May 10 2006
There seems to be a reader/author disconnect. When the Plagarism issue arose, there were many readers who just didn’t see what all the fuss was about while the industry related bloggers and posters were up in arms. I saw the same disconnect in the responses to the sale of ARCs. No reader seemed to think that it was as big a deal as the authors. Many readers who posted at Smart Bitches thought that ranting about it served little purpose but to turn readers off. One poster pulled the “I have to feed my children” card.
Obviously the disconnect comes from perspective, but what is the motivation behind the disconnect? Neither the plagarism issue nor the ARC sale affects a reader personally. Further, it doesn’t seem apparent that authors are hurt by either action. Are readers subscribing to the “no harm, no foul” rule? Does a reader have a social or moral obligation to the publishing industry including publishers, authors, and “good” reviewers?
For the authors, it seems a deeply personal issue. Probably McCafferty feels violated in some way that her hard work was used to garner someone else a half million dollars. Cast feels personally violated that she doesn’t get the review promised, other “good” reviewers are slighted, and someone else is profiting from her work without her getting any benefit (either in the form of a review or in the form of royalty payments). While acknowledging the sale of ARCs is not illegal, she still views it as a theft.
I often think that no matter how much authors like to say that they don’t mind used bookstores, they really do because every used book purchased is money that they are not getting. Remember the furor over Amazon listing the “used’ sales right under the new sale price? Readers view UBS as a godsend. How else can we fulfill our voracious reading appetites. Readers bemoan the increased prices on books, but that only increases the royalties to authors (assuming that royalties are percentage based). Is it possible for readers and authors to get along or will self interest always keep us apart?