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

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