Tuesday Midday Links: Is Apple headed for a showdown with Amazon?
Sony has been promoting its iPhone App for some time but it has never made it to the app store. The New York Times now reports on why. Apple told Sony that it cannot sell content within its apps or allow customers to access content purchased outside the Apple App Store. Currently reading apps like Amazon and BN allow you to purchase content either through the Safari App on the mobile device or through a website on a laptop or desktop. The content is then downloaded into the App.
What it sounds like Apple wants is for all the content to be downloaded via its own servers. Thus, if Amazon wanted to deliver a book to the Kindle App, it would have to do so by uploading the book to the Apple server farm and then Apple servers would deliver the book to the Kindle App. Apple would somehow restrict all in app downloads to content stored solely on its server farms. Update: Since I wrote this another statement from Apple has come out to indicate that they won’t restrict out of app purchases so long as the App offers in app purchasing. What this means is that the Kindle App will have to offer in app purchases as well as offering the ability to purchase via the mobile Safari site like it currently does. The benefit to Apple is that they get a 30% cut of each purchase.
One way for Amazon to get around this would be to offer a web based reading experience (which I currently dislike because of speed and access issues) much like Google Books is touting.
Given that Apple wants 30% and, under Agency pricing, publishers want 70% that would allow no margin for these booksellers like BN or Amazon to sell digital books to be read on the Apple devices. There have been reports that more people use the Kindle App on the iThings than the iBookstore.
Apple’s share of the mobile market is quite large and restricting all purchases made on the mobile devices to be funneled through Apple might make the FTC stand up and take notice.
Overdrive says that romance books are the key to ebook retailer success.
One thing has been clear from the very start of our digital distribution network: Romance sells.
Titles from three Romance publishers-‘Harlequin, Kensington, and Dorchester-‘can make up more than 25 percent of total eBook sales on sites that don't specialize in the subject. That doesn't even include romance titles from other major publishers like HarperCollins, Penguin, and Random House.
I expect this to mean that more books that aren’t romance are going to be showing up in the romance section of ebookstores because that is where the readers are looking. Which means, of course, we will have to sort through more dross to find out exactly what we want (hea, for example).
You probably have heard about the situation in Egypt by now. Egyptian government has tried to cut off the internet and communication access of all Egyptian citizens. One author, Olivia Gates, lives in Egypt (note to self, must read her Sheik books) and her book, To Tempt a Sheik, is being released. Because Gates is cut off from the rest of the world, however, she cannot do any promotion for her book herself. (Also she is living in an area that is undergoing enormous civil unrest).
To Tempt a Sheikh by Olivia Gates
He rescued hostage Talia Burke from his royal family’s rival tribe and swept her into his strong embrace. But Prince Harres Aal Shalaan soon discovered there was more to the brave beauty than he knew. Talia held information vital to protecting his beloved kingdom-and she had every reason not to trust him.
Marooned together at a desert oasis, Talia couldn’t resist Harres. Yet even as his sizzling seduction entranced her, his loyalty to his family and country would always make them enemies. Falling for the sheikh would be her heart’s greatest mistake-but she feared it was already too late-.In stores February 1!Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, Books A Million and bookstores everywhere. Also available at eharlequin both in print and as an ebook. To read a first chapter and visit Olivia’s webpage, click here.
Last September, Books-a-Million quietly made a big move into the used books business with 2nd & Charles, a 40,000-square-foot test store located just outside the company’s hometown of Birmingham, Ala., stocked almost exclusively with used merchandise (including CDs, DVDs, video games, and vinyl, as well as books). Though the corporate office remains quiet on the store and its success (BAM merchandising group president Terry Finley declined to comment “for competitive reasons”), December saw the retailer open a second test store in Augusta, Ga., and word on the sales floor is that the retailer plans to open three more 2nd & Charles stores in locations yet to be determined.
- romance author, Tiffany Clare’s Fuck You rant.
- science fiction author, Toby Bucknell’s writing on the high seas.
When I got out of law school, my mentor gave me a book called Writing for Non Lawyers. He told me that every story has to be tailored to fit the audience. What I would write for a judge may be different than what I would write for a jury (that I would deliver, obviously, orally). Always be aware, I was cautioned, who the audience is. The audience that I am writing for here at Dear Author is a reader, first and foremost. When I write for work, it’s for an entirely different audience. When authors are writing a book, perhaps their audience is just themselves. But when they write a blog post, a facebook entry, or a tweet, the audience is the readership, both buying and non buying.
Jane thanks for reminding me about Olivia’s release. She is one of the nicest women I’ve met in publishing, a wonderful author( you should read her Sheik books) but an amaizing human being. I hope she’s safe and well. I’ll for sure be pimping her release on my own blog when I get home.
As well, Tiffany Clare’s anger at piracy is felt by all authors. We can’t afford to write for free (well most of us can’t and even if we could, why the hell would we?) Here, here I say and a big ass FU to all the pirates who steal.
I think a part of Romance and fiction overall being such a big chunk of e book sales is because non-fiction books seem to be much more expensive in the Kindle format. Best selling non- fiction may be 9.99 – 12.99 but the ones my family has looked to buy in the Kindle format have been 19.99 – 35.99!
We didn’t buy them of course.
I’m not impartial as Tiffany Clare is my cp and very good friend, but I really don’t think her blog post was targeting non-buying readers as it was targeting pirates. I do think that authors should speak up about this topic but I am probably viewing it from a different perspective.
As a further aside while I am of the notion that a certain percentage of these ‘non buying readers’ wouldn’t buy your book anyway, they download it because it’s free…it’s frustrating to get google alerts everyday from illegal sites that are giving your book away for free, thousands of times over. Or people asking blatantly where they can find your books for free.
Bottom line, Piracy is stealing. I don’t agree with any of their excuses.
I’m growing a little weary of the FU, Pirates screeds myself. Pirates don’t give a sh!t, so the honest reader is the one bearing the brunt of all the hostility. Screaming at the wrong people hasn’t improved things for the past however-many years, so by all means, scream louder and more often.
I wonder if the authors are getting paid for all those Dorchester downloads considering what transpired there in 2010?? I hope so! So many interesting titles there.
Right or wrong, authors who make a big deal about piracy via their author-branded marketing (Twitter, Facebook, blog posts) turn me off. I don’t buy their books, as a rule. Instead of having positive associations with the brand name, I have negative ones, and when book buying time happens, I choose other authors.
I don’t pirate, but angry “fuck you” posts still make me feel targeted. It’s like all readers are suspect or something.
Well, “Pirates and Whore-ders of free things” sounds pretty encompassing to me. I would have more sympathy with the rant if Clare showed any understanding of the complexity of the population which uploads and downloads. There has been research on the effects of piracy, and there have been some illuminating interviews with individuals who download illegal copies.
The claim that 30k downloaded books is 30k lost sales is just not credible. Given the number of hoarders, downloaders who don’t have legal access to buy the book, and bulk downloaders who get your book as part of a zip file whether they want it or not, the number of actual lost sales is much lower.
I certainly understand that it is miserable for authors to see daily notices that their books are on filesharing and pirate sites. But getting that worked up over an inaccurate scenario seems counterproductive to me.
I don’t post here often, but I think authors have a valid reason to be upset when their books are pirated and really, if you yourself don’t ‘pirate’ why should you feel targeted? Or upset? I don’t understand that mentality. Ms. Clare’s post was directed at the pirates who have stolen from her, not readers.
Piracy is never going away, so authors are probably best served by ignoring it and continuing to write.
I do tend to agree with Bucknell’s point that people will not go to the trouble of downloading illegal copies from skeevy, virus-ridden sites if books are reasonably priced at legitimate sites. But I also see publishers staunchly sticking to their agency pricing. So…
Yep, it looks like Apple is telling the apps they can offer outside app purchases but they have to have in app purchases that include a percentage to Apple.
I just buy my non-DRM PDFs and stick them on iBooks anyway so big whoop. It does not effect me in the least and Apple still does not get anything and I am using their products for it all.
I can’t blame Apple really. It is not like you can purchase or use iBooks and it’s format of eBooks on a Kindle or a Nook or one of Sony’s precious readers so fair is fair if you want to play in their yard pay the man.
Ridley, your comment absolutely blows my mind. I’ll grant you that I have a few authors on loops/facebook/blogs etc. who talk about nothing but piracy and how much it sucks, and yeah, that gets tiresome. But authors have just as much right to stand up for themselves as any other business owner. Would you quit shopping at a store that installed security cameras in response to theft?
@Annabel: “…people will not go to the trouble of downloading illegal copies from skeevy, virus-ridden sites if books are reasonably priced at legitimate sites.”
I have a book that’s free, available in multiple formats, from some places with no geographic restrictions, and can be read in full at any time for no charge on my blog. It nonetheless appears on many torrent sites, and I get search hits on my own site all the time looking specifically for those torrent sites.
Piracy is not the last resort for readers who have no other way to obtain a title and will suffer a horrible death if they must do without. It’s the first resort for someone who believes they’re entitled to get something for nothing. That is an increasingly pervasive cultural attitude of selfishness that cannot be diverted by reason or ranting.
@ME: “Ms. Clare's post was directed at the pirates who have stolen from her, not readers.”
The pirates who have stolen from her aren’t reading her blog. Readers are. Readers who have probably already been subjected to the same speech at other authors’ blogs. Even if the rant isn’t directly aimed at them, they’re the ones being bombarded with the hostility and vitriol, and that’s never a pleasant experience.
There’s this tendency to think everybody reading your blog is your buddy, but really, every blog post may be the first experience a stranger has with you. An angry, expletive-laden, redundant screamfest will make it the last experience for a lot of those strangers. THOSE are lost sales completely within the author’s control.
@Jennifer Armintrout: “Would you quit shopping at a store that installed security cameras in response to theft?”
I’d stop shopping at a store that had a security guard start screaming at customers as soon as they walked in the door.
I completely agree that authors have every right to stand up for themselves as any business owner and no, I will not stop buying the books from the author who is upset about piracy. However, I would like the authors to direct their rants to where they belong, in other words to choose their words with care if that makes sense. Rant as much as you want about *pirates*, after all I never pirated books, not planning on pirating books so why would I take such rant personally, but do not direct your rants at all the readers, please.
Let me give you even more specific example, couple months ago I won two books on the site which I love and respect in the giveaway and authors sent me the books directly. I am well familiar with the works of one of the authors and never heard of another one before and chose her book simply because I liked the title and wanted to learn about new author.
So, here is what the author whose books I am well familiar with wrote to me (paraphrasing) – happy holidays, hope you enjoy the book the end.
The other author treated me to a long disclaimer and speech about how piracy is wrong (probably standard disclaimer, but who the heck cares, NO you do not have to attach it to something which is supposed to be a gift for the reader as the example of the first author shows, and yes, I got the book for free, but NO I was not planning and still not planning to pirate it), but it definitely left the most bitter taste in my mouth and trust me I will never buy any books from this author. She was not ranting about piracy in general, she did not even direct it to *pirates*, she talked about it to one specific reader *me*, who she assumed is a potential pirate.
I’m slightly concerned about what Apple is up to. I have an iThing (that was the only option available to me at the beginning of last year) and read all my eBooks using the Stanza app. But I haven’t bought anything from the iBookstore. The likelihood is they won’t have what I want. So the thought of them curtailing what I can purchase and read on my iThing? *worried*
Cavet: I haven’t read either of the posts by Tiffany Clare or Toby Bucknell (I’m not sure if they are work safe are prefer to err on the side of caution) so I may have misunderstood things but…I am, for the most part, a non-buying reader. I borrow the vast majority of my print books from the library. The library legally purchases books (using my rates :) and I as a patron can borrow them. I don’t pirate books – I don’t know how.
I don’t know what the answer is, but I do think it would help if publishers realised that the Internet has connected the world is a way it hasn’t before, and that it is very hard to see a book you are dying to read but be told you can’t because of where you live. The eBooks I buy are from small publishers that sell globally, but I have friends who read mainly mainstream eBooks. When they can’t buy they either forget the book entirely (thus no sale) or borrow it from the library (again, no sale). I’m curious as to whether all these lost eBooks sales would make a difference to the authors (although of course nothing can replace the sale lost through book pirating).
There’s a world of difference between talking about piracy professionally and making blog posts to your fans about the evils of piracy.
If I’m not your target, why are you telling me about how evil it is?
Just read what I wrote (the edit button has vanished) and would like to add, that even if I did know how to pirate books, I wouldn’t :)
I imagine it's very frustrating for authors to see their books being pirated. But as @Kerry Allen: said, pirates are not most likely the ones reading the blog, twitter, etc posts.
Readers know piracy is bad. I for one am tired of being lectured about it. Rather or not that's the author's intent, that's the way I interpret most of these rants.
I think Buckell has the better attitude when he says Even assuming piracy is something that could be stopped and stamped out, I'd rather a corporate team do it than me (and let them get vilified). I have writing to do. It's the same reason I don't design covers, inside typography, etc etc. I know what my specialized function is here
If authors feel the need to vent about piracy, I wish they would do so in private with their author friends, publishing team, and/or family. I'm not saying they shouldn't be upset. But â€œscreamingâ€ at your paying readership is not going to stop pirates.
As a writer, publisher, and author services involving Apple, it thing has me concerned. VERY concerned.
My suggestion to romance publishers and romance writers who are heading out on your own: tag your books with HEA and related keywords. That’s one way you can protect your place in genre romance.
Oops. …*PROVIDER of author services involving Apple…
There's a world of difference between talking about piracy professionally and making blog posts to your fans about the evils of piracy.
If I'm not your target, why are you telling me about how evil it is?
I think many authors need to be clearer with themselves about the purpose of their online presence. Do they keep a blog A) to stay in touch with their readers? or B) to serve as a platform for all the many thoughts and interests that make up the sum and total of them as people and/or as writers?
It seems to me that most of the writers whose online comments have caused online kerfuffles may tend more toward the B category – they tend to make posts that reflect their current concerns and preoccupations on a variety of issues.
There can be a happy medium between A and B — say, an author who blogs about personal interests that complement and enhance the persona and voice created in her books. But I’ve been tracking these online mini-scandals and they seem to break out more often with regard to writers who use their blogs as platforms for expressing ideas and concerns that don’t necessarily match up with the writerly voice they create in their fiction.
As Orannia pointed out above, a big problem arises when the writer’s imagined audience for her blog doesn’t match up with random visitor’s idea of who the audience is for the blog. If a reader visits your blog assuming that your blog is a promotional and outreach platform (meant to speak to readers) rather than a venue for general self-expression, she’s going to be pretty startled and understandably rattled if she encounters a strongly-worded rant about activities that are imperiling your financial wherewithal.
I really feel for Tiffany Clare and everybody else harmed by piracy. I don’t think she’s wrong to have said what she did. But if I were a publicist, I’d counsel my clients to think really carefully about the venues in which they choose to make various statements. And I’d tell them to get really clear with themselves on what purpose their blog serves.
As Jane said, you’ve got to figure out who your audience is before you know what you should write and how you should write it.
I should clarify that my not buying anti-pirate ranting authors’ books is more of a subconscious aversion to a negative brand association than it is a overt act. It’s not a “take that!” so much as an “eh, this book doesn’t thrill me, maybe another time.”
I started reading the Tiffany Clare rant and decided that I couldn’t be bothered. I think it contrasted sharply with the statement to the right of the post– “Where mirth, wit, and innocence join’d–London Magazine, Nov. 1735”
Maybe I’m stupid and maybe I’m not misunderstanding this…but shouldn’t an author be allowed to complain about piracy on a blog? I’m sorry but stealing is stealing. You might not like the “rant,” but I think an author is allowed to complain about pirates who are stealing from her.
Also, DS, that quote was something we used when we first started the blog–all of us are frank about our journey to publications and if it’s not light or witty for you, I apologize, but not every step on the publication path is happy, happy, happy. But, hey, ymmv.
When my books first started being pirated I was one angry writer. Lots of gnashing of teeth. But these days I don’t even register when a torrent alert comes through. There are a lot of distractions from writing out there (marketing, good/bad reviews/social media) and it’s really easy to get sucked into expending energy in areas that I have no control over.
What I have control over is the work. Me sitting down at the computer and writing a story that I hope will satisfy and engage readers. Once it leaves my desk, it’s out there and beyond my control. If people come to my website, it’s because they are interested in my books and in general I think most visitors to my site are probably buying readers or readers who have heard something somewhere and are doing recon prior to investing. I want them to stay and explore and enjoy, not feel alienated. If readers have discovered me through reading a pirated copy of my book for whatever reason and come looking for me, I actually think it’s a good sign.
I don’t pirate books, music or movies, so I don’t think I have a very good grip on the mindset, but I’d like to think that if someone enjoys and admires my work they will eventually pay for it. Maybe they’ll read a “free” book and get interested in my backlist. Or maybe not. The bottom line is that I don’t have a million fingers to plug all the leaky holes and I could go nuts trying.
I went to a session with Cory Doctorow at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival last year, and Cory talked about creating a “social contract” with the reader which engages them with you as a writer as well as with the work itself. If readers feel connected, they will most likely not feel comfortable accessing the fruits of your labours for gratis. At least, that’s what I think he said! It made sense to me, and now I concentrate on writing the best book I can and doing what I can to connect with readers (without getting sucked into the social media vortex) and hope that, as Kevin Costner said so famously “If you build it, they will come.”
Hmmm. A bit rambly, but hopefully you get the drift. Might go get a coffee.
Oops I meant maybe I’m misunderstanding this. Sigh.
I feel honored to even be mentioned on here, yet insulted at the same time. It's like a slap in the face for standing up up and yes ranting against piracy. Yes, you can be professional, yes you can not be professional. I have a potty mouth, I would never say pirates suck I would say, true to me, fuck you. Should I not be myself? Should I wear some author faÃ§ade and lie to my readers about who I am?
Regardless of the fact or not that pirates wouldn't have purchased the book to begin with, my books were still illegally downloaded. Let's say that only 10% of those (then 30,000 illegal downloads, now over 50,000) would have been actual purchases that is still 3,000 books I see no royalties for, that I do not get credit for selling. I'm a relatively new author, my books haven't been available for a long time. Now take a seasoned author, someone's books that have been on the shelf a year or more, maybe for many years. They might have upwards of a quarter million illegal downloads (many popular authors have more). Let's take FIVE percent of that amount: that is 12,500 books the author did not sell, which is roughly $11,000 dollars. Exponentially calculate their illegal downloads and losses. I might not be on that higher scale, but for someone small like me, skimming those smaller numbers away from my sales HURTS!
Of course authors are going to spread the word about piracy. Yes, their readers need to know. Because if they don't know, then they won't understand why authors stop selling books, why publishers drop writers down the line.
Stealing is wrong.
Downloading illegal books/music/movies/shows is WRONG!
I'd like to point out that books are not protected on the same scale music and movies are. Authors can't go after the individuals who are uploading and downloading illegally (yet). The only thing left to an author is to educate readers. Readers are great at spreading the word.
Have the commenters in this thread really never known someone to illegally download books? I've known quite a few people who have and I've told them flat out that they were STEALING, that they were contributing to their favorite authors downfalls. I've told them point blank, it's people like you that ensure I don't get another contract.
Authors who don't make enough money for their publisher don't get another contract.
If you've never known anyone to download illegally, that's great, but are all the others who have known someone (that complain about authors rants) to download illegally patted that illegal downloader person on the back and said, ‘good for you?' And by saying nothing you are essentially doing just that.
Yes, my blog is a rant at the pirates, but it also paints a pretty clear picture on the damage it does to me. I would never target any sort of hate directly at my readers who have purchased my book, but I'll not stand silently by with an everything-is-peachy-keen smile on my face while I'm being fucked up the ass without lube by the pirates and downloaders of illegal content.
Authors are people, too. We have feelings and emotions that we express-‘publicly and privately. It's part of human nature.
And by posting that blog, I've made at least 50 people aware that pirating is wrong. I'm sure everyone knows it's wrong but they may not know the precise damage it does. Even ONE illegal download hurts. But how many ones are there? 50? 1,000? 100,000?
I've been forthright in the damage it causes.
So there's 50 people who will probably at some point have the opportunity to defend their favorite authors because they've been given the knowledge to do it with. And maybe, JUST maybe, those 50 that have been educated by my readers and other authors readers will learn the error of their ways and do the same. It's like paying it forward. Educating readers with that knowledge is essential. If you're going to educate people you have to give them the tools (something tangible, something personal) I've done that. And I'm a firm believer that knowledge is power.
And you know something, even only one person walks away from that Fuck You blog with a better understanding on pirating and the damage it has done, than that blog has done its job.
I don't believe that my readers are offended. Some have contacted me and expressed their desire to do whatever they can to stop pirating around them. And if there are readers on my blog that do pirate, the message is LOUD and CLEAR – they are no true fan of mine or any other author they rip off. And truly they can Fuck Off.
You perfectly expressed my own journey in processing piracy. It worries me a lot less than it used to.
I’ve come to realize that all I can do is write the best possible books and let the chips fall where they may. I have my faithful readers who I know would rather die than steal from me, and that’s who I’m writing for. All the rest of it has to be blocked out. Serenity Prayer time, LOL.
I think every first-book-out author should be given a one time rant on his or her blog about her books being pirated. Also, one time rant about mean book reviewers. :)
@Tiffany Clare I don’t believe your readers are offended either. My question is is your post reaching the non readers? You don’t need to convert readers. You need to convert non readers.
Let’s unpack this. First, pirates who don’t affect your bottom line don’t need to be told to fuck off. What is the point of that, right? I assume that your post is targeted at the reader of your book who is illegally downloading the book but would otherwise pay for it, right? How can you convert that non paying reader into a paying reader? Isn’t that the goal? Isn’t that the point of the post? What do you think is the likelihood of your post engaging that non paying reader? If it is just to speak to your existing reader, then maybe it is exactly the right tone and the right words. But if it is targeted at that non paying reader, the reader who is interested in your work, but not interested enough to pay for it, then do you think that is the way to reach them?
Maybe you find these questions offensive (as you indicate that you feel insulted), but I think that this is a legitimate position to take. Authors out there using social media are trying (I believe) to use those platforms to engage readers, increase their profile and sell more books. My comments are meant in no different of a vein than when I complain about bad websites or blog posts that overshare. (I was over all the lipstick chronicles today reading the heartbreaking story of a woman who died because of lack of health insurance and all I could think of was that this was the blog where I read about one author’s blowjobs for her husband).
What I think is happening is that the industry is undergoing huge change which includes a contraction of the print market. Print book sales are plummeting, particularly mass market books. More and more books are being passed by big retailers and by Wal-mart and if you are getting a significant advance then you have to be picked up by all those major retailers and Wal-mart to fulfill the expectations of the publisher in terms of sell through. An author doesn’t have control over what big retailers do or what Wal-mart does and authors don’t find it in their best interests to rail against their book getting passed or their publisher not putting out a print run big enough that would allow a sell through to meet the advance so they target one thing that seems safe and where they can direct all their anger – piracy. But blog posts against piraters make readers who don’t buy but borrow or trade or use the library or buy at used bookstores feel like authors have those same feelings of animosity toward them. Maybe those readers are just in the minority and these internet posts work or are, at least, worth the emotional satisfaction of posting them.
I’m resigned but optimistic about piracy.
I’m less optimistic about attempts by various companies to lock down and continually add further restrictions on ebooks.
Authors can't go after the individuals who are uploading and downloading illegally (yet).
Huh? This is false. You can, in fact, sue the people who are uploading and downloading your books. The DMCA only shields indirect infringers.
@Juliana Stone: As well, Tiffany Clare's anger at piracy is felt by all authors.
No, it isn’t. Tiffany’s a friend, and she’s a really wonderful, generous person (and not at all angry, no matter what that one post would make you think). But authors are like any group of people: you get a good mix.
I just don’t care that much about piracy, and I know I’m not alone.
@Elyssa Papa: I didn’t say she couldn’t rant. She can rant all she wants. I just don’t care to read it. And the contrast between the rant and the quote was what I meant.
Jane is right about picking your audience. The solace of friends is wonderful, but don’t throw a fit in public. I had something happen yesterday that sent me into my office where I swore like a sailor, but the next time I saw someone who wanted to hire me I had a smile and my manners in place. Ms Clare wants me to “hire” her by buying her book(s). She needs to put on a public face.
I hate to be so trite but you only have one chance to make a first impression.
Wait, wait, wait. Hold the phone. People write to make money?! Ha ha haha! That can’t possibly be true.
Sarcasm aside, what precisely is the difference between piracy and buying a book for 25 cents at the library book sale? Or getting it from a friend? Or xeroxing a copy from library? Or ripping songs from a cd? Or making a mix-tape? Or recording something off the TV? The assumption seems to be that if people can’t get it for free, they will buy it. I don’t believe that. For example, there are songs on my ipod that I would not have at all would I have had to pay $1.29 for them. There are books I would never have read, had I had to purchase them.
So my question is, does an author write to be paid or to be read? Is a book a product like shoes? Is writing a skill, like plumbing, a skilled labor that must be duly compensated? If I were to buy a book that someone wrote and found it lacking, could I ask the author for my money back? “I found the HEA unsatisfying and have enclosed a SAS envelope. Please send a full refund.”
Moreover, I think it is perfectly likely that many people pirate in order to gain copies of things they have, at one time, legally purchased. I since I don’t get to technically own any of the ebooks I buy, but am merely leasing them, perhaps it would be conceivable that say, when I got a new computer somehow those items could be rendered unreadable. And then, when I tried to re-download them from the original place I got them, I might find that I couldn’t access them anymore because that place doesn’t exist. Or they have no record of my purchase from five years ago. Then, perhaps, I might be inclined to illegally download said item rather than pay another $9.99 for something that is just as ephemeral. Hypothetically.
Stealing is not always stealing, because people steal for a lot of reasons. People steal becasue it is the only access they have to certain things. People steal because they are poor. People steal because they are frustrated. People steal because they do not know they are stealing. People pirate things they never would buy, because they don’t want to risk buying something they aren’t sure of. Or they know, in the case of popular music, they are going to be sick of in a month. People pirate because of DRM encoding and regional codes. People pirate because they don’t have access to TV channels half a world away.
I understand (sort of) why people get upset about piracy when it hurts them. But nobody whines about it when it benefits them by giving them access to shows only broadcast on BBC4 or obscure articles for the purposes of research. Then everyone’s all, yeah! internet.
I stand corrected. You could go after them, yes, but as far as I know not a lot of authors have yet, and it hasn’t been significant enough to cause illegal downloaders enough harm to make them take a step back and evaluate what they are doing like they might in other mediums of art. Sorry if I got that wrong. I’m usually wrong about something :)
@Jane: Jane, I think you’re sort of leaving off the natural rights view of intellectual property, which is really what I think underlies this.
I think people who rant about piracy may cite economic reasons, but I doubt those are foremost. I think it has more to do with the notion that someone is appropriating something that you think is inherently yours–seen as a personal wrong, not a wrong to property.
It’s the same sort of emotion that explains why my parents got mad when the people who bought their house tore up their painstakingly-cultivated front garden: it had nothing to do with any economic ramifications, because they’d already sold the dang thing. People have an attachment to stuff they create, that persists beyond all explanation to any economic or property-based rationale.
Because truthfully, even though people bitch about piracy being stealing, I think the emotional response simply can’t be explained by pointing to the economic harm, even assuming every download is a lost sale. I doubt people would get that pissed off at someone who stole, say, a G2 pen. You might get a, “Dude, loser much?” But that’s about the royalty an author loses if someone downloads her book instead of paying for it.
It has to be a natural-rights type response to the piracy, or the reaction doesn’t make sense.
@Courtney Milan. Tiffany is a good friend of mine as well and in a rush to defend I used more of broad term than intended. I’ll rephrase, a lot of authors are ticked at being pirated, some are more vocal than others…and some I suppose, like yourself, don’t care all that much.
It is what it is.
What so many have said. Speech may be free, but it’s not free of consequence. If I want to bring someone to understand my point of view, screaming at them isn’t going to work, no matter how much I want to scream, no matter how good it feels. It’s just not effective.
I don’t care one way or the other if Ms Clare wants to be effective, but she didn’t make me want to read her books (the opposite, in fact) and I highly doubt she made anyone want to buy them. But if it felt good, go for it.
Pirates are going to pirate. This hasn’t changed. As long as you can rip people off, a certain number of people will rip people off. They dig it, it makes them feel warm and tingly in their pants. Those aside, the harder you make it for people to pay, the more you set up us vs them (cough Agency cough) the more hoops (DRM) the more likely the middle of the roaders will say screw it. Water finds it’s level. Now you can watch the water roll, but it doesn’t make it different. Screaming at water doesn’t reverse the flow. Make a new path, it flows where you send it.
As far as Apple goes, I’m disappointed. The iBook store and interface are terrible. I manage my books with Calibre and I side load everything. I am not a fan of DRM and I disable it. I don’t pirate, I just make the content I have overpaid for something I can freely use for myself. I also rip my dvd’s so I can carry them around instead of buying a second version of everything. If Apple thinks increasing cost and hurdles to a consumer is going to generate more income, they’ve forgotten the lessons they taught the recording industry.
@ Courtney Milan
I’m not sure what “natural rights” means in legal speak (which I am assuming this is) but as a writer you know that every time you put fingers to keyboard and create something where before there was nothing (ie blank page to book), you put a bit of yourself on the line. Sometimes we spend months and months with one project, sometimes years, sweating with our characters, crying with them, dreaming with them. Hours and hours of labor. And then we learn that someone has “stolen” that work, and is not only enjoying the product of all our sweat, blood and tears for free, but sometimes even bragging about it and getting pats on the backs from other pirates thanking THEM for all their hard work in putting up the download link…well, you know, it can lead to a little acid reflux!!!
It’s definitely a visceral, gut level “it’s not fair!” response, and perhaps the outrage is out of proportion with the fiscal repercussions. But we write emotional stories, we put ourselves into them, and we get upset when people seem to devalue our labors by “stealing” them. If that all comes under the heading “natural rights”, then I’m totally with you!
But as I said above, getting myself worked up about something I will never be able to change is pointless and a waste of energy. But that’s something I have come to over time. My google alert told me this morning that someone is actively asking for someone to post a free download of my Feb release, which was only widely available today. I barely felt a twinge! In fact, what I thought was “well, someone’s been hovering, waiting for the release date. I guess, on some level, that’s a compliment.” I think I’m going through a zen period right now…
@sarah mayberry: If it’s any consolation, I plan on buying The Last Goodbye on Friday. (I have to wait till the weekend, or I end up reading instead of getting my work done.) :)
@lazaraspaste I was reading Anthony Bourdain’s blog over at Top Chef and he mentions how in order to watch the Top Chef finale with Hung he had to download a bootleg copy (and he might have mentioned torrenting it).
@Courtney Milan I haven’t ever thought of it that way, nor heard it expressed in that way. It makes sense, though.
Oh, it is! Thank you! I hope you enjoy the read. And don’t forget that there’s a free on-line read linked to that book over at eharlequin, Worth The Risk. All 20 chapters are up now in their on-line reads section so you don’t have to wait each day for the next installment – pure torture, and I don’t know how some of the regular readers over there stand it. But bless them for their endurance.
@lazaraspaste: Absolutely. And don’t forget the economic model consumers are getting under Agency.
Hardcover MSRP – $24.95, going rate $13.44, eBook $9.69
MM MSRP $7.99, going rate $5.60, EBook $9.99 – 7.99
Doesn’t make the consumer listen when you talk about getting screwed, money wise.
@sarah mayberry: Oh yay a free story! Thank you for telling me. I actually didn’t know about it. For some reason it isn’t linked to it on the book or the author page. I had to Google it to find it. eHarlequin’s website is a bit of a mess.
In my opinion, yes, word of mouth eventually reaches non-readers. And the strong, emotional reaction I had makes it very clear as to what my stance is.
And this is not directed to you, but in general…
I will not be a fake author. I’ve been clear on that, and I’m sorry that some readers might want the fantasy a romance gives to a reader to extend to their perception and perceived fantasy of the author.
@Sunita: I don’t know, Sunita, her lead in seems fairly well-targeted to me. Why is it so wrong for an artist to vent his or her frustration at being stolen from? Are they 30,000 lost sales? Well, maybe they wouldn’t all have otherwise purchased her book, that is nevertheless 30,000 people who, whether out of convenience or whatever other reason, helped themselves to goods and services that they have not paid for. Is it okay for me to steal a cup of coffee if I can double-pinky swear that I wasn’t going to buy one that day? Is that magically no longer a lost sale? What an absurd argument you’re making. Frankly, to all of the people who are rushing to intercept Ms. Clare’s fist with their noses, those of you diving in face first to get tagged, I have this to say: get over yourselves. Seriously. “I’m not a pirate, but I feel targetted!” Honestly? Grow the fuck up; don’t try so hard to be offended. If you’re not a pirate, then the rant was *expressly* not aimed at you. All you’re doing is luxuriating in a little bit of misappropriated self-righteousness. Personally, I appreciate a little honesty and human passion — the whole point of having this sort of unprecedented access to artists (authors, musicians and whatnot) is to actually connect. If you want sanitary, scrubbed and marketing-department-vetted pap, go read a press-release. In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying some insight into the very human people behind the books I love to read.
@sarah mayberry: Sarah, that’s exactly what I mean–that a book is blood, sweat and tears, and maybe, it’s a little personal. So when someone pirates, yes, it can feel personal–as if somehow the act of piracy devalues everything you put into writing the book.
I think the emotional reaction to piracy is rarely about an economic calculus (“She just stole my 56 cents!”) and more about that personal feeling of being punched in the stomach. The economic calculus is just the front-man argument, because it’s hard to say “that feels like you’re punching me in the stomach.”
I’m not trying to devalue that response at all.
I think another emotional reaction authors have to piracy is: Why am I bothering?
If books have no value to readers, then the hard work we do becomes pointless. We become pointless.
I suppose some authors might be altruistic enough to keep writing for the joy of it, but for myself — if I’m not going to make any money for my work — I’m going to spend my time writing fun, silly, personal stuff that I enjoy, and bypass all the frustrations of publishing and promo.
The real sting of piracy is the insinuation that what we’re doing is really worth nothing at all.
Focusing on the positive…
Jane, I think you’ve read a Gates book. I don’t remember why you didn’t like it, though. I read her first one for Desire, The Desert Lord’s Baby, and ADORED it. Her writing is hot and she knows just how to make a swoony sheikh (for me). I hear this new series by her is good, and I can’t wait to read it.
The etiology of the emotional responses to piracy are kind of irrelevant, as is the notion of converting readers or non-readers. Piracy has a real bottom-line effect on artists, even if only in the responses of the various intermediaries like publishers. And yes, there is absolutely a sense of being trespassed against. Why shouldn’t there be? Personally, it is nice to read a real, passionate response to this, rather than a cleaned and canned response. Yes, social media can wielded in a bloodless manner whose sole purpose is to maximize reader response. It can also be a way of making a genuine connection with one’s audience. There was nothing foolish or inappropriate about Ms. Clare’s rant — it was heartfelt and real and appreciated all the more for it.
Words have power. Authors, of all people, ought to know that. The meaning of what you say and to whom you are saying it does not always get interpreted as you intended it to. Words mean many things and as such, if you write a rant down, a vituperation expressing frustration and disappointment, if you make it public, then do you really think that people aren’t going to be offended? That they may interpret your words with a different connotation than the one you originally had in mind when you sat down to write? Especially, fuck you. That’s a lot force.
Fuck you! No, don’t be offended. I’m just saying Fuck you!
Just because it isn’t intended to be directed at you, doesn’t mean that you don’t feel the force of that phrase anyway.
@Gradey Wolff, you seem to think that the offense is because people took Ms. Clare’s rant personally. You also seem to think that critiquing Ms. Clare’s position or out-right disagreeing with it consitutes self-righteousness and a desire for “a sanitary, scrubbed and marketing-department-vetted pap.” But disagreement is not self-righteousness, nor is feeling offended by the strength of the words somebody chooses to employ. Nor in feeling angered or simply frustrated by a perspective you don’t agree with. It’s human, afterall, to feel offended. Grown up or not.
I think, too, you are purposely missing @Sunita’s point. If the argument is that piracy is wrong because it hurts sales, then that assumes that those who pirate would purchase said item if they could not get it for free. That is the harm is from the piracy infringing upon economic gain. But Sunita’s point is that that isn’t necessarily the case with piracy. People who pirate music, movies and books are not necessarily representing lost sales in that they would have bought it otherwise, but for being able to get it for free. Nor is she making a moral judgment on the action of piracy, by saying it is okay because it doesn’t hurt sales. She is pointing out the hole in the argument.
Before the internet, before the Xerox machine, violation of copyright–which is what piracy is–signaled that you have copied the material without persmission. This may or may not have anything to do with sales. I think you can violate copyright without benefitting monetarily from it. Lawyers, is that the case? Copyright, then, is something not always held by the person who originally produced the book/album/movie, but by whoever purchased the right to copy that material into a different medium. If I go to the library and Xerox an entire book, I’m violating copyright because I do not have the right to copy the book. I am violating copyright whether or not I intend to use the copy personally or distribute it for money.
If you are going to make the argument that piracy is bad because it creates lost sales, then you are locating the harm in economic loss not in copyright violation. Which are two different, if overlapping, ideas.
@lazaraspaste: Yes, exactly. Words have force, and authors presumably think carefully about the words they choose. I don’t have a problem with expletives per se, but I do notice the context in which they are employed.
Why are readers the only people talking about agency pricing as a source of lost sales? Especially on DA, where Jane has gone to some effort to allow us to have data on this effect? Ms. Clare’s publisher sets the prices for her ebooks; there are no discounts on Amazon, and presumably the same is true for other sites. Do these lost sales not matter because they aren’t illegal? If we’re making the economic argument (rather than Courtney Milan’s excellent natural rights argument), then all lost sales should matter, shouldn’t they? And if the natural rights motivation is what’s driving the anger and frustration, then shouldn’t that be recognized, rather than using the economic argument as a substitute?
The comments on my review of Susanna Kearsley’s wonderful book, The Winter Sea, highlighted the problems inherent in the way digital rights are assigned and used. For a Canadian reader to be unable to buy an ebook by a Canadian author when US readers can is ridiculous (let alone readers in the rest of the world). I haven’t gone looking for illegal ebook versions of her other books. But I can certainly understand why some readers might.
@Courtney Milan: I think it’s a mixture of both.
A few minutes before I hit your first comment I was thinking about how every time I read an argument like the one Clare made I want to launch into an explanation of why IP is not treated like RP or PP in legal terms, why the term “theft” irritates me, and how pirating does not deprive the owner of the use/sale/possession of her rights, as the theft of RP/PP does.
And then it occurred to me that such an argument probably has a similar impact on authors who share Clare’s perspective as her argument has on me — that is, irritation, frustration, feeling like the message is being delivered to the wrong recipient, as @Kerry Allen said, etc. Because for an author who believes that an illegally downloaded copy IS a lost sale will inevitably see those DL’d books as stolen, IMO.
That said, I agree with you completely that the Lockean labor principle is at work here, as well. Together, I think you get a powerful emotional reaction that I completely understand, coupled with an economic argument with which I vehemently disagree and find frustrating, as it leads me to some of the same questions that @lazaraspaste raised about used books and book swaps and other venues through which authors don’t get royalties for books that pass from one person to another. Which leads me to a general frustration over DRM and the DMCA’s undermining of the first sale doctrine, etc. etc. ad nauseam.
Ultimately, I respect an author’s right to be pissed off about piracy and understand the emotional feeling of being slapped. As a reader, though, the economic argument makes me frustrated and ultimately undermines my ability to go along for a long “f-you” ride with the pissed off author. And, of course, that ride has the potential to crash through that necessary distance between the author and her books, for which different readers have varying levels of tolerance.
@lazaraspaste: Stealing is not always stealing, because people steal for a lot of reasons.
This, of course, is patently untrue. If you are caught stealing a loaf of bread from the grocery store, you are still stealing, even if the reason you are doing it is to feed your starving two-year-old. It’s a mitigating factor and may result in more lenient treatment, but it doesn’t make the theft any less a theft.
That said, piracy is not stealing; it’s copyright violation, which is a different “crime” entirely. From an author’s perspective, it’s convenient to think of it as theft, but in the final analysis, what authors really fear is that the time will come when their work will have no monetary value at all because everyone thinks they should be able to get it for free. And then what do authors do? Sell hats and T-shirts? At least musicians have the option of live performances to earn money (and if you look at ticket prices for concerts these days, you can pretty clearly see that it’s where they’re making up the difference for all the music sales lost due to piracy), but authors don’t have the same options.
I tend to fall more in the “oh well” category when it comes to my personal feelings about book piracy, but I do share the concern. When the value of any book is reduced to $0, who will want to write them?
@Sunita: After reading Jane’s post, I went and bought Olivia Gates’s new book on Kindle. I don’t think I’ve read any of her books before.
Thank goodness Harlequin is not pricing their books on the (not really an) agency model, b/c in that case I would have purchased a used print copy if I had wanted to read the book, aka a legal sale but no author royalties, courtesy of the publisher’s reader un-friendly pricing scheme.
Man alive – you just moved yourself to my “actively not ever buying” list with that classless rant.
You join Orson Scott Card and Ayn Rand, so congrats.
>When the value of any book is reduced to $0, who will want to write them?<
This is a discussion being had in more media than just publishing. TV markets are now so fragmented that networks are struggling to justify charging the same ad rates for diminishing audiences. Here in Australia, viewers are downloading TV shows from the US directly from the internet, therefore diluting local audience figures for the same US shows aired on free to air TV. Low advertising revenues mean that there's less money to spend on local, original content. And I suspect that this equation works for US shows with US audiences, also.
In the past, the price we have all paid for watching original content TV was to suffer through ads – or, more recently, to buy the box set. But if those income streams dry up, who is going to foot the bill for creating new entertainment for the masses?
And look at newspapers. How many newspapers have hit the wall because readers are now getting their news free from the internet instead of buying a newspaper? But that news still has to come from somewhere. Reuters has to pay several thousand journalists to go out into the field and write up stories for the world media, yet if we all expect to access that information for gratis, who is going to foot the bill?
The bottom line is that a great deal of the content we take for granted is not free, even if we can currently access it for free if we do a google search. Whether it be fiction, non-fiction, television, movies, music, software, games or journalism, someone has created that something out of nothing and if we as consumers wish to keep consuming above products, there is going to have to be a shakedown at some point. It's a user pays world, after all. Maybe we have to find new ways to monetise entertainment. I don't know what the answer is – although I am sure there are DA readers out there who are more on top of this than I am – but it's certainly going to a be a bumpy ride as everyone looks for the new way forward. Or maybe it's going to be a whole new ball game, with all new players…?
I don’t know you Tiffany and I’ve never heard of you as an author until now. The first two things I’ve read from you are postings where you go on a lunatic rant about piracy. I totally get that piracy is stealing and it’s wrong. But the way you wrote about it makes you look like a crazy person bordering on the verge of violence. I don’t give my money to Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Rielly and other crazies, thus I won’t give my money to you. I’ve also told my friends who are romance readers not to buy books. If your sales drop after your rantings, you’ll know why (and it won’t be because of piracy.)
That should be “I've also told my friends who are romance readers not to buy your books.
What happened to the edit feature?
Well, this has been… enlightening. I’ve been reminded of why I like a couple of the bloggers and authors who’ve commented here, and it seems that Ridley and I have both expanded our “do not buy” lists.
As far as I’m concerned, writing is a job, and in any job, you have to be a professional in front of your customers. If you have something you’re so angry about that you can’t talk about it in a calm, reasonable manner, you don’t talk to your customers about it. You go to your close colleagues, your friends, your family, or, if it’s appropriate, your boss. This doesn’t just apply to how you behave while you’re at the office, it applies to outside functions and to your online presence. Any time you’re appearing as a representative of your company/as a professional in your field, you have to act in a manner which reflects this fact.
Writing is no different. If you’re blogging as part of your online presence, you are appearing as a representative of your brand, and you have to act like the professional you are. Your readership may include regular readers who feel like friends, but it’s not limited to those readers. Your actual readership is anyone who looks up your work online, and if I look you up for the first time and find a nasty rant on your blog, I will lose interest in buying your books. Period. If you want to rant, you have other options: do so on a personal blog/account, or rant to your fellow authors, your friends, your family, your agent.
I’m not saying you can’t stand up for yourself, or that you can’t talk about controversial issues, but ranting and explaining something calmly and rationally are very, very different things. One will keep me open to buying your books (for example, Courtney’s talked about piracy on her blog before, and I recently drove twenty minutes out of my way to get a copy of her latest book the day before its official release date) while the other will stop me from ever reading an author’s books. I don’t want a fantasy version of a fake author; all I ask for is a mature professional.
@lazaraspaste: what precisely is the difference between piracy and buying a book for 25 cents at the library book sale? Or getting it from a friend?
In either case, the reader gets access to content at low or zero cost, so what’s the big deal, right?
Unlike piracy, the second hand bookstores, and personal lending are a limited distribution. That one book doesn’t magically become ten, or a thousand additional copies. I suspect (with little actual data) that most pirates don’t torrent a book, then rush to purchase the sequel. They’ll just torrent the sequel, too. It’s classical conditioning: the behavior was rewarded, why change?
More importantly, the secondary market is an inducement for the paying reader to take a chance on new authors. If I buy a paperback and don’t absolutely love it, I can recover a portion of my investment. The secondary market (including swapping with friends)reduces my potential loss, and allows me to acquire “iffy” purchases cheaply.
I don’t know how to address the pirate issue. Yelling at honest readers doesn’t help, but for most authors their blog is the only megaphone they have. There are multiple pressures driving book prices toward zero (Jane has blogged about several of them), which is frightening for an author. Pirates are not only taking without paying, they’re bragging about it; actively promoting the attitude that creative works have no value. For those who labor to produce such works, that attitude is hurtful on more than a purely financial level.
So if I don’t actively speak out against piracy, I’m an accomplice. That certainly seems personal.
I have a very negative association with the local B&N where I live because a B&N person followed me around the store once thinking I was trying to steal something. I didn’t realize what was going on ’til I’d almost made my way to the checkout, and I’m still ticked that I didn’t confront her. I’d been looking at Light Wedges and, apparently, behaving suspiciously by sticking my head up once and a while to look for a salesperson to help me. I avoid the store now.
I’d like to point out that rants lend themselves more toward incoherence than writerly skill.
Also, I hit the motherload of HQN Medicals at my library’s monthly sale. :)
Not an exact professionalism parallel, but still:
I took an Audiology class last semester and somebody asked the professor (an Au.D.) what you say to parents who are being stupid about their child’s hearing. She said, “You’re a professional. Don’t alienate the parents. Keep a good working relationship with them so you can help the child.”
It might be the most important thing I learned in that class.
I have to agree with some of the others. I’m totally unfamiliar with Tiffany Clare. I’ve never read her books, never pirated her books. Never had anything at all to do with her books.
As the non-Reader Jane speaks of, the rants on the blog and here, which frankly I didn’t finish reading because I got quickly tired of the F*ing and screaming are now THE impression I have of the author. Not her actual books which she should be trying to market, the rants and the total unpleasantness.
Whenever I hear the name “Tiffany Clare” I’m going to think “Oh yes, the F YOU lady” and move on to the next book.
I don’t care if people who are trying to sell me something think they are in the right to rant or rave about any topic.
It turns me off.
It’s not professional and it leads to potential customers taking their business elsewhere.
And it makes me question the publishers who continue to publish said ranting authors.
It’s bad PR and it does not sell books.
Wow, a lot of “mean girl” pitchfork waving is going on here.
What’s worse, Tiffany Clare ranting on HER BLOG about an issue that upsets her, or women who haven’t even read her books deciding to actively discourage others to read her out of what, irritation? Spite? At ONE blog post? And how gleeful you are about it.
Wow, I have to say that old catchphrase yet again. Grow up. Such petty behavior gives readers a bad name and is why more and more authors are just choosing to avoid interacting with readers.
…wasn’t there a comment in the Midday Links last week or so about some Publisher(s) adding a clause to authors’ contract about behaviour and lost sales?
In any case, threads like this make me realise how much I appreciate certain authors (both their writing/books and/or their blogging/commenting). Courtney Milan, Mike and Patricia Briggs and Nora Roberts come to mind.
I agree I appreciate classy and professinal authors. If I went to a store and a guard started yelling f.u. you shoplifters, even not being a shoplifter I would be offended and not return. You are judged by your words. Also friend rushing to someones defense and bleating “mean girls/mean girls” does you no credit either.
Yes it is sad that I can’t spell, and I don’t see an edit feature.
I rearely visit this blog anymore because I grew tired of the meanspiritness that prevailed a lot of time. I think Jane and Co do provide a great forum for readers, with info and reviews. I also think Jane loves to troll the net and post links that lead exactly to what this thread has become, a place for mean spirited posts and its why I don’t think I’ll visit again.
I really haven’t seen one “mean girl” encouraging anybody not to buy a book.
Just a group of book buyers who have commented about how this series of communication from Tiffany Clare has left them with a negative impression which will likely result in concerning their own actions.
Tiffany Clare can write whatever she wishes on her blog or in the comments here. However people who care enough about the Romance Genre to come to this blog and read are almost certainly book readers and often book buyers. If she cares about enticing them to buy her books, then I’d suggest it would be beneficial to her to listen to what they have to say and at least consider it when presenting herself professionaly.
Or she can completely ignore the opinions she sees here and continue on. It is her career on the line and her option.
@ME Authors are very concerned about piracy and it seems to dominate their tweet streams and blog posts. I’ve had to cut down on the authors that I follow because it seems like a non stop barrage of the retweeting of blog posts like this one (not to mention the constant promotion which is at odds with the posts themselves). What I found very curious was the lack of posting about or retweeting that Google is apparently censoring its search results by removing torrents from the results. I would think that this action by Google, more than others, would assist in reducing piracy yet no one seems interested in this (I posted about it last week).
The lack of response or enthusiasm by authors for Google’s move seems to support Courtney Milan’s posting that an author’s reaction piracy is an emotional one and not an economic based one makes a ton of sense to me. And maybe the public venting is something that is a need for authors because the emotional response is so strong.
As for the fantasy author thing, actually, I think the romance genre is made up of that or at least all of marketing is made up of fantasy. For example, the bios of authors usually read “Author A is happily married to a real life hero and lives with their three children (cats/dogs/ponies) in rural Maryland”. You would never read a bio of an author for a romance book that Author A is blissfully divorced but loves writing about other people’s happy ever afters or that Author A is single and looking for love after dozens of failed relationships. There wouldn’t be a dear reader letter about how Author A hasn’t found love yet and doesn’t believe it anymore. There is something in the packaging of a romance author that is as much of a fantasy as the books themselves. I don’t find anything wrong with that, exactly. That is what marketing is about, in my opinion, putting your best foot forward.
I’ve been thinking about, well, not piracy exactly, but the discussion of it here. To me this whole exchange is a good lesson in perception vs. reality (or perception of intent vs. actual intent).
Ms. Clare evidently didn’t *intend* to send the message that was actually received. Not really a big deal. The bigger problem is that there was a great opportunity on-the-job PR learning that was, sadly, not only not taken but actively derided. Some lessons are learned only in retrospect – I hope Ms. Clare gets to that point before she alienates more readers and potential readers.
@Christine M. I don’t think the HC morals clause would extend toward this but rather, I guess, doing something criminal? I can’t see how someone venting about a painful issue could be considered immoral or even unethical. Of course the HC morals clause is really broad.
“I don't give my money to Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Rielly [sic] and other crazies, thus I won't give my money to you. I've also told my friends who are romance readers not to buy books. If your sales drop after your rantings, you'll know why (and it won't be because of piracy.)”
Ah, power. Let’s have a cup of calming tea like proper ladies in a historical romance novel. Let the punishment fit the crime, and remember, the crime here is the downloading of books illegally, not one author’s understandable frustration over it.
We all express ourselves differently, but piracy cuts deep and can feel pretty deadly. When you have half a year of your life wrapped up in a book, it does feel personal when tens of thousands of people take your time and money away and try to justify it somehow.I may not be dropping the f-bomb when I open up my Google Alerts every morning, but you can believe I am thinking it.
@sarah mayberry I don’t feel like books will ever be valued at zero. I don’t know if this is a prevailing or countervailing opinion. As a blogger, I have witnessed the rise of premium plugins and premium blog themes from an open source (free) platform. To run Dear Author, I have paid for three of the plugins I use. I have paid for the design of the blog as well as a premium blog theme. I do this because despite the plethora of free plugins and free themes, the premium plugins and themes offer something that the freebies do not. While there are great free sources out there, sometimes you have to pay for better functionality. While there will be free fiction out there, I believe that quality fiction will be something I have to pay for.
I think, ultimately, the problem is that how readers value books changes from before to after they’ve read the book. A book from a new author has almost no value to a reader. Any money spent on a new author is a gamble. The reader has to evaluate whether they want to spend $7.99 on a new author or spend it on an author that they know has delivered before.
After reading a book, the value of the book can go up and down. If the reader really likes it, she thinks that she got her money’s worth or she may even think that she would have been willing to pay more. (See frex the used prices for some out of print books). If a reader doesn’t like it, she regrets her purchase, thinks that her money is wasted and is less likely to shell out again for a new author.
Freebies, on the other hand, allow the reader to test out the quality of the product before purchasing. (Kind of like a decent sized excerpt). The reader then shows the value by either paying or passing on the next book. At least that is how I perceive the value/price working for a reader.
I do think that there is a natural tendency to want everything for free but I also think that readers understand that in order to get new good books, we have to pay for it. The problem is that readers can’t save every author. We have limited resources so we might only decide that we can help one author instead of another.
For the record, I am not a friend of Tiffany Clare and never knew of her before today. I am just a reader who is frankly annoyed by the henpeckish and temperamental “readers” who populate these sites and seem to delight in tearing authors down.
And for the record, since I do not enjoy watching people ganged up on and bullied, I am adding Tiffany Clare to my TBR list. Heh. I mean, this woman was minding her own business, posting on her blog about an issue that thousands of authors feel equally pissed about, and in my opinion anyway, she doesn’t deserve this outrage and scorn.
I will never understand the glee people take in judging and condemning others.
“I will never understand the glee people take in judging and condemning others. ”
Pot meet kettle…
Why on earth is readers in scare quotes? Deciding to not buy someone because their contributions to the internet puts a bad taste in my mouth makes me not a reader? Hell, I guess I’ve never been a reader because I also stop buying authors who freak out about fanfic, who’s books are boring or contain porn that doesn’t hit my kinks, or who post screeds full of racist, homophobic or sexist nonsense. My resources are limited and the list has to be whittled down somehow. I take no glee in it. Mostly it just makes me sad.
@Jane: My comment was more tongue-in-cheek than anything else but I *did* wonder too. So thanks for the info!
@Jane: You’re right about the value of books. I value Patricia Brigg’s HC book at the retail price I find them, usually around 20 to $30. And I think she’s the only one out there whose books I value so high (the breathtakingly beautiful covers do help, though).
@Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe:
Ah, power. Let's have a cup of calming tea like proper ladies in a historical romance novel. Let the punishment fit the crime, and remember, the crime here is the downloading of books illegally, not one author's understandable frustration over it.
You are incorrect because there is no punishment here. Tiffany is being unprofessional and it’s ruining her rep before she really even has one.
Do you buy an item from a salesperson (e.g., car, computer, furniture, house/apartment, etc.) that is acting unprofessional? I sincerely doubt it. I bet you move on to the next company that also sells XYZ and buy your items there.
Writers are salespeople. They have written books they want to sell and make money on. You won’t sell books if you act unprofessionally.
I read Tiffany Clare’s first book and wasn’t particularly impressed, but thought it showed promise and that I might try her a second time. Her rant does little to make me want to spend more money trying her books. It’s not that I’m offended by it, I just don’t enjoy being yelled at. Particularly because I haven’t done anything wrong as I’ve never downloaded a pirated book. And it also doesn’t make me think highly of her actual writing, given that the manner with which she chose to express herself, which was hardly persuasive.
I’m also not sure what Clare is attempting to accomplish in that post, other than catharsis. If there even are any pirates actually reading her blog, a long FU rant is hardly likely to make them see the error of their ways.
@Jane: I’m not sure the value of books will ever be $0 across the board (I think, for example, that print books will always have a monetary value because they are a physical object). The problem for all of us who love books and want to see people keep writing good ones is that it’s entirely possible that piracy will become so easy and so widespread that DIGITAL books will have no monetary value. Given the rapid adoption of the ebook, the numbers don’t look good for authors/publishers. And even though I think piracy would decrease if the prices traditional publishers were setting for ebooks were more realistic/lower and there were fewer geographical restrictions, I’m not convinced that there is a balancing point where the price is low enough to compete with free AND still fairly compensate authors and publishers for their work. The music industry’s experience on this front certainly suggests that in the competition between free and cheap, free is pretty consistently preferred.
At the same time, I really sympathize with the feeling that a book from an author you’ve never read is essentially worth $0, because you can’t be sure what you’re getting for your money. This really argues for authors and publishers thinking in terms of a very low (or even zero) price point for a debut author’s book–either for a short period of time or even permanently–and then hoping to build a buying readership based on that experience. I know there is some evidence that piracy actually DOES bring in buying readers in this way (someone gets an author’s book for free, reads it, loves it, and then becomes a devoted fan/buyer in the future), and that’s one reason I’m not really angry at people who illegally download any of my books for free. I’d rather I got the opportunity to convert as many potential readers to buyers as possible than to rely on only those who will actually PAY for my work.
Sorry, one more thought–as much as I sympathize with Tiffany’s anger, I’m actually a little envious of her piracy numbers. I WISH 30,000 people were motivated to “steal” my book, because that would be 30,000 more chances that someone was reading my work.
I guess that suggests I want to be read even more than I want to be paid.
(And none of this is to suggest that I want anyone to go out and illegally download anything I’ve written for free other than my free reads. My desire for readers aside, I have publishers to think of, and my publishers work hard, too, and they deserve to be paid.)
@sarah mayberry: @Jane:
I think the “everything should be free” folks tend to be louder and more visible than the average reader. Although, IRL I see more and more people, especially young people, with an overdeveloped sense of entitlement (apparently they’ve never had to work for anything). I’m not sure they’re readers though.
@Christine M.: I’m a dedicated UBS and library sale shopper, and so far there are several hardbacks I plan on preordering this year. River Marked, Enclave, Kiss of Snow, Angels of Darkness (which might be a TPB).
A few weeks ago, it seemed the bee in everyone’s bonnet was that authors shouldn’t be perpetuating the “nice girl” atmosphere. It wasn’t professional to be pleasant all the time and only say nice things about our fellow authors’ books. That it was somehow demeaning to the romance genre as a whole to be so careful with their public face.
This week, I see, is different.
I know, I know. Apples and oranges, right?
Jane @ 74: I was thinking exactly that, that Google’s (and Bing) filtering out of torrent sites will stop casual piracy. This will leave only the hard core pirates, who wouldn’t be buying the books anyway.
I also think there’s a middle area between the “everything should be free” crowd and those willing to pay inflated prices for a digital file. I think it’s quite appropriate to resent being asked to pay paperback prices for a crippled digital file. Those of us who are resentful of that want our authors to make a living writing, but don’t want to be scalped either.
@Gwen Hayes: How about a sardonic and slightly jaded author who nevertheless supported her fellow authors and had a positive outlook about the genre? Then the next week we could flip it and have a sort of super-supportive cheerleader who held a barely concealed grudge against certain authors and perhaps commented in a snarky way on a blog or two. ;D
I’m a proud downloader of every single freebie that comes through my mailbox from ereadieriq and Books on the Knob for Amazon. I adore it when I’m offered things to read from authors or publishers and I squee like a twelve year old when I see something in my mailbox. Shelf Awareness, NetGalley and Amazon Vine are a couple of my ARC lovers and I shudder to think what I spend each month. Harlequin and Carina might as well be added to my mortgage payment.
I still didn’t get a kick out of reading a diatribe laced with Fuck You and I swear like a sailor (I’m trying sooo hard to stop that). I totally agree with the sentiment, just not really the wording. Saundra Mitchell did a similar post a bit ago on her blog and while I already have her next book (The Vespertine) in my TBR, it wouldn’t have dissuaded me from reading her anyway. I’m not saying what Ms. Clare did or said made any difference to me as far as reading anything by her in the future. I can’t see that it would. But I’ll certain remember that upthread she said she didn’t want to take it up the ass without lube.
Take these two scenarios:
I haven’t read any of Tiffany Clare’s books yet. I’m of mixed mind, since I’ve read mixed reviews. In the natural course of things, I’ll look for her book at the library, borrow it, and if I like it, I’ll probably buy her next one.
I haven’t read any of Tiffany Clare’s books yet. I’m of mixed mind, since I’ve read mixed reviews. In the natural course of things, I’ll look for her book at a torrent site, download it, and if I like it, I’ll probably buy her next one.
Because I’m a conscientiously law-abiding person, I chose the former scenario rather than the latter. But for a lot of people, there is no difference.
Here is a quote from someone on a messageboard who uses torrent sites:
In closing, I quote this from Carolyn Jewel’s blog because I think it is probably true
What the pirates are doing, in a sense, is a similar thing you’re doing in promoting your books: getting samples out there to readers who are unwilling to take a financial risk on a new author, but, some of them, willing to buy once they decide they like the author $$that much$$. Yes, of course it’s illegal and wrong and everything you say about that. If they were the kind of people who could be STOPPED by telling them that fact, they’d’ve already stopped.
I think Kaja and Phil Foglio would be surprised by those of you who say that readers won’t buy what they can get for free.
Certainly someone must be buying Girl Genius trades or they wouldn’t be going strong nearly eight years later.
Take a stop in Yahoo! Answers, and take a look at how many people come in actually asking for “free” downloads of recent popular ebooks that are actually for sale, not given away for free by either the author or the publisher. It can be disturbing, as most are actually people that obviously are younger than 30. You can tell by either what they are asking for or the way they express themselves.
Once upon a time I used to get annoyed when authors went on rants about piracy in their blogs, forums, and other online public venues. Now, I understand that all they are doing is seeking a way to vent about the issue. An issue, btw, that they know they have very little control of. I think they are entitled to that venting. I know I would be saddened, angered, and seeking some way to vent a bit openly. The internet provides an open forum for that. I do think that at this point, given how “old” this topic really is, maybe we should start cutting authors some slack. If you add to this the stress of how quickly the industry seems to be changing, I can only imagine how authors in general must be feeling these days. Lots of uncertainty out there, etc.
Personally, I am not bothered by the subject any longer, and I am cutting authors some slack.
I just wanted to point out that Toby’s last name is Buckell, not Bucknell. That caught my eye because he presented a program in a series on writing I put together at my library last fall.
“@Gradey Wolff, you seem to think that the offense is because people took Ms. Clare's rant personally.”
Do you think that that might be because people specifically expressed that they felt targeted?
“You also seem to think that critiquing Ms. Clare's position or out-right disagreeing with it consitutes self-righteousness and a desire for â€œa sanitary, scrubbed and marketing-department-vetted pap.â€ But disagreement is not self-righteousness, nor is feeling offended by the strength of the words somebody chooses to employ.”
No, lazaras, not simple disagreement, but rather the content of their disagreement. I addressed the arguments and reasons that were brought to bear to articulate that disagreement. And, as I outlined in my post, I found those to be wanting.
“Nor in feeling angered or simply frustrated by a perspective you don't agree with. It's human, afterall, to feel offended. Grown up or not.”
Interesting. Isn’t that more or less what I said in defense of Ms. Clare’s rant? How is this courtesy you’re trying to secure for her critics not due to her as well? Moreover, adults may or may not be moved to offense inappropriately or not, but hopefully, an adult is capable of some thought and consideration about the whys and wherefores of that sense of transgression? Ms. Clare has been stolen from: her sense of offense strikes me as well-grounded. People deciding to ignore the object of her “Fuck you!” and retroactively including themselves? Not so much.
“I think, too, you are purposely missing @Sunita's point. If the argument is that piracy is wrong because it hurts sales, then that assumes that those who pirate would purchase said item if they could not get it for free. That is the harm is from the piracy infringing upon economic gain. But Sunita's point is that that isn't necessarily the case with piracy. People who pirate music, movies and books are not necessarily representing lost sales in that they would have bought it otherwise, but for being able to get it for free. Nor is she making a moral judgment on the action of piracy, by saying it is okay because it doesn't hurt sales. She is pointing out the hole in the argument.”
It seems more likely to me that you missed the point of my rebuttal. Sunita’s points failed for the reasons I articulated. Those downloads do not have to map isomorphically with lost sales to cost the author and to argue that it does is an utterly simplistic misformulation of the issue. The theft is no less a theft simply because it was easily accomplished or because the thief would not have otherwise purchased the good. They have availed themselves of the good without paying for it — it’s really simple. I bought the book. Why shouldn’t they? Moreover, as the channels for this sort of piracy become increasingly accessible to more and more people and require less and less technical sophistication, it absolutely does eat into the author’s compensation. The bottom line is that it absolutely is a lost sale: the thieves have the good and Ms. Clare doesn’t have the money.
“Before the internet, before the Xerox machine, violation of copyright-which is what piracy is-signaled that you have copied the material without persmission. This may or may not have anything to do with sales. I think you can violate copyright without benefitting monetarily from it. Lawyers, is that the case? Copyright, then, is something not always held by the person who originally produced the book/album/movie, but by whoever purchased the right to copy that material into a different medium. If I go to the library and Xerox an entire book, I'm violating copyright because I do not have the right to copy the book. I am violating copyright whether or not I intend to use the copy personally or distribute it for money.
If you are going to make the argument that piracy is bad because it creates lost sales, then you are locating the harm in economic loss not in copyright violation. Which are two different, if overlapping, ideas.”
No. The author of a work always has the copyright to that work. What an author can do is enter into a publishing deal, allowing a third party to reproduce the work for sale, but the copyright remains with the author. And you’re trying to split a moral hair here: have you heard of IP theft? The violation of the copyright in this case is absolutely theft. The work is available for money and the thief avails him or herself of it without paying. Value acquired with no corresponding tender of compensation. How is this not theft?
“I read Tiffany Clare's first book and wasn't particularly impressed, but thought it showed promise and that I might try her a second time. Her rant does little to make me want to spend more money trying her books. It's not that I'm offended by it, I just don't enjoy being yelled at. Particularly because I haven't done anything wrong as I've never downloaded a pirated book.”
Well, then, you weren’t the person being yelled at, were you? This is precisely what I’ve been talking about: people desperate to seek offense and then pontificate self-righteously. Honestly, the rant was written pretty clearly: Fuck you *pirates*. Are you a pirate? No? Well guess what, she wasn’t addressing you then.
“And it also doesn't make me think highly of her actual writing, given that the manner with which she chose to express herself, which was hardly persuasive.”
Why do you presume that she was trying to persuade anyone of anything? Maybe she was, you know, ranting? Maybe sharing her distress at finding out about the scale of the piracy? Frankly, thus far, I’m not thinking too highly of your actual rational competence. I mean, you feel yelled at despite not being the target. How clever is that?
“I'm also not sure what Clare is attempting to accomplish in that post, other than catharsis. If there even are any pirates actually reading her blog, a long FU rant is hardly likely to make them see the error of their ways.”
I guess ranting about a transgression is completely outside of your experience? Maybe looking for some commiseration from people? Some empathy, if not sympathy? Apparently those are in short supply, but hey, short-sighted and presumptuous indignation are apparently well-stocked.
@Ridley: Oh yes, “Girl Genius” is a perfect example. So are a lot of other webcomics out there who go on to run print versions as well. They built an audience with their free product, who is willing to go back and support them with the paid version. I’m one of those who buy the softback “Girl Genius” volumes. As a webcomic writer myself, I’m hoping our growing fanbase will do the same when we go to print.
As for the piracy discussion, I will confess something right now: I have downloaded copies of the ‘Harry Potter’ series for my iPad. Now, I have given J.K. Rowling several hundred dollars of my money: I own a complete hardback set of the original US edition of the books and am working on hardback sets of the UK and Japanese editions. I’ve attended the movies and own the DVDs. But Rowling has gone on record saying that she doesn’t want the series published as eBooks, even though a lot of people have clamored for them. When faced with a really long trans-Atlantic flight with weight restrictions, it makes a huge difference between lugging several of those books in a carry-on or having the files on my iPad. Now, the day that Rowling relents and finally allows Kindle editions of the Harry Potter series, I will gladly chuck them and buy legal copies.
I think that’s an aspect of the entire piracy argument that’s been overlooked. There’s plenty of books out there that aren’t in a digital format that people would love. They might have the hardback/paperbacks but with the growing restrictions on travel don’t want to carry them around. Despite the growing number of digital downloads, there’s still plenty of good books out there that do not have e-editions for one reason or another.
I’ve found that as a romance reader, being able to buy through both iBooks and Amazon has been a boon to me. I’m buying a whole lot more new material than I have in years. Usually I just wait and browse a secondhand shop where the author doesn’t see my money. Now they do. I’m glad to be able to support new authors, and I’m thankful for the plethora of romance novels that can be read digitally.
What evidence do you have that this is a generalizable and sustainable model? Foglio has a long-standing following from a specific subset that are particularly oriented towards collecting. I don’t know that that Girl-Genius constitutes a salient example.
@Gradey Wolff: There’s a good number of webcomics out there who sustain themselves on what they offer for free through their website combined with print sales of those collected volumes: “Girls With Slingshots,” “Something Positive,” “Red String,” “Megatokyo,” “Shortpacked!,” “Penny Arcade” and quite a bit more. A good bit of the top webcomics out there are self-sufficent, and the content can be found for free on their web sites.
@Megan: From what I see on the Genius Girl site, it looks like at least some of the revenue comes from ads. Moreover, the content all resides on the web. It doesn’t appear to me that you can download copies of these comic books to your Nook or IPad, though I could be mistaken about that.
In other words, it seems to me that these comics are an entirely different commodity than an ebook. Would most readers really take to reading an entire novel on a website sponsored by ads? Because that would be analog.
And then, after having read it on the website, would enough of them choose to buy a print copy for its “collector item” value to sustain the author? I’m not saying readers wouldn’t, but I’m not sure they WOULD, either.
It’s not really that people won’t ever pay for something they can get for free; rather, it’s that there has to be some “value-added” for paying. The difference between an ebook I pay for and an ebook I download from a torrent site is…well, nothing, except that the one I get from the torrent site doesn’t have the DRM issues or the geographic restrictions. Um, whoops, looks like the pirated book might actually be the one with “value-added.”
@Jackie Barbosa: “Would most readers really take to reading an entire novel on a website sponsored by ads? Because that would be analog.”
I would. I do. I have the Kindle app for PC because I don’t own a smart phone/iThing so the kindle freebies have to be read on the laptop.
“Why do you presume that she was trying to persuade anyone of anything? Maybe she was, you know, ranting?”
Bingo. She went on her professional blog and ranted. She wasn’t trying to persuade anyone of anything. I’m not offended, and if she writes a book later on with good reviews I might try it. I’m just puzzled at why someone who is trying to break into publishing, get an additional contract, and sell books would go into a long winded rant on her professional blog. It serves no professional purpose. Maybe a personal purpose (but that’s what friends and family are for).
And it does make me less likely to try her again. Not because I’m offended, I know she wasn’t talking to me, and hey if I was a pirate I’d deserve a good “Fuck You.” But because when I see her next book at Barnes & Noble and I question whether to purchase it, her rant I’m sure will be far more memorable to me than her very forgettable (to me) first book.
“I guess ranting about a transgression is completely outside of your experience? Maybe looking for some commiseration from people? Some empathy, if not sympathy?”
No. But someone I don’t know is far more likely to get my empathy or sympathy if they express themselves in a calm and respectful manner. A post that says “Fuck You” multiple times in all caps and bold and large font, even if not directed at me, is hardly likely to evoke my sympathy. It’s unlikely I’m going to even care about the substance of what she said, because it’s the shouting that sticks out.
I would hope a professional writer would take care with her words. Word choice is important, as is tone. The substance of what she said was lost in the belligerence of her tone.
@Christine M.: I read a lot on my laptop in the past, but it’s inconvenient compared to a smaller reading device, and the growth of the ebook sector seems pretty proportional to the growth of ereader sales.
But the main problem with reading books entirely on the web is that you can’t read unless you have an active internet connection. Downloading a book to the Kindle app on your PC means it resides on your PC. If your Internet goes down, you are not suddenly without access to the book you were reading.
I’m not saying there aren’t readers who would read this way. I just don’t sense they are the majority. If they were, ebooks would already be the dominant form.
@Jackie Barbosa: They do sell PDFs of the Girl Genius comics, but those are a much lower cost than the print books. They’ve also just expanded into novelizing the series, and the first book was just released in hardback and on the Kindle.
But, you pointed out a good segment of why pirates do pirate and why a certain segment of people will always download. There’s a group of people who feel that if it’s found on the Internet, it must be free, and it’s their God-given right for said material to be free no matter the cost to the creator. It’s a battle that anime and manga has fought for years and is now seeing come to a head with one of the major licensing studios suing the people in the U.S. illegally downloading episodes through BitTorrent that were available for free streaming to begin with — the pirates were taking those free streams and redistributing them.
~Well, then, you weren't the person being yelled at, were you? This is precisely what I've been talking about: people desperate to seek offense and then pontificate self-righteously. Honestly, the rant was written pretty clearly: Fuck you *pirates*. Are you a pirate? No? Well guess what, she wasn't addressing you then.~
If I’m in a restaurant and the manager starts screaming at one of the waiters, I feel extremely uncomfortable, want to leave, resent the manager for ruining my meal, and I will probably never go back to that restaurant again.
I’m not the target, I’m the innocent bystander getting splattered with overspray. I’m not seeking to be offended, but I’m offended all the same.
Rants in public spaces infringe on members of the public. If your behaviour in public makes me uncomfortable, I’m going to think less of you, and I’m going to avoid you.
@Gradey Wolff: I thought @lazaraspaste did a great job of explaining my points, but apparently not to your satisfaction. So let me take your objections in turn.
People who have “helped themselves to goods and services that they have not paid for” do not automatically constitute a lost sale. If you steal a pair of shoes from a store, those shoes cannot again be sold. That is a potential lost sale. If those shoes were never going to be purchased, they are not an *actual* lost sale. The sale is only lost if someone is prohibited from purchasing the specific product that was stolen. In the case of a single physical item, you can reasonably make the case. In the case of multiple e-copies, there is no single physical item. E-copies can be created ad infinitum.
I don’t know why you think they don’t have to “map isomorphically with lost sales.” For a sale to be lost, there has to be a product that can no longer be bought. Potential lost sales are not actual lost sales. The original post talked about actual lost sales. That point was never demonstrated.
Now you are confusing normative issues (*should* have bought the book) with positive issues (would have bought the book). It’s completely legitimate to argue about whether people should buy something rather than downloading/pirating/stealing it, and Courtney Milan’s posts lay out the normative case very effectively. But that’s a different issues than whether they did.
This would be why I will never buy access to books in the cloud … which is what publishers have stated they want for ebooks.
@Sunita: You seem to feel that my lack of utter capitulation to your point implies a lack of understanding on my part, and thus you vacuously reiterate your position again. Read what I wrote and respond to my rebuttal or concede the point. You have not responded appropriately. It seems that you are the one who doesn’t understand. It doesn’t matter if pirate x wouldn’t have bought it anyway — it is still theft. It does not matter if there are not finite electronic copies of a book — it is still theft. Your logic here doesn’t even rise to the level of specious. The pirate acquired a copy without paying for it. That is a lost sale. Period. They engaged in one half of a transaction, the part where they got something, neglecting the part where something is given in return. Confusing normative and positive issues? I don’t think so. Perhaps if you were to actually respond to the points raised in rebuttal of yours with something other than hand-waving dismissal, you might be more convincing. How is piracy not theft?
“You seem to feel that my lack of utter capitulation to your point implies a lack of understanding on my part, and thus you vacuously reiterate your position again.”
Pot meet kettle…
Or in the words of Alannis Morrisette: ‘Isn’t it ironic…?’
@GrowlyCub: The Princess Bride also comes to mind. :-)
@Gradey Wolff I’m sure you know (and I feel silly telling you this as someone who would call Sunita vacuous must know this) that the Supreme Court has declared that copyright infringement (which is what piracy is) is not stealing because infringing “does not assume physical control over the copyright nor wholly deprive its owner of its use.” Dowling v. United States, 473 U.S. 207 (1985). The proper term for someone who illegally obtains a copy is a copyright infringer. Not as sexy as a thief but accurate.
Of course, you might argue that piracy is theft under a common understanding, but under copyright protection is a wholly statutory creation and thus you have to look at the statute and the legal interpretation of laws in order to find the metes and bounds of protection and enforcement of copyright. But again, I am sure I am telling you something you already know.
@Jackie Barbosa: “From what I see on the Genius Girl site, it looks like at least some of the revenue comes from ads. Moreover, the content all resides on the web. It doesn't appear to me that you can download copies of these comic books to your Nook or IPad, though I could be mistaken about that.”
Go to the web comic, right click and hit “save image”. The comic is absolutely downloadable.
I wish you would get your legal terms correct. Piracy is not theft. Period. End of story. It is copyright infringement. A very different crime.
Until you actually parse that information your entire, very antagonistic and insulting if I might add, argument is null and void.
Seriously, we’re going to bicker about the difference between copyright infringement and piracy? Nit pick much? One leads to the other as far as I can see and it’s this type of mentality that make authors go nuts.
@ME No the difference is between copyright infringement and theft not copyright infringement and piracy. If it is a nitpick to refer to things with their correct legal terms, I guess it is a nit pick. For me, using correct legal terms is not a nitpick but about accuracy. If authors are basing their piracy complaints on economic issues, then accuracy is important, is it not? If authors are basing their piracy complaints on the natural rights issues, then accuracy is probably not important. I think it depends on the way that you view it.
I’m sure that you know that according to the studies actually performed on piracy, many of the downloading occurs from people who do not have legitimate access to such books. Here’s an interesting compilation of discussions about piracy including thoughts by those who live outside the US borders. I do think that when books outside the US cost more than food all day for many readers in those countries, neither the emotional nor the economic appeals are going to make a difference.
One aspect of piracy that hasn’t been discussed is the number of people world wide who are learning or have mastered English. Outside of W. Europe, and former English colonies, the opportunities to buy English language books is quite limited, if they are available at all.
Many of these places do not have the same banking infrastructure. In Russia, the average internet purchase is made by printing out an invoice, walking to your local bank, sending the money to the store and waiting for a call to tell you when your good will be delivered. You don’t buy e-books from Amazon that way.
So, the pirate downloads have opened a whole world of available English language books to all the people who want to keep their skills up. Romance, in particular is easy to read. I’ve read Romances in 3 languages, none of which I’ve mastered well enough to write a simple paragraph free from spelling and grammatical mistakes.
These people, be they in the boondocks of Russia, Outer Mongolia, Timbuktu —wherever — can’t buy the books. Maybe there aren’t many of them in each country. But, I suspect they add up.
Swearing at them isn’t going to do a damn thing. If I were an author, I’d try to figure out who is reading my books and how to convert non-paying readers into paying readers. Hint: it isn’t with rudeness.
I think that this is very much an emotional issue for a lot of people and from what I can see there is no easy answer, and when emotions are involved lines are blurred. Copyright infringement, piracy, theft it all becomes one huge ugly monster.
Well, I read the entire Girl Genius series online, start to finish, then went and bought all the trades.
And I’m a former music pirate who was an accomplished shoplifter in her misspent youth.
If author loyalty can move me and my shady morals to pay for what can be had for free, it’ll move a lot of people. Create something of value, and people will pay for it.
When you take something that doesn’t belong to you, it is theft. You can dance the semantic mambo all you wish, but when you acquire a good that you have not secured the right to access, it remains theft. We can classify it as IP theft, as piracy, copyright violation, whathaveyou. But in the end, the pirate has acquired a good offered for sale without purchasing it or in any other legitimate way, such as receiving it as a gift. Now, do you care to engage the substance of the argument?
Did you want to step up and support your vacuous assertion? Or do you feel more comfortable sniping from the peanut gallery? I have presented arguments. You may agree or disagree with them, you can engage them or not, but you can’t honestly say that they aren’t there. Moreover, more than simply repeating myself, I have responded directly and point-by-point to the responses made. How about you?
@Jane: No actually, I didn’t know that and found it very informative. I appreciate the input on the legal definition. Perhaps I’m operating under the common understanding, then. I get that electronic media make the definition of modern theft an interesting prospect. Certainly, the ability to easily make an arbitrarily large number of perfect copies is a complicating factor. However, a couple of essentials remain constant: the author does the work and the pirate (still thief, in my view) acquires access to that work without fulfilling their part of the deal. The legal definition may be copyright infringement, but that still seems like theft. In fact, this quote you presented is not entirely accurate:
“does not assume physical control over the copyright nor wholly deprive its owner of its use.â€
In point of fact, the pirate does assume physical control over the copyright: he or she makes copies and can make more to distribute. As for not wholly depriving the owner of its use, I find that a poor metric by which to distinguish copyright infringement from theft — if I take your car every night while you’re asleep and return it every morning, I’m not wholly depriving you of its use, but that is still theft.
I sympathize with your later point about the lack of availability in some places, but that lack of availability on its own doesn’t legitimize theft. The author is not responsible for the conditions that lead to that particular availability or lack, but the theft effectively transfers the effect of those conditions to the author. I don’t think that that is any more fair than the situation that provoked it.
If an author chooses to distribute their work for free and either later or simultaneously offer it for sale, that’s dandy. It even seems to work in some circumstances: Peter Watts released his first novels online at first before print editions became available and they are still up on his website. Likewise, David Wellington releases fiction online and a number of his novels are available free to read on his website and in print editions you can buy. The key difference here being that it is their choice to distribute the work that way.
@Gradey Wolff I’m not sure how to respond because a) the quote I presented is exactly accurate in that it is dicta from the United States Supreme Court, the highest court in the land that is charged by the constitution to interpret these laws.
b) And if you want to take this argument into “common” territory, then you have to give up all protection for copyright because it is the Copyright Act (and subsequent amendments) that actually confer these rights that you argue have been stolen.
Intellectual property is not actually property. Comparing it to an object like a car or a printed book is inaccurate because those objects are tangible individual items over which you can a) have physical control over and b) deprive the owner (the purchaser) of its use. It is a bundle of rights conferred by a statutory grant. Currently the real law (not what you or I think it should be) allows for the creator of an original work to control the exclusive distribution of those rights. When an author contracts with a publishing house, she gives some parts of her rights of exclusive distribution to the publisher. (It is why I have argued in the past that the DMCA notices really should come from the publisher who is the rights holder).
An infringement of those rights does not impair the author’s ability to the exclusive distribution of her rights. I think the use of property confuses a number of people because intellectual property is kind of misnomer. There is no property. (real or personal – which are two different types of property in the law and subject to different protections).
@Gradey Wolff Let me add that this is precisely the point that Sunita was making which you called vacuous and dismissed as if she had nothing of value to add to the conversation.
You are simply wrong and are too stubborn or ignorant to admit it. If piracy is theft, pirates would be prosecuted for theft. They are not. You are too caught up in emotionalism and hyperbole to care about forming a correct argument.
It is a very basic fact that nothing is *taken* when a file is downloaded. It is copied. The original file still exists and no one has been deprived of their property.
Lucky for intellectual copyright holders, it is a illegal to make unapproved copies of a copyrighted property.
I reiterate, until you understand and use the correct terms your entire argument is invalid. A building that is built on sand cannot stand.
I’d love to see global copyrights extend and grow to the point that anyone, anywhere, can legally buy any book they want to at a price that’s reflected in their local economies.
Take tv shows for example-
I ‘Pirate’ tv shows from the UK that I can’t get here in the US. They’re not on iTunes, Amazon or anyplace. I’d be more than happy to watch them with ads- I just want to watch them! I download them, watch them then buy the DVD’s to play on my hacked region-free player.
The DVD’s are usually released a year or more after the original broadcast. I love to participate in online forums about my shows, talk to other fans and whatnot. If I wait and never see them till the DVDs are released, the online communities have moved on- yes it’s annoying to me and removes some of the benefits of purchasing the shows in the first place. I would wager a guess that the same feeling goes for people who can’t get the book they want in a time frame that keeps them connected to a social fan base. We’re tribal creatures- we need our tribe inputs (whether fan-based or not).
I’m very interested in how the BBC iPlayer is now integrating itself worldwide. I hope more businesses will look at this and see how it makes sense for intellectual property to be spread while giving creators their fair pay.
I would LOVE to see this for books. Why restrict? It just seems so short-sighted to me, as a consumer. Sometimes it feels like I’m just standing around screaming out into the darkness, “Take my money damnit!”. “No flag, no country” is the reply. Pointless!
Perhaps I’m old fashioned in my views but the way I see it, we have a whole generation of people feeling that they’re entitled to stuff simply because they want it. Books, music, movies…
If something is not available to you whether for economic reasons or geography, too damn bad!
It won’t kill you to not get everything you want. Builds character and makes us appreciate the things we do have.
You can call this dilemma whatever you want – piracy, theft or copyright infringment, but it is what it is – STEALING.
If you take something without paying what’s on the pricetag, it’s wrong and I don’t care what the legal profession or the constitution calls it.
And the person being stolen from has every right to stand up and be heard.
A note to Ms Clare – I’m going to buy your book just to see if your characters have the moxy you do!
And for every book I buy, I’ll tell one person about this piracy problem so we can help keep our favorote books and authors on the shelf.
Thank you, Old woman! You make my message all the more worthy!