authors are of no interest to me. The ya books I own I bought in the last five years, by authors who have been writing since the 80s (all of this although I’m 42 now ^^, I didn’t read in English below the age of 16). The only younger ya author I’ve bought more than one book from is Shannon Hale.

    @RStewie:
    I completely agree with your reading of the situation.

  78. sarah mayberry
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 14:07:46

    @ Jane 75

    Speaking for myself, I don’t expect readers to do anything about piracy. It’s not your job to police this stuff or educate people or whatever.

    I would be very interested to hear your take on what’s stopping ebooks from being available globally. I gather it’s the rights assignment (am I using the right term here?). Is it because traditionally publishing rights have been assigned regionally but the internet means books are available globally? And if this is the case, are there any new models for how this stuff should work?

    I’ve learned a lot from this discussion. The information many of the posters have provided about research in this area and downloader mindsets and the links and how pirate books get on the net has been very informative. I feel like I have a better grip on the issue now. So, thanks.

    At the end of the day, I write because I love it, and I have always been a big believer in “if you build it, they will come” so… back to revisions! Cheers.

  79. Jane
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 14:21:29

    @sarah mayberry It’s authors not wanting to sell their foreign rights and publishers unwilling to decouple foreign and translation rights, print from ebook rights and probably publishers unwilling to pay money for world digital rights. It’s an author/publisher issue, in my opinion.

  80. Jane
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 14:28:22

    Here’s a big issue that I don’t understand why authors don’t make a bigger deal about. Publishers have the exclusive right over distribution in a certain region. Most authors have sold that right to US publishers. Why aren’t the authors pressuring their publishers to engage in the take down of piracy links/sites? Shouldn’t that be the job of the publishers? Why aren’t publishers exerting more money in staying on top of this? If publishing is truly being killed by piracy, why don’t the publishers have staffs of people whose sole goal is to search out piracy sites and get the pirated books taken down?

    Further, if the situation with Amazon is illegal (the sharing of Kindle accounts amongst friends) why isn’t Amazon being sued by a publisher or author for copyright infringement?

  81. sarah mayberry
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 14:47:31

    Again, I can only speak for myself, and I am contracted with Harlequin. They do the take downs for us, but they encourage us to send any information to them if we find sites pirating our stuff. I gather they must have people keeping an eye on this stuff as well, but obviously as authors we have a vested interest and it makes sense that if we’re all looking for stuff as well (be it actively or inadvertently), all those eyes are better than a few sets at Harlequin monitoring things. When I find a site, I simply send an email to a particular address with the particulars, and they send me back an automated response explaining what will happen next. In most cases, the link/download disappears pretty quickly.

    I think one of the problems with the foreign rights assignment etc, etc that you addressed in 79 is that writers often feel so pathetically grateful to be offered a contract – any contract, by God! – that we just sign it and skip around happily for a while. As one of Harlequin’s many, many authors, I don’t feel as though I have a lot of bargaining power. Actually, I don’t feel as though I have any power at all! They’re huge and I feel very replaceable – as much as Blue Tyson’s comment about there “being more of us” hurts, it is true. I’m sure there is a queue of unpublished authors lining up to the left to jump into my slots should I fail to fill them or fail to perform or fail in some other way. Until an author gets name recognition and the sales to match, they have no power. And please note, this feeling is not one imposed on me by my wonderful editor, who always makes me feel valued, but more about how big they are and how small I am and how much competition there is in the marketplace.

    In Australia, there’s a lot of discussion amongst authors about being published locally and what assigning the rights to OZ/NZ might mean to a UK or US publisher. I have heard a lot of writers report that UK publishers are not interested in taking on a book if the Oz/NZ rights have already been assigned. If this is true, this means that if I got published in Australia, I would potentially be flushing away my chances of a UK sale. Like I said, this is scuttlebutt and not first hand experience, but it gives you some idea of how confusing it all is.

  82. My two cents
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 15:33:36

    Currently I have a friend who downloads every book she can get her hands on, she knows it is wrong, she still does it and now she is trying to convert me. Here is a regular day at my bookstore using the examples on popular authors.

    Me: Do you have any books my say Christine Feehan?
    Clerk: Who?
    Me: Well do you have any books by Jr Ward? Sherrilyn Kenyon? Jayne Ann Krentz?
    Clerk: Well no, but we can try to source them from the publishers for you, do you know any of the publishers?

    Me:” Sure’ Takes out blackberry. quickly surfs the net finds the information. “Pocket Books…etc”

    Clerk: All right check back in a week we should be able to source them for you

    ONE WEEK LATER

    Me: Remember I was just in here last week
    Clerk: Oh Yes, we don’t have a
    relationship with those publishers sorry

    Me: WHAT! What does that mean?
    Clerk: Well they don’t ship to us.
    Me: But We are like an hour away from Miami
    Clerk: Its the publishers choice Ms, we can do nothing about it

    My friend is having a good laugh, she says “come on I can show you where all the books you want are.” The little devil in my head is saying “come on go check it out aren’t you tired of reading old outdated Danielle Steele novels didn’t you see the hot review from Dear Author”

    I go and look shocked to see the sheer vast of books available, none of the bookstores where i live look like this. I also notice these people begging for “thanks” for uploading the books. I am intrigued I start to talk to them. Asking why they go through all the trouble of sometimes scanning 300 and odd pages of a book. A lot of them say its the thanks they get, the accolades and praises , the feeling of importance, the feeling of belonging to a “community”.

    My thoughts are even though alot of the books are uploaded by US citizens if the books are made available to countries worldwide, as I said I am just one fricking hour away from Miami, there would be lest accolades and praises to get. Why would I want to wait for an uploader when on the release date its in my bookstore? I know for my friend if this was true then she would definitely stop.

    I work damn hard and can appreciate the fact that these authors too are working hard. Luckily for me I have family in the states and travel alot and its not unusual to see me come home with a suitcase of books. That same friend often borrows from me and even she will admit nothing bets that new book smell! What about people who can’t travel they are ones feeding this piracy.

    When speaking to the US downloaders they tell me they can’t download alot because of letters they receive from their internet service providers. and in Canada they have virtually stopped because they are afraid of the law catching up with them.

    What seems to me to be feeding this is persons outside of the usual publishing zones the forgotten ones that now have access to internet etc and know what they are missing.

    I am not saying that you don’t have the hard core thieves that just do it because they can, because I also met some of those as well but the majority are just frustrated that the books are not available in their country.

    NB So far I have resisted the temptation to pirate books much to the horror of some of my friends.

    My two cents

  83. anon #47
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 15:39:35

    Could we please stop with the comparison that ebook sharing is like shoplifting? It’s NOT. If someone comes into a bookstore and steals a book, the author did not “lose” anything. The bookstore eats the loss, and the bookstore will be very unhappy, but YOU, as the author, got paid already when the bookstore ordered the copy. If someone lifts a book from the library, the book may have been stolen but you, the author, did not lose a single red cent. The author HAS ALREADY BEEN PAID.

    It’s a stupid analogy and the biggest reason ebook-sharers do not see the product as being STOLEN. They didn’t use a fake credit card or hack the distributor’s site. (Even if they did, the distributor would still be paying YOU, the author, for X number of copies sold, because it’s not your damn fault their security sucks rocks.)

    Dealing with author rants on this topic is sometimes not unlike sitting on a park bench reading, and an author walks up and asks, “hey, where’d you get that?” and the reader nonchalantly says, “oh, it’s a friend’s, but I wanted to read it, too,” and suddenly the author launches into OMG YOU THIEF YOU BAD PERSON DIE DIE DIE. Dude, chill out, I’d say, it’s not like I freaking stole it. I didn’t sneak into my friend’s computer and take it without permission, I didn’t shoplift it, I didn’t rip it off from the library. It was a friend’s, and she said I could have it, therefore, NOT STOLEN.

    By any previous standard of the book selling model, our reply would be true. The book is not stolen. But ebook distributors/publishers are trying to enforce a new model, in which this reader has ‘stolen’ the book. It’s slapping no-loan no-give no-resell no-return on a pre-existing business model that does allow all of the above. (We can’t even return ebooks for legitimate reasons, like ones I’ve bought that had massively screwed-up formatting, yes, I’m looking at you, Juno.) How could anyone not see that this would be a recipe for some major conflicts between readers, authors, and publishers?

    [this is also why ‘counterfeit’ is way better than ‘theft’ — because we can all get that money is legal tender, and know that if we accept money we know to be fake, then we’re in as much trouble as the one who printed it. It’s legal only if it’s ‘official’ money. That’s an analogy that doesn’t require massive new-model re-education to grok.]

    Beyond that, hunting pirates can potentially damage sales, because an author gets a reputation (deserved or not) for being a crazy person who accosts readers on park benches. The result: it can become personal. I know of at least four authors whose books are re-posted, often near-instantly after DMCA or similar action, to intentionally spite an author’s hostile attitude. Readers are caught between wanting to read but not willing (or able) to give financial support, or wanting to read but unable to purchase, and against such hostility, they retaliate the only way they can.

    A lot of that, I think, is because publishers have mostly denied or cut off the traditional alternate-reading route called Your Local Library. Let us count the ways you can legitimately read a book:

    In print: buy from store, check out from library, borrow from friend, get as gift.

    As ebook: buy from store.

    I’m not justifying mass-loaning, mind you. I’m just trying to get you to see how it is that the current tactics, by publishers, distributors and even authors, do not work, and in fact, might even backfire on you. Come on: publishers want near the same (if not more) money for an ebook copy AND they slap stupid-ass security crap on it with my credit card number AND they insist I spend serious moolah on a specialized reader if I want to read certain books or publishers or formats AND they’ll make me wait longer for the ecopy AND they tell me I can’t do jack with the book afterwards AND they shut down all avenues of legit book-reading except for purchase…

    Yet the book industry claims to be SHOCKED at the explosion of black market sites! On what planet must you live to not-get how all these factors actually create the perfect storm of piracy?

  84. Julie James
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 15:48:47

    @Jane “Why aren't the authors pressuring their publishers to engage in the take down of piracy links/sites? Shouldn't that be the job of the publishers? Why aren't publishers exerting more money in staying on top of this?”

    I can only speak for myself here, but I forward every piracy link I find to my publisher. I haven’t gone back to re-check every link, but I know Berkley sent out at least one cease and desist letter because when I checked back to that particular link, my book had been removed and in its place was a note saying that the site had removed the book because the publisher intended to take “very serious legal action” had they not done so.

    You had asked what more you were expected to do as a reader other than not pirate books. . . Personally, that’s all I expect of readers. I have been forwarded piracy links from readers, which I appreciate. But even that isn’t an expectation, I just thought it was a nice thing to do.

  85. Anne Douglas
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 16:49:47

    On the returns front:

    Returning Kindle Content

    Any content you purchase for Kindle from the Amazon Kindle store is eligible for return and refund if we receive your request within 7 days of the date of purchase. Once a refund is issued, the item will be removed from Your Media Library and will no longer be readable on your Kindle. To request a refund and return, click the Customer Service button in the Contact Us box in the right-hand column of this page to reach us via phone or e-mail. Please make sure to include the title of the item you wish to return in your request.

    B&N, Sony, ARe – no returns
    BoB – limited returns policy that you’d have to work real hard for.

    Returning books, from what I can see, is fairly much a USA thing. Quite horrified me when I moved to the States and a friend returned a book. Just not really done (or at least to my knowledge) in NZ at least. LOL

  86. Keishon
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 17:02:05

    Returning books, from what I can see, is fairly much a USA thing. Quite horrified me when I moved to the States and a friend returned a book. Just not really done (or at least to my knowledge) in NZ at least. LOL

    It’s always amusing to me that books are viewed as a different type of “consumer product” with a receipt vs. everything else. I’ve returned books plenty of times and no I didn’t read them and then return them. Usually books were returned because I couldn’t get past the first chapter in them or I bought a duplicate copy. But then that was before The Romance Reader and All About Romance started actually reviewing books and saving readers some $ and returns…

  87. CiarCullen
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 17:15:56

    Anon 47, that’s the old “it’s not stealing if no one gets hurt” argument. It may make you feel better, but if you grab something you didn’t pay for, how is it not stealing? And you said that the bookstore takes the loss, so you’re stealing from them. So again, how is it not stealing? It’s like there are no costs built into the production of an electronic product. That’s not true at all. Yes, it’s a different business model, but for a producer of an electronic product to stay afloat, they rely on recouping earnings on what they put into a product, whether an advance, cover, editing, etc.

    Angie James is right in that it probably doesn’t hurt authors as much as they think it does–a lot of folks would never have bought it in the first place.

  88. Anne Douglas
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 17:40:28

    @Keishon: It’s interesting how different countries have totally different takes on things. The amount of things I bought in NZ with the intent to return one, some or all of them I could count on the fingers of one hand, yet here in the US I do it every week.

  89. anon #47
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 20:19:48

    @Anne Douglas:

    Don’t own a Sekkrit Decoder Ring Kindle. Don’t want one, either. I buy most titles through Fictionwise, and yes, I would consider five pages of dialogue without a single paragraph break (!!!) to be a defective product. Unfortunately, no return policy with FW. Amazon, though, no surprise it’s got a return policy, seeing how sometimes they’ll return stuff for you even when you wanted to keep it. But then, I kinda have a problem with that, too.

    @CiarCullen:

    that's the old “it's not stealing if no one gets hurt” argument. It may make you feel better, but if you grab something you didn't pay for, how is it not stealing?

    No, that’s not actually the argument in there. Let me try again.

    First, the common understanding of ‘stealing’ is “taking without the owner’s permission”. Second, books are “a thing you own”. Under the old model, you could loan your book to a thousand friends and it’s still not copyright violation, because the book is owned by the original purchaser. The wrench, of course, is that the print book model has no one-click way to duplicate books, so the gap between old and new allows room for extrapolation: “I used to loan books and give books away all the time, so I’m just doing the same here.” That same gap is what also makes it apparent that ebooks should more properly be defined as “something owned by the author/publisher and you’re just paying to borrow it for a little while.”

    Jumping from the old model to the e-model requires a change in how we define books, how we value them, what it means to ‘own’ a book. That education is ongoing, but in the meantime, slamming someone with STOP THIEF only jacks up the emotion level. The terminology hasn’t really shifted to seeing ebooks as licenses. We still mostly see books as a purchased product with attendant broad rights of ownership, and get annoyed and/or upset when an author thinks it’s okay to track us down and tell us what we can (and can’t) do with a product we bought. Like, say, loan it out to a few friends. Or a few thousand friends.

    When I think of the old and new business models, the analogy that works best for me is to think of books as cars. Call them “transportation”. You can drive Transportation on or off-road, it lots of models, and most of the time you can carry at least 4 people, sometimes 5, sometimes double that. You can pile stuff up the roof or tow a trailer behind you. You can have a fancy stereo, litter the dashboard with bobble-heads, paste decals across the back window, have a TV in the backseat for the kids, whatever.

    Then someone comes along with this great idea, which they call “Transportation” (book) but is more accurately a sub-class known as a “motorcycle” (ebook). Around the world, people have seen and used some kind of Transportation, all their lives, and they know how it works. But this new Transportation, what’s this about only two passengers max? What do you mean I can’t tow anything? What’s this about only driving on certain roads unless I want to pay a permit to drive on other roads? And now you’re giving me a ticket because I put a DVD-player on the handlebars? This is NOT Transportation! You sold me a new and improved Transportation but look at all the things I can’t do!

    Sure, fine, it gets me from here to there (tells me a story) so, it’s kind of like Transportation, and it’s really efficient space-wise (a thousand titles on your thumb drive!) and economical (no bookshelves!) but everything I associate with Transportation — all the perks of Transportation, as it were — you’re telling me I can’t do. And when I figure out a handy way to pile on fifteen friends on the bike with me, you call me a thief because I’ve not insisted everyone get Transportation of their own.

    With that analogy, it’s hopefully clearer why ebooks get the reaction they do. Some readers will tromp back into the dealer, furious and feeling ripped-off. Some will bitch to friends about this sucky so-called Transportation and its drawbacks. And some will find a way to configure the new Transportation so they can retain the benefits of the old.

    That’s what’s hiding under the online craze to exchange books. It’s an extrapolation of the old model. It’s just that with the new model’s efficiency and space-saving improvements, suddenly what was sustainable (and legal) under the old model, like loaning to friends, has been taken to eleven and gone insane.

    I do place the blame for that on the ill-prepared marketing paths when ebooks were first rolled out. The earlier inventors/adopters were so busy being thrilled about the technology itself that I don’t think they thought through the ramifications of such a significant shift in our perception of a product and industry (and understanding of ownership) that has been unchanged for centuries.

  90. Expecting to be chewed out
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 20:46:44

    I’m one of those readers that pirate books, but I also don’t buy any books. I only borrow books my local library, which, while I lived in that area, was good enough that I never ever tempted. Then I moved out here, where they don’t have anything that’s not on the US best sellers list or New York Times, it could be just the next book in the series that came out 6 months ago, and they still don’t have it. Thus, I resorted to reading on the internet, which I hate, because I do a lot of reading when I’m waiting or in transit somewhere. Plus the crappy mistakes. Before the internet ebooks stuff was what it was, I sat in BN for hours at the time just reading the book in the store. The staff never did anything nor did I feel like they cared. Because I don’t buy books, I don’t buy any expensive machines either. I also downloaded some books, I’ve never read. I also haven’t reread any books, except for the 3 Sherry Thomas books that I filled out a zillion surveys for to buy with free Bordersbucks.

    It’s fine if you want to equate ebooks online with stealing, because that is. I didn’t pay for the book I’m about to read. I bet all the authors wish I never was any one of their readers. Yet, for my friends that buy books, I converted them, and THEY bought books, as in more than one person bought the same copy of the one book I recommended. Does that help ease the pain a little? If I alone bought the book, I would have just shared it out, and that’s the end of the sales. But because acquiring a library copy is difficult or reading on screen is not their thing, they went out and bought the book.

    But to say that you lost so many sales because of so many download is just frankly untrue, and I don’t care to be cursed out because of that reason. I also hate the copy reason because that comes too close to “sharing”. I will say that while I think in “concept” piracy in wrong, I don’t care. How are you going to stop it? Cease and desist letters ? Most people then subvert to private forums. The movie industry can’t stop the pirating of the their movies, and I’m pretty sure their pockets are much deeper. I found it hilarious while listening to ESPN on the radio, they were talking about how one guy didn’t watch the movie, and don’t worry the other radio host would hook him up, and left the listener without a doubt that it was going to be bootleg, since they talked about quality and cameras.

    Probably education is the way, a lot of people have told me, if you really love that author etc., you would buy their legit stuff. A lot people want to enjoy without cost, or at the lowest cost. I kinda rambled now, and I think people are going to chew me out for stealing, but would you rather have less readers, but legitimate, but x2 your fanbase, but half was nonpaying(on the other side of the coin, there will always be people that pay)? Just curious, as you would have the same amount either way. Simplistic case, but I guess most authors in theory would pick the former? Accolades don’t feed the family after all.

    I always thought that the only way to deal with piracy is not to, and jack up the cost of in person appearances, since those can’t be duplicated.

  91. hapax
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 21:28:25

    @90 —

    Y’know, I really like diamond jewelry, but I can’t afford to buy it, and anyways the jewelry stores around here don’t sell it, just cheap ugly stuff. I mean, I could drive into the city and buy some at the stores there, but, y’know, no money, right? And it’s not like I’m going to spend money on a car, either.

    So, once a month or so I bum a ride into the city and break into the jewelry stores and steal a necklace or two. But it’s not like they are LOSING anything, I wouldn’t have bought them anyway, and golly, I saw on television how volcanoes and stuff are always making new diamonds, and they can just charge more, right? Besides, when my friends see my pretty necklace, sometimes they want to borrow it, and I’m like all sure, why not? It’s not like it cost me anything. And since they have lots of money, they go buy their own diamond necklaces, which they wouldn’t have done, so the stores make even MORE money, and everybody wins!

    After all, jewelers, which would you rather have, money or lots of people oohing and aaahing over the pretty sparklies? And, shoot, maybe you should just give jewelry away for free, and charge people for, I dunno, makeovers or something, because that’s why you got into the jewelry business in the first place.

  92. joanne
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 21:55:22

    @hapax: LMAO!

    OR:

    I steal books because I’m going to be a model.
    When I grow 8 inches taller.
    And lose the equivalent in weight of another person.
    And get years and years younger.
    And meet an agent who loves me.
    And marry a rock star.
    Then I’ll be rich and I can tell all my friends to buy books.
    So it will all be okay, some day.

    @#90: golly gee. No wonder you’re “Expecting to be chewed out”.

  93. hapax
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 22:09:17

    I went back and read the earlier comments and see that Ciar Cullen made the same points much more eloquently than I.

    I too am terribly frustrated by DRM and the other restrictions on e-books, and as a librarian have dedicated my life to putting as many books as possible for the least possible cost into to the greatest number of hands. But I am baffled how the (very few) pos ters who say, “Waah! It’s not fair! WANT! RIGHT NOW! TAKE! And anyone who says otherwise is just a big meanie!” think that they are providing anything but ammunition for more severe anti-piracy restrictions. No wonder some of the authors are going ballistic.

    There is a book I want right now, desperately, and have for years, that I will never get to read because the author doesn’t have the rights to publish it (long story). Does my desire to read it justify breaking into her house and hacking her computer files? Heck, I’d even leave a hundred dollars on the counter in the bargain! Would that make it okay?

    Why is it so hard for anyone over the age of two to understand that just because we want something, we don’t always have a right to get it, when we want it, how we want it, at the price we want to pay?

  94. Fizzybook
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 23:37:53

    93
    You are absolutely correct. As an individual no one has the right to indiscriminately take anything they want. I believe the majority of ebook consumers understand this. I also believe that people are fallible.

    The internet has given consumers an immediacy and control over products including ebooks that we have come to see as the norm. The current system of geographic restriction, DRM’s and the generally screwing about of publishers over release dates is seriously interfering with that convenience.

    Because of this it is now easier for some consumers to download pirated material than it is to buy it. Now piracy is legally and ethically wrong. Everyone knows this, including the people participating (no-one could believe the lame justifications that have been raised, please just stop.) However this does not make the illegal downloader childrapingdonkeyheadbuttingkittenkickers. It makes them human, not morally sound humans but still human.

    What I’m trying to say is, by all means keep the security measures, piracy is illegal and should be treated as such but for God’s sake tweak the system so it is easier to do the right thing than the wrong. The share sites will lose 70% of their traffic in one go.

  95. Mary
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 23:56:46

    Wow, this thread it quite interesting both from a intellectual and emotional aspect. The issues of priacy aside, I have a question for the Authors: do you have any shame regarding whoever makes decisions about how your ebooks are sold?

    Take this recent example of Stephen King’s latest book, “Under the Dome” which is listed for $9 for hardcover and $35 for ebook. For the press release you can find it here.

    I do not support piracy but come on, wasn’t it Oscar Wilde who said “I can resist anything but temptation”? Seriously, if you can download the book for free versus paying $35 for it, I suspect many will download it. Here, the author/publisher aren’t going to loose sales because the novel is free on the pirate site, instead they are going to loose money because the author/publisher partnership is trying to rip off the reader.

    This sort of behaviour is never justified and simply drives honest people away from reading your works, either because they become pirates, OR they simply stop supporting you financially by boycotting your works.

  96. Likari
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 00:19:50

    @Mary:

    Set aside what the thieves are doing. Aren’t you ashamed of what those other people are doing? The ones you have absolutely no power over?

    For instance, Stephen King’s ebook is priced at $35. [clever reference here] so it’s fine for me to steal it because I don’t want to pay what the publisher is charging. IF people can choose between paying the price being charged or stealing, come on! They will steal!

    After all, the price they’ve decided on is unacceptable to me a ripoff! therefore I am justified in stealing.

    Deciding on a price I don’t like is never acceptable and simply drives me, an honest person, to become a pirate.

    Otherwise, I’d have to simply not buy the book.

  97. J
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 00:23:02

    94
    Couldn’t have said it better myself! The system as it now stands feeds piracy making it much more easier and convenient to just go on a file sharing website and download the book. Fix the system! Its just sad that author doing have more control over how their books are published etc.

    Its just like when I was little my mom would say don’t take one of those cookies, but she leaves it right there in the open the aromas waif up to my nose. What happens? I take a cookie of course even though I know I will be punished. This is exactly whats happening in publishing.

  98. anon #47
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 00:45:10

    I’m still puzzled as to why no one has discussed what seems like the most obvious solution to this entire issue. The library.

    Why don’t authors just encourage readers to tell their local library to get the hell on the ball and offer online ebook check-out to library-card holders?

    I can name five universities already that have an online ebook system in place, and it’s easy to use, flexible, and only lets you read if the copy isn’t “checked-out”. (That is, ebooks are treated just like hard-copies, with one reader at a time.) It’s really pretty sweet.

    So instead of yelling at fans about being thieves, why not encourage them to petition their local library system (or maybe one of the larger city libraries like NY’s or Boston’s or DC’s?) to start an online-reading ebook section? Why not challenge your readers to get the ball rolling so their preferred format will be available for checkout, just like years ago library-goers pushed for, and eventually got, audio books as standard book-formats alongside hardback, paperback, magazines and newspapers?

    PLUS, if you can tell your readers your book is housed at X, Y, and Z libraries, then if you complain about people stealing your book, suddenly you’ll have a lot more sympathy instead of the current recalcitrance. The now-legal online readers will likely rise up in agreement, saying, “man, what idiots! stealing something when they could just go check it out at the library!” the same way we do now about people who shoplift at bookstores. Bloody hell, we say, why not just use the library? That’s what it’s there for!

    Has anyone ever asked piracy-site users whether they’d continue to pirate if they could legally read the books for free? There are some, I’m sure, who just want the points of saying they have five thousand freaking ebooks on their hard drive. But I’d bet the vast majority would jump at the chance. Libraries exist on the principle that books are not just for rich urban people, and that in a truly enlightened society, everyone should have a chance to read. Why should ebooks be exempt from this opportunity?

  99. anonisme
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 04:11:01

    Dear lord how I wish that I had found filesharing before buying some truly horrid books. Sometimes when I’m on the go if the back cover sounds good I buy it because who really has time to stand in a grocery store reading through a book. Anyway I love filesharing it keeps dents out of my wall.If I don’t like it I can delete it without arguing with the customer service people at walmart why they should take this craptastic book back. believe it or not if I like the book I actually will go out and buy the book and I’ll look for authors like them. I don’t have an ereader (because I’m cheap) so it behooves me to have a hard copy, never know when the computer is going to crash.

    This actually doesn’t have much to do with the conversation at hand. I just felt like sharing. I realize how much time it takes to write a book and how much you put into it. I realize how upset it can make someone that their hard work is being stolen.

  100. Nonny
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 05:13:18

    Anon #47 @ 98:

    Even libraries that have e-book capabilities frequently will not carry books that are primarily from e-publishers. I have lived in multiple cities where the libraries would loan e-books, but not one of them had anything from Sahmain, LooseID, Ellora’s Cave, Liquid Silver, and so forth. I suspect because of the “erotic” issue; none of these libraries carried much in the way of erotica, either, particularly that geared toward women.

    Considering that e-publishing is most successful in erotic romance… it’ll be awhile before we see the books we read in libraries, I suspect. :-

  101. Nora Roberts
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 05:55:24

    Jane opened this forum for authors to vent about their frustrations with piracy, to explain those frustrations. Yet when authors do so, as invited, some commenters are angry. Some attack. Some, once again, blame the author–or simply tell her she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

    I know what I’m talking about. Piracy costs me sales–a lot of sales. I am a best-selling, established writer, and there are beyond hundreds of thousands of illegal downloads of my books on piracy sites.

    When I say this, I often get responses such as–well, you make plenty of other sales, so big deal. Excuse me, but it is a big deal, and trying to shrug it off is simply another way to justify doing something both wrong and illegal.

    I’m not attacking the reader when I say piracy is theft. I’m objecting to the theft and the thief. I’m not–nor have I seen in this thread–authors lumping followers of DA into a big ball of thievery.

    It’s disheartening to see some readers lump authors into a big ball of stupid or greedy or rude because they’re upset, even angry, about illegal downloads of their work. Their work.

    Nor am I asking readers–individually or in general–to fight piracy. That’s my job, my publisher’s job, the industry’s job, and hopefully the court’s job. But neither do I have any respect for someone who excuses their own wrongdoing by saying it was just to hard to access the book by legal means.

    And none for those who consider a lag time between print and e publication an excuse or justification to pirate.

    On the other hand, I’m very grateful to those who alert me to torrent sites where my books are available in the thousands and more. I’m grateful to readers who invest their time and money in my books, those who borrow one from a friend, from the library, hunt them up in used book stores or yard sales.

    I’ve always revered the library, and always will. I have never objected to used book stores–and have often suggested to a potential reader she try me there first. I have borrowed and lent books to friends and family my entire life.

    For those who really can’t see the difference between the above and illegally creating copies, illegally downloading those copies, of a book, no amount of reasonable, rational or angry and shouted objections will make a dent.

    Jane, when you state in your column that you understand piracy causes you pain in terms of enabling author and publisher hysteria, it’s hurtful to me. Some authors may indeed react hysterically to piracy, some may foolishly make comments that ball all readers into the blame. But most of us are simply trying to combat a difficult and frustrating situation that has direct impact on our livelihoods.

    This is an issue frought with emotion, finger-pointing and blame-casting on both sides of the page, which is why I rarely joint these discussions any longer.

    It feels, sadly, like a no-win.

  102. liz m
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 06:18:32

    For those who really can't see the difference between the above and illegally creating copies, illegally downloading those copies, of a book, no amount of reasonable, rational or angry and shouted objections will make a dent.

    People do suck, it’s a well known fact. But this is the core of it. Readers can’t discuss their problems with the industry (now in it’s napster days) and how to get past them for the good of all (the iTunes days) without piracy being thrown around. Now, authors can’t discuss piracy without some pirates bragging and lots of readers still hurt over the Reader’s Rights thread.

    Publishers are hurting both of us. Nora, I can get the new Bride book for $8 in paper, but $12 or $10 ebook. How does that make sense? You know I’m not going to pirate one of your books, I’m speaking as a business model. I did order the In Death because of the price war (Eve snogs the butler!) but I’m going to be a lost sale on the Brides until the price comes down. I had Janet Mullaney’s new book on my to buy list, forgot about it, was reminded about it – still no ebook. I’ll probably forget again.

    Sales are being lost for a lot of reasons but the piracy discussions centering on the readers without ceasing for a legit discussion of consumer rights and attitudes is pretty futile, as you say. (I dunno where I’m going, except the tardy bell if I don’t get the kids in the car, so I guess I’m not going to find the rest of my point)

    Liz

  103. MB (Leah)
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 06:44:07

    Anon #47 @ 98: @Nonny

    Nonny is correct. There is also the issue of format. I have an ebookwise. Most libraries only offer the book in the DRM’d PDF format, which I cannot read on my reader. I don’t read books on my computer, period. So the library is not an option for me and a lot of people. Although their ability to take the book off your computer after a set time period is a technology that would be useful maybe to stop pirates.

    Personally, I buy all the books I read. I even buy books from authors who’ve let me beta read. I quite often even buy books that have been given to me for free for reviewing, especially if I really liked it. I like to support authors in any way possible.

    However, as a reader of mainly ebooks, I do get really pissed off with this attitude that if I share an ebook with a trusted friend then I’m a thief. I resent it actually.

    Also, I can’t tell you all how many crappy, badly written and edited ebooks I’ve payed a ridiculous price per word count as compared to reasonably priced MMPs, which are usually decently edited and well written. When a publisher charges like $4-5 for 8K words and it’s a piece of crap, it bites. Ebook readers take more chances on getting a crappy product for their money than paperback readers do. They just do.

    The other thing that pisses me off royally about ebooks is the DRM. Again, this is more or less screwing over the legitimate reader who actually pays for books since many books are just not available in a format readable by some ereaders.

    I’m an honest person and I’ve never really been tempted to get a book off of a pirate site, however, sometimes I really get that people do that because we, as legitimate ebook readers, are getting screwed every which way from Sunday for choosing to read in that format.

    I don’t blame authors for getting pissed at this at all. And it’s a difficult situation for them. But I agree with Jane in that if you make a product that’s reasonably priced as well as easily available, people will pay for it.

    I believe that no matter what, there will always be people out there who will try and work the system or get whatever they can for free. That’s never going to go away. So it’s better to make it easier for those who do have a conscience, but who might be tempted here and there to do something wrong, to do the right thing.

  104. Nora Roberts
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 06:51:21

    Since Bed Or Roses is a fancy trade, it actually retails for $16. So if you can get it for $8 in paper, wow–excellent deal. If it’s $10-12 in e, that’s still nicely discounted.

    I do understand some of the reader frustration with publishers, but honestly, I’ve never felt my publisher is hurting me.

    Readers want books, and want them at a good value. They’re entitled.

    Publishers want–and need–to make a profit to remain in the business of publishing. They’re entitled.

    Authors want–and need–to make a living, and to have the content valued. They’re entitled.

    The trick will always be finding the right way so all parties get what they’re entitled to.

  105. Jane
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 07:39:39

    @Nora Roberts I do think some authors have non rational responses (hysteria) to ebooks. The actions toward the Kindle owner who shared her ebooks with a few other readers is evidence of that. DRM is evidence of publisher hysteria. DRM prevents no one but the honest in accessing content. It certainly hasn’t stopped the illegal torrents of DRM’ed content.

    Some authors refuse to release their books in ebook format. The most evidence of this is the Andre Agassi autobiography. The fact that the default assumption under the current ebook scheme is that, left to our own devices, ebook readers are unethical and without integrity. I think that is a hysterical response against ebooks.

    I do not mean to tar all authors with the same brush. I do know that there are authors that don’t have hysterical responses. I apologize for being hurtful. My comment was too general.

    If all that authors want us to do is sympathize with them, I can do that. I understand that it makes authors angry. I understand that it is frustrating, maddening, and any number of adjectives. My problem is when it turns from “hear me” to “do something” (notwithstanding the underlying sentiment of some authors as evidenced in the other thread that all ebook readers are one step from the torrents).

    The perceived value of an ebook is much lower than that of the paperbook. Readers can’t share it or resell it. They can’t return it. In the case of Amazon books, the reader doesn’t even have ownership. It looks and functions exactly the same whether the paper version is mass market, trade or hardcover. With hardcover and trade books, particular the beautiful job that Penguin is doing with the Bride series, gives the reader a perceived increased value. Right now, the increased value to the reader of an ebook priced at hardcover or trade prices is that of getting the book earlier. If readers had more rights with their ebooks, I think they would be willing to pay more.

    As an aside, one thing I would love for publishers to do (rather than individual authors) is to set up an email account where readers can report torrent sites. I have readers send me links (and I send those to the publicists) but I would post on DA, and I am sure other bloggers would as well, email accounts where readers could send those links.

  106. Blue Tyson
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 08:04:39

    101

    “I know what I'm talking about. Piracy costs me sales-a lot of sales. I am a best-selling, established writer, and there are beyond hundreds of thousands of illegal downloads of my books on piracy sites.”

    Ok, so how do you know, or prove this? Any examples, numbers, analysis, studies?

    I am inclined to be more likely to believe the possibility that extreme right tail sigma examples like yourself might suffer in this case, given the (scant) research on the subject. Similar research suggests possible benefits for the rather large chunk of writers that inhabit the middle of the distribution, though. A benefit many, cost a few outliers would be a good thing, long term. The probability of getting more good work goes up with a greater spread of authors benefiting.

    If you delay releases of material it is pretty much guaranteed to cost you sales, how could it not? See stupidity of the Rowlings and Tolkiens et. al. (release ebooks of the latter, they jump to bestsellers, for example – think of all those missed sales over the last few years). Remember, not everyone lives in your country. So, some of these release delays are actually infinite, as far as any one person goes.

    The new Stephen King book will likely lose sales similarly. However, mitigation of this effect is completely up to the publisher and author. Delaying the immensely popular books or movies or tv by months or years is rather similar to wearing a ‘kick me’ sign.

    104

    The want and need part, sure. Actually, however, none of us are entitled to anything of the sort. Businesses are most definitely not entitled to their existence. They are not people. They are certainly not entitled to profits. If they were entitled to such as you suggest, we’d be going to vaudeville shows or radio would have the biggest share, or 80% of people would go to cinemas still. Publishers that existed in the past would still be around, takeovers wouldn’t have happened, etc., etc.

    Speaking of businesses, relentless marketing for decades has training customers to want to buy something right away. Going to cost you a lot of work and advertising dollars to reverse that trend. Imagine that campaign “Don’t buy this now, it’ll be worth the wait. Take it easy. Keep your money.” :) Can’t see that happening, so think you are out of luck.

    Of course, if readers don’t get something they value then it is pretty unlikely that authors and publishers get what they want.

    Trying to artificially protect media is shouting from the rooftops ‘We do not care that we are providing you an inferior product. We do not care that we waste your time. We don’t even care that we waste our own time and money. We don’t care that we sell fewer books. Etc.’

    As smarter people than me have said ‘physics is against you’ when talking about the media’s need to try and retain the control they have had in the past. Not going to happen.

    Technology improves. Copying gets faster and easier. Professional quality scanners that can copy a book in minutes will eventually be the price that garden variety desktop scanners are now. OCR will improve. Etc.

    Not to mention quantum computing possibilities.

  107. Nora Roberts
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 08:14:50

    ~The fact that the default assumption under the current ebook scheme is that, left to our own devices, ebook readers are unethical and without integrity. I think that is a hysterical response against ebooks. ~

    From my own experience, I just don’t feel this is a default assumption. Whenever I’m in a discussion with writers I know, or with my publisher, my agent, nobody says ebook readers when speaking of pirates or visa versa. Piracy involves a section of readers, not the whole culture.

    As to authors not selling e-rights, that’s an individual stance. I can’t speak to why a particular author takes that stance, but they may believe they have good reason. I have no clue. But it’s, again, not the whole culture.

    These decisions and policies may anger and frustrate the e-reader. I can sympathize, but I can’t do anything about it. Just like the reader can sympathize with an author’s anger about piracy, but can’t really do anything else.

    What would be nice, in the perfect world I would like to someday reign over, is if readers and authors wouldn’t blame each other as entire groups for the actions, decisions, comments and behaviors of individuals in those groups.

  108. liz m
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 08:18:37

    Since Bed Or Roses is a fancy trade, it actually retails for $16. So if you can get it for $8 in paper, wow-excellent deal. If it's $10-12 in e, that's still nicely discounted.

    Does it really? Ok, bad example – I should’ve stuck with some of the MM books I’ve seen at 50% plus markups and such.

    I’m on everybody’s side here, but I have to think it’s the publishers because it’s someone and they have the most market control and the most statements on record. I don’t know why we have to reinvent the wheel. Authors want to get paid. Readers want them to get paid. Publishers are running a business. Thieves steal.

    Music already sorted this. Television is sorting this. Why is it suddenly the 80’s again, for publishing? I switched to ebooks for some very solid reasons and it’s been crazy frustrating for me. I knew I’d be paying more (cheap as I am) and cutting off my family from The Great Book Swap, but the market is insane. At one point I considered stripping the DRM off all my files, not to pirate, but because I couldn’t get product I’d paid for to work.

    So if the reinvention of wheel isn’t the publishers, then…. who? We can’t take the trip until we’re all in the car with the motor running. And I really, really, really want to be there already, in a profitable way for you and an acceptable way for me.

    What would be nice, in the perfect world I would like to someday reign over, is if readers and authors wouldn't blame each other as entire groups for the actions, decisions, comments and behaviors of individuals in those groups.

    Can you get the news media to stop sneering when they say liberal too? Because I have seen examples of your awesome powers over the world, and I think my quality of life would just skyrocket. And dude, seriously with you on the can’t we just get along, like woah with you on that.

  109. Nora Roberts
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 08:23:11

    ~Ok, so how do you know, or prove this? Any examples, numbers, analysis, studies?~

    You see, this is where it’s hopeless. I’m not going to list my financials or my statements. If you’re not willing to believe that out of literally millions of illegal downloads of my considerable body of work I haven’t lost a chunk of sales, there’s no reasonable way for me to prove it to you.

    If statements by those who frequent these sites stating clearly: Now I don’t have to buy it, or wow, I just saved 10 bucks and the like don’t illustrate without the illegal download that reader would have paid for the book, I can’t convince you.

    ~The want and need part, sure. Actually, however, none of us are entitled to anything of the sort.~

    I simply disagree.

  110. Jane
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 08:27:39

    @Nora Roberts I guess I disagree with you. ebooks are not allowed to be shared or resold. The idea behind DRM is that if publishers didn’t have it on the book, people would engage in casual piracy. So the default set up around ebooks is that the temptation to mistreat this right will be so strong that we, the publishers (and through the publishers), must place all these barriers to access around books and strip away traditional consumer rights in doing so.

    There have been publishers who have stated that they would like to remove DRM but that the authors protest.

  111. Nora Roberts
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 08:34:40

    Jane, I don’t have an e-reader so I don’t fully understand DRM.

    But when a store puts that damn security beeper thing on clothes, I don’t think their default position is everyone who shops there is a thief. I think it’s that some people will steal, and they need to take measures against that group. And that measure certainly does inconvenience the whole. (Esp if the clerk forgets to take the stupid thing off, you don’t notice, get out of the store and get all the way home.)

  112. Jane
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 08:37:40

    @Nora Roberts sure, but once you buy it, the security tag comes off. With DRM, the security tag follows me home and sometimes I have to ask for permission, again and again, to get that security tag to allow me to read my ebook. And while I can sell that shirt, make it into a different item, or trade/share it with a friend, I cannot do that with an ebook because the argument is that I could be keeping a copy of that book for myself as well as trading it or selling it. That system treats me as if I am going to engage in illegal copying unless they stop me. I am, by default, untrustworthy.

  113. Kelly Jamieson
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 08:44:01

    I’m late to this party but just wanted to comment on the issue of sharing.

    I have to point out the difference between sharing a blouse, or a print book, and sharing a digital book. If you give the print book away, or you give the blouse away, you no longer have it. I sometimes loan books to friends or family, but if it’s a book I love – I want it back. I keep my favourite books. If someone loans me a book I absolutely love, I give it back to the owner and go buy my own copy and potentially a whole lot of others by that author.

    I don’t usually loan clothes because I want to keep my favourite blouse that I paid good money for. But if I could duplicate that blouse and give it to a friend, and still have my favourite blouse in my closet – sure, I’d be tempted! Then we'd both have nice blouses! Of course the reality is, that's not possible. But it is possible with digital books and therein lies the fundamental difference. I loan a digital book to you, but I still have it to read and enjoy. And when you loan it to someone, you still have it to read and enjoy. And when that person loans it to someone else, she still has it to read and enjoy. And there's no reason for anyone to actually buy it.

    So while I certainly don't object to the principle of sharing anything, there is a difference when it comes to sharing digital books.

  114. Jane
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 08:46:34

    @Kelly Jamieson That’s my whole point Kelly. If you read my comment, that is my entire point. Your argument is premised that an ebook reader won’t follow the law and delete the book. Your argument is premised on the idea that if you don’t prevent my illegal activity with your security tag that I will sell a book and keep a copy for myself or that I will lend a book and keep it to read for myself. You don’t trust me and you treat me as if my actions toward ebooks is illegal. This is EXACTLY my point.

  115. Nora Roberts
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 08:47:43

    ~That system treats me as if I am going to engage in illegal copying unless they stop me. I am, by default, untrustworthy. ~

    I hear you, I do. But to me the system is saying there are sucky people out there, and we all pay the price for that.

    I hope–and in my perfect world this would already be true–that technology and brilliant minds find a way soon to protect the content and give readers the full freedom of choice they want.

  116. mia madwyn
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 08:50:40

    @Jane:

    Here is what confuses me. I don’t recall who has said what, so am not aiming this at you specifically, but people keep saying they want to share their ebooks, that they are not getting full access to them. They make the comparison to being able to share print books. The word “share” is used a lot, as something that people do, and want to do.

    I stopped loaning my sister books because she would pass them onto her friends and I’d never get them back. Once I got one back three years later because my sister thought I would enjoy reading it (not even noticing my name in the front cover). Sigh. Sisters.

    But when Kelly mentions the very real fact that when you share or loan an ebook, you’re actually making a duplicate, you say she’s accusing ereaders of stealing. She’s talking about people sharing all sorts of things, and she never accused anybody of stealing.

    ?????

  117. MB (Leah)
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 08:52:01

    From my own experience, I just don't feel this is a default assumption. Whenever I'm in a discussion with writers I know, or with my publisher, my agent, nobody says ebook readers when speaking of pirates or visa versa. Piracy involves a section of readers, not the whole culture.

    This may be the actual truth. However, there is this unspoken understanding and feeling amongst ebook readers that if we do share, we are doing something wrong. I’ve always felt it and it’s not only my understanding or feeling, it’s many readers’ feelings as well or this discussion wouldn’t keep coming up with reader/author rants.

    An example of my experience:

    I added an ebook to one of those library sites and accidentally clicked on “I have this book to share or sell.” It was an honest mistake that I forgot to delete.

    I got an email from that author telling me that it’s illegal to do that and asking if I was doing that. I happen to like that author and explained that it was a mistake and sorry and blah blah because really, I’d never do that and understood her concern.

    But inside I got kind of pissed off and resented that I was being chastised in some way, being actually told it’s illegal to share an ebook when if that had been a paperback that I owned, as I owned a copy of her ebook, there would have been no question of even emailing me to question my motives.

    So maybe in your author circles and so on it’s not outright expressed or even thought in general as the truth. However, there is this underlying judgment and understanding from ebook readers and authors that it’s simply not OK to share an ebook with even one trusted friend without being thought of as a file sharer pirate. It’s not a feeling that an honest person likes to be made to feel.

  118. liz m
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 08:53:03

    Jane, I don't have an e-reader so I don't fully understand DRM.

    Went like this – I bought a book. I made sure it was the right DRM format for my reader (think Betamax, there are half a dozen formats).

    I had to tell Adobe who I was. Adobe told the seller I was in the right country and had permission to buy the book.

    I hook up my reader. I tell my reader who I am. The reader checks with Adobe to make sure I am the person I said I was.

    The book opens. Unless it doesn’t. My computer’s internal time clock shifted and therefore Adobe and Sony and the DRM decided maybe I was trying to pull something hinky and locked my book up. The book I paid for. With real money.

    I did a search to find a solution and found half a dozen places I could have stolen the book but instead I kept hunting and eventually found a way to fix this error. After a full days work, Adobe and Sony and the bookstore and the book were all in agreement and it opened up again and I kept reading.

    Any one of those hoops could change it’s mind at any time. I can order books from other countries with the click of a mouse. I can steal books with the click of a mouse. I have to work to keep books I paid for available to me, because of measures put in place (ostensibly) to keep me from buying a book from another country or stealing a book.

    That’s the DRM nutshell. Email me if you have any DRM questions. Over the last few months I’ve become a reluctant expert.

  119. Jane
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 08:54:53

    @Nora Roberts But there have been attempts to allow sharing (no resale) and authors and publishers have balked at this. The LendMe feature of the new BN nook is to allow a 14 day lending period in which access to the book would only be permitted by one person (i.e., if I had a nook and you had one, I could lend you the book for 14 days. Only you would be able to access it during this time). But according to Publishers Marketplace, no major publisher has agreed to participate in this program. I’ve heard that on author loops, authors are aghast at this lending program (not all authors, of course).

    In the Kindle owner case, the worst case scenario she was sharing one book with a limited number of people (5 at the very most). Yet the default assumption was that she was stealing. Kindle allows up to six devices to be registered to one account.

    So there are attempts through technology to allow sharing/lending and publishers aren’t embracing even that. The end result is that the ebook is really, really devalued making consumers very reluctant to purchase ebooks.

    Now, it may be that authors and publishers don’t care about this but not being in the digital space when every other form of entertainment is will be the death of publishing.

  120. Jane
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 08:57:34

    @mia madwyn Please read my comment again. Nowhere did I state Kelly is accusing me of stealing. Here is what I said:

    @Kelly Jamieson That's my whole point Kelly. If you read my comment, that is my entire point. Your argument is premised that an ebook reader won't follow the law and delete the book. Your argument is premised on the idea that if you don't prevent my illegal activity with your security tag that I will sell a book and keep a copy for myself or that I will lend a book and keep it to read for myself. You don't trust me and you treat me as if my actions toward ebooks is illegal. This is EXACTLY my point.

  121. liz m
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 08:59:21

    @Jane:

    Now, it may be that authors and publishers don't care about this but not being in the digital space when every other form of entertainment is will be the death of publishing.

    Ok, that’s a bit much. While I believe that the reluctance to follow an iTunes model or tech will damage publishing in as much as it allows the culture of piracy to dominate the conversation, dead is a bit much. The patient just has an unattractive hacking cough.

    The tech already exists. Overdrive leases to libraries, who allow one patron at a time to view the book for 14 days, then it expires and the next patron can view it. So it’s possible to put a lend feature in an existing DRM that mimics the lending rights of the paper owner.

    These aren’t tech issues, these are reality denial issues.

  122. mia madwyn
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 09:01:21

    Okay, so (again, I’m just trying to understand the process here, since I’m new to all of this, and haven’t bought an ereader yet) are you saying that if readers had the ability to loan/share their books, they would delete the original from their ereader until their friend gave it back, and then their friend would delete it from hers?

    And that by not assuming that people will do it that way, Kelly is assuming people who read ebooks are untrustworthy?

    If that is your point, my apologies for misunderstanding.

  123. Jane
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 09:03:58

    @liz m The biggest threat to publishing right now is declining readership and alternative forms of entertainment. In the next one or two decades, the majority of the readership will begin to lose their eyesight or die. More and more younger readers are tied to the digital space. Books must be there to compete. Already the traditional form of publishing is undergoing a sea change. As a reader who loves books, I want to see publishing survive and thrive but the practices of traditional publishing, to hold on to the print above all else, is really dangerous.

  124. Nora Roberts
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 09:08:39

    Isn’t it, essentially, technology that’s the problem? It hasn’t yet caught up to the demand and the culture. A large section of e-readers hate DRM like poison. I get it. But publishers and authors are trying to work through the very real problem of piracy, which a large section of them hate like poison.

    E-reading has grown hugely in the last couple years, and no one’s yet figured out how to create a universal reader, a universial format (if I understand all this), which sucks for those who love to read e. At the same time a protection against those who pirate annoys, angers and insults a large section of those e-readers. But nobody’s figured out how to protect the content, the authors’ and publishers’ rights, and make it all run smooth for the consumer.

    So some authors get pissed and bitch about being stolen from, some readers get pissed and bitch about being considered dishonest by default.

    When it really comes down to nobody having all the answers yet, or being able to keep up with the exploding demand for this choice of reading.

    Really, there’s no productivity in slapping at each other when most readers simply want to conveniently enjoy creative content they’ve paid for, and most authors simply want to be paid for creating that content–and publishers want their cut for providing it.

    As an aside, when I’m basically told, yes this is illegal, yes, you object to it, but really, you should suck it up because it’s good for you–because I say so–and/or it’s good for the whole, it doesn’t make me feel cheerful.

  125. liz m
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 09:11:49

    @Jane: I agree with everything you just said. If you put the word ‘traditional’ in front of publishing in the original quote I’d buy the wagon to carry the band. It read to me like ‘end of storytime’ which is what raised my brow.

  126. Nora Roberts
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 09:13:35

    ~The tech already exists. Overdrive leases to libraries, who allow one patron at a time to view the book for 14 days, then it expires and the next patron can view it. So it's possible to put a lend feature in an existing DRM that mimics the lending rights of the paper owner. ~

    I didn’t realize this, and at least on the surface it seems like an excellent solution. But I’d have to dig under the surface before I’d be able to say YAY! or nay.

    I assumed from a lot of the threads I’d read on this subject there was a real problem with different readers not reading books in different formats, and not having the capability to do the above.

  127. liz m
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 09:25:49

    @Nora Roberts:

    I assumed from a lot of the threads I'd read on this subject there was a real problem with different readers not reading books in different formats, and not having the capability to do the above.

    It’s a dogfight. Every maker of a proprietary format wants their proprietary format to be the only one you can use. So, Blu-Ray or HD DVD? Betamax or VHS? First the consumer chooses one, then the publisher chooses one and they line up or they don’t, since not every fee is paid to offer all types. (It’s a side issue.) It’s coming down to Adobe or Kindle, and Adobe is going to win. B&N is hoping they can make it a three way race, but it’s mostly over and photo finish time. E-Pub is the likely choice unless Kindle throws the doors open and changes format.

    The issue is the file pass coding, getting all the electronic locks to stay lined up in the right order. It’s a clumsy solution but it’s not a lack of tech ability, it’s not understanding the market and trying to lock it down all Cold War style instead of realizing that the more you open the market the more the sales roll in. Music learned this the hard way. Make it super easy to pay for product, people do it. People steal no matter what cause they suck. And hey, full circle. I guess I’ll stop hogging the comment space and figure out where to get a last minute pumpkin.

  128. MB (Leah)
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 09:29:08

    I sometimes loan books to friends or family, but if it's a book I love – I want it back. I keep my favourite books. If someone loans me a book I absolutely love, I give it back to the owner and go buy my own copy and potentially a whole lot of others by that author.

    I totally get your argument because it is true that if I loan out an ebook I still have a copy and then the friend has a copy. But here lies the whole trust issue of your above statement.

    If you are willing to loan a book you love and want back to a good friend, then they are someone you trust implicitly to to do that or you wouldn’t loan it out. I say that if I have an ebook and I loan it to a friend, then it’s going to be a friend that I know is NOT going to abuse that and send it off to others or upload it to a torrent site or I just won’t share it with them to begin with.

    And I know that even if I still have a copy on my computer, I’m NOT going to give it out to any more people or upload it. It’s fairly safe to say that it’s not going anywhere to be abused.

    I think that when people say they are sharing an ebook to a friend, that it shouldn’t be the default, as Jane puts it, that everyone involved is being dishonest, which is currently the case.

  129. Jane
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 09:29:13

    @mia madwyn I’m saying that most readers aren’t going to share outside a small circle of friends (and by small I think 3-5 at the most and never the same book). I’m not much into reselling my books but I know that it is important to others. There needs to be a way to either give consumers the right to resell or the prices have to come down to reflect that right has been removed. The current system of ebooks and the current mentality of some authors is that if DRM is removed then the ebook readers will engage in wholesale mass emailing of books. I simply disagree. I guess I have a more optimistic view of people – that they are willing to do the right thing given the opportunity to do so. Treat them like criminals and don’t be surprised if they fulfill your expectations.

  130. Donna Alward
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 09:29:43

    @Jane

    I've heard that on author loops, authors are aghast at this lending program (not all authors, of course).

    Um…I’ve yet to meet one aghast author, and I’m on a lot of loops.

    I think the library system is a fantastic idea and I had a reader request my books – and then that library bought up my backlist in e-book.

  131. mia madwyn
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 09:29:59

    @liz m:

    I take it Sony uses the Adobe format? So go to with the (ultimate) winning format, you go with Sony and lose out on amazon downloads?

    Or buy whatever you want this time, assuming that by the time there is a clear winner you’ll want to upgrade anyway.

    Hmmm.

  132. Jane
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 09:32:10

    @liz m Of course by moving to one DRM’ed format places an enormous amount of power in the hands of one company (Adobe). Publishers are simply moving away from Amazon as having control over content to Adobe. I think it’s fairly humorous in dark and sad way.

  133. liz m
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 09:35:32

    @mia madwyn: Sony uses a couple of formats. They had their own dog in the fight but gave up and pulled him, so they use E-Pub, which is Adobe. E-Pub can be sold with or without DRM (think, electronic locks) but is mostly sold with.

    Nook won’t support E-Pub right now, but it’s probably coming.

    Kindle (Amazon) is still in love with it’s own (easily crackable) DRM and the fact that it can lock you into buying books exclusively from them, not shopping around all willy nilly and crazy like! (Why won’t you just buy from them? They’ve made it so easy!)

    Sony will offer a model with wireless downloads ala Kindle, but that’s not important to me as a consumer, so I did go with Sony for library support, E-pub format, google books support and the love of Smart Bitches. But there’s not a ‘wrong’ answer.

    I don’t think Amazon’s format will die, I just doubt their ability to dominate the market to the extent that they kill E-Pub and other readers off. I believe eventually Amazon will unlock the Kindle and decide they want some of the non-Kindle reader’s money since they already took babysteps in that direction via Iphone.

    But I’m derailing, and I apologize to all the Jane’s (even my own daughter, now at Kindergarden) if I’m offending in doing so. No disrepect, etc.

  134. liz m
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 09:36:55

    @Jane: I am so with you. It’s like watching them go from one abusive relationship to another. But you’re staging all the intervention you can and I really applaud you for it.

    Ok, I need a pumpkin or my kids are going to cover me in toilet paper.

  135. Blue Tyson
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 09:58:19

    109

    ~Ok, so how do you know, or prove this? Any examples, numbers, analysis, studies?~

    You see, this is where it’s hopeless. I’m not going to list my financials or my statements. If you’re not willing to believe that out of literally millions of illegal downloads of my considerable body of work I haven’t lost a chunk of sales, there’s no reasonable way for me to prove it to you.

    Right, I agree if this is the case. Publishing is absolutely hopeless at analysis. The way to demonstrate something to someone is rigorous research and presentation of your work and evidence in public.

    As I said I am inclined to believe if can affect the very rich if I had to pick a possibility. However, to be convinced requires facts.

    When you are all so secretive, then we have multiple possibilities :-

    1) We believe everything that publishing and authors say. I imagine there’s a handful of people that are likely to believe all corporate PR and complaints. But not most of us. Media companies have proven themselves unworthy of this level of credulity or trust for quite some time. There are many examples of ludicrous statistics pulled out of thin air about billions of dollars in losses, etc. with about as much basis in reality as flying pink elephants (all those movies that sold hundreds of millions in tickets and no profits to be found is another, thank you Hollywood). So this option is out the window pretty much, and is the least likely.

    2) That you have no actual evidence to support your position. Or it makes no difference.

    3) That the actual evidence if you have any suggests the opposite of what you state, in general. i.e. that the top end sales reduce, but the large majority go up. This would then be a good thing for the population of authors at large, and the public, but doesn’t suit the chase the megabestseller model from a PR point of view.

    Everyone is quite aware who are of the most popular authors and that they make millions of dollars.

    It is pretty disappointing when multibillion dollar companies can’t manage something this straightforward without secrets and lies.

    Speaking of entitlements – are authors as a whole entitled to a little consideration from their leading lights? If it matters more to the extremely wealthy to attempt to keep all their information about every single book as secret as possible than in presenting information that can sway readers to your side isn’t that a little selfish? If the hypothesis is that downloading harms everybody.

    Especially if everyone is aware of the approximate magnitude of such sales numbers anyway in a lot of cases. So why would a case study or two be a big deal? We aren’t talking about your tax returns or how much you paid your agent, or the champagne budget for the xmas party.

    You are perfectly entitled to be as secretive or private as you like. We are also perfectly entitled to suspect that there is a reason for this – that possibly looking at the economics of it that such top-end authors then lose the support of the rank and file if it is demonstrated that they benefit from what disadvantages King and company. Also if the more easily available mega-popular work is most easily obtained for free, there’s more money to buy books further back the other way on the curve, too, of course, where people know authors do need the support more.

    I don’t really understand why all this is so hush hush. Those inside the industry have access to top end type sales data in approximate, surely? So it isn’t like there’s any commercial advantage in it that anyone reasonable can see. If both publisher and author already know then it isn’t a negotiating tool, similarly.

    We understand at the low end that comparied to movies or tv or music that most books sell bugger all, so it might be a tad embarrassing at the the paltry puny patheticness of it. Not really what we are talking about here, though.

    The complete failure by the media as a whole to present this evidence given the money behind them and that really, it isn’t that hard to do is rather damning, and gets more so all the time there is such absence of evidence. Especially independently corroborated evidence as opposed to rigged bought and paid for and made up.

    ‘Hi, University X? This is Super Famous Author Y/Megacorporation Z. I’ve got some analysis I’d like done. Can you spare me a grad student mathematician?’

    ‘Sure. Would you like 3? They can wash your car, too, if you want.’

  136. Blue Tyson
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 10:06:20

    132

    Snake Oil Co-dependent Deathwish. There’s a thriller novel title for you!

  137. CD
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 10:10:29

    I'm part of the NAPSTER generation: like many of my generation, as a student I downloaded music by night and demonstrated against Evil Multinational Corporations by day, and saw the two actions as two sides of the same coin. By downloading music illegally, we were striking a blow against Worldwide Capitalist Exploitation and a music industry that we saw as Corrupt and Greedy charging extortionately high prices for albums and singles – an industry that was “stealing” from both the consumer and the artist and awarding their corporate executives with huge bonuses just because they could. I had many friends who did have the skills to pirate music and took pride in doing so and sharing them to all and sundry: a friend of mine even crashed the college network due to the sheer traffic on his website – this was before the age of bit-torrents…

    We thought that we were actually striking a blow for freedom of art and for artists, and would pride ourselves at going to gigs and buying drinks for our favourite bands – or even giving them money directly at those gigs as our “royalties” for that year. When a band such as Metallica spoke out against piracy, we just shrugged them off as mega-rich stars who'd “sold out” to the Evil Corporate Empire for greed. And we pirated them even more as a point of principle. In short, we were young and stupid.

    Obviously, as you grow older, you can see more clearly that the issue is a lot more complicated and that things are not so black and white, and also how we essentially contributed to the problem. But this is most probably the same mindset and demographic that you are dealing with when it comes to ebook piracy. It's not so much that they're hardened criminals trying to justify their immoral actions to themselves but this is something that they actually believe – although obviously misguidedly.

    To be honest, when it comes to ebooks, I do feel that even more so than the music industry did, the publishing industry is “stealing” from us – even if it's legalised theft. It may not be right for people to download books and enjoying them for free, but is it right for the industry to charge people the SAME price or even higher for a product that is:

    1. Demonstrably inferior to a physical book with DRM restrictions basically meaning that you're locked into a format, cannot be assured of being able to reread your legally purchased books in the future, and cannot share your books with others. Before learning how to strip the DRM off of books, I remember thinking to myself that the industry was committing outright theft when I had to buy books TWICE just because of DRM format issues. And let’s not get into the number of books that I lost when Fictionwise split from Overdrive earlier this year – saying that they were stolen from me is not putting it too strong IMO.

    2. Obviously does not cost the same amount as a physical book to produce: no bookstores, no physical materials, no shipping, not even bloody cover art!!

    You could argue that this is just normal behaviour in a market – companies exist to maximise their profits and will construct business models to help them do so. That's accepted and even applauded. Well, in a strict market scenario, the consumer's goal is to minimise expenditure while obtaining the products that they desire. The argument that I see here is that that consumers should in a sense behave MORE morally than companies by paying above the odds for an inferior product that they could so easily get COMPLETELY FREE elsewhere with very little negative consequences. You're asking consumers to behave contrary to their market objectives, in economic terms basically irrationally, when not requiring the industry to do the same thing.

    My opinion is that the vast majority of consumers DO behave with more integrity than businesses – witness the fact that we do still purchase overpriced ebooks with DRM and everything that entails: as a book junkie, I spend $200 a month on them when I could so very easily get them free. I DO understand the viewpoint of authors as the creators of their products, but I think that branding everyone that pirates a thief and basically lower than scum, and everything they say to explain their actions as just self-deluding justifications – I don't think that's particularly constructive. If the industry as a whole refuses to understand the motives of those who pirate, then it will implode sooner or later.

    And this is not even addressing the issue of geographical restrictions where you are not allowed to purchase a product. If you restrict legal access to a product that is easily obtained illegally elsewhere, then people will obtain it illegally – simple as that.

    In terms of what to do, I think along with many commentators here that more studies and research needs to be done. For one, it would be interesting to see what the piracy rates between publishers such as Baen, Samhaim and other ebook publishers who laudably charge reasonable prices and do not infect their products with DRM/geographical restrictions against the majority that do.

  138. Nora Roberts
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 10:27:04

    ~If it matters more to the extremely wealthy to attempt to keep all their information about every single book as secret as possible than in presenting information that can sway readers to your side isn't that a little selfish?~

    This is just an example of why it’s so frought to discuss this.

    I’m selfish, greedy, inconsiderate because I don’t elect to disclose my sales and financial information on the internet, or in any public forum. I’m secretive, iyo, and there must be a reason for that other than a desire for privacy.

    I am not supporting the ‘rank and file’ of my fellow writers by keeping my private information private, again iyo, and they would turn against me if it could be proven they’d benefit from my losses.

    I am not the media, and certainly not obligated to hire a mathematician to do an analysis on my sales.

    Your opinion seems to be that the onus is on me to prove to everyone that an illegal act causes me harm. I simply don’t agree with that. Nor do I believe that the bulk of my colleagues would hold the opinion it’s okay if this illegal act screws me if they get some benefit from it.

    So, once again, I come away from this seeing that any real discussion of the issue is fruitless. No matter how I attempt to see this from the frustrated e-reader’s side, sympathize with that frustration, and try to lay out my own, I’m eventually cast as selfish and greedy.

  139. Jane
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 10:30:11

    @Nora Roberts so we are all labeling you as selfish and greedy?

  140. Nora Roberts
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 10:38:39

    No, Jane, simply the commenter I quoted and answered. It seemed pretty clear in her post she saw it that way.

    Honestly, it may not be fair, and it may to some extent be over-sensitive, but it’s difficult to be painted that way by someone during a discussion like this. And it happens often.

    I’ve taken a big step back from discussions like this due to that very thing. And I enjoy this site–I think you know–very much.

  141. Jane
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 10:40:18

    I agree that we could all learn to use less hyperbolic accusatory terms. I will endeavor to do so in the future and I would hope other commenters (including authors) will do so in the future as well.

  142. Patricia Briggs
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 10:53:57

    DRM sucks. No question. Regionality sucks — but I can’t sell rights to Great Britain or France or Germany without including e-rights. I think that is a problem time will largely (though not entirely) take care of. As one of my British readers told me “eventually British publishers will start selling ebooks too”.

    Torrent site make me crazy, so I ignore them as much as I can. My husband (the computer geek) tells me that Bone Crossed was on torrent sites the morning it went on sale and 10,000 copies were downloaded from one site the first week. To help parse the numbers, 10,000 copies sold in the first week is good enough to get you on the USAToday bestseller list and touch the New York Times. There are some hard numbers. You know, it is not the lost revenues (if any — I won’t get into that argument) that bother me. It is more like someone I really don’t like decided to take a nap in my bed — call me hysterical if you want to, but I like my readers. We share “the second most intimate thing that two people can do”. I don’t want to do that with scumbags. My husband spends, on average, one day a week issuing take-down notices to the same places — and don’t get me started about the people who sell ebooks on ebay for $1 each, as many copies as you’d like.

    Readers, any readers — though I have a special affection for “my” readers — are awesome people. I know because I’ve met a lot of them. I just spent a weekend in Florida at Necronomicon talking to them — and I’m one myself. We buy books, both paper and ebooks. We borrow from the library, our friends or buy used — and we are cool, you and I. I think it is awesome that the Nooky will let people exchange books and that libraries are loaning ebooks.

    I do worry about pirates. They pat themselves on the back with how clever they are, how evil writers are, how stupid people who pay for books are (that’s all of us so why aren’t more readers mad at the pirates?). They say they would have paid if: the price were lower, the book were better, the sample pages were bigger — and when people meet their demands they shrug and say — why pay if I can get it free? They tell us that because we can’t keep them out they have the right to do as they please. If my door is unlocked, does that mean it is okay to come in and take my stuff? I’ve had them come to my website and post the equivalent of “I don’t like your stand about piracy and you were mean to me when you told me it was illegal so watch me upload your books to torrent sites.”

    I understand why writers get hysterical about this. I have my hysterical moments, too.

    Hysteria does not condone stupidity however — and not understanding the difference between what the reader and her friends did with their kindle and the pirate scum uploading/downloading from torrents is inexcusable.

    The record industry is on its knees right now — and their profit margins were much, much higher than the book publishing industry’s. When they lost a big percentage of their profit margin (I won’t argue how much) they were able to regroup. Book publishers operate on a very low profit margin — about 10%. They can’t afford to narrow that margin and survive. My husband reads Digg and all the other websites and worries that the pirates might be right about the end of the publishing era. Not this year. Not next year. But ten or twenty years from now, writing for profit might be gone. Hysteria? Maybe so. But that’s what Cory Doctorow crows about and we have precedence in the music industry’s fall. If they are right, and the publishing industry folds, there never will be another Nora Roberts or J K Rowling — just a lot of amateurish unedited stuff that no one spends the time to polish. That would make me, who reads far more books than I write, very sad.

    The people here at DearAuthor are not pirates. They are book lovers, like me, who are much less ignorant about the publishing business than the average reader. Which is why it feels like a betrayal when the people here tar us with the “greedy author” brush and call us, as a whole, hysterical when we, admittedly, whine about pirates.

    I’m going off to write now.
    Hugs,
    Patty Briggs

  143. Kelly Jamieson
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 11:35:30

    @Jane
    Sorry but I think that’s quite a leap from the comment I made, which is an undeniable reality, to interpreting that as me saying that every ebook reader won’t follow the law. I said no such thing. I said nothing about security tags. If I had a solution to the issue, and I wish I did, I would have stated it.

  144. hapax
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 12:05:51

    Why don't authors just encourage readers to tell their local library to get the hell on the ball and offer online ebook check-out to library-card holders?

    I know the conversation has moved on, but I’d like to address this. Note: my library currently does offer this. Note2: after a year of trying, I have yet to have any success personally at downloading a single e-book from OverDrive.

    I think that, in the end, this is the way to go. But right now, I really don’t blame any library that chooses not to offer this option. Right now, ebook licensing for libraries is HELLA expensive — we pay not by the number of checkouts, nor by the number of library cardholders, but by the population base of our service area. This is the equivalent, in a city of forty thousand, of buying 40,000 copies of books to offer access to maybe a dozen people.

    Secondly, it is HELLA complicated. The two services that offer this currently use completely different software. Neither software plays well with our online catalog system, or internal software. They both have totally different authentication mechanisms, to discourage piracy. As a result, we not only to have to pay for the license, and the software, but also dedicated hardware to run and download the books. Don’t get me started on Kindle — Amazon has so far refused to issue a statement as to whether or not they are going to legally prosecute those few libraries that circulate Kindles.

    Thirdly, it is very limited. Each provider negotiates their own deals with publishers. Some publishers don’t make deals at all — not with the providers, nor with libraries individually. And the erotica publishers that make up so much of e-book sales? I personally tried for two solid years to negotiate with Ellora’s Cave to find some way to offer their titles through our library, before giving up in frustration. They simply weren’t interested.

    So, short version — your public library probably already knows about this, and is dying to offer it. If pressure needs to be applied, contact the publishers and software providers.

  145. Blue Tyson
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 12:07:41

    /I'm selfish, greedy, inconsiderate because I don't elect to disclose my sales and financial information on the internet, or in any public forum. I'm secretive, iyo, and there must be a reason for that other than a desire for privacy./

    — Greedy I am pretty sure I didn’t say. :)

    /I am not supporting the ‘rank and file' of my fellow writers by keeping my private information private, again iyo, and they would turn against me if it could be proven they'd benefit from my losses. /

    — I didn’t say they’d turn against you, either. They may stop worrying or stressing about it as much, as it is generally not going to affect them. Losing some active support is hardly them picketing you.

    /I am not the media, and certainly not obligated to hire a mathematician to do an analysis on my sales./

    — Right. Authors have nothing to do with any media company. I also never said you were under any obligation to do anything.

    /Your opinion seems to be that the onus is on me to prove to everyone that an illegal act causes me harm. I simply don't agree with that. Nor do I believe that the bulk of my colleagues would hold the opinion it's okay if this illegal act screws me if they get some benefit from it./

    — You don’t agree, fine. You also believe that corporations have a right to exist and have their current business models continue to work the same as before. Which is rather silly, not to mention historically disproven. Possibly there are other logical flaws there, too.

    Of course the onus is on you? Who else should do it? Your publishers would be fine, too, or anybody else’s. Pretty clearly you won’t give the information to anyone else to do it, so completely impossible, wouldn’t you say?

    /So, once again, I come away from this seeing that any real discussion of the issue is fruitless. No matter how I attempt to see this from the frustrated e-reader's side, sympathize with that frustration, and try to lay out my own, I'm eventually cast as selfish and greedy./

    — Sure it is frustrating. This is example number very high of not answering the question. It is quite amazing this code of silence. If losses are so bad and so much money can be spent on DRM etc., then no-one can fund (or probably even get done for pretty much nothing other than maybe some favorable PR or a work placement) some independent research that can demonstrate your case to opinion makers and the public? The longer this goes on the more we start to detect the odor of bovine excreta.

    That is, you can say 1=2 or red = blue, but without proof no-one will be swayed by your theory to any significant degree.

    I still don’t understand why this is so private in bestseller cases – don’t they announce amounts of deals for lots of these books in public, and sales, etc.? It doesn’t have to be accounted down to the last cent. People know industry type royalty rates, all that sort of thing.

    Or, it boils down to this :-

    1) We say this is damaging
    2) Ok, possibly that is so, how about some independent evidence?
    3) No, we don’t wanna do that
    4) Ok, we still don’t know whether to believe you or not
    5) Repeat until something breaks

    Lots of us are willing to be legitimately convinced. No-one wants to do that, so Occam’s Razor might suggest in this case, no smoke, no fire, because it can’t be done.

  146. Jane
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 12:11:57

    @Blue Tyson When you say you want information, what exact information are you looking for? Brian O’Leary’s study has shown that piracy affects authors like Nora Roberts far more than it affects the new to midlist author. In fact, O’Leary’s study shows that new to midlist authors likely experience a bump in sales but the bigger name, more successful authors suffer the most in terms of actual dollars.

    There are studies being done, albeit it maybe not enough of them.

    Authors shouldn’t be required to divulge personal information regarding their income stream just to satisfy doubters regarding the affects of piracy and I don’t think it’s inappropriate of them to deny access to that information.

  147. Scumbag
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 12:22:49

    @Patricia Briggs:
    “It is more like someone I really don't like decided to take a nap in my bed -‘ call me hysterical if you want to, but I like my readers. We share “the second most intimate thing that two people can do”. I don't want to do that with scumbags.”

    I’ve been such a huge fan of yours since the first Mercy book I read and I’ve always admired how you and your husband interacted with your fans. You seem friendly but professional at the same time… just an all around class act and good people. I took great pleasure in buying all of your books including your anthology and your latest Mercy book that was in hardcover, even though it is more money than I usually can spend on a book, and I really didn’t have the room for it. So it really hurts to read what you think of me when I had nothing but respect for you. Don’t worry, I won’t be buying or reading your books anymore so that’s one less scumbag you have to worry about.

  148. GrowlyCub
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 12:32:34

    @hapax:

    I’ve been successfully downloading Overdrive audiobooks for a couple of years now and am super grateful that our library in a town of 7000 is able to participate in this state-wide program. I drive a lot and long-distance, so the library audiobooks really, really come in handy or should that be ear-y? :)

    What state are you in? I’m in TN. It’s depressing to hear how difficult it is to implement this. I’ve yet to download any library books onto my Sony 505, but I’ve talked with several people who’ve done it successfully. I hope it becomes more common as the issues are hopefully worked out.

    Thanks for providing insight from the library point of view! Always helpful in these discussions.

  149. Blue Tyson
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 12:33:38

    143

    You know why the music industry suffered some of their problems though, don’t you? They wouldn’t supply what the public was asking for. That is, selling singles again at acceptable prices in open formats.

    They sued the makers of early mp3 players. That was brilliant. Everybody I knew back then called them stupid for doing so. We were right.

    So, despite enjoying a golden age of money making they didn’t strategise, plan, or adapt. No R&D from the market leaders with plenty of cash.

    Any of this resemble anything you can think of?

    If publishing is keen to follow that path, then good luck. They’ve certainly taken a turn to the crazy recently.

    I don’t think writing for money will go away at all. Multinational conglomerate publishers might disappear or shrink back, certainly.

    However, if someone’s magic wand waved and all publishers vanished this minute, there’d be professional level writers selling work on their own pretty soon afterwards. Lots of them, I’d imagine. :) Stephen King sells a couple of hundred thousand ebooks at $10.00 and keeps 80% – pretty sure that’d keep his barbie fired up. Jane Doe who was never a full-time type sells 2500 of them at $4 and keeps 75% still pays for plenty of beer and pizza. Etc. Sure, some would give up.

    I saw U2’s manager write one of the ‘Oh Noes, no more global megastars with their own castles and fleets of planes’ type plaintive missives to go along with your Rowling one. Why would anyone care that isn’t one of their publishers?

  150. Nora Roberts
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 12:34:25

    ~You also believe that corporations have a right to exist and have their current business models continue to work the same as before~

    I don’t believe I said this, and in fact said I hoped a way could and would be found to serve all parties involved.

    I don’t understand the meaning of this ‘code of silence’. I’m not in a code or in consultation on policies with others on this. I don’t choose to discuss the specifics of my finances with strangers–which is exactly what you are. I don’t know you.

    And no, I’m not associated with any media company. If you are equating my publisher with the media, I’d again have to disagree.

    I don’t have a theory. Piracy affects my sales figures.

    It’s as ridiculous for you to demand I prove this by arranging for studies and revealing my personal finances as it is for me to demand you prove piracy doesn’t affect my sales figures.

    And really, the fact that we don’t agree on this point doesn’t excuse you saying I’m selfish and inconsiderate–we’ll leave as greedy as that was only implied.

    I have not used insulting words to you, or accused you of anything, yet you continue to do so to me. Therefore, actual discussion isn’t possible.

  151. liz m
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 12:40:21

    @Scumbag:

    So it really hurts to read what you think of me when I had nothing but respect for you. Don't worry, I won't be buying or reading your books anymore so that's one less scumbag you have to worry about.

    She’s not talking about you, if what you say is true and you purchase her books. She’s pretty clear about it being those who illegally offer and download her books. Briggs was clear that she loves her readers and she hates thieves.

    I think it’s ok to call pirates scumbags. I have some other words too, but I dunno what the filter is here.

  152. Jane
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 12:44:48

    @Scumbag I hardly see Briggs calling you any names. She was very heartfelt in her response. I’m surprised that you would react so negatively to one small comment she made when the entire course of your interaction with her has been very positive.

  153. Likari
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 12:53:13

    @Scumbag:

    I thought the analogy of someone you don’t like taking a nap in your bed was perfect.

    It’s creepy. It’s somebody getting into someone else’s intimate space without permission. Boo-hoo, scumbag, if your feelings are hurt because Patricia Briggs or any author doesn’t like it when you do that to her.

  154. Blue Tyson
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 13:00:26

    146

    Jane,

    Again, I never said anyone should be required to do anything.

    I did say, more than once, that perhaps it would be a good idea to do so from a public relations point of view. To elucidate further, if you have a case study/example that has names and faces and maybe well known authors and books attached then you have a more interesting story, do you not? Americans seem to love their human interest schmaltz, after all.

    Or,

    News item : Publisher say lots of downloading is bad.
    General public : Who gives a crap? Change the channel. Did you bittorrent Top Gear for me?

    as opposed to

    Next on really popular credible interviewer show : Famous Person X on struggles with internet piracy and the effects on their career. Where are they at now?

    The O’Leary thing sure – wasn’t that about O’Reilly data and someone else tracking the suvudu free library? e.g. publishers _still_ not stepping up after all this time. Same refusal/secrecy/denial?

    It is again fairly limited as far as I remember. So you cut down King and company a bit, and maybe some others towards the right tail a tiny amount, and boost the middle some and the other end – what’s the overall effect? Does it make authors more money as a group? That’s the important thing isn’t it, not a few individual outliers? What about publishers?

    Someone else mentioned comparisons with other elements further up.

    Overall, don’t you think it is pretty staggering they don’t analyse their own (rather large) industry?

  155. Jane
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 13:04:07

    @Blue Tyson I have to run but I found your previous posts (not all of them, but the ones today) fairly demanding and I did not see you state that you think it would be a good idea PR wise.

  156. Scumbag
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 13:14:21

    I guess I react so negatively because I pirate books and now that I know how she feels about me there’s no way I can still enjoy her books.

    And yes my feelings were hurt but I’m over it and like everyone has pointed out so clearly I’m scum and you don’t want scum reading or buying your books. I’ve been an absolute idiot trying to make sure I didn’t deprive any author the money they deserve if I would have bought their book but that’s easily corrected.

  157. CD
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 13:14:51

    The people here at DearAuthor are not pirates. They are book lovers, like me, who are much less ignorant about the publishing business than the average reader. Which is why it feels like a betrayal when the people here tar us with the “greedy author” brush and call us, as a whole, hysterical when we, admittedly, whine about pirates.

    I don’t really think anyone here thinks that authors are “greedy” or “selfish” – granted, I’ve skimmed through most of these comments but I didn’t get that impression. From what I can see, the complaints are largely about DRM/outdated business models, ease of access geographically and the price of ebooks compared to print. My knowledge of the publishing industry is virtually nil but I’m pretty sure that most individual authors have very little power over any of these things – even regarding the ridiculous prices charged for these ebooks compared to print. I would think that most authors would agree that charging the same amount, for even more, for an ebook as for a physical book is ridiculous.

    In terms of the halcyon world that Nora Roberts was talking about, as others have said, we would get to that stage once we enter the “itunes” phase of the industry and eliminate DRM/geo restrictions and actually have prices that people do not think are completed unreasonable. Take away people’s motivations to pirate, and they won’t pirate; and you won’t have to call them “scumbags”, and everyone will be happy.

    However, I think we are going in circles with this discussion: it looks like one side is saying that piracy is hurtful (both emotionally and financially) and the other side is saying that the industry needs to change. I don’t see why the two are necessarily incompatible with each other even if we don’t fully agree with the details of each other’s arguments. Indeed, I think that that was the essence of Jane’s argument at the very top of this post.

    I suppose the basic question is that: if, as a reader, I agree that piracy hurts you (emotionally if nothing else), would you as authors agree that the ebook publishing industry needs to change? I’m asking this question not because I necessarily think you have the power to actually do anything about it (I don’t), but out of interest to see where we actually disagree.

  158. Margaret
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 13:17:25

    I find the issue of DRM like car insurance, everyone has to share the pain for the actions of the few.

  159. Likari
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 13:23:25

    @Scumbag:

    If you want to read free books, there’s a place for that. A place most (all?) authors think of as sacred.

    It’s called the library.

  160. Blue Tyson
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 13:26:35

    150

    If the suggestion of selfishness etc. upset you, then I apologise. It wasn’t intended to be directly personal. If your name was King or Tolkien or Meyer or anyone else, or even the lot at once I would have asked the same question

    Ok then, numbers are a secret.

    So, how did you discover piracy affects sales? By what method? How did you notice? How did you know it was that, and not general lower booksales (e.g. current conditions means less interest in hardbacks, if they were all hardbacks, or whatever) or possible declining interest in your books? Were they generally available as ebooks to buy at the time this was happening? Etc.

    Those are completely non-financial and non-numeric questions. :)

    Nothing to do with media companies is pretty funny, though. :-

    “Pearson is an international media company with market-leading businesses in education, business information, and consumer publishing.”

    http://us.penguingroup.com/static/pages/aboutus/index.html

    Pretty sure ‘signed contract with’ means you have an association.

  161. Nora Roberts
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 13:37:31

    ~However, I think we are going in circles with this discussion: it looks like one side is saying that piracy is hurtful (both emotionally and financially) and the other side is saying that the industry needs to change. I don't see why the two are necessarily incompatible with each other even if we don't fully agree with the details of each other's arguments.~

    I absolutely agree with this.

  162. Blue Tyson
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 13:44:17

    155

    Jane,

    As far as demanding goes, I did ask do you have any examples etc. That’s hardly demanding. I didn’t even demand it of the Old fashioned Penguins! :)

    I never demanded financial information. An example could have been – a couple of recent books appeared to perform 5% worse, or ‘a group of recent novels seemed to have a moderate decrease in sales.” Or, this is how I worked out I was doing worse. Hardly a request for expenses claimed on book tours or anything. Proof may been seen as such I suppose. Responses seemed very defensive for a simple question of general interest? Smelled of the politician ‘standard response’ type reply, actually.

    As far as the PR angle :- “presenting information that can sway readers to your side”

    and

    I actually even mentioned it here :- “3) That the actual evidence if you have any suggests the opposite of what you state, in general. i.e. that the top end sales reduce, but the large majority go up. This would then be a good thing for the population of authors at large, and the public, but doesn't suit the chase the megabestseller model from a PR point of view.”

    or later :-

    “(or probably even get done for pretty much nothing other than maybe some favorable PR or a work placement) some independent research that can demonstrate your case to opinion makers and the public?”

    I would have thought that was fairly clear, really. If not, I will state such more obviously in future if necessary.

  163. Likari
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 13:46:38

    @Blue Tyson:

    Your posts struck me as demanding.

  164. Nora Roberts
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 13:52:07

    ~So, how did you discover piracy affects sales?~

    When both my publisher and my agent tell me piracy has cut into my sales–front and back list–I believe they know what they’re talking about.

    When I see hundreds and hundreds of thousands of illegal downloads of my work regularly on torrent sites, it’s reasonable to assume a percentage of those would have been purchased by legal means if those sites didn’t engage in this practice. And when associated message boards contained many gleeful comments about saving the price of the books, advising others not to buy as the book will be available there, others asking for it to be put up so they don’t have to shell out the dough for it, it again seems reasonable to assume the result of lost sales.

    Hundreds and hundreds of thousands of sales per site? Certainly not, but a percentage of them. And with my body of work, and the astonishing amount of illegal downloads of it, certainly a percentage.

    I am a writer who signs contracts with Putnam which is a publishing arm of Pearson. I have nothing to do with their media, their business or educational arms. It’s really, really reaching to equate me with the media when what I do is write fiction, period. Does their statement including their being a leader in education make me a teacher because I sign a publishing contract with Putnam?

    I’ve done my best here to remain courteous, and I’m just not sure I can keep it up, so you and I will just have to disagree on this issue. It’s really not going to make much difference to you, imo, how I answer any of your questions or demands.

  165. liz m
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 14:16:24

    @Scumbag:

    I guess I react so negatively because I pirate books … I've been an absolute idiot trying to make sure I didn't deprive any author the money they deserve if I would have bought their book but that's easily corrected.

    How do these two go together? Why do you pirate books if you are also concerned about people being paid for their work? I’m seriously asking, not piling on. How do you personally justify pirating to the extent that you’re upset that someone would not condone you doing so?

  166. Maili
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 14:29:15

    @Expecting to be chewed out
    It sounds as if you’d make an ideal user for the Overdrive or an online ebook library. In your view, what would make it worth your time? For instance, how long should an average lending period be, and how many ebooks per account each time?

    Considering what you said in your post, you’re actually not that keen on being an ebook reader, isn’t there a mobile book library in your region?

    Yet, for my friends that buy books, I converted them, and THEY bought books, as in more than one person bought the same copy of the one book I recommended. Does that help ease the pain a little?

    From my POV, yes a little, but I think if you came across a good book, it’d be awesome if you’d write a review for a major review site including Amazon.

    To be honest, it would be a lot better – since you’re not an ebook reader by choice – if you dump the pirated books and become a book reviewer.

    You could have ARCs posted to your home, and you don’t have to read on your computer any more. Earn your books by reviewing them on your blog or for a review blog. It’s a win-win, surely?

  167. Jane
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 14:55:34

    @Blue Tyson I don’t think that there would be any study or any amount of data that would convince you piracy results in some amount of loss sales for content creators. I think the tone of your posts are highly combative and defensive and I even agree with some of your points. If I were on the other side of this issue, I could not conceive of entering into a discussion with you, not because you are such a great advocate but because your hostility seeps through every post.

    Let me add that this might just be a matter of the internet and not being able to communicate without body language but it’s how the tone of the comments come off to me.

  168. Jane
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 14:56:05

    @Scumbag I’m astounded that you think we should feel sorry for you.

  169. Maili
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 15:09:24

    @Jane

    I agree that we could all learn to use less hyperbolic accusatory terms. I will endeavor to do so in the future and I would hope other commenters (including authors) will do so in the future as well.

    Agreed.

    And sometimes it’s not a good idea to make it personal, either. When an author says, “You’re taking food out of my children’s mouths!”, “Can’t you see how you’re hurting me?!” or similar, some may see this as emotional blackmail and ignore it.

    To be honest, people of the romance genre do have a reputation for using their emotions (and sometimes, children) to guilt / slam readers for different reasons (bad reviews, piracy, libaries, sales of ARCs, Mean Girls, plagiarism, etc.).

    Actually – in last ten years, some authors have shouted ‘Thief!’ to at least six groups: library users, ARC sellers, people who read books inside bookshops like Borders; print book sharers, used book sellers, and ebook readers (illegal or not).

    I think this is why some readers tune it out when an author makes an issue a personal matter instead of addressing the actual issues, listening to some readers, or finding practical and productive solutions that work for all.

    That said, this should apply to people who obtain books illegally as well. Nothing in life can justify what you’re doing, even if your reasons make sense. :/

  170. Maili
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 15:20:49

    @Scumbag

    I guess I react so negatively because I pirate books and now that I know how she feels about me there's no way I can still enjoy her books.

    And yes my feelings were hurt but I'm over it and like everyone has pointed out so clearly I'm scum and you don't want scum reading or buying your books. I've been an absolute idiot trying to make sure I didn't deprive any author the money they deserve if I would have bought their book but that's easily corrected.

    Sorry, but I’m laughing at your post. Do you honestly believe that authors would be nice and calm when they find out you’ve been pirating books? :D

    And do you really think you’re doing some authors a favour by not touching their books at pirate sites? Come on.

    That’s like saying, “I burgle some houses, but I don’t burgle all houses, but my feelings are hurt because some have been bad-mouthing burglars. How dare they? I’ll rob their houses after all.” :D

  171. Nora Roberts
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 16:33:21

    ~That's like saying, “I burgle some houses, but I don't burgle all houses, but my feelings are hurt because some have been bad-mouthing burglars. How dare they? I'll rob their houses after all.” :D ~

    I just have to say, this is a particularly wonderful post.

  172. Bonnie
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 16:55:34

    I just need to understand this:

    Is there anyone here who thinks it’s acceptable to steal ebooks? Under any circumstances? Ever?

  173. Mary
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 17:33:55

    @Nora
    First I have to say that I have the greatest respect for your writing and have enjoyed purchasing and reading your books over the years. I don’t support or agree with pirating, but I understand some of the issues behind it. Now here comes the hard part.

    1. Just like some readers are pirates, some authors ARE greedy and selfish. Look at Stephen King who charges 3.5 times the amount for an ebook compared to a hardcover. If that isn’t greedy and selfish, then I have a multimillion dollar nigerian inheritance you might be interested in hearing about.

    2. You say you don’t really understand DRM. This ignorance is inexcusable. Your product that you hope to sell is DRM’d. Thus, it is your responsibility to understand it inside and out. Any business needs to know everything about its products. Maybe if you actually took the time to learn about the issues underlying the problems honest readers face, then you could, as an international bestseller, help fix the system so that authors and readers win and pirates loose.

  174. Nonny
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 17:52:55

    @Mary:

    Authors do not decide price points for e-books. That’s the publisher’s decision. It does not make the author greedy or selfish.

  175. Bonnie
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 18:02:08

    1. Just like some readers are pirates, some authors ARE greedy and selfish. L . ook at Stephen King who charges 3.5 times the amount for an ebook compared to a hardcover. If that isn't greedy and selfish, then I have a multimillion dollar nigerian inheritance you might be interested in hearing about

    Sorry, but I just checked Amazon, and Stephen King’s new ebook Under the Dome is the same price as the hardcover – $9.00. Which, by the way, is cheaper than Nora Roberts new paperback.

  176. Moriah Jovan
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 18:14:56

    I must admit I’m having issues with the “greedy” authors business. Even if they *did* set the price (which they don’t), people will pay them. That doesn’t make them greedy. It makes them knowledgeable about what they’re worth in the marketplace.

    That said, I do agree that authors who have digital products on the market should know about them and the problems and joys that e-book readers find in this medium.

  177. Bonnie
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 18:21:08

    It really is annoying. Clearly ebooks do not cost as much to produce as paper books. So why rob the consumer?

  178. Moriah Jovan
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 18:22:12

    @Bonnie:

    Actual cost of production is irrelevant to the argument.

    However, if one were to break down the cost of production of an e-book, I can tell you from my own experience that it is, perhaps only 25% less than the cost of a print book.

    It is because the market perceives the cost to be much less that a publisher is almost forced to price it below its actual value, which is content and convenience.

    And when I said I was having issues with the “greedy” authors business, I meant that I find calling authors greedy annoying.

  179. Bonnie
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 18:28:47

    @Moriah Jovan:

    Actual cost of production is irrelevant to the argument.

    Not when it’s my money. And certainly not when I don’t own the book outright.

  180. Mary
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 18:29:02

  181. Likari
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 18:31:56

    @Bonnie:

    Diamonds are priced a lot higher than their “cost” also. Why don’t I just steal some diamonds, too?

    It really is annoying. Clearly ebooks do not cost as much to produce as paper books. So why rob the consumer?

    This makes no sense. Cost of production is only one factor in pricing. Of anything.

  182. Likari
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 18:32:57

    @Bonnie:

    Not wanting to pay the price being charged is not justification for stealing.

  183. Jane
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 18:33:54

    @Likari Ebooks should be priced less because the consumer has less rights to it. I don’t think its stealing to want to, as a consumer, value for your money.

  184. Jane
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 18:34:49

    @Mary When the first news reports came out, the price of the ebook was $35.00. The retail price of that may have declined, but when it was first reported, it was $35.00

  185. Jane
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 18:36:08

    @Likari Also? Copyright infringement is not stealing and I wish we would stop using those terms. The Supreme Court clearly stated that it is not a theft because it doesn’t deprive the copyright owner of the ability to exercise her intellectual property. IP is not the same as real property and therefore terms like “theft” and “stealing” associated with copyright infringement is simply erroneous and hyperbolic.

  186. Moriah Jovan
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 18:37:40

    @Bonnie:

    Not owning the book outright is a legitimate concern with regard to price.

    Cost of production isn’t.

  187. Bonnie
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 18:39:29

    @Likari:
    Not wanting to pay the price being charged is not justification for stealing.

    Oh, no! Of course not. I never meant that. I would never do that.

    All I mean is, you can go on all night about the cost of ebooks as opposed to print books and I simply will never believe that ebooks cost as much to produce. Period.

    Sorry, I just don’t believe it. That’s where I feel ripped off.

  188. Jane
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 18:41:58

    @Moriah Jovan If consumer expectation is that ebooks should be lower because the costs of production are lower, consumer expectation will win that war.

  189. Moriah Jovan
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 18:45:15

    @Jane

    Yes. Unfortunately. A book is a wee bit more than paper, ink, glue, storage, and shipping.

  190. AQ
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 18:46:12

    2. You say you don't really understand DRM. This ignorance is inexcusable. Your product that you hope to sell is DRM'd. Thus, it is your responsibility to understand it inside and out. Any business needs to know everything about its products. Maybe if you actually took the time to learn about the issues underlying the problems honest readers face, then you could, as an international bestseller, help fix the system so that authors and readers win and pirates loose.

    @Mary: Completely unfair. Why does an author need to understand DRM? Their job isn’t to understand the ins or outs technical of computer software or even to understand the difficulties that readers have getting her products. By that measure all the musicians of the world should also understand and advocate against drm in the music industry instead of making music.

    I think it’s great that Nora’s engaged and is willing to discuss this issue on forums like DA and learn about the difficulties that readers are having but it is NOT her responsibility to carry the banner on this issue and anyone asking her to become an advocate for all readers and authors out there is completely out of line.

    She has NO control over the decisions that publishers and resellers make regarding DRM or pricing or anything else that relates the publishing business model and quite frankly I’m sick of this argument being thrown at her and other authors like her when they appear on these forums.

    Let me say it again because I’m ticked off by the comment: It’s not Nora’s job to fix the publishing world or the reseller world. Just like it’s not Stephen King’s job to adjust the price of his e-book, especially when Wal-Mart, Amazon and others are using the hardcover book as a freaking loss leader.

    Nora’s job (Stephen King’s job and all the other authors out there) is to write stories that provide quality entertainment/value for their audience and get paid to do it. That’s their job. Period.

    And, Jane and others, I apologize if you find my tone a little loud but I find it very upsetting when the shoulds and it’s your responsibility because you’re a best selling author comments come out.

  191. Bonnie
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 18:47:01

    Hahaha… I didn’t realize what a stink I would start.

    Sorry, I never meant to condone stealing in my post. At All!

    My point was, why would anyone think it’s okay to steal an ebook. Ever!
    Regardless of what’s going on in the industry.

    I wouldn’t do it.

  192. Mary
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 18:47:08

    @Nonny:

    Sorry Nonny, that may be true for most authors, but Stephen King has a major influence and control of his product pricing (you can google riding the bullet if you want to see an example of his control)

  193. Fizzybook
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 18:54:32

    I feel that with ebooks I’m not buying a physical product, I am buying the right to read the story. As such I don’t expect cover art or the ability to lend it to other people but I do expect to be charged less than a physical book. I’m going to need a very compelling justification for ebooks to be priced similiarily to their physical counterparts to continue my love affair with fictionwise (it’s still love, although it’s begining to feel like an abusive relationship.)

  194. Bonnie
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 18:55:00

    Sorry Bonnie, but you are wrong, that price is for the hardcover, not the ebook. See here for multiple sources that have reported this ripoff:

    Sorry Mary. I only checked Amazon, as I have a Kindle and that’s the only place I buy ebooks.

  195. Nonny
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 18:59:08

    @Mary:

    That may be true for Stephen King, and I really don’t know or care if it actually is. I don’t particularly feel like spending my evening in Google. However, the comment about how “authors are greedy” does imply that if Stephen King has control over price points, then most authors do also, and that is incredibly misleading.

    Maybe the top bestsellers like King or Patterson or Rowling or Brown have the ability to set the price points on e-book. But the vast majority of authors do not… to the point that I would imagine the percentage of authors who have the ability to set their e-book price points is probably well under 1%.

    To suggest that “some” authors are “greedy and selfish” by that small of a margin is horribly unfair.

  196. Mary
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 18:59:43

    @AQ:

    Sorry AQ, but it is the author’s responsibility to understand DRM. Any belief otherwise is ignorant. Selling a book is the same as selling any other product and the owner of the IP is responsible for understanding how the product is formatted and sold wrapped in DRM. Besides, it’s not like earning a university degree – all it takes is an hour or so of simple reading to learn about DRM. Surely an author can read about it since all the readers out there have to learn it.

  197. Nora Roberts
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 19:11:03

    ~She has NO control over the decisions that publishers and resellers make regarding DRM or pricing or anything else that relates the publishing business model and quite frankly I'm sick of this argument being thrown at her and other authors like her when they appear on these forums.~

    Thank you, AQ.

    And for the record, I have no intention of trying to learn the ins and outs of DRM as I don’t use an e-reader, am not a techie and have no real clue how my computer works though I manage to use it every day.

    I have no intention of trying to fix the system. I intend to write books. I think maybe I’d better intend not to enter into this sort of discussion again because, frankly, I’m sick of having this argument and attitude thrown at me when I do.

    As always, for some, trying to understand the other view points isn’t enough. Sympathizing with some of those view points even when not in complete agreement isn’t enough. Being courteous in discussion isn’t enough.

    It somehow becomes my responsibility, to someone like Mary, to not only know fine details of some technical business I don’t use, simply because it’s used by my publisher. And my responsibility to try to fix the problems she and others have with the current methods of publishing–which I have NO influence over whatsoever.

    I have a job. My job is to write books. I have a family who needs and deserves my time and energies. I have a genuine interest in readers, their opinions and their expectations, but I do not owe a reader anything but the best book I can write and courtesy in discourse.

    Finally, whether or not King has any control over the pricing of his books–paper or e–I do not. Nor have I ever demanded to. I leave those decisions to my publisher.

    I write the books. Period. If that’s not enough for you, Mary, I really have to say that’s your problem as it’s not going to change. But you might consider if, as you said, you’ve enjoyed my work, it may be in part because I stick to my job, and leave the business of publishing to publishers.

  198. Bonnie
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 19:12:58

    @Mary:

    Well, it’s the author’s responsibility or hiring someone they trust that does.

    Honestly, I don’t get it.

  199. Isla
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 19:15:30

    @Moriah Jovan: Can you explain how producing an ebook is only 25% less then produce a Hardcover, MM or Trade book? I’d honestly like to know why that is. Thanks

  200. Bonnie
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 19:18:15

    I “heart” you Nora. :D

  201. Nora Roberts
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 19:23:15

    And sorry, Mary, it is NOT my responsibility to learn about DRM because you say so.

    If it were, I believe my agent and or publisher would have urged me to do so by now as they are intimately involved in my career–oh, and probably, just maybe, know a bit more about publishing than you.

    And I am not ignorant.

    Your opinion is your opinion, but you do not express this as opinion.

    And it is just this sort of attitude that again, and again, and again, turns me off the entire e-industry–which is very, very unfair, but–I think–human.

    I am so freaking tired of being slapped over this issue. Why do you suppose I would engage my interest or sympathies when you call me ignorant and tell me what I should do, how I should run my career, how I should spend my time?

    All it does is put my back up.

    And now I’m stepping away from the keyboard (don’t really know how that works either) because it’s obvious my grip on courtesy is slipping.

  202. liz m
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 19:36:48

    @Nora Roberts:

    how I should run my career

    Just think, you could be successful. One day. If you keep…. writing? Wait, no! If you start doing what your publishers are paid to do, which is market your writing! Yes! Stop writing now!

    Woman, what are you thinking?

    All of that said, yes, I do wish more people who discuss this topic understood this topic more fully, but thats the internets folks, and there is plenty of Oh I Didn’t Know That to go around without slinging the hash at the higher profile conversees. (Is conversees a word or just something I wore waaaay past high school?)

  203. Moriah Jovan
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 19:40:25

    @Isla

    The biggest expenses of producing a book have to do with acquiring and editing the work, hiring a graphic artist–and those are sunk costs whether you put it in print or not. Add in the cost for e-book formatting (if you want to not sell crap formatting that’s hard to read), web server space, the cost of building a shopping cart and/or factoring in the punitive cuts places like Amazon, Fictionwise, and Books on Board take, and it adds up fast.

  204. AQ
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 19:41:00

    Mary. Do you understand how many different version of DRM are out there? How it differs from publisher to publisher? Reseller to reseller? It would take a lot longer than an hour to learn the ins and out of DRM. Just like it would take a lot longer once you start considering all the different devices such as Kindle vs. Sony vs. an ebook reader vs. a laptop vs. an iphone and so on.

    After an author learns about e-book drm should they then look into the drm found on audio books? What about the difficulties readers have had using netbooks and the overdrive lending systems used by libraries? Should they become knowledgeable in that area as well?

    Where in the world are you going to draw the line on what authors should know and then once they know those ins and outs what exactly are they supposed to do: refuse to fulfill a contract until the publisher caves into their demands? What if it’s not the publisher but the distributor who’s putting the DRM in place? Or the proprietary device owner/reseller like Amazon’s Kindle? Should the author then try to tell the publisher that they can’t sell the book through that reseller/distributor?

    What about the authors who aren’t really engaged with the Internet. Yes, there are still authors like that out there. Google some of the heated discussion for the science fiction / fantasy writers guild and you’ll have some understanding of the split between the computer savvy authors and those basically using a computer as a typewriter. Should these same authors also be responsible for learning about DRM?

    And let’s say that an author did decide to carry this banner for readers: How might carrying this banner affect an author? Would a publisher / reseller /distributor give into Nora’s demands just because of who she is? Did I hear a yes from you? Really, truly. Without ANY ramifications to her career?

    That’s asking a lot when this issue really is a reader issue. Readers vote with their pocketbooks. Readers can band together and start a physical letters to the publishers and resellers. If readers feel this strongly about then start a movement and once that movement is large enough and loud enough so that publishers have to pay attention then you can ask authors to add their voices. Otherwise you’re asking authors to assume the risk and go up about the publishing establishment on your behalf and quite frankly that’s not fair because if the author does that and is knocked down it won’t affect you because you’ll just read stories from a different author. The impact to you is putting minor and when you consider how tiny the current digital market is to bestselling author’s bottomline at the moment. I just don’t see how the assumption of risk by Nora or any other author of her caliber is worth it.

    If you seriously want authors to buck the publishing model and would personally put yourself at similar risk in your chosen career then do something that justifies authors taking that kind of stand. Right now you’re asking for the moon and giving nothing in return.

    Edited to add: Ah frak, I noticed a bunch of mistakes, started to correct them but frak it all because they are there to stay.

  205. Bonnie
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 19:41:41

    Just think, you could be successful. One day.

    Nah… never happen. Flash in the pan.

  206. Isla
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 19:50:25

    @Moriah Jovan: Thank you. I guess I’d never thought about the cost of producing ebooks in those terms, and I’m guessing a lot of other ebook purchasers haven’t either.

  207. Moriah Jovan
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 19:53:12

    @Isla:

    You’re welcome. Always happy to clarify things. :)

  208. Jane
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 19:54:18

    @Nora Roberts This is where I was last week after a day long drubbing by authors that ebook readers were thieves and readers weren’t doing enough to stop piracy and that I was anti author and bla bla bla bla. The e industry is no more one person or a few people who are accusatory and unreasonable just as the authors are not accusatory and unreasonable as a whole.

  209. Robin
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 20:05:11

    I promised myself I wasn’t going to comment on this thread, but you know what they say about good intentions…

    re. the new King book, the publisher set the price, but King supported the delayed release of the digital version. If anyone’s greedy here in setting the ebook price at $35 (with retailers offering deep discounts), it’s the publishers, IMO (another reason I think the ABA is COMPLETELY wrong-headed in targeting large retailers). Although obviously powerhouse authors do have influence, and King has unabashedly said he supports the delay because he thinks it will be good for bookstores. To which I can only say that IMO once again some folks are misunderstanding the nature of the ebook market and clinging to an illusion of format cannibalization.

    As for authors’ alleged greed, I actually think everyone would benefit if authors were, as a whole, *more* knowledgeably engaged in all of the nuances of how their income on various rights is earned, how the sales of those rights affects the availability of their work, and what their various options are relative to contracting with publishers (i.e. what’s really negotiable and what isn’t). I am always befuddled when I see authors indicate that they don’t need to understand the ins and outs of their royalty structures. Maybe I’m wrong here, but it seems as if it’d be more important for an author to know how her earnings are calculated and distributed than how many of her books are downloaded on pirate sites. Only one of those things is at least partially controllable by the author, if not in her current contract, hopefully in future ones.

    In any case, authors are contracting parties, just as publishers are, and why shouldn’t they try to get as much as possible for their work? Of course, how *valuable* an author’s work is deemed by the publisher and the market will vary, but I don’t begrudge authors looking out for their financial interests or being pissed about those things that impede maximum benefit to them. That doesn’t mean I’ll see that work as possessing the same value, but that’s the great thing about the free market — I can choose not to read an author’s work, or I can buy a book used or get it at the library if I find its price to be too high for me.

    I do, though, think it’s futile to pour more attention into those things that are and will probably always be largely uncontrollable than into those things that are within the author or publisher’s control. And I think this is where a lot of us take issue with some of the piracy comments (well, that, and the accuracy and suspicion issues). Still, when I see Patricia Briggs explain her concerns and then someone who pirates books basically blaming her because she doesn’t respect pirates, it’s extremely frustrating, even for someone like me who believes that the key is to disincentivize piracy, not to fear digital books and further impair readers’ rights.

    Also, here’s a summary of the case law for the point Jane referenced above re. how SCOTUS distinguishes the language of stealing from copyright infringement. There are so many terms that get hyperbolized and conflated in these discussions, including breach of contract (i.e. one party breaks the terms of a contract made with another party), infringement, and illegality (i.e. stealing). Just because someone breaches a contract does not make their actions illegal. For example, readers purchasing Kindles and Kindle books have a contract with Amazon, and as long as they abide by that contract (aka the Terms of Service), they are doing what they’re supposed to be doing relative to that contract i.e. Amazon, which has contracted with publishers, has given them permission to share books in a specific, limited way). I think it would help if we could reduce the inflammation around copyright discussions, which is why I think the Supreme Court’s logic in differentiating theft from infringement is worth understanding, even if you don’t like it.

    Although I agree with those who have said that readers and authors should be natural allies, on this issue I’m not sure that’s the case. Authors want to get the most they can for their work, and readers will value that work relative to their own priorities and reading tastes. That doesn’t mean we need to be enemies, but we may have to accept that there’s a more inherently competitive relationship between us on this particular issue.

  210. CD
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 20:06:06

    A book is a wee bit more than paper, ink, glue, storage, and shipping.

    I agree with that entirely. But how exactly is the production of an ebook as expensive (or even more) than the production of a physical book? You don’t have bookstores, physical materials, storage, shipping, or even cover art for the most part. As as consumer, when you see that ebooks are being priced the same or more than a physical book, it’s pretty difficult not to feel that you’re being ripped off. And that’s not even addressing the fact that DRM restrictions make ebooks into an inferior product.

    I must admit I'm having issues with the “greedy” authors business. Even if they *did* set the price (which they don't), people will pay them. That doesn't make them greedy. It makes them knowledgeable about what they're worth in the marketplace.

    I don’t think anyone is calling authors greedy – there may be exceptions but I’ve never thought that authors themselves have any real control over the price of their products. Or the formats. Or the geo restrictions. I think being an author is probably one of THE most unlucrative professions I can think of so do admire anyone willing to do it because that takes drive and commitment. It also takes a lot more courage than I would have!

    Going back to the argument, I do agree with your comment but in my eyes, extensive piracy is actually a pretty clear indication that many consumers do not agree with the prices set in the market.

    As I mentioned previously, I feel that the publishing industry as a whole is basically asking consumers to act more morally (or less “rationally” in economic terms) than themselves – there seems to be a double standard at work here. The industry can charge demonstrably unjustifiably high prices, can lock consumers to a format and (if Kindle) a vendor in perpetuity, can even reserve the right to take back the products that have been legally sold or otherwise refuse to grant access to those products anytime they wish. However, the consumer is then expected to ignore their own economic interest and purchase these products when alternatives are easily available with negligible consequences and COMPLETELY FREE.

    Quite apart from anything else, this is not sustainable. I think it says a lot about the inherent honesty and ethics of most readers that we do still do this despite knowing that we’re getting what you Americans would call a “bum deal”.

    As Jane and others have mentioned, the industry needs to rethink its business model if it’s serious about combatting piracy. Ranting and calling pirates names is not really going to help the situation – what needs to be done is to lower the incentives to pirate. As it is, my feeling is that the industry is actually begging us to pirate.

  211. Nora Roberts
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 20:10:26

    ~The e industry is no more one person or a few people who are accusatory and unreasonable just as the authors are not accusatory and unreasonable as a whole. ~

    Jane, I know you’re absolutely right. But for me, I can’t enter into one of these discussions–where I am interested in learning, and am concerned with readers’ opinions and expectations–without having one or more readers make it personal about me. I can’t express my own opinions or state my own case without having someone slap back at me.

    I’m greedy, I’m not doing enough–now add ignorant. I’m biased against e–even when I say again and again how glad I am readers have these choices–because I choose paper for my own reading entertainment. And so on.

    As unfair as it is for readers to be lumped in a ball, or authors to be considered The Borg, it’s also difficult to be continually signalled out by some with unreasonable demands, discourtesy, accusations whenever I try to participate in a discourse on e-books.

    I didn’t follow the drubbing last week you’re citing, but I bet by the end of it you were pretty pissed off.

  212. Jane
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 20:11:40

    @Nora Roberts Let’s just say I know exactly how you are feeling right now. I know that I need to learn to be more temperate in my reaction but lord it is hard. I wish I had pie. and ice cream.

  213. Moriah Jovan
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 20:17:01

    @CD:

    But how exactly is the production of an ebook as expensive (or even more) than the production of a physical book? You don't have bookstores, physical materials, storage, shipping, or even cover art for the most part. As as consumer, when you see that ebooks are being priced the same or more than a physical book, it's pretty difficult not to feel that you're being ripped off. And that's not even addressing the fact that DRM restrictions make ebooks into an inferior product.

    I answered most of this upthread, but geez, the thread’s getting exhausting, isn’t it?

    The biggest expenses of producing a book have to do with acquiring and editing the work, hiring a graphic artist-and those are sunk costs whether you put it in print or not. Add in the cost for e-book formatting (if you want to not sell crap formatting that's hard to read), web server space, the cost of building a shopping cart and/or factoring in the punitive cuts places like Amazon, Fictionwise, and Books on Board take, and it adds up fast.

    This is what I didn’t say upthread because it doesn’t apply to me and my situation: The traditional publishers who dip their toes in the waters of digital say it’s expensive because of DRM. Well, but the consumers don’t want it, so why are you putting it on there? Brings us back to square one of “e-book readers are thieves in embryo.”

    I don't think anyone is calling authors greedy

    Yeah, somebody upthread called authors greedy.

    Just like some readers are pirates, some authors ARE greedy and selfish. Look at Stephen King who charges 3.5 times the amount for an ebook compared to a hardcover.

    So, you know. I have to assume they said what they meant and meant what they said.

    However, the consumer is then expected to ignore their own economic interest and purchase these products when alternatives are easily available with negligible consequences and COMPLETELY FREE.

    The most rational answer for the consumer at that point is to either borrow from the library (which purchases at wholesale) or refuse to purchase. But we readers have this addiction to feed. ;)

  214. Bonnie
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 20:20:02

    Key-lime pie! Yes!

  215. CD
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 20:37:36

    @Moriah Jovan: It is getting exhausting!! I wrote the comment before I read your comment up-thread. My computer is pretty bad at refreshing I’m afraid.

    It clarifies the situation more but I still don’t think that it’s justifiable to charge the same amount for an ebook than you would for a physical book. However, I’m glad that we agree on DRM at least!

    Regarding rational choices, I’m sorry but I believe that the cold rational choice would be to pirate in that situation. The ethical choice would be to go to the library or go without. What I trying to get at in my post is that if consumer don’t feel that the publishing industry is acting ethically, even if it is actually legally, than that reduces our incentives to act ethically in return.

    That's asking a lot when this issue really is a reader issue. Readers vote with their pocketbooks.

    Or vote by piracy.

    Although I agree with those who have said that readers and authors should be natural allies, on this issue I'm not sure that's the case. Authors want to get the most they can for their work, and readers will value that work relative to their own priorities and reading tastes. That doesn't mean we need to be enemies, but we may have to accept that there's a more inherently competitive relationship between us on this particular issue.

    That is a good point. However, I think we both want a flourishing publishing industry but the devil’s obviously in the details. That’s why I think it would be useful to do a whole lot more research into this – seeing if the success of Baen and Samheim can be translated into more mainstream publications.

    And I want some pie too!!

  216. hapax
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 20:42:05

    @CD But how exactly is the production of an ebook as expensive (or even more) than the production of a physical book?

    Um. Are you aware that most publishers actually LOSE money on the vast majority of physical books — especially hardbacks? That they are subsidized in the most part by a few bestselling authors — the Kings, the Roberts, the Rowlings — and pbk sales?

    I’m not defending the marketing strategies of the publishers; I think it is an industry in desperate need of an overhaul, although I fear the repercussions if it comes by means of total collapse of the gatekeeping function the publishers have traditionally served.

    But honestly, it’s not exactly like most publishers are slurping caviar in the back of their Cadillacs whilst laughing at the travails of e-readers, either.

  217. Moriah Jovan
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 20:44:54

    @CD:

    Regarding rational choices, I'm sorry but I believe that the cold rational choice would be to pirate in that situation.

    Are rational and ethical mutually exclusive? Is it rational to take what one has not earned/bought, with the implication that he is entitled to that object? While I understand your distinction, I would have to disagree with that definition of “rational.”

  218. Tisienne
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 20:53:11

    Okay, I’ve been peeking in on this discussion all day and I wasn’t going to say anything. I truly wasn’t. And yet…

    Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not an author who tars all readers with the same brush. I firmly believe, much as the other authors who’ve commented here do (though they’re all far better known than I’ll ever likely be), that there is a HUGE difference between readers who buy my books and those who… acquire them through other means. (I’m also not opposed to my readers sharing a book between friends, but as someone else already said, there’s a big difference between sharing with 2 or 3 people and “sharing” with 200 or 300. It’s a question of DEGREE.)

    I honestly want to thank the majority of readers, of my and other peoples’ books, for being honorable and respectful of the work involved in producing even one book. That appreciation of the weird little worlds I create is amazing to me. It is.

    That being said, though… maybe I’m naive. Maybe I simply want to believe the best of people and that those who DO acquire and distribute my books through less than legitimate channels don’t really understand the effect their actions have on me, personally, on my life and my family.

    See, I’m one of those authors who spends time sending out take-down requests when I find my books being offered up to all comers like Halloween candy. I am. And yes, part of it is because I find it less than flattering that people like my work, but not enough to pay for it.

    Contrary to the seemingly pervasive opinion held by those who acquire and distribute my work in less than legitimate ways, I’m not rich. I don’t summer in the Hamptons between jetting about between my many homes. Most authors aren’t, and those that ARE have earned that, through hard work and honing their craft and being lucky, on top of it.

    So, at the risk of sounding “greedy,” I actually posted something about this a few days ago, here: http://tcblue.wordpress.com/blog/

    As I said above, this “Open Letter to Pirates” isn’t directed at the majority of readers, but toward those who may not realize exactly what an author puts into a book.

    I’m well aware of the fact that this may make me more of a target to those who are inclined toward having something for nothing. I’m aware that my words in that post might be less than kind and may be taken the wrong way by people the post isn’t aimed toward. I was rather angry when I wrote it, and I don’t apologize for that.

    Yes, the e-publishing industry isn’t perfect. Yes, some traditional publishing houses may be taking advantage of electronic media (and readers of e-books) by pricing in what seem odd ways even to me. But I’m not with a big publisher.

    I’m one author. Just one.

    Do I think pirating books is wrong? Of course I do. And not just because my work has wound up on so many unofficial and non-royalty-paying sites. For me, it’s more that it’s something I wouldn’t do and so I have difficulty with understanding how anyone else would feel otherwise. That some people do is obvious; however…

    I feel the way I feel about this issue. I don’t say everyone should or can agree with me. There is no “one true way.” I just wonder whether those who do acquire books through less than legitimate methods really understand the effect it has on the people who wrote those books… or how much time and effort goes into creating what they so gleefully acquire.

    And that’s pretty much all I have to say. Thanks for listening.

    ~Tis

  219. CD
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 20:54:49

    @Moriah Jovan: I think this is just an issue of semantics. When I say rational, I mean the definition of rationality in economic terms. That precludes ideas of entitlement or otherwise which are value judgements.

    But no, rational and ethical motives are not always mutually exclusives. The trick is to get the incentives in place so that it becomes rational to act ethically. Such as making sure that a product that you purchase legally is more desirable than a pirated copy.

  220. Moriah Jovan
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 20:58:54

    @CD:

    The trick is to get the incentives in place so that it becomes rational to act ethically.

    I’m going to have to think about that for a while.

  221. CD
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 20:59:35

    Um. Are you aware that most publishers actually LOSE money on the vast majority of physical books -‘ especially hardbacks? That they are subsidized in the most part by a few bestselling authors -‘ the Kings, the Roberts, the Rowlings -‘ and pbk sales?

    Well, if they are in that dire straits, then the industry obviously needs to shape up pretty quickly. If ebooks are the market of the future, then it becomes even more of an issue. Personally, I know a number of people who have been attracted by ebooks but then put off by the problems associated with them.

    Speaking personally, I’ve been spending almost twice as much on ebooks since I discovered how to strip DRM off the books that I purchased. And I haunt sites like Baen obsessively trying to find any excuse whatsoever to buy from them. And I don’t think I’m so unusual.

  222. AQ
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 21:00:29

    Or vote by piracy.

    @CD: Sure but one might argue that those individuals are already predisposed to piracy regardless of DRM or any other acquisition issues. If so, why should an author put themselves on the line for those same individuals as was being asked of Nora Roberts in the original string that I was responding to?

    A lot is being asked of the creator of the work, if the creator puts themselves on the line for their readers, even those readers who acquire those works through piracy, what can she/he expect from those readers in return?

  223. CD
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 21:16:33

    @AQ: Apologies, I believe you misunderstood me due to the way I quoted you. Pure laziness on my part for not making it clearer.

    I don’t think authors should put themselves on the line – I know very little about the publishing industry but I’m pretty sure that authors have very little say in those decisions. All I meant was that readers were already in a sense “voting” by pirating. Not to most effective way of conveying a message to the industry to be sure, but it is there to be heard.

  224. Blue Tyson
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 21:28:14

    167

    Jane,

    That’s a pretty blind assumptive leap, given I have said I can be, so you are wrong, there.

    Not sure how asking for evidence equates with being defensive. I have nothing to defend. Unless you are suggesting that to look at what you are told critically and analytically is defensive. If what you mean is always being anti-DRM and georestrictions is defensive, then fair cop, I’ll wear that one, no problem. If conditions stay as they are then I’ll be buying very few books from publishers like Penguin, because I can’t. The existence or non-existence of publishers that are now of no personal interest only matters in a general sense. I have particular favorite authors like anyone else (and like other people, some chunk of mine are dead). Exactly none of them are the outlier Patterson/Rowling class etc. I might read the occasional book of this lot, but if they all disappeared I pretty much wouldn’t notice (yes, that unlikely event would have industry effects). I like King, but only short stories – haven’t read a novel of his for many years, and you can always get him at a library, anyway if I do decide to read the Dark Tower books that are novels and not collections.

    I actually hadn’t thought about it before, but if what is happening economically funnels money to the authorial class who include my favorite writers, then that is what I should be defending – which would be the status quo? I think we both agree though that no DRM or restrictions will increase sales for everyone, which is a good thing everybody. From Roberts through Briggs and tomorrow’s first book author.

    The study you mentioned earlier is some evidence – evidence that overall it is a good thing for authors, generally speaking.

    Certain circumstances are always going to be detrimental to some authors, of course. Whether that is advertising, economic conditions, type of book they write, format it is produced in or whatever.

    Geographical restrictions definitely has to lower sales at any given point in time (and increased downloading of free). If some bigger selling authors are noticing worse results now that could be the problem, for example. This is a fairly significant recent development. As opposed to what was happening a year ago when things were different and it was easier to buy books. This is conflated with more people being interested in all the new tech, of course.

    I also said, more than once, that given what I know I am inclined to believe it can affect the right tail end detrimentally. Which is also the opposite of ‘can never be convinced’.

    Tim O’Reilly also said quite a while ago ‘piracy is progressive taxation’ as I recall – a suggestion of the same thing. Redistributing sales back down the curve. They’ve done more work on it, so more reason to believe them. They aren’t fiction publishers though – it is possible that the effects are not as bad (or even worse). i.e. finding technical information is important and can be worth money – and the books are more expensive. There’s no significant financial return or knowledge gain going forward on finding the latest novel for download.

    To be completely convinced of something requires more evidence than ‘because we say it is’ from a definitely biased source. From lots of discussions it appears that this is a case – lots of people require convincing, not just those of us with an analytical background. If a large chunk of people don’t believe you, then probably it is a good idea to do something a little different than just keep repeating for years and years ‘this is bad because we say it is’, don’t you think?

    A larger number of authors contributing to a document with anecdotes like Roberts’ likewise is also perhaps a good idea? Some may be willing to give concrete examples. Occasionally I’ve seen authors mention numbers in the past.

    Although people on this level, as she suggested are always going to have the problem of ‘Mr. Patterson, you only made 58.6 million this year rather than 60? Talk to the people who care.’ Philanthropy or advocacy is an oft-used tactic to combat this. Although this could be anti-philanthropic as advocating something that is possibly detrimental to the majority.

    Or, a publisher could write that the top sellers are losing X%. They are a large part of sales at Y%. X * Y is greater than gains of the A% of the rest gaining B% of sales. This spins as ‘so we have to delete a higher number of the underperforming authors that you like from our lists.’ If you are trying to relate it back to people that can be generally empathised with by those with lower interest levels.

    They of course can’t do this if they don’t have the data, or it is not actually the case.

    That convincing the large percentage of people may take some time, as they haven’t done the work in the past to compare things to.

    A multipublisher study with a significant number of titles and different formats looking at various market condition changes where possible can easily be convincing to me.

    O’Leary himself said he didn’t have enough data yet as far as this goes.

  225. Blue Tyson
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 21:40:20

    164

    Nora,

    Thanks for the answer on where you got your info.

    Both agent and publisher reporting that they think this is the case is certainly of more interest. So actually that answer does make more difference to me. On top of your own statement, something along those lines that both your agent (who works for you) and publisher, who does not, have come to similar conclusions is certainly a stronger statement.

    If you don’t believe that books are media, or publishers are media companies, fair enough. That’s a definitional disagreement.

    Again, I’ll apologise for any discourtesy.

  226. Suze
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 21:53:54

    we enter the “itunes” phase of the industry and eliminate DRM/geo restrictions

    itunes still has geo restrictions. It ain’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination.

  227. Kerry D.
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 22:03:54

    @Suze: You’re right. Living in New Zealand, there’s heaps and heaps of stuff I can’t buy on iTunes. It’s barely better.

  228. AQ
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 22:26:23

    @CD:

    Gotcha.

    My follow-up question then would be: how can a publisher determine whether the vote for piracy is because of DRM/regional restriction practices vs. I just don’t want to pay for it because I can download an illegal copy for free?

    Voting via piracy isn’t really a vote in my book unless the individual wrote to the publisher and said hey, I downloaded an illegal copy of this because of I hate your DRM practices or because you won’t sell me a copy in my part of the world or I’m broke and you won’t allow my library to lend my preferred digital format. Remove DRM, sell worldwide and/or grant libraries the right to lend my preferred format and I’ll no longer download it illegally.

    It would be really great if people who were honestly voting through piracy did that. But tell me what percentage of people who are downloading an illegal copy would actually follow-through on that promise? Or are even voting to begin with and how would we be able to tell unless there was an immediate drop in illegal downloads after such policies were implemented?

    Here’s a general question to all:
    What impact, if any, has Book Depository (US & UK sites) made on the piracy issue as it pertains to geographical restrictions of paper products? I’m asking because I was under the impression that Book Depository had competitive pricing with Amazon and that they offered free shipping on all books worldwide. No, I haven’t looked through BD online inventory to know if they have additional restrictions on individual titles. I’m just going by what I heard so I’m hoping that someone outside the US can confirm or parse my statement above.

    Finally, I’ve seen “imported” American versions of certain novels on the German, French and Japanese Amazon sites? Can we tell if those imports have any impact on piracy? For that matter did any of the reports listed (sorry, haven’t had a chance to parse through them) indicate what percentage of the illegal downloads were being done by the US consumer vs. consumers from other countries with access to the product vs. those countries where the product isn’t available? And are we seeing similar piracy rates on books originally published outside of the US? not published in the US at all?

    These are just some of the questions I’d like to see piracy studies address.

    TIA and I apologize if anyone else has already asked these questions. I fear I missed a few posts along the way that I need to catch up on. Tomorrow.

  229. Kerry D.
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 22:53:30

    @AQ: I don’t know if this is relevant, but IT hubby tells me there are figures that suggest something like 80% of current TV shows downloaded on torrent sites are from people outside the US who either have to wait months (sometimes over a year) to see it locally, or it never screens locally at all.

    I realise ebooks are a totally different kettle of fish and you probably can’t extrapolate from one to the other, but thought I’d toss the information out.

  230. Evangeline
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 22:53:56

    One thing I’m always curious about is to whom these posts about internet piracy are directed. If you spend a good amount of time around the interwebs you’ll bump up against a large segment of people who pirate books and could care less about the illegality of it and the impact it has on the industry. To them they have the right to a book–print or ebook–when it’s released, and if they can’t afford it at the time or it’s not available in their country or it is overpriced in their opinion, they have the right to acquire it for free through any means.

    Now, I’m against pirating and have called people out on it (but they either flip me the cyber bird or give a litany of excuses), but as an unpublished author, I see the whole piracy debate as a lose-lose situation for the writer. Namely, the author is responsible for take down letters to torrent sites, the author is the one who suffers when big box stores elbow their own prices for books, the author is the one who suffers when publishers institute boilerplate clauses in contracts to cover the losses piracy will make for them, the author is the one who suffers when their contract is dropped due to low sales caused by more pirated downloads than legitimate sales, etc etc. Seeing this I don’t know why more people aren’t mad as hell. And also, why articles on piracy are not being written by published authors or at least circulated on their websites, and why there is more uproar over someone slagging off on the romance genre than an issue so important as this.

  231. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 22:57:02

    Full disclosure: I’m not reading thru all the comments, nor will I. I’m sorry, but piracy depresses me to the point to where I often question :why: I bother. I remind myself, often, that those who buy my books, or check them out, or borrow :legally: are that reason. That’s why I keep doing this.

    But I’m not going to read thru the comments. I just can’t anymore. If I want to keep doing what I’m doing I have to disconnect at some point. Nor do I plan on coming back to read thru any more… doesn’t mean I won’t, but I don’t want to. Again, piracy depresses me-I don’t write well when I’m depressed.

    However, I do want to say: What Nora Said. It should be a button, or bumper sticker.

    When I say this, I often get responses such as-well, you make plenty of other sales, so big deal. Excuse me, but it is a big deal, and trying to shrug it off is simply another way to justify doing something both wrong and illegal.

    Plain and simple… wrong is wrong. Libraries are NOT illegal-they don’t take from me. They are legal copies and I adore libraries.

    Used bookstores aren’t wrong. They are NOT illegal and they don’t take from me-they often introduce me to new readers. I have no issue with used bookstores.

    But piracy is a different beast altogether.

    Here is a scenario, and it’s a true one: one of my ebooks has sold less than 2000 copies. They might sound like a lot to some, but it’s not. 2000 copies.

    It’s been downloaded to the tune of 9800 in various places. Nearly five fricking times how many it sold.

    If people can’t understand how disheartening, how depressing that is, then frankly, that depresses me even more.

    Writers work damn hard. It’s not that much to expect that people respect their rights-their rights as authors, their rights to earn a living. Is there anybody here who would sit quietly if somebody was trampling all over their rights?

    Piracy tramples all over the rights of an author. Those works wouldn’t exist if writers didn’t create them. Writers write because it’s our job-jobs should come with monetary compensation. We invest our money, our health, our time, our lives into our writing.

    However, I realize that many readers feel that doesn’t affect them. I do see that. I can understand where they come from.

    But the bottom line? Even if piracy doesn’t affect readers the way it affects writers?

    It does HURT hurt readers.

    When a new author doesn’t sell through, anybody and everybody who illegally read that book contributed. If one pirated instead of buying, they contributed, and if that author doesn’t get a renewed contract, they did have a part to play in it, because with new authors in these tough times? Every sale counts.

    When an established author doesn’t get a new contract offer because of flat sales? The same as above…anybody and everybody who illegally read that contributed.

    Those who bought legally are still impacted, because they lose out on future books. Is it fair to those readers? Hell, no. It’s not. But it’s also not fair to the authors that have their livelihood threatened.

    If new authors aren’t offered new contracts? Those are books readers may never see. If established authors don’t get contracts renewed? Those are books readers may never see, and if you’re a reader who’s ever been left hanging and wondering WHEN IS THE NEXT ONE COMING???? What if there is no next one…and what if there could have been?

    Piracy DOES hurt readers.

    It really, really does.

  232. AQ
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 23:28:00

    @Shiloh Walker:

    Very powerful post.

    And for the record since I know you write for NY as well as a few of the smaller publishers such as Samhain and Ellora’s Cave: was this a NY story with DRM and regional restrictions or one sold by an e-publisher with no DRM and worldwide rights?

    I ask for further clarification only because DRM and regional restrictions have popped up throughout this thread.

    Thanks!

  233. Tisienne
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 23:29:34

    Add to Shiloh Walker’s post that I’ve seen questions on numerous pirate sites, asking when the next in my One and One series and the next in my Conventions series are coming out.

    They’re already requesting books of mine that aren’t even published yet.

    They’re telling each other not to buy it because ONE of them will and then thet’ll make it available to everyone else.

    The particular site I’m thinking of right now has almost 2,000 members who read within my genre.

    How does that not cause me harm?

    ~Tis *truly shutting up now*

  234. Tisienne
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 23:36:27

    For the record, I have received emails from people in countries where they couldn’t purchase my books for whatever reason. They’ve asked whether they could send me payment via paypal.

    I’ve had to say no, simply because my books are under contract, and maybe that means I’ve pushed some readers to the pirating side of life.

    If so, I apologize to them. I should have accepted their payments and bought copies of my own books.

    Maybe that’s a way around the geological restictions. Set something up where people outside those areas can pay via paypal or some similar agency, then have some automatic thing that sends the purchase out while paying the publisher its percentage? *ponders*

    Not sure it’s feasible, but… worth looking into.

    Not that it’ll stop those who want free stuff, but it couldn’t hurt, right?

  235. Nadia Lee
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 00:35:38

    @AQ:

    And for the record since I know you write for NY as well as a few of the smaller publishers such as Samhain and Ellora's Cave: was this a NY story with DRM and regional restrictions or one sold by an e-publisher with no DRM and worldwide rights?

    I’m not Shi, but I’m not sure if she’s ever going to return to answer your question. So if you want to know more, you can read this post from her blog:

    http://shilohwalker.wordpress.com/readers-piracy/

    But… I have ended a series. The deciding factor were money and piracy. The Mythe series is pretty much dead. I have no plans at this point to continue it. If you want more detail, follow the link. But the series is pretty much over and will remain unfinished.

    I came to the decision that I should place my work where it's going to be the biggest benefit to my career. I decided the best place for the Hunters books was Berkley, one of my mainstream publishers. Issues with piracy was one of the deciding factors and because of those issues, I switched the Hunter books to my mainstream publisher.

    (bolded sentence mine)

    The Hunters series was with EC, and I do not believe EC books have geo restrictions or DRM. I’ve been able to buy EC books no matter where I lived, and you can print books you buy from EC, etc.

    Samhain publishes ebooks without DRM or geo restrictions. If you buy directly from Samhain you can re-download your ebooks in any format you want as many times as you want. Samhain website offers like 5-7 different formats IIRC.

    But even Samhain ebooks get pirated. (I also do not believe Samhain books are outrageously priced.)

    So I don’t think not having DRM or geo restriction will make a difference in combating piracy. Else nobody would’ve pirated Samhain books.

  236. Nonny
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 01:13:30

    Nadia said: “So I don’t think not having DRM or geo restriction will make a difference in combating piracy.”

    I think that lack of DRM and geographical restrictions will help with the minority of pirates; that is, people who really would rather buy the book legally. However, for every person who speaks up saying they have a “reason” (and truthfully, I sympathize with readers on these particular issues as I have had similar difficulties with music) there are at the very least dozens of people who simply don’t give a shit and will pirate regardless.

    Personally, I see piracy as an unfortunate reality of doing business in the Internet era. I really don’t see it changing when you have the pervasive attitudes of the DRM hackers who are doing it because they can, people who believe they are “sticking it to The Man”, and people who are trying to save money. The music industry has been dealing with it for about a decade.

    Education in the forms of posts like the ones here at DA or author blogs/websites help with the people who honestly do not realize there is a difference between a library loan and an illegal download, but they aren’t going to help with the above-mentioned attitudes.

    As frustrating as the situation is, I think it’s a losing battle until there is federal level punishment of illegal downloaders and not just lawsuits. France will be revoking internet access of illegal downloaders entirely if they continue after a warning (link). I’m not sure if this would work in the US, but it’s an interesting concept!

  237. AQ
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 01:50:22

    Nadia, thanks for the info. I suspected as much but I didn’t want to assume.

    So a few facts:

    If this was the Hunter’s series then it’s was a very popular series with a solid following. The fact that New York is picking up the series attests to that.

    EC and Samhain books have NO DRM, no geographical restrictions and the prices of the Hunters series ranged from $6 down to $2.99 depending on length of story.

    Even if one makes that argument that says only 25% of the individuals who illegally downloaded the digital copy would have purchased a copy of the book, that’s more than actually purchased the book. And given that the Author has over 60 digital books available from these small publishers, she has a pretty good idea of what/how the digital version should be selling. Also I believe she had a print release or two from NY publishers by then so her audience exposure should’ve increased prior to the release of this digital version. May not be a factor but one wouldn’t expect dramatic decreases on a popular series after increased exposure. Still it could happen.

    What else do we know?
    Individuals illegally downloading copies of this book did NOT go out and purchase a paper copy because neither Ellora’s Cave or Samhain release the trade version at the same time as the digital version. It used to be at least a 6 month delay for the print release but I believe that time frame is longer now. And if cost is an issue, it’s certainly cheaper to buy the $6 e-book rather than the $12 trade.

    So…

    Edited to add: Nadia’s post must have gotten stuck in the spam filter or deleted so I thought I’d add her point about Samhain:

    If you buy directly from Samhain you can re-download your ebooks in any format you want as many times as you want. Samhain website offers like 5-7 different formats IIRC.

  238. Nadia Lee
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 03:41:07

    My comment is stuck in the moderation pile. Argh. I think DA’s anti-spam thingie hates me.

  239. BC
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 05:15:18

    @Nadia Lee:

    Don’t worry I think mine is there too because I tried to submit but it hasn’t shown up.

  240. BC
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 05:27:19

    Part 1

    I agree. It is insane that they really believe that we as consumers should pay those prices. I have been contemplating the switch over from print to digital for some time but what stops me is the prices. At first the pricing for Kindle books was great; some were much less than $5 but I had decided to wait until their second version of the model came out because of issues I had read about it. However, by then the pricing had jumped up in the books to that of print prices so I shelved the idea. It is absurd. E books don’t require trees. I love trees and really do hate to see them cut down especially for those wastes of space garbage collections that publishers print and try to cram down our throats as fillers for in between release dates of book done by people with real talent. They’re the in-betweener books; the relationship rebounds of the literary world. Of course, we need not name names because we all know which ones those are on the store shelves.

    Let’s use the brains God gave us, shall we? In California the minimum wage, in certain areas, is $8.00/ hr and one paper back book is $7.99, that is one book for an hour’s worth of work. Actually, that’s not true because you have to factor in tax which would make it about $8.70 so about $9.00, which means that not even an hour at work would buy you a book. That is sad, especially for those that only work part time jobs because the impact on them financially would be nearly twice that amount. Really, puts things into perspective from the consumers point of view.Might as well be illiterate at those prices or join the rest of the country that just simply pretends to be, what with their tired excuses of “not enough time” or “I won’t be able to fall asleep”.

    Also, in truth new authors would not be without an option if big publishing companies stopped looking because there is always self-publishing or smaller publishing companies. After all, the bigger companies started from nothing, too. Besides, if fanfiction writers are intelligent enough to see more out of a story line than what was published and at times even improve on it–yes, I do mean improve because lets face it there’s always at least one book in a series that is just horrible no matter who the writer is it happens– then it would seem likely they could come up with their own stories to publish. Plus, I have found that there are some really talented fanfiction writers on the net that should try to publish their own works. An example of a cross over is Cassandra Clare and depending on the reader that may not be the best of examples but she is still an example. Besides, English teachers in high school like to say there are no original ideas just better ways of telling them and that even Shakespeare filched his stuff from others.

    Note: I am NOT a fanfiction writer; I have a life. Granted, not much more than them because after all I’m loser enough to read their stuff but only sometimes. The only things I might have online are term papers for college classes that had me use sites like turnitin.com or some other such web page.

    Raising the pricing is pretty much a bad buisness practice. The consumer pool for books is small. Most author websites will say they have some 140 million copies of a book in print world wide, well guess what, there’s more than twice than many people living in the United States alone. You wouldn’t buy a coffee that was the color of lightly steeped tea for $8.00 so why would you want to pay for an ebook marked at $9.00 when the paperback is cheaper? When a company betrays its consumers, product loyalty drops. It’s similar to when authors kill off beloved characters just to get a rise out of readers, people stop reading them. Trust is lost; betrayal and disappointment in the general region of the-I-have-a-cheating-spouse is felt. The companies experimenting with prices are more like teenagers testing boundry lines. They want to know how far they can push us before we say no more. As a person that once paid $40 to have a non-U.S. edition of a book shipped from the UK, I’m saying enough is enough.

    It’s simple; lower the prices or lose out because frankly as consumers we have options: libraries, book exchanges, second hand stores, and the ever present best friend loan system. On Amazon, you can find Harlequin books for a penny then pay a shipping and handling of 3.99; nearly the same price as what you could get at Walmart. My public library sells them for five cents and that includes hardback books by authors like John Grisham, J.D. Robb, and Christine Feehan. Plus, that money is actually going to help fund the library, a good cause. Granted, the cover is usually missing but the book itself is intact. Online market places usually try to get rid of older or over stocked books by cutting prices by a lot. I’ve even found signed copies of first edition books in excellent condition at the Goodwill store and the Salvation Army.

    Now authors and publishers may cry foul and say “Wait, that’s not a solution” but in truth fellow readers, it’s simply not a solution FOR them because it’s not one they gain from. How does it hurt us, I ask? What? Will prices rise? Oops, too late. Will they raise them again? And again, and again, and again…and so forth and so on, until finally we tell them what they can do with their prices. In reality the rise in cost will just mean that even less people will buy hard backs and that more people will either borrow from libraries or wait till stores mark down the prices for an inventory sale. Essentially, less people will be willing to buy and fewer books will be sold because it’s all based on supply and demand. These aren’t textbooks; it isn’t college where you’re required to buy the books. They are luxuries and not necessities. Their foolishness translates into a constricting of their consumer base; which is something they can’t really afford what with so few avid readers and a struggling economy.

  241. BC
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 05:38:35

    Part II

    Libraries are public institutions based on the circulation of information but you won’t find an author calling a librarian a duchebage like Megan Hart called pirators in one of her blogs. After all, how many people do you know actually borrow a book from a library then after reading it, run out and buy the book? If they want to reread it, they simply check it out again. Come on now, seriously, this isn’t la-la land. Even libraries are getting into the ebook trend. The state university I tend lets you download digital copies for FREE from their library database. I’m talking books with real substance based in fact not simply fiction. Books that would normally cost $40, $65, or even $100+ and yet no one is calling them pirators. This is not as clear cut as movie or music piracy. You go to Hollywood video or Blockbuster and you have to pay to rent but books can be loaned out for free. You can even rent textbooks now for a far cheaper price than that set by the publisher. See the difference; the problem that clearly exists. If no cost is demanded, then how different is it from the CSU library or public library that allows for free downloads. Is it that one is an institution and the other a mere individual? If neither is seeking profit, then what constitutes acceptance of one over the other?

    Publishers and authors don’t see a profit or royalty from library loans except for the initial cost of the book, notice the singularity here, but where is their complaining then. I’ve seen those library request lists hit 250 people easily on an initial release of a book and that’s 250 people that will most likely not buy a copy for their very own. By the way, those requests lists cover entire regions within a state so depending on the book, it could range anywhere from 1 to 15 or more libraries that have a copy of the book. Now looking at the numbers, 250 times $8.00 is a $20,000 loss, well minus the original $8.00 gain, which would make a $19,992 loss. (Wow, no wonder they’re trying to screw us.) Plus, if a library doesn’t have a copy of a book, then they will either buy a copy or more likely they’ll request it from another library within that area of the state for small fee of about fifty cents. (There goes more money they won’t see and more screwing of the rest of us.) Hmmm, fifty cents vs $8.00; I don’t know it’s just SO close, which to choose. For $8.00, I could request that book sixteen times. I haven’t even reread any of my all time favorites that many times and some of those I’ve had for nearly ten years. Plus, I tend to read from 4 to whatever amount I can fit in just in a month.

  242. BC
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 05:44:47

    Part III

    What are they going to do, ban libraries? Prevent libraries from buying and selling their books? Outlaw online marketplaces? Illegalize best friend book loans or the online book exchanges? Stop individuals from selling their used books? Oh, wait. Yes, I suppose that’s exactly it. After all, what is an ebook but an electronic version of a printed book? Is an ebook not considered used once it has been read by the purchaser? So they wish to make a small recomp on their purchase by selling it to another individual, again note the singularity, would it then be fine if after the sell, they deleted their own copy of it? (Yeah, I know only the most honest of us would do that.) A video game is pre-owned, a movie pre-viewed, and a music cd is pre-listened to; don’t believe me on that last one just look it up on Amazon, you’ll find it’s sadly true. Would it be okay if the digital copies were on reader disks like regular dvds but could only be read with the disk because of an encrypted code, or if they had a limit, similar to some mp3 songs, on how many devices or times it could be transfered before the license was no longer valid or communicable, would that then make it okay? We do understand, you want to stop the flow of information by limiting the quantity made available and thereby boosting demand as well as sales.

    Now none of this is to say that I condone stealing because I don’t; however, I don’t approve of greed either. Avarice is a deadly sin for a reason and God can do as He will with those people in the end. As far as I’m concerned if they really want to can keep their prices, then they can because it’s about as productive as shooting themselves in foot. I’ll just find some other LEGAL, CHEAPER way of getting what I want; just as I have been. It’s just funny how most new breakout authors like to say in interviews, I write because I love it not simply to make a profit. Yet, it’s interesting how quickly the tune changes when they’re faced with smaller checks. Philosophers like Marx were right about those with money usually being the most greedy because they fear losing their wealth and will therefore do what they must not only to keep it but to build on to it.

    As if hard print publishers wouldn’t have reduced their number of employees anyway what with the natural rise in demand for ebooks and epublishers, that would have been proceeding much more quickly had someone not goofed and raised the prices. No, its far better for them to stick to their arcane form of environmental polluting than move forward with technology. After all, mp3s are cheaper than cds, if bought in bundles. Ebooks would have done to literary print what dvds did to vhs or cds to cassette players and what music videos did to the radio stars. No one needs to say the word ‘obsolete'; we’ll just call it a literary revolution that has been in the making since mass print was achieved and literacy rose.

  243. BC
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 05:46:26

    suggestions for other search engines that compare prices is dealoz and booksprice both are .coms

  244. Nadia Lee
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 06:28:22

    @BC:

    Now looking at the numbers, 250 times $8.00 is a $20,000 loss, well minus the original $8.00 gain, which would make a $19,992 loss.

    This is entirely flawed.

    You’re assuming that one MMPB can withstand handling by 250 people.

    It’ll fall apart after about 6-10 people, max, and the libraries will replace (or maybe repair/rebind if possible) it if there’s still a big demand for the book.

    Also…

    Let's use the brains God gave us, shall we? In California the minimum wage, in certain areas, is $8.00/ hr and one paper back book is $7.99, that is one book for an hour's worth of work. Actually, that's not true because you have to factor in tax which would make it about $8.70 so about $9.00, which means that not even an hour at work would buy you a book. That is sad, especially for those that only work part time jobs because the impact on them financially would be nearly twice that amount. Really, puts things into perspective from the consumers point of view.Might as well be illiterate at those prices or join the rest of the country that just simply pretends to be, what with their tired excuses of “not enough time” or “I won't be able to fall asleep”.

    You’re claiming that books cost more than CA minimum wage. Most writers don’t make minimum wage from their writing. What is your point?

    They are luxuries and not necessities. Their foolishness translates into a constricting of their consumer base; which is something they can't really afford what with so few avid readers and a struggling economy.

    If books are truly luxury items, as you claim, why do you think it should be priced so that everyone can buy a copy?

    Furthermore, there are lots of things that are truly necessities that cost more than your hourly wage — food, gas, etc. What is your point? Stuff people want to buy should be priced a penny each?

    Avarice is a deadly sin for a reason and God can do as He will with those people in the end. As far as I'm concerned if they really want to can keep their prices, then they can because it's about as productive as shooting themselves in foot. I'll just find some other LEGAL, CHEAPER way of getting what I want; just as I have been. It's just funny how most new breakout authors like to say in interviews, I write because I love it not simply to make a profit. Yet, it's interesting how quickly the tune changes when they're faced with smaller checks. Philosophers like Marx were right about those with money usually being the most greedy because they fear losing their wealth and will therefore do what they must not only to keep it but to build on to it.

    (bolded part mine)

    You’ve gone too far. Obviously a polite and productive conversation is out of question.

    I’m out of here.

    P.S. Interesting you quote Marx, since he also said, “Religion is the opiate of the masses.”

  245. BC
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 06:37:40

    It was actually suppose to be 2,000 not 20,000.

  246. ND
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 06:39:44

    I love ebooks, however, I sometimes feel cheated when buying ebooks compared to print books because due to the nature of ebook shopping you are very limited in the sample that you can read online. With a few exceptions such as Avon which often has the first few chapters available on their website, what’s publicly available to sample is minimal. As a result, I have bought many ebooks that I’ve not read past the first few chapters because I’ve found the book to be poorly written, boring, offensive, bland or TSTL. If it was a print book I would have been able to skim through the book, “test drive” it and then decide whether to buy or not. And I would have been able to return it and get my money back if I disliked it.

    Of course not all ebooks are bad and I hope my post doesn’t sound like that. I am a big fan of the diversity of plots, the quantity of books out and that I can download and begin reading a book in the middle of the night!

    So while I’ve never downloaded books through torrents I can understand the frustration that drives people to feel like ebooks are just not comparable goods to print books.

    Maybe a solution would be to change how ebooks are sold. Perhaps people could skim through the whole book for an allotted time period. Or books could be displayed like google books, which omits pages, so that potential readers can look past the first chapter.

  247. BC
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 07:10:47

    You're assuming that one MMPB can withstand handling by 250 people.

    It'll fall apart after about 6-10 people, max, and the libraries will replace (or maybe fix if possible) it if there's still a big demand for the book.

    Actually, that is not true. If you pay close attention to what I wrote it was that the request list shows a region, key word there region, which would be as in the Valley (i.e. Fresno, Madera, Bakersville, Kerman,etc). All the libraries in that area is set up on a connected system which shows availability of a book in other libraries that allow people to see the interlibrary loan system at work. It’s like using UPS to track were the book is at in processing. These inividual libraries usually only order one copy of a book so people request a hold for that book. The holds usually add up to 250 people for that region. Also, that number by the way usually only accounts for the first few weeks before and after the book is recieved. It doesn’t not account for any subsequent holds that are placed. In fact if someone were to track the actual number of holds for a region, they would find that it’s more than 250. For example, when Janet Evanovich’s Finger Lickin Fifteen was released there was maybe ten libraries that had order a copy of the book and so the request list for the Valley area was over 200 even before each library had received its copy for processing. The number continued to rise even after the each book was checked out because after all certain libraries loan books for more than two weeks. However, when you search the San Joaquin Valley Library System, you’ll find that over 100 library locations have a copy of the book and yet the request list is still at 132. By the way, some cities and counties have more than one library, which is way the number of library locations is high.

  248. BC
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 07:31:23

    You're claiming that books cost more than CA minimum wage. Most writers don't make minimum wage from their writing. What is your point?

    So, you’re saying you make less than minimum wage in a month. Even less than a part time person at minimum wage? Less than a person that gets $8.00/ hr for a 40 hr work week of five days, which is about $1,280 (before taxes)? Or as in the part timers, $640 (once again before taxes)? Sure you do? Next you’ll be saying you make even less than the seasonal workers in the fields. They cents by the pound or by the number of grape trays they lay in a day. (The trays are set for raisins.)

  249. BC
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 08:17:07

    If books are truly luxury items, as you claim, why do you think it should be priced so that everyone can buy a copy?

    Furthermore, there are lots of things that are truly necessities that cost more than your hourly wage -‘ food, gas, etc. What is your point? Stuff people want to buy should be priced a penny each?

    (the bolding and italics are also Mine)

    First, are you serious? That’s right! That’s what we should convey to the younger generation. Why should every one be afforded the opportunity to own a book. This isn’t a nation of equals. One person is better than another. Sorry, people of the ghetto. sorry, elderly folk that love your Agatha Christie’s but if you can’t afford them oh well. No wonder illiteracy continues still exists even here in the states. The point is that items shouldn’t be overly priced.

    Second, because that wasn’t a greedy b**** attitude and the moon is made out of cheese.

    Third gasoline for cars is only considered a necessity to those that are unwilling to find alternatives to it. We walked before we ever drove, its environmentally sound and healthy. Also, many places have what are known as buses. For those places that don’t, it’s because they are small enough that people can walk the entire length of it in less than twenty minutes.

    And last, to add on to your poor little writers sentiment of making less than minimum wage is…Gee, I think plenty of people would be glad to be able to blow 2,ooo dollars on a violin they let sit for four years. Yeah, we feel your pain.

  250. Donna Alward
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 08:17:17

    So, you're saying you make less than minimum wage in a month. Even less than a part time person at minimum wage? Less than a person that gets $8.00/ hr for a 40 hr work week of five days, which is about $1,280 (before taxes)?

    Yes, I’m saying exactly that. Not only that, but as a home based business, I also have to shell out of those proceeds for promo, office equipment, postage for contests, any travel I do for conferences….

    It doesn’t leave much to live on. I didn’t include your part time worker, because I don’t work part time. I am a full time writer. As well, I don’t get a paycheck every month. Wish I did.

    I’ve been published since 2006, and my ninth book is out in November. When you take into account the royalty schedule and reserves against returns, and the fact that it can take 18 months to 2 years to see any real return on a book AFTER it’s release date – and remember it was “bought” probably 9-12 months before it’s released – it takes a while to build up a head of steam.

    That is why many authors say they aren’t in it for the money. If we were, we’d pick something else that was a lot more lucrative and a lot faster. Believe me, my husband and I have had the conversation about how it might be easier for me to take a job at the local grocery store – except for the fact that we both know I’d hate it if I weren’t writing. And the fact that a huge number of authors ARE earning below the poverty line is why we feel we need to fight so damned hard for every dollar.

    Sigh. I didn’t want this to become about money but that comment just rubbed me the wrong way.

  251. BC
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 08:31:22

    @Nadia Lee:

    By the way, if what you say is true and I hope for the future of publishing companies sake that isn’t, that an MMPB can’t with stand ten people reading it just once through, then it means that the books quality of construction isn’t even worth the $8.oo that is being asked for it. Furthermore, your statement while clearly fallacious, would mean an even bigger reason for people not to buy them but to switch to ebooks. Also, I used to work at a school library and can say that a good portion of those books are paperback and they have withheld the use of more than ten teenagers. Yet, if what you claim is true, then that would mean that every 6-10 uses would be cause for a book to be replaced and thereby would mean that you are making plenty of money. Thus, you are not at risk of starving, losing your home or car, or whatever any time soon.

  252. Donna Alward
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 08:39:17

    As a ps – fwiw the point should never be if an author is earning “Enough” to eat or make their mortgage. The whole point is, this is our job. Our wage is the percentage we earn for being the author of that work. I don’t think it was ever intended for authors to cry little old me, nor do I think the authors here have done that. As Nora said – our job is to write stories for our readers to enjoy. That’s our promise to you, the reader. How much we make is irrelevant.

  253. AQ
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 08:44:13

    BC,

    In California the minimum wage, in certain areas, is $8.00/ hr and one paper back book is $7.99, that is one book for an hour's worth of work.

    Flawed because you haven’t included federal and state income taxes into the equation. Also wages in this country have been stagnate for about 30 years. This is not new. Piracy based on what Shiloh describe what to one of her books is relatively new in comparison. It’s interesting that it’s the product in this case the paperback and the digital that is too expensive, not that wages are too low. Interesting because you quoted Marx elsewhere in your posts.

    Also, in truth new authors would not be without an option if big publishing companies stopped looking because there is always self-publishing or smaller publishing companies.

    So by the logic in this paragraph, I’m guessing you believe that authors shouldn’t be paid and that readers should read fan faction instead. Because if you’re suggesting self-publishing as a replacement publisher model, I’d have to ask: have you ever purchased a self-published novel? If you had, you’d realize that hardcover pricing is cheap in comparison given the length of the story. There’s no volume here so prices are pretty high also reading the reviews on some of these POD book, I’ve been lead to also believe that story quality on average is less than the current publishing model. So as a reader, I’d be paying a lot more for a product that is more likely to be inferior to the products available from the current publisher marketplace. Not to mention that the author is paying out of pocket to publish that book so the likelihood decreases that they will see significant profit from said book.

    Most author websites will say they have some 140 million copies of a book in print world wide

    No, they do not.

    As a person that once paid $40 to have a non-U.S. edition of a book shipped from the UK, I'm saying enough is enough.

    Now there’s an example of a luxury purchase based on your other comments.

    Now authors and publishers may cry foul and say “Wait, that's not a solution” but in truth fellow readers, it's simply not a solution FOR them because it's not one they gain from. How does it hurt us, I ask?…

    It can hurt readers, because unlike the implication in this paragraph, authors are not rich. MOST authors cannot afford to write full-time, they have a second or “day” job to cover their expenses. So if you, as a reader, love a particular author’s storytelling ability but the reader marketplace isn’t buying enough of the product be it paper or digital then either the publisher will decide the author’s not profitable enough or the author will decide that she can be paid more doing another job.

    Of course, as you say, there are many options out there so you, as the reader, will be able to read other stories with little impact to yourself unless it’s a series that you were personally invested in. Oh, and hardbacks are specialty niche. Generally, not always, the hardback will eventually be released as a trade or a mass market. So if one isn’t willing to pay the hardback price, one can wait for the paperback version, wait for the library version to become available or I suppose one could illegally download a copy or just say forget it and move on to a different story.

    Libraries are public institutions based on the circulation of information but you won't find an author calling a librarian a duchebage like Megan Hart called pirators in one of her blogs.

    Not even close to a valid comparison. Libraries pay for the copies of the books in their collections. Pirates pay nothing and given that typical author “salaries which are considerably less than minimum wage” that fact can make or break whether or not an author continues creating stories. Yes, there are also many factors involved here but I think that it’s reasonable for an author to call someone who’s illegally downloading the final product a douchebag when those illegal downloads might have an impact on whether or not an author can continue to create stories.

    Is it that one is an institution and the other a mere individual? If neither is seeking profit, then what constitutes acceptance of one over the other?

    The institution has paid for book. The individual has stolen the book. If those same individuals had used the library to read those same books using Shiloh’s example of one book (9,800 illegal downloads), then the library would’ve purchased more copies of that book to support patron demand and the author would’ve gotten paid. Yes, you’re right the library wouldn’t have purchase 9,800 copies but that number would not have been 0.

    Publishers and authors don't see a profit or royalty from library loans except for the initial cost of the book, notice the singularity here, but where is their complaining then.

    And how many libraries are in there in the US? Something like 16,000? I’m sure that not every library purchases every book but library purchases do have a significant impact on an author’s bottomline. First because of the purchase and secondly because of the exposure. Many readers buy books by authors they originally discovered via the library. Also, how many libraries purchase more than one copy or version to satisfy the needs of their patrons? How many libraries replace books once they become worn out? Library numbers are not insignificant so why would any author complain about direct sales and indirect sales that libraries provide?

    however, I don't approve of greed either.

    Then I assume that you are completely anti-piracy because stealing something is greed and authors have no control of prices so I’m sure you’re not accusing them of greed. Perhaps it’s publishers who are greedy? Maybe, maybe not. But you’ve talked about supply and demand so if prices are what they are and publishers haven’t crashed and burned then the market is currently willing to accept those prices. Not sure I see greed, even if I don’t agree with some of the pricing models publishers use. Could the industry survive if publishers set prices that you don’t think are greedy? BTW: How much are you willing to pay for the product? Does that number change if the book’s by a certain author? in a certain format? of a certain length? Could publishers cover costs if they used your pricing model? I’m asking because lately it seems like people I know have succumb to the Wal-Mart pricing model where sellers keep pushing the prices and wages down so that consumers can have more stuff even though consumers pay for those price cuts though the backdoor with indirect costs instead of paying the real price for the product.

    It's just funny how most new breakout authors like to say in interviews, I write because I love it not simply to make a profit. Yet, it's interesting how quickly the tune changes when they're faced with smaller checks.

    Most new authors don’t understand how how little they get paid. Seriously, BC, do the research. Writing is not a very profitable endeavor and it’s getting less profitable because writers are being asked to shoulder more of the marketing burden, publishers are lowering the advances and there’s a hell of a lot of competition from other authors and other forms of entertainment out there.

    Advances aren’t paid in one lump sum, they are paid in 3 or 4 payments typically over 2 years. Out of that advance, an author would pay their agent 15%, then they must pay self-employment taxes out of the rest. Plus the publisher will hold part of the advance in reserve against bookseller returns.

    I read a blog post by an author who had hit the NY Times bestseller list for the first time this year. Trust me her financial numbers were not that big. Very few authors hit the NY Times bestselling list so most authors are making less money than she did for that one book and yes, that can easily end up being less than minimum wage, especially if the author isn’t a fast writer and can’t crank out multiple novels in a year. I will look through my records and post the link if I can find it.

    As if hard print publishers wouldn't have reduced their number of employees anyway what with the natural rise in demand for ebooks and epublishers, that would have been proceeding much more quickly had someone not goofed and raised the prices.

    Logic is very flawed in this paragraph. Publishers have reduced employees. E-publishers are feeling the effects of piracy directly even though they sell their digital products at half the cost of their print costs. Take a look at Shiloh’s post for one example of her experience with piracy and how that affects her reading audience.

    ….

    So I have to ask what exactly do you see as the literary revolution and what is its manifesto? How does that apply to the original post which was about piracy and why it’s upsetting to authors and why readers should be concerned?

  254. Moriah Jovan
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 08:56:04

    Erm, so now that Marx has been brought into the conversation, shall I now bring Rand into it?

    No, I’ll spare you. You’re welcome.

    At this point in the Age of Piracy, I have to agree with Nonny’s comment:

    @Nonny

    Personally, I see piracy as an unfortunate reality of doing business in the Internet era.

  255. Likari
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 10:14:23

    I like the idea of shutting down people’s broadband access if they illegally download.

    From the article about France, it looks like in exchange for this (shutting down the Internet access of illegal downloaders) the publishers are removing DRM from the content.

    Solution?

  256. Anne Douglas
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 10:18:04

    @BC: BC last year, according to the income I recorded on my tax return and before any expenses were taken out, I made a whopping big $4.50 over a 40 hr week. Post expenses, about $2/hr. And last year was a great year for releases for me. No, I’m not fudging numbers. And I think last year wasn’t too bad for an eBook only author in the most part. (edited to add: I’m not complaining about how much I earned FYI, I was quite proud to almost break into 6 *snort* figures last year. This year, well…it helps to actually write books to publish, huh) )

    @AQ:

    My follow-up question then would be: how can a publisher determine whether the vote for piracy is because of DRM/regional restriction practices vs. I just don't want to pay for it because I can download an illegal copy for free?

    Neither of my publishers (Loose Id and EC) have DRM or Georestrictions (and are priced, fairly reasonably (i.e. no $10+ ebooks)), yet you can easily find somewhere between 5-10 links currently that has one, some or all of my books available for free download and a number of requests at others. Interesting huh… So yeah, the whole ‘but DRM, but georestriction, but…but…but’ doesn’t play out for me. It’s also why I’ve not bothered to comment particularly on this thread.

    As for numbers – I’m not quite in Shiloh’s league, 1000-1500 copies sold in a year is great for me, but like her I’ve had just as many of my most popular books ‘illegally distributed’ (is that the phrase we’re supposed to be using now?) to at least equal the amount sold and in some cases far surpassing that. So yeah, lots of people just want something for free.

  257. Roxie
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 10:32:46

    @BC:

    After all, how many people do you know actually borrow a book from a library then after reading it, run out and buy the book? If they want to reread it, they simply check it out again. Come on now, seriously, this isn't la-la land.

    I have. Ann McCaffrey’s Rowan Series, Pegasus Series, and Crystal Singer Series. I read them at the library, and when I had the money, I bought my own copies. I read Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash in high school, and bought it several years later. I read the first two of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, and proceeded to buy the rest of the series. Oh, I did the same thing with Christine Feehan’s Carpathians. Come to think of it, I may have done the same thing with Linda Howard. Add Nora Roberts to that list. I need to stop proofing my post, before I end up with 50 authors that I read at the library and then bought their books. ;)

    I’ve done the same thing with several non-fic hard to find genealogy books. I wanted to check them out and make sure they had the info in them that I thought they did, before I spent $30-$60 on them. My husband has done the same.

    I’m certain I can’t be the only one out there that does this. Yes, I’m a voracious, even obsessive reader, but I saw someone post that she spends $200 a month on books, and that’s about the same as me. Apparently I’m not that weird after all.

  258. anon #47
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 10:39:21

    Getting on the author’s case to justify (or influence) price, format, availability, delivery, terms, and security for an ebook is kinda like stiffing the waiter because the cook’s no good. It’s not the waiter’s fault, of course, but withholding that tip is sometimes the only recourse a dissatisfied customer has.

  259. Sharron M
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 11:31:15

    @anon #47:
    Or…you could talk to management about the cook i.e send the publisher a letter about what peeves you. Better to put the “blame” on the person who deserves it than simply stiff the waitress and call it all good (said as someone who’s first job was waiting tables at a Dennys :))

  260. coribo
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 11:38:07

    How many of those here who download pirated books would ever consider taking the print version from a bookstore without paying for it?

    And if not, why not? The answer ‘ because I only read ebooks’ doesn’t count.

    Not sure if this has been mentioned yet, but some of the pirate sites charge a membership fee before people can access links to pirated books thus making a profit from the work of others. Fair? Anyone here paying a third party to make these books available to them?

  261. library addict
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 13:02:35

    After all, how many people do you know actually borrow a book from a library then after reading it, run out and buy the book? If they want to reread it, they simply check it out again. Come on now, seriously, this isn't la-la land.

    I guess I live in la-la-land then because I try new authors via the library all the time and if I like the books, I do go out and buy them.

  262. becca
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 13:27:54

    so – we all agree that illegal downloading is the problem. DRM doesn’t seem to work, and only serves to annoy honest users. I don’t know that even more draconian DRM will do anything other than present more of a challenge to dedicated pirates.

    what, if anything, is the solution? I don’t think education is the answer: pirates *know* what they’re doing is illegal, and I suspect that may be part of the charm of the activity.

  263. BC
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 13:49:11

    Yes, Marx’s said that religion is the opiate of the masses and Nietzsche pointed out that God was dead because man killed him. However, for it to have any true significance it must be taken within the context of what he was saying, which was that mand should not waste his life seeking a reward that is not promised until after this life but should instead look for the paradise that is already here on earth. It is why communism had no place for religion just as true communism was not meant to sustain a govermental lifestyle but a eutopian commune that could only be found after two revolutions; the gentry’s against the king and then the proletarait workers against bourgeoise, the former gentry made powerful. Then in one great rise of chaos everything was to melt down and reach the socialist eutopia in that not even the laborers would rule but for a short period of time after bourgeoise fell. It was the complete disappearnce of a class system as well as private ownership. Basically, no capitalism and no competition that would pit man against man as either a supplier or a consumer. Everything would be owned by all. That is the context of his saying tha God is opiate because religion blinds and misleads from true paradise. Thus, everyone works to provide for everyone. It’s a scenario where you do the work but you don’t own it because it is meant for everyone. Goodbye prices.

  264. anon #47
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 14:19:18

    @Sharron M:

    Or…you could talk to management about the cook i.e send the publisher a letter about what peeves you.

    That would be the ideal, yes. Speaking as someone who’s worked the front and the back of the house, I also know that’s not how it usually works.

    After all, how many people do you know actually borrow a book from a library then after reading it, run out and buy the book? If they want to reread it, they simply check it out again. Come on now, seriously, this isn't la-la land.

    Depends. I can think of only a handful of authors where I’ve done that, but I can think of ten where I read one book from the library, and when I was next at a bookstore and saw the author had a new title out, I purchased it. Often even with only a cursory inspection, on the grounds that I’d liked their writing before, so I’d continue to like it.

    But that’s also the way it works when I read a friend’s copy, too.

    Incidentally, the only purchased books that were library first-reads was when I was still moving frequently thanks to military family. When you know for certain you won’t be using that library again in six months, and you don’t know what’ll be available wherever you end up next, you learn to get yourself a copy when you can.

    The ironic thing about that is that in the instances where I’ve already purchased a DRM’d copy because it was my only damn option, when I’ve seen someone giving away a cracked version of the same story, I’ll download it immediately. Then I replace my DRM’d copy with the non-DRM pirated version, because I have no certainty that in a year I’ll be able to read the DRM’d copy.

    I have five ebooks burned on CD that I can’t reread at all, thanks to DRM madness, and I’ve learned my lesson on that count.

  265. Sharron M
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 15:14:06

    Re: DRM– I am curious if readers contact publishers to complain. As authors, we can talk/complain to our publishers, but I think the power lies with the readers in this regard because there are so many more of you and you can make your point with your pocketbook.

    I am not saying it’s your duty or anything to take this on but just wondering since it does seem to be a huge frustration to readers…and well…to almost everyone.

  266. BC
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 16:17:37

    @becca:

    Thank you. That’s exactly it. Pirators will continue find new ways around whatever system is set up. Once a book has been pirated simply disconnecting a server will not stop the book from circulating; it’s called cd W/RWs, Flash drivers, and anything else like the newest phones that can carry .pdf, .doc, docx, etc. It won’t stop them from selling it or just simply giving it away. How long has the governmetn been trying to stop hackers? Yet, they still persist. Once the information is out there the risk of it being stolen exists. I am a college student! Every paper we write and submit online has the chance of poping up some where else on a website that sells term paper because some other jerk off put it there to make a profit on something they didn’t do. Heck, even papers we turn in as hard copies have the chance of showing up some where else being presented as some one else’s work. It’s called plagarism. However, we don’t get the credit for it.

    Yes, it is understandable that they would know what they are doing isn’t right and that the wrongfulness of their actions is a part of the allure. Wanting to make a quick buck off the hardwork of others. Unfortunately, was has been pointed out is that author’s take is an irrelevance except that it is still one part of the whole in which us readers are asked to pay and therefore is relevant to us. Is it simply acceptable that we fork out whatever number without wanting to know the whys in the change in price or how each of those pennies is being distributed so that if a cut in some area is possible, it can be made? Or if not possible, then we can at least justify to our selves that it is not simply being turned over because the publishing companies merely want a large take. Our questioning of the break is not different from when tax payers demand to know where their dollars are going within the government. Isn’t it the joke of who pays $200 for a toaster or what kind of paper clip costs $60. No one likes being scamed out of their hard earned money. You’re not the only ones that work double jobs. Firemen are now being certified as EMTS so they can supplement their income. They put their lives on the line and shouldn’t have to supplement but do.

    The issue is that we, the honest people, are going to be made to suffer for the actions of others. We’re being told that this is how it is and will continue to be unless we what, start a petition or boycott those publishers that want more. They want to add a tax on ebooks, which would be on top of the already higher price so they get you both coming with the initial price and going with the tax added on to the total price.

    As someone else mentioned above is that if we want to purchase an ebook, we just need to use a search engine that compares online prices so that we can find the cheapest one on the net. They even started a such a search engine to help us other readers find a cheaper price. The ebook is actually much better than print in that we don’t have to worry about the company running out of stock. Also, I don’t have to go from store to store to find a book I want nor do I have to pay S&H and wait an entire week for USPS or FedEx to get into gear. I’ll pay for that convience with no problem but I don’t want to pay because of some experimental price tampering or because someone else was too stupid to get it legally. That’s like us being punished because shop lifters are stealing merchandise, which is happening, it’s their fault for why items are being higher priced because the stores have to make up the difference. It’s clear that this punish the consumer system doesn’t work. People go to TJMax or Burlington’s to get the same higher priced stuff cheaper. We’re going to look for the cheapest prices; it’s just how we are as consumers. We shouldn’t be faulted or criticized for it. What we’re willing to pay doesn’t fit to what the publishers are asking. The full asking price won’t be met when Walmart, Target, Amazon, and others are willing to cut us a deal. I’ve bought hardbacks by Janet Evanovich and JD Robb at Walmart for $10.00. They were great deals especially since the publishing price was normally over $20.00. So what does raising the prices really accomplish? After all, Wal-mart’s regularly advertises its rolling back prices.

  267. BC
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 16:58:49

    @anon #47:

    The library books I check out usually are authors that I’m not sure on or have no interest purchasing but like to read. It isn’t that the books aren’t good but they aren’t really for the keeper shelf; actually, it’s more like shelves. But, when going in, I already know that I’m going to purchase certain books; it’s just that the paper back releases seem too far away and I can’t wait to read them knowing that they are out in circulation. I even reread the excerpts that are released because they ease the need to have it now while still building the anticipation of actually getting the book. Unfortunately, since the economy has gone down hill, I have started to cut back on my book purchases–it’s like being half suffocated but no matter what I know I am going to buy those books. However, my comment had to deal with the fact that not everyone reads and not everyone that does read are as avid a reader to do such a thing.

    For example, I currently know only three people that read for fun; two, would prefer to either borrow it from me or lend it from the library rather than purchase it themselves and the last only buys some times like once every four months if that. However the first two, I believe that it wouldn’t matter what the price is, it could be a dollar, and they wouldn’t buy because the purchase of books isn’t high on their to do lists. For one, its $40+ jeans and the other is junk food. She has a major sweet, salty, and fatty foods tooth. They’ll read them but they’re not interested in buying them. I, on the hand will search for books done by authors twenty years ago. The words no longer in print doesn’t mean hopeless just second hand and possibly a higher price than when it was newly released or importing it from somewhere else.

    That brings up a question, would the circulation of ebooks actually fix the issue of out print books? Would authors then be able to rerelease older books? I know Diana Palmer has reissued some of her Long, Tall Texans series but not all of them. I have nearly all of the new ones but the older ones are hard to come by and while I would prefer them in print form I would accept them in digital. Does anyone know how the reissue is being addressed or if its going to be at all?

  268. BC
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 17:36:57

    @anon #47:

    They specify which ones are DRM, right? Or is that publisher based? Also, where would the replacing of DRMs for non ones fall into the piracy issue? Maybe, they could do like the etextbooks where the information is set on a card that gives you a passcode. I think you have to log in to the books server and then enter the code kind of like an email address where the book is stored. Isn’t many of the ebook readers wi-fi or internet based? I’m on the fence about them because of consumer complaints about them. I know the Kendle tacks purchases and if your devices stolen or broken or the file messes up you can redownload the file from an existing account that doesn’t require repurchase. What about creating a personal file space where ebook stores could send the files to like email but instead of being able to download to a device the person could simply login and view from any device. They just wouldn’t be able share the file but they wouldn’t have to worry about memory space on a device or having to carry around SD cards or flash drives or burning them to a cd. Of course, the issue would be when the server messes up so people can’t login. However, the ebook store tansfer to the host server would act as an electronic footprint and if a file were to be corrupted the person simply have the bookstore resend it.

    Oh, the DRM burn you mentioned. What kind of cd did you use? I’ve heard that DVD R+ are good for data storage and not just simply home movies. I haven’t tried it yet but I’ve read from the Microsoft windows help menu that you can use DVDs for copying an operating system in case yours messes up and that they can be used for the recommended back up disks in case your hard drive kills over. The cd burn might have just made a copy of the file but didn’t transfer the decoder/encryption that allows for viewing. Kind of like when you transfer a power point that has hyperlinked movies in it. If you don’t transfer the movies inside a folder with the power point then the link is lost and the animation button that starts the movie won’t work when trying to view it on another computer. The movies are only linked not embeded so they don’t transfer with the power point. That could be it. You could try it if you still have the viewable ones; its not a guarantee. Or you could try Microsoft’s wizard. Use it to create a Microsoft Back Up disk by selecting the CD/DVD drive as the destination then select the folder that the files are in and burn it that way. The MS wizard gives the options of which folders you want backed up (i.e. music, movies, documents, etc.). I don’t think it would be illegal to back them up because you did purchase them through legal means. Those are just two options. I’ve had a computer crash on me because of a failed operating system boot so I’ve learned my lesson about backing up my files that I don’t want to lose.

  269. BC
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 18:15:45

    @Roxie:

    I think that the whole avid reader can be applied to a good portion of us on this blog given that the discussion on ebook taxes and who in the world be most concerned with such a thing than people that love to read. People that are willing to spend $200+ on a device that translates ebooks. However, just because we and yes I do mean we, make up the majority on this blog does not make us the majority outside of it. I don’t know any one that has actually ever posted to one of these things let alone on this subject matter or in the general sense of book blogs. Most of the people I know would be laughing and calling us geeks. They don’t do much reading. Actually, I can count on one hand with fingers to spare how many do read. It’s sad but not for a lack of trying on my part to help them see what they are missing. It’s a losing battle against television. I have converted one but the rest are just a no go and that one is still iffy. She reads but not obsessively. Okay, she only reads JD Robb and only because she borrows from me. It’s a partial victory.

  270. A
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 19:54:31

    I despise piracy as I despise any criminal behavior. My antipathy has nothing to with my being a reader and a writer. It’s the principle of the thing. I do not care to hear excuses or justifications for crime.

  271. Jen
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 22:14:36

    I saw this link on the Huffington Post today and thought of this discussion. I don’t know whether statistics about the music industry are relevant to a discussion of the publishing industry, but it adds an interesting dimension nonetheless.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/illegal-downloaders-spend-the-most-on-music-says-poll-1812776.html

  272. Angelia Sparrow
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 22:25:32

    No, the average writer does NOT make minimum. Or anything resembling it.

    I don’t have all my third-quarter results in, and won’t until mid-November, but this has been a very good year for me, writing-wise. I’ve made $2020.67.

    2000 and change. Which is actually about the average writer’s pay for a year.

    I earned that princely sum because of three novels debuting and several stories in anthologies. (we don’t have figures on the other two and the last novel isn’t out until Dec)

    Last year, I made $1750. The year before about $400.

    FWIW, my day job’s takehome is about $1800 a month.

  273. Courtney Milan
    Oct 31, 2009 @ 23:24:16

    @Mary:

    Sorry AQ, but it is the author's responsibility to understand DRM. Any belief otherwise is ignorant.

    No it’s not.

    I’m an author.

    I do happen to understand DRM (and I don’t like it, as I’ve stated here publicly before). I’ve downloaded DRMed ebooks (and failed to download others–grr Adobe), and I’ve cracked the DRM on a downloaded ebook (to see how long it would take: answer, once you know how to do it, seconds). (Which is a crime. I just admitted I committed a book-related crime.) I did delete the cracked file, and no, I didn’t send it on to anyone.

    I didn’t do any of that because I was an author; I happen to have an interest in gadgetry and the law independent of my author hat.

    But I have to say, having done all that, it is overwhelmingly unfair to call an author “ignorant” because she hasn’t taken the time to understand DRM.

    There are innumerable parts of the book business that I haven’t taken the time to understand. I don’t understand how print covers are printed, or how they get the shiny metallic looking bits on the paper or whether they use offset or digital printing or what the difference is between those methods. I don’t know how books are bound, or what glue my publisher will use to hold my books together, even though these things materially effect my book itself–after all, cheap processes result in books that can be read fewer times, and fall apart faster. I don’t know what ink my publisher uses and whether it will rub off on your hands, and if so, if the degree to which it rubs off depends upon how sweaty and/or oily your hands are. Maybe the paper is acid-free. Maybe the font is Helvetica. Who knows? Who will find out?

    Not I. I have absolutely zero interest in any of these things. I suppose I could ask and find out, but that stuff is deadly boring to me.

    I have a publisher. I signed with a publisher, instead of cutting down the trees and setting the type in the press myself, because I wanted to write books and let them take care of the fiddly boring stuff I don’t want to pay attention to. That’s not ignorance. That’s division of labor.

    And the truth of the matter is, all the stuff I learned about DRM? Not gonna make any difference, any more than if I found out how my books were bound. If I told my publisher, “Hey, I heard that the woowoo method of binding works better!” they would smile and nod and say, “Thanks, Courtney,” and continue to do precisely what they would have done without my advice.

    Same with DRM.

    It’s not ignorance to not find out things that bore you and you can’t do a darned thing about.

  274. anon #47
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 03:11:14

    @BC:

    As someone else mentioned above is that if we want to purchase an ebook, we just need to use a search engine that compares online prices so that we can find the cheapest one on the net.

    With the exceptions of sales, that’s not being done anymore. What the publisher sells for is what the distributor sells for, because distributors (like Fictionwise) were tired of being undercut by their wholesalers (the publishers). Now, the price the publisher lists must be what the distributor lists, as part of their distribution agreement.

    Also, where would the replacing of DRMs for non ones fall into the piracy issue? Maybe, they could do like the etextbooks where the information is set on a card that gives you a passcode.

    I would presume that re-downloading a cracked copy of a text you already purchased would technically be stealing. A really bizarre instance, since you already own the book, but all the same.

    The rest of your suggestions… I’m not sure what you mean, but I can tell you that every e-publisher I’ve purchased from (that is, except print-publishers like Penguin and Dell) continues to hold copies of purchased ebooks associated with my account. When my hard-drive died and I hadn’t been able to burn ebooks off in time, I simply went back to each publisher, logged in, and was able to re-download. (I do not have a dedicated ereader. I read books in PDF files on my computer screen, which apparently is a rarity among readers but it works for me.)

    The issue with burning files onto a DVD or CD… the files require name and password. Name, I’ve got. Password is c’card number. That’s changed in the interim. Mac keychain doesn’t save epub pws, either. The Adobe throws an error because my IP address now doesn’t match my original acct creation, because I’ve moved. After much wrangling, I get Adobe to agree I’m really me, and Adobe kindly emails me some URL to get everything updated, but I don’t even bloody well have the same email address anymore. That’s about a day and a half of frustration only to end up not being able to re-read at all, and the books were all purchased back when Amazon still sold non-Kindle ebooks, so I can’t even re-download! Yes, very grrrr-inducing.

    The library books I check out usually are authors that I'm not sure on or have no interest purchasing but like to read.

    This has been my point all along. What’s under that is that, I suspect, the ebook situation has artificially inflated sales numbers, and as file-sharing increases, the numbers are being compressed back to something closer to accurate.

    Before anyone starts hollering, let me explain.

    Go back to the days of yore (that is, pre-e-book so we can set aside piracy cries) and consider the three legal ways you could get your mitts on a book. You could buy it, you could borrow it from the library, or you could borrow it from a friend.

    Next, let’s take this blog’s own reviews as an example of a decent range of reactions to a wide range of books, pretending all reviews are by one hive-mind, err, one person. I put the intermediary values together, and chunked F scores with DNF, since for most of us those would boil down to the same “hated it” reaction.

    A == 68
    A/B == 362
    B == 454
    B/C == 466
    C == 183
    C/D == 234
    DNF == 57

    When we look at buying a book, as noted in my and now your comments, there are three basic levels for how we value a book:

    1. I would totally spend $N on this book.
    2. I’d read this book, but it’s not good enough for me to want to spend money on it.
    3. I wouldn’t pay for this book and I wouldn’t even read it, either.

    Obviously the readers of this world have different standards, since I’d cheerfully put dreck like Twilight in #3, but a million other readers think it belongs in #1. But on average, the bell curve you see in the ratings is probably a pretty good example of how most of us react to books. If the top-A gets reaction #1, and the A/Bs get a variation like “I’d spend half $N, or only buy it on sale”, then the Bs and B/C might be the ones we’d read but not feel inclined to purchase. The C/D might be the same if the reader is really forgiving, or might be lumped in with the DNF/F group to get a #3 reaction.

    Roughly speaking, that means for every 26 books reads, only one book will hit the sweet spot for a reader that equates to a purchase. A reader only has so many $N to go around, and the less $N, the more the reader will hold onto it and only spend for the very top-most ranked books. In those instances, the books that get a #2 reaction — worthwhile to read, but not worth spending money on — become the books that get borrowed from library or friends.

    Outside the world of ebooks, these options exist. You don’t see this on your balance sheet, because in making their choice that your work is in the largest middle-group, they’re withholding their money. You may still receive their support and adulation, if you’re in the bracket of “good enough to purchase, if only my $N stretched that far” but you won’t be getting money from them. (Not until they have more $N, at least.)

    Now, compare this to the world of ebooks, where you can’t check out a title from the library and you can’t borrow it from a friend. Your only (legal) choice is to purchase the book. If the book doesn’t fall in the #1 group, that is when your book shows up on fire-sharing sites and gets traded like crazy.

    My point is that we’ve had free books to read, in the US, for over a century of public libraries, and it never killed the publishing industry. People still purchased books, even ones available at the local library. That’s the point of the #1 group with the A/A+s rankings. You just have to keep in mind that the actual category is very, very small compared to the quantity of books that are good but not good enough.

    Until ebooks started getting the napster treatment, ebook sales had effectively no competition. Refusing library access and restricting borrowing have allowed publishers a market wherein they can avoid the two biggest drains on their potential sales. No borrowing means any desired reading, by definition, is automatically in the top-most bracket. In other words: file-sharing is acting like a big honking international library, and it’s popping the artificial inflation of limited reading-venue like a big fat balloon.

    You can call it illegal and holler about ethics all you like, but the bottom line is that it’s highly likely that you’ve not lost anything. If publishers start playing nice with libraries, or expand e-book rights to include loaning, this might reduce the bulk of the file-sharing, but I doubt author sales would rebound. What piracy has done, in an economic sense, is normalized the market back to where readers have access to #2 again: what’s good enough to read but not good enough to spend $N on. Allowing legalized borrowing would simply shift the #2 reactions from illegal to legal. Or publishers can continue to refuse to allow those options, and continue to fight a losing battle.

    The problem is that accepting this position requires authors recognize that they just might not be in the top 1-out-of-26 percent, and even if library-popular they’ll still never break the bestseller list.The rates of borrowing from libraries and friends were invisible costs for an author, nebulous and mostly un-checkable, but when an author can track down via google every instance of file-sharing, it’s a major reality check that one’s work is not in the #1, A-ranked, purchasing position.

    Reality checks are never fun, but sometimes I wonder if some of the anger at file-sharing isn’t also mixed in with bitter disappointment at realizing that a whole lot of readers out there don’t think you’re all that and a bag of $N.

  275. A
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 04:43:48

    @anon #47:

    You can call it illegal and holler about ethics all you like, but the bottom line is that it's highly likely that you've not lost anything.

    So…if I break into your home and steal a vase you, a pottery enthusiast, constructed…the bottom line is you’ve not lost anything? After all, it’s just a vase you made. No one’s going to buy it. Should I then be exempt from criminal prosecution and should you suck it up and accept your moral indignation has more to do with your craft’s worthlessness than with your rights being violated?

    I call piracy illegal and unethical because piracy is a crime and stealing (taking things you do not own) does indeed indicate lack of ethics.

    Reality checks are never fun

    Reality check: piracy is a crime. Reality check: anyone enabling and endorsing pirated intellectual property is a criminal. If it’s no fun for criminals to recognize they are criminals, too bad.

    I wonder if some of the anger at file-sharing isn't also mixed in with bitter disappointment

    Authors experiencing disappointment related to poor sales and/or lost opportunities has nothing to do with the reality that their intellectual property is being exploited and stolen from them by criminals.

    a whole lot of readers out there don't think you're all that and a bag of $N.

    Then don’t steal my books. LOL…It’s actually sort of comical. A book’s not worth buying, but it’s worth stealing?

  276. A
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 05:47:51

    @Lane:

    I actually think the illegal copy/distribution of e-books is closer to Counterfeit than outright theft.

    Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.

    Call it “counterfeit,” “theft,” “file sharing,” or any other name. It is still a crime.

  277. RLT
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 06:03:56

    @library addict: I’m with you, I borrow from the library and if I like someone, I buy a copy to add to my own home library. I work in public libraries, so I see things from the library industry POV.

    As a reader I have my auto-buy authors, like many readers have. But for new to me authors, I borrow from my own library first. If I like them, as I have with several new to me authors this year, I have gone out and bought not only the one book I liked, but have ordered entire backlists. I read print by personal preference, so am not necessarily addressing the piracy/ebook debate here. Sorry.

    As for library hold requests. Our district have standing orders for most bestsellers and will purchase multiple copies. With long waiting lists, we receive just as many requests to cancel a patron’s reservation (hold) because they’ve gone out and bought the book instead of waiting for their turn in the hold queue. A reader who wants to read won’t always wait for the cheaper option, but will in fact go out and buy the book to be able to read it, in the time they want to read it. At least this is true for our library patrons, most of whom would have no idea about ebooks, therefore no inclination to obtain an ebook copy, legally or otherwise.

  278. A
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 06:11:20

    Having said that, some authors clearly believe that we, as readers, need to hear them on this issue. So authors, here is your space. You can tell us why we shouldn't pirate even if most of us have already said we don't. You can tell us in what ways piracy has hurt your career (empirical evidence and studies not funded by the RIAA or MPAA are helpful). You can tell us why you think it is the reader's obligation to pursue piracy and enumerate the ways in which you think readers should act to help you prevent piracy.

    As a writer, I am uninterested in telling readers why readers should not pirate. Readers do not pirate. I am a reader and have never pirated an ebook.

    Criminals pirate.

    As far as explaining to criminals why they should not commit crimes, why bother? If criminals had self-control, emotional maturity, and moral integrity, they would comprehend why laws exist and why they ought not violate the law. I am not wasting time/energy explaining to socially maladjusted, amoral personalities the difference between “right” and “wrong.”

  279. A
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 08:00:04

    @CD:

    I DO understand the viewpoint of authors as the creators of their products, but I think that branding everyone that pirates a thief and basically lower than scum, and everything they say to explain their actions as just self-deluding justifications – I don't think that's particularly constructive. If the industry as a whole refuses to understand the motives of those who pirate, then it will implode sooner or later.

    I do understand the motives of piracy, to take something the pirate does not own in violation of another’s legal rights.

    Apologists may sugar-coat, but that’s the bare bones of the matter.

    I, for one, will not refrain from calling criminals criminals. If the criminals dislike it, it falls to the criminals to modify their behavior.

  280. mia madwyn
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 08:16:19

    @CD:

    The argument that I see here is that that consumers should in a sense behave MORE morally than companies by paying above the odds for an inferior product that they could so easily get COMPLETELY FREE elsewhere with very little negative consequences. You're asking consumers to behave contrary to their market objectives, in economic terms basically irrationally, when not requiring the industry to do the same thing.

    The argument that you give is that, if you don’t like the way the corporate entity is pricing, you don’t only have a choice to buy or not buy. You believe you have a right to STEAL. It’s completely free only because you have a way to tuck that book in your pocket and walk out of the store without getting caught.

    You call that “free” and I call it “stealing.”

    You call it acting irrationally if you don’t steal.

    I call it acting illegally and immorally if you do.

  281. mia madwyn
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 08:38:42

    @Blue Tyson:

    That convincing the large percentage of people may take some time, as they haven't done the work in the past to compare things to.

    Newsflash. The large percentage of people don’t need to be convinced that piracy and stealing is wrong. The vast majority of readers don’t steal. The vast majority of people who buy electronic books don’t steal.

    The vast, vast majority of people who live and breathe don’t steal, and thus, don’t need to be convinced that stealing is actually hurting someone else. They know it’s wrong and they don’t do it. End of subject.

    Or, now that I consider it, are you saying that book pirates in general are of substandard intelligence and lacking moral fiber and thus, extra efforts need to be made to teach them? Slow learners, perhaps?

    “Stealing=wrong” is, in itself, too difficult a concept without excessive study and evidence?

  282. Blue Tyson
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 09:11:22

    281

    Try reading more carefully. I never said anything about right and wrong.

    A significant percentage of people download tv, movies, music – probably not so many for books, as far fewer people are interested. These are the people that admit to it in studies. Statisticans involved with such (and analysts) point out that this can easily be underreported i.e. people may be less likely to admit to such than those who actually do. (The latter number is likely to increase, given there are few to no other options depending on where you live – unlike other media.)

    So obviously they would need convincing to change.

    This has nothing to do whether they believe it is right or wrong, just the economic effects.

    To quote CD in 137 “paying above the odds for an inferior product that they could so easily get COMPLETELY FREE elsewhere with very little negative consequences. You're asking consumers to behave contrary to their market objectives, in economic terms basically irrationally, when not requiring the industry to do the same thing.”

    If you can’t (or refuse) to convince people that there is general financial damage from such, then you have no chance of convincing them to stop by telling them it is wrong and they are stupid. In fact, insulting them as you did just then will in fact be more likely to have the reverse effect. Speaking of vast majorities, I’d guess most people that do it know it is a copyright violation, so playing Captain Obvious isn’t going to have any effect, either.

  283. A
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 09:25:46

    @Blue Tyson:

    This has nothing to do whether they believe it is right or wrong…

    Actually it does. Pirates recognize their behavior is illegal (wrong) and pirates choose to break the law and dehumanize the very authors they claim to admire.

    That’s what criminals do. Whether it’s more “white collar crime” or violent saddistic crime, the criminal mentality rationalizes that the criminal’s own gratification takes precedence over the rights of others.

  284. mia madwyn
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 09:34:12

    @Blue Tyson:

    Try reading more carefully. I never said anything about right and wrong.

    We’ll come back to that one.

    In fact, insulting them as you did just then will in fact be more likely to have the reverse effect. Speaking of vast majorities, I'd guess most people that do it know it is a copyright violation, so playing Captain Obvious isn't going to have any effect, either.

    Perhaps you need to read more carefully. I asked you a question:

    Or, now that I consider it, are you saying that book pirates in general are of substandard intelligence and lacking moral fiber and thus, extra efforts need to be made to teach them? Slow learners, perhaps?

    I didn’t say that they were stupid. I asked if you think they are stupid, that you think they need to be convinced that what they are doing hurts someone in order to get them to stop. Pirates have already convinced themselves that they have a right to steal something because it’s easy, it’s available, and there is no current indication that they will be caught.

    And I realize you didn’t bring up the issue of right and wrong. I did.

    I don’t think many pirates will actually address that issue, because very few of them would be so stupid to not understand that by downloading books they didn’t pay for, they’re breaking the law, they’re behaving in an illegal fashion. Most would even recognize it’s wrong to do so, but they don’t care.

    So no, I don’t blame you for not addressing the issue of right and wrong in the issue of book piracy.

    What’s more, you don’t have to address it.

    I stand by my original statement. Most people don’t have to be convinced of anything. Most people don’t download illegal books or music or software. Most people wouldn’t dream of it.

  285. Blue Tyson
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 09:34:57

    255

    Likari – if you remove people’s internet access permanently, then they will never buy your product. Do it to an 18 year old, then that is currently 60+ years of lost sales. Apart from not being able to, would you ever want to give anyone that did that to you your money?

    Do that to enough people and publishing and other industries reliant on the internet collapse, or have to re-engineer their business processes back to paper and in person services. You know, places like banks.

    If you drive to a friend’s place to pick up a copyright infringing DVD and you got busted, should they ban you from driving forever (or travelling, even)? Same sort of thing. Or cut off your phone forever, because you called them to ask them to do it?

    This is one of the most poorly thought out ideas I have ever seen. Not to mention a basic abrogation of people’s legal rights. Allowing large corporations to change laws and avoid the courts like that to preserve their business models – that’s a seriously bad precedent. Also pointless in the long run. e.g. trying to keep cars to walking speed – or you could have allowed banning of taking photographs with digital cameras to protect companies that make film, or whatever. It’s ridiculous.

    Companies make false claims about owning copyright all the time, or accuse people who have done nothing incorrectly. It’s happened to me, when idiot lawyers send pro-forma letters because something comes up in a search, for example. Should we cut off their internet access too? That would be fair, it would seem, if this was to be instituted. Author’s agent sends out three invalid claims – disconnect author (and lawyer) from the internet, too? It is guaranteed this possibility will be raised legally if this sort of craziness goes ahead.

  286. A Reader
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 09:39:27

    @Blue Tyson:

    In fact, insulting them as you did just then will in fact be more likely to have the reverse effect.

    You are so right about that.

    You can be sure that I won’t be spending a single dollar more on books. And I hope your self righteousness and a day job puts food on your tables because it’s surely not going to be my money–you can chalk that up to this thread and not piracy.

  287. Blue Tyson
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 09:54:19

    283

    “I stand by my original statement. Most people don't have to be convinced of anything. Most people don't download illegal books or music or software. Most people wouldn't dream of it.”

    I see you’ve changed from vast majority to most. :) A more reasonable statement. Maybe you are 79 years old or something, but a big percentage of people I know have, from the retired woman next door, to the students the next block over, the guy across the road or whoever. A significantly broader cross section of people that it used to be, because it is easier and there is more bandwidth available. Now, if you are a yank, then as a whole your population may be slightly less interested in such activity because your media can be cheaper, and you have more legal options available.

    There’s no correlation of intelligence with dowloading or not downloading that I can see. Finegrained enough, half of people have below average intelligence, and half above.

    You do have to have enough to be able to actually operate a computer and appropriate software, so that would actually eliminate a small proportion of the intelligence left tail perhaps. So that would actually make downloaders ever so slightly more intelligent on average than the overall population.

    Again, I think you fail to understand the argument based on financial terms.

    X people download. They know it is a copyright violation, pretty much.
    X people have never seen any proof whatsoever that it is damaging to anyone.

    In fact, the media keeps bringing up examples of big hit movies like Wolverine, or music albums, or even the Dan Brown book – that then point out the huge numbers of sales of such directly afterwards.

    They’ll also seen ludicrous numbers bandied around about how every download is a lost sale, etc., and various other discredited bought and paid for research.

    If you can convince X people that it is financially damaging then some are more likely to stop, that absolutely will not just because you say it is ‘wrong’.

    So then you have X – N downloading.

    If you still do not understand this, I am not sure how to put it more simply.

  288. A
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 09:55:23

    @A Reader:

    You can be sure that I won't be spending a single dollar more on books. And I hope your self righteousness and a day job puts food on your tables because it's surely not going to be my money-you can chalk that up to this thread and not piracy.

    It’s a consumer’s own choice to purchase or not purchase goods. It’s a criminal’s choice to infringe on copyright.

  289. A
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 10:08:02

    @Blue Tyson:

    X people download. They know it is a copyright violation, pretty much.
    X people have never seen any proof whatsoever that it is damaging to anyone.

    I emphatically disagree with this.

    It does not take genius intelligence to comprehend that, if one is stealing an item, financial loss occurs.

    If I recognize a book costs $5, and I choose to procure a pirated copy for free because I do not have $5 or I do not wish to pay $5 or I cannot procure the product in my own country, or *insert other excuse*…I am effectively stealing. We can argue semantics over why this is not “real” stealing, but the fact remains that I had no legal right to illegally download the material.

    Again, criminal mentality: “My (criminal’s) self-gratification is more important.”

    I don’t care if thousands of otherwise law-abiding “good” people are pirating ebooks. Crime is crime.

    It’s not my job to convince pirates that their behavior is illegal, immoral, and wrong. I’m not their parent/caretaker.

    How about I adopt this code: “I dislike having my copyright violated. I think I’ll shoot pirates to discourage their piracy.”

    Is that okay? Do the pirates have a responsibility to convince me my philosophy is wrong?

    (disclaimer: my analogy is intended solely to enhance discussion; I do not at any time advocate violence or other illegal behavior.)

  290. Blue Tyson
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 10:17:48

    285

    Something I could have added – in the music industry case there are multiple studies that say people that download stuff for free buy more music on average. e.g. some of them find stuff they like, then go buy the better copy.

    I don’t know if that is true for books, not having seen studies. However, you have to have some interest in them to start with, to do it. So it is certainly possible there are some of the same effects – and would be a good study to do.

    So in the music industry’s case, cutting those people off loses them their more valuable customers. Not a good plan.

    Publishing’s best customers, or least who they think are, from what they are signalling, are those who pay the double or triple or whatever prices for hardback books. So cutting people’s access may not be as problematic as the in the music case. However, some people who buy hardbacks will download. So you will lose those sales, and likely customers, permanently. If it turns out ebook downloaders are among your best customers – cutting them off is a bad idea, of course.

    Also, if you cut people off from the internet – this will have a direct effect pretty quickly on everyone here that lives somewhere that does it. Internet prices will go up in some way as the companies deal with the hassle – and also end up with less revenue – both of which have to effect prices – increased labour costs and reduced size of market.

    So advocating internet termination doesn’t really have any upside as far as I can see. In fact, it will cost people who don’t do it a fair amount of cash – as if it continues and bigger and bigger percentages are cut off, your internet prices will keep climbing. Which of course leaves less money to buy actual media. :)

  291. Likari
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 10:39:02

    @Blue Tyson:

    Are you deliberately mischaracterizing people’s comments?

  292. A
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 10:39:17

    @Blue Tyson:

    Something I could have added – in the music industry case there are multiple studies that say people that download stuff for free buy more music on average. e.g. some of them find stuff they like, then go buy the better copy.

    I don't know if that is true for books, not having seen studies. However, you have to have some interest in them to start with, to do it. So it is certainly possible there are some of the same effects – and would be a good study to do.

    A notable difference: if a pirate downloads music, and likes it, s/he may opt to purchase albums to procure better quality sound.

    No such incentive exists in the epublishing industry. The copyrighted ebook reads no differently than the pirated copy.

    Furthermore, many authors and epubs offer free stories for download. Readers have the opportunity to download the freebies and effectively “sample” an author’s quality before opting to purchase the author’s additional works.

    We can tap-dance about this issue for days, the fact remains piracy is unacceptable, criminal behavior.

  293. Blue Tyson
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 10:40:38

    289

    “If I recognize a book costs $5, and I choose to procure a pirated copy for free because I do not have $5 or I do not wish to pay $5 or I cannot procure the product in my own country, or *insert other excuse*…I am effectively stealing. We can argue semantics over why this is not “real” stealing, but the fact remains that I had no legal right to illegally download the material.”

    — You have a serious problem with logic. Not to mention completely failing to understand my point in the above.

    If someone does not have the money to buy it, there is zero financial loss, because it would never ever be bought in the first place. Exactly the same thing applies if there is no legal way to buy it. Then there are the people who download that would never buy it. Semantics have nothing to with it. By definition stealing and theft require loss to have taken place.

    If you want to get absolutely silly with the gun talk (and pirates in other countries would probably be quite happy for you to take potshots at people nowhere near them and hence end up in the slammer, I’d imagine), here’s something else that is rather over the top, but not as ludicrous as to equate assault with a deadly weapon with copyright infringement. Again, a book that is only available in the USA, so maximum people that could purchase, say 300 million. We’ll ignore some of them being babies, insane, in jail or whatever, and some of the non-USA people using fake ids and addresses and credit card info to get around georestrictions. (Yes, some people do fraudulent?? (maybe) things to buy books, crazy fools).

    That leaves six billion other people, give or take the odd hundred million. If the book is 5 dollars, and every single one of those people downloads a copy, then your argument says there’s been 30 billion dollars worth of stealing. Most authors would be bankrupt after that. :) Who think their bank accounts would say -29.something billion in this event? Who thinks their sales would go up and hence their bank accounts, too? Who thinks there would be no difference?

  294. Blue Tyson
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 10:47:19

    291

    Nope. How could it be?

    You said you like the idea of shutting down people’s internet access.

    My reply describes why I think this is stupid.

  295. Blue Tyson
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 11:02:07

    A notable difference: if a pirate downloads music, and likes it, s/he may opt to purchase albums to procure better quality sound.

    — Sometimes. But if they want mp3s, they may already have as good a quality as it will get in the download, or better quality than is being sold.

    No such incentive exists in the epublishing industry. The copyrighted ebook reads no differently than the pirated copy.

    — Sometimes it will, in the case of a dodgy scan. However, in a lot of cases the ebook may be good quality and have no DRM so is actually a far superior product. That is why I said above it may not be the same. It also has nothing to do with the possibility that heavy downloaders may be your best customers. Of course, some publishers have seen fit to cut off people in many countries from being customers at all, so less likely to apply.

    Furthermore, many authors and epubs offer free stories for download. Readers have the opportunity to download the freebies and effectively “sample” an author's quality before opting to purchase the author's additional works.

    — Some do. I’ve seen huge numbers that don’t. Some large publishers are too hopeless to do this. Very crazy. Putting book extracts on the web is child’s play. Sometimes non-related samples aren’t of interest to certain groups of people. e.g. if you have a fantasy story to download about unicorns, that doesn’t give much of an indication of what your crime novels are like. Some may have no interest in the author’s particular style, themes, talent, or whatever in a broad sense, just whether they will like book Z or not.

    There was a recent study I forget the name of that showed excerpts increase book sales (likely to have been associated with new ebook readers I think). Shocker, eh?

    Providing this service may also reduce the number of people downloading to see if they like it or not. I haven’t seen any good reasons as to why this doesn’t happen.

    I’ve seen stupidity associated with this, though. Michael Stackpole quoted one publishing person as saying ‘we can’t, we ran out of pages to do a bigger excerpt.’

    Shortcovers blocks me from seeing excerpts on a lot of books because I don’t like in the USA/Canada or wherever. Some serious publishing marketing fail there. Even for books that are sold here and have been for years.

    I’ve seen excerpts that are copyright pages. I’ve seen excerpts that are 180 words long. For novels.

    Publishing certainly isn’t making it easy for people.

  296. A
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 11:13:35

    @Blue Tyson:

    You have a serious problem with logic.

    I have a serious problem with criminals.

    If someone does not have the money to buy it, there is zero financial loss, because it would never ever be bought in the first place.

    So…if an impoverished shoplifter steals lipstick from Sephora’s, Sephora’s did not lose anything? After all, the shoplifter was never going to purchase the lipstick.

    I find it hard to believe the average pirate can’t afford the book/s they pirate. More plausible: they prefer to steal the books and use their disposable income on other items that either hold greater priority or are more difficult to steal. They want the books, they just prefer not to pay for the books.

    Exactly the same thing applies if there is no legal way to buy it.

    Readers in this scenario should look into options to lawfully procure the desired item/s. Not steal them.

    Then there are the people who download that would never buy it.

    I would never buy cabbage. I dislike cabbage. Does that mean I may steal cabbage from the supermarket?

    No logic problem here.

  297. A
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 11:36:59

    @Blue Tyson:

    It also has nothing to do with the possibility that heavy downloaders may be your best customers.

    How do I make this clear to you. Let’s see.

    1. I do not care if a pirate likes me or not; I care that s/he is infringing upon my copyright and giving away my work.

    2. I do not care if pirate/s are or are not my best customers. I care that pirates are infringing upon my copyright and giving away my work.

    3. I do not care if pirate/s read or don’t read my work; I don’t care if pirate/s like or dislike my work. I care that pirates infringe upon my copyright and give away my work.

    4. I don’t care if pirate/s never heard of me or my work and would never drop a penny on my books, whatever the reason. I care pirates infringe upon my copyright and give away my work.

    Do you see where I’m going with this?

  298. Blue Tyson
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 12:02:10

    296

    “So…if an impoverished shoplifter steals lipstick from Sephora's, Sephora's did not lose anything? After all, the shoplifter was never going to purchase the lipstick. ”

    I am sure other people have said this, but this is even more egregious illogic. Sephora’s then has one less lipstick. If Sephora has an ebook and makes a copy of it and gives it to someone, Sephora still has the original. The number of books has then gone UP not DOWN. If you don’t know the difference between UP and DOWN and GREATER and LESSER…

    “Readers in this scenario should look into options to lawfully procure the desired item/s. Not steal them.”

    They have. There aren’t any, because publishers and authors won’t provide them. I personally deleted 20 books off a wishlist the other day that I can’t buy, that I could have a few months back.

  299. M
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 12:08:32

    @A:

    Sorry A, but you really need to do your research better for your analogies. As Jane state above, “copyright infringement is not stealing and I wish we would stop using those terms. The Supreme Court clearly stated that it is not a theft because it doesn't deprive the copyright owner of the ability to exercise her intellectual property. IP is not the same as real property and therefore terms like “theft” and “stealing” associated with copyright infringement is simply erroneous and hyperbolic.”

    So get off your high horse and stick to the facts. Sure it’s illegal and immoral, but it’s NOT STEALING OR THEFT.

  300. A
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 12:18:33

    @Blue Tyson:

    If Sephora has an ebook and makes a copy of it and gives it to someone, Sephora still has the original. The number of books has then gone UP not DOWN. If you don't know the difference between UP and DOWN and GREATER and LESSER…

    You yourself stated several posts ago that the bootleg copies can be inferior in quality. I do not benefit by having inferior copies of my copyrighted work available for free download on the internet.

    Once again, I do not care that additional, potentially inferior copies of my books are available on the internet. I care that pirates infring upon my copyright and give away my work.

    They have. There aren't any, because publishers and authors won't provide them. I personally deleted 20 books off a wishlist the other day that I can't buy, that I could have a few months back.

    This falls under the realm of “not my problem.” Too bad. Tough luck. Doesn’t give you the right to engage in piracy. I have no obligation to provide you with something in order to encourage you not to exploit my intellectual property. If you possessed a shred of moral consciousness, you would know that.

  301. A
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 12:34:49

    @M:

    Sorry A, but you really need to do your research better for your analogies. As Jane state above, “copyright infringement is not stealing and I wish we would stop using those terms. The Supreme Court clearly stated that it is not a theft because it doesn't deprive the copyright owner of the ability to exercise her intellectual property. IP is not the same as real property and therefore terms like “theft” and “stealing” associated with copyright infringement is simply erroneous and hyperbolic.”

    So get off your high horse and stick to the facts. Sure it's illegal and immoral, but it's NOT STEALING OR THEFT.

    1. I do not care what Jane says and how the U.S.S.C. ruled. I care that criminals are exploiting my work and infringing upon my copyright via piracy.

    2. I don’t care if IP and RP aren’t the same thing. I care that morally unconscious criminals exploit my work and infringe upon my copyright via piracy.

    3. I’m not on a “high horse.” Morally unconscious criminals A.K.A. pirates are simply so LOW I appear to be on a “high horse.” I cannot stoop to that level. I abhor dark, slimy, stinky underground places and could never go down where these criminals are. Every time they open the manhole and try crawling into the sunshine, they start to shrivel – they need to go back down. They’re kings in their dinky free download sites while in daylight and fresh air, they’re repulsive slime balls.

    Here’s FACT:

    “The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.”

    http://www.fbi.gov/ipr/

  302. A
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 12:52:20

    LOL…I must say, this thread reads like a dark comedy. The entitlement mindset of the piracy camp is mind-boggling.

    Let me make it clear. I realize pirates have always been around, always will be around, etc. I realize pirates think their piracy is justified or are simply so amoral they do not care about authors’ rights.

    I realize — and am quite disturbed — that some DA posters think authors are in the wrong to criticize piracy or are somehow obligated to provide pirates with benefits to “convince” them not to exploit the author’s work.

    I understand that, despite the illegality, it’s unlikely I can prevent piracy.

    Pro-piracy camp, you need to understand this. I am not going to hide my disgust and contempt of you behind diplomacy and PR smiles. I am going to call your behavior what it is: CRIMINAL and IMMORAL.

    If you have a problem with that, GOOD. Heed your conscience, and do what is right.

  303. ardeatine
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 13:11:41

    A few bookpiratefails I’ve seen recently…

    Posting on the publisher reader forum asking where their books may be obtained for free.

    Posting on the publisher reader forum asking where other publisher’s books may be obtained for free.

    Asking the publisher to sell you a single copy of each book with “resale rights” so you can open your own bookstore in a subcontinental country.

    Claiming your ex/jealous lesbian lover pirated the book to “get back at you.”

    When confronted by enraged author, crying that you love their books and would never do anything to hurt them.

    Using the same email address on the pirate link as you do to send gushing reviews to the author.

  304. Suze
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 14:00:04

    This has been an interesting and painful conversation to read. I have a lot of sympathy for writers, for whom piracy can only be frustrating and hurtful. I have a lot of sympathy for readers who want desperately to read a particular book that is just not available to them. Clearly, the publishing industry has to change its ways, and stop making it so difficult for honest customers to give them money.

    I must say, though, A: you’re really off-putting. I’ve lost all my sympathy toward you. You apparently live in a world of no moral ambiguity whatsoever, and there’s nothing in the world that you want or need that’s not easily and legally available to you. You’ve clearly never had to face hard choices. And everybody else in the world who has to chose between committing a misdemeanor or doing without can rot in jail, can they?

    You are on a high horse. I hope it doesn’t hurt you too badly when you fall off.

  305. anonymouse
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 14:27:55

    @A – you need a real attitude check. Your comments, attacks, and ignorant black and white beliefs about the world are loosing any support you are trying to garner. I think the best thing you did was keep yourself anonymous, since most readers here who are honest would likely boycott your works based on your actions. It’s clear to me that authors like yourself are going to continue to loose money unfortunately. Why you might ask? Because you are unable to clearly analyze all the things that are wrong about the current situation and how those things affect piracy rates. Piracy will always occur regardless of its morality or legality. Authors and publishers need to minimize the attractiveness of copying works for free. It’s not the readers’ jobs to do so. This is not advocating copying works, simply keeping the damage to your finances as low as possible. Remember, copying literature and not paying for it has been an issue for longer than you have been alive and it will be around long after you pass away. It makes me wonder what Shakespeare thought of this issue, but then, he copied works from others as well, so he probably just shook his shoulders and said, it’s just part of life.

  306. A
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 14:35:51

    @Suze:

    I must say, though, A: you're really off-putting. I've lost all my sympathy toward you.

    I don’t want your sympathy.

    I have a lot of sympathy for readers who want desperately to read a particular book that is just not available to them. Clearly, the publishing industry has to change its ways, and stop making it so difficult for honest customers to give them money.

    I agree it would be wonderful if the world was a perfect place and everyone could get whatever s/he wanted whenever s/he wanted it. Real life does not pan out this way, unfortunate but hardly justification for criminal behavior.

    You apparently live in a world of no moral ambiguity whatsoever, and there's nothing in the world that you want or need that's not easily and legally available to you.

    I live in the same world you do. Desiring something not easily or legally available to me does not justify criminal behavior. No one “needs” an ebook. It is a recreational item. We aren’t talking about people lacking life’s essentials (i.e., food and water, shelter, clothing, medical care) and resorting to criminal behavior to acquire those essentials. We are talking about people pirating copyrighted material for personal entertainment, empowerment, and the illicit thrill attached to “one-upping the man.”

    You've clearly never had to face hard choices.

    I’ve faced several hard choices without pirating copyrighted material belonging to others.

    And everybody else in the world who has to chose between committing a misdemeanor or doing without can rot in jail, can they?

    They probably won’t rot in jail, but they should.

    I and my family have invested substantially (time, money, travel, education, and research) in my writing. I love, value, and respect my work. I will not condone piracy of my or anyone else’s copyrighted work. Period.

    You’re commenting to the effect I don’t have a clue about real life and deprivation. I don’t think you have a clue about the extreme expense in terms of time and money in the writing profession. If you had an inkling of the effort, financial expense, and emotional costs involved in the creative process, piracy would appall you.

    Thank you for suggesting authors deserve to be made putains of people who really want to read something.

  307. Sonita
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 14:56:26

    @A: “Pro-piracy camp, you need to understand this. I am not going to hide my disgust and contempt of you behind diplomacy and PR smiles.”

    *She says while using just a letter as her moniker to quite obviously hide her identity.*

    I have much more respect for the authors who used their full names and even linked to their websites, and spoke out publicly.

  308. A
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 14:57:55

    @anonymouse:

    @A – you need a real attitude check.

    No. Criminals and supporters of criminal behavior need the real attitude check.

    Your comments, attacks, and ignorant black and white beliefs about the world are loosing any support you are trying to garner.

    I don’t want support. I want my rights respected. Please explain to me why that desire is an unreasonable one.

    I’m attacking no one by proclaiming a crime is a crime and proclaiming I resent that crime. That is not an attack; that is truth. I’m sorry if truth offends you, but really, it’s authors whose rights are abused by pirates, not the other way around.

    I think the best thing you did was keep yourself anonymous, since most readers here who are honest would likely boycott your works based on your actions.

    What actions do you mean? What actions on my part merit this alleged “boycott?” Because I don’t smile and express compassion for piracy?

    Boycott pirates and pirate sites. That’s the proper thing to do, don’t get peeved with me because I state plainly that piracy is wrong and I don’t condone it.

    Because you are unable to clearly analyze all the things that are wrong about the current situation and how those things affect piracy rates. Piracy will always occur regardless of its morality or legality. Authors and publishers need to minimize the attractiveness of copying works for free. It's not the readers' jobs to do so. This is not advocating copying works, simply keeping the damage to your finances as low as possible.

    Regardless of my “weak analysis” piracy is a crime and I don’t condone it.

    Regardless of how commonplace it is, piracy’s a crime and I don’t condone it.

    Regardless of what authors and publishers do/don’t do to placate pirates, piracy’s a crime and morally conscious people don’t condone it.

    It’s the equivalent of saying someone deservesd to rape or mug a victim because the victim “didn’t take better measures to protect himself.” Piracy is not a violent crime; it is an intellectual crime. I am not going to justify criminal behavior, particularly when that behavior exploits me.

    I’m sorry you think I should be happy to be exploited and should take some kind of responsibility for my own exploitation, but that’s just too bad. I will not accept responsibility for criminal behavior in others.

  309. A
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 15:03:38

    @Sonita:

    *She says while using just a letter as her moniker to quite obviously hide her identity.*

    I have much more respect for the authors who used their full names and even linked to their websites, and spoke out publicly.

    I don’t care if you respect me, just respect my copyright.

    P.S. — Last I checked, anonymous posting isn’t a crime, unlike copyright violation.

    If you’re more offended by my use of my initial than the criminal exploitation of professional authors, I’d call your priorities a tad skewed.

  310. Mike Briggs
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 15:53:55

    Wow. The pirates are here, with their full cargo of faulty logic and flexible morals. Avast, have at you honest tradesmen, we’ll have your work and never pay a single farthing. And when and author, like A, tries to call a spade a spade, she’s lampooned (or is that harpooned in pirate-speak?) for her efforts.

    Personally, I’ve given up talking to pirates. Most of them flunked economics, shunned philosophy of morals, and have little respect for the law. They spout the same tired, flawed, adolescent rhetoric. A little magic, a little psuedo-utopian socialist agenda, and whole bunch of entitlement.

    Here’s a little food for thought. Publishing runs on very thin margins, typically ten or twelve percent. Books are also an unusual product — almost all of the costs are front-loaded. The author’s advance, editing costs, contracts, art, typesetting, formatting etc. all need to be done before the first book (e or paper) is printed. The publisher hopes to recover those costs by selling copies — which naturally is where the pirates come in, grab the (very expensive) finished work and distribute it for free.

    When you pirate, you make the honest customer feel like a chump. You’re eating his lunch, and mocking him while you do it. Maybe he/she will pirate instead of purchase next time. Congratulations, you’re bringing ‘em over to the dark side. Remember that ten percent profit margin? When sales drop below that mark, the pubisher can no longer produce books. Poof. No more publisher. I think we’re going to see a lot of that in the next few years.

    The pirates claim that there will always be an endless supply of authors willing to put in countless hours, master the craft, and produce finely-polished books for free, MAYBE with a PayPal donation button on their web-site. The pirates are smoking crack. Sure, books will be created, but not in the numbers, or in the quality currently seen. Those early-career or starving midlist authors who are struggling along at sub-minimum wages are mostly doing it because they hope, despite the odds, that they’ll someday manage to make a decent living. Kill publishing, and that dream dies.

    My wife is currently making a living writing. I supported her for twelve or thirteen years where her annual income bought us a couple of Burger-King dinners. She was always hopeful that the next book might just catch on. Without that dream, there’s no way she’d have kept writing. Kill the dream, and your pool of hopeful authors is going to evaporate.

    Many authors are already talking about hanging up the keyboard. Shilo Walker, a very talented author, has given up on at least one series of popular books due to piracy. Those are books the world will never see, books I’ll never be able to read. I support her decision, but I’m pretty angry at the selfish pirates who drove her to it. She’s far from the only one.

    Piracy is immoral and illegal, but the law is toothless and morals disturbingly flexible. I’m afraid that, barring a miracle I can’t even imagine, the only writing being done in fifteen or twenty years will be little more than fanfic. Welcome to the future.

  311. B
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 16:01:36

    “A” is for apple, a bad apple that is.

  312. A
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 16:17:35

    @B:

    “A” is for apple, a bad apple that is.

    LOL…Sorry, I know it’s rough being told like it is.

    REgardless how much a “bad apple” I am IYUO, piracy is a crime and violates author’s copyright. I don’t appreciate it, and I will not pretend otherwise.

  313. Jane
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 16:23:47

    @A Did you read the Copyright link that was upthread in which the Supreme Court of the United States said that copyright infringement is not theft?

    In any event, I am closing the thread. It’s devolved into nothing more than useless namecalling.

  314. Suze
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 16:23:58

    It's the equivalent of saying someone deservesd to rape or mug a victim because the victim “didn't take better measures to protect himself.”

    It’s not the equivalent, and that’s what’s offending me. Your viewpoint lacks perspective.

  315. Stumbling Over Chaos :: Mayhem’s Lap Ennui, plus links! And books! And exclamation points!!
    Nov 04, 2009 @ 02:04:09

    […] on ebook piracy from Dear Author and from author Carolyn Jewel. And something else to think about – music pirates actually buy […]

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