I have this friend. She’s a fellow author. And if you say the word “pirate” around her, this former law enforcement officer’s trigger finger literally starts twitching. Then comes the rage. Ah, but the lovely G.A. Hauser has a reason for her reaction and it has to do with the sheer amount of money being stolen from her due to pirate torrent sites offering her eBooks for free. Writing for a smaller market already reduces the amount of royalties we can make–and believe me, we don’t make much–so this hurts when it happens. It’s happened to me and I’m not nearly as big a name as most. Our fight against pirate sites is also common knowledge between authors and our readers who interact with us in person or through social media. Imagine my surprise last week when someone posted this on my Facebook wall: “Well, since no one can police ‘piracy’ and you can download programs for secure downloading or use a proxy server, who is dumb enough to PAY for eBooks at all?”
As you might expect, this caused one hell of an uproar from my fellow authors who jumped in and gave this individual a piece of their mind. It’s more than just about policing and programs, though. There has to be a reason for it. Why would someone want to download pirated copies of books? Is it because the economy is still so bad? I figure if someone can afford a computer and Internet access, a Kindle or even an iPhone, then they can certainly afford $6.99 for one of our books. Yes, the majority of our work is much cheaper than the bigger publishing houses who are currently being sued for having raised prices. So if it’s not cost, is it because they can? The individual who posted on my wall provided the following:
“It’s (downloading from pirate sites) great for getting together a classical reference library which means more books on your laptop, for instance, than in any library you can access. And would I actually ever want to PAY to see what the fuss is about with Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series? I think not!”
Welcome to the public library that can also ORDER books for you. I highly doubt you’re going to run out and have to twiddle your thumbs while you wait for the next book to show up. That’s my first thought. Not only does it have access to all of your classical selections, especially if you can’t afford all the downloads, but it also allows you to look at thousands of books you wouldn’t spend money on first, Twilight included. And there are also used book stores. I know. I go to them. Pirate sites are the downside of eBooks, though. Never in a hundred years before I started publishing would I have guessed these things would come into being. I’m not fond of them, but I know other people are and they’re now a way of life I’ve accepted.
Oddly enough, I actually have an easier time understanding the pirating of music in some cases than books. Notice I said “in some cases.” I also didn’t say I did it. Here’s what I don’t like. I bought the Tron: Legacy soundtrack by Daft Punk, one of my favorite albums this past year. It’s brilliant! If I bought it on Amazon, which I did, I got an extra bonus track. If someone bought it on iTunes, they got a few bonus tracks not available anywhere else. And if you bought a version of it somewhere else, well…more bonus tracks not available anywhere else either. For crying out loud, just give me one damn version with all the tracks! Here’s another. I bought the special edition of Within Temptation’s The Unforgiving (meaning I paid more this CD than the standard release). Well, if you bought the Amazon MP3 album, there’s three bonus tracks not available on the special edition CD. And these aren’t the only ones. It’s not uncommon. Say it with me now, WTF?
Now watch as I bring it back around.
This to me is like writing Gaylias 2 and releasing it in paperback form, then offering an additional chapter if you buy the Kindle version and a different additional chapter if you buy it on Fictionwise. Do you see how annoying that would be? You want the book. You want the whole book and you don’t want to have to buy multiple copies of it to get it. In cases like this with music, I won’t go and illegally download the rest of the tracks from an album. However, if a friend has the iTunes version he or she paid for and I have the Amazon version I paid for, I’m not above sharing tracks we’re both missing.
Others figure if they have to put in that much effort, they’ll can just as easily download the complete album from a pirate site where, in the end, the artist gets hurt just as much as an author does. Not every music artist is rich. Not every author is rich.
So there we have it. Piracy = bad. Record companies not giving us complete albums = bad. Someone downloading pirated eBooks from a website = G.A. Hauser visiting you in your sleep and you DO NOT want that. Want to know why? Because some of us are starting to join her and if you think we don’t have creative ways of giving certain people nightmares, then you’ve obviously never messed with an author. We are legion.
I now open the floor to your comments and thoughts…
Kage Alan is the Logan’s Run (TV series) watching, David Williams (The Prophecy) listening author of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to My Sexual Orientation,” “Andy Stevenson Vs. the Lord of the Loins” and the first book in a separate series, “Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell.” He had no idea this was going to be such a friggin’ long post today. Seriously, he thought about making it two parts at the end, one about Ebooks and the other about the music industry.