Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Book Piracy: How Do You Feel About It?

My first thought is that I would be seriously ticked off knowing that the novel I spent years writing, revising, editing, polishing, crying, bleeding, aching through was being handed around the web for free. I mean come on! After all my hard work you can't even pay a few bucks to help me make a living?!

And then I watched this very interesting interview with bestselling author Neil Gaiman...

What do you think about the points he makes? Do you think this whole piracy thing could work in your favour too?

Here's a great post that discusses this issue from the other side.
An Incident We'd Rather Not Discuss - "Free" Books Aren't Free
(Thanks, Sarri, for sharing this link!)


D. U. Okonkwo said...

Yess, so much of it is about exposure. Also, when you give something for free (give back) you get more in return.

Misha said...

Hmmm... It is something worth thinking about.

On the other hand, how fine is the line between generating sales and losing them?

Ben Langhinrchs said...

I'm sure he is correct, but I imagine it is an easier philosophy when you have ten or twenty books out there than one. When you have lots of books, the stolen one can become an inducement to buy others. When you have one book, the stolen book feels more like a lost sale.

Rachel Morgan said...

D.U.O - I hope that philosophy can work for all of us :-)

Misha - I think the line is especially fine for e-books, where it's not like lending a paper book and then getting back. One can just make copies of the e-versions...

Ben - you have a point there!

Tony Benson said...

Glad to hear the voice of reason for a change. I'm totally convinced that he's right and I'm tired of the book and music industry bandying around statistics about the money they're losing to piracy. Research has shown the opposite is true.

Of the 'illegal' downloads the following is true:
1- A certain percentage (quite large) download it, use it and would never have purchased it anyway, under any curcumstances. These people don't matter.
2- A certain percentage (quite large) use it and make purchases based on how pleased they were with it. They become good customers as a result.
3- A very few people *would have paid for it* but think 'ha! I managed to get five bucks worth of stuff for free' and keep it without paying for it. These people are about as common as shoplifters. Most of us don't do it.

I often download a pirate version of something and then buy it if I like it. I'm not alone. I also buy more stuff by that artist (music, writer, whatever).

Frankly I think the last of the three is tiny, and figuring that billions of dollars is being lost to piracy is simply the dreams of greedy and confused industrialists.

Watch out for my post soon - I'll be reviewing the Amazon Kindle, and I have some important things to say - warnings to authors and readers - about their policies on DRM. I'll be posting that in the next few days.

Lois D. Brown said...

I've heard this before, and I tend to believe it. However, I think Ben is right that this probably works best if you have a large selection.

gideon 86 said...

Interesting topic Rachel.

Those are some valid points. I guess if it helps people to read my work, it might not be so bad.


Sierra Gardner said...

I have mixed feelings. On one hand, piracy is illegal because it is reproducing or selling material without the express permission of those who hold the copyright. So I think it is wrong for people (incl me!) to download pirated material.

On the other hand, even if it is not ideal it still increases exposure. Which is why I think I probably wouldn't worry about it as an author unless it was obviously impacting sales. What would be ideal is for people to stop breaking the law and authors/musicians/etc to start sharing a little bit more. Then everybody wins!

Kari Marie said...

This is interesting. It certainly holds true in my life. I get loaned something, I like it, I'll buy more of it. I'll be thinking about this one for a while. Thank you.

Theresa Milstein said...

It's true, I'm sure. I've head that people who illegally download music also spend more to download music legally than anyone else.

Borrowing books has always been a big thing. But it was private, so its impact was unknown.

KarenG said...

Thank you for sharing this. It is really thought - provoking and something I've been thinking a lot about lately. He has a lovely accent doesn't he?

Sari Webb said...

Great topic for discussion Rachel. It's really interesting to hear this side of the story.

Here's an interesting post which gives info from the other point of view.

I think a middle ground would work. Giving away free chapters of the work to hook readers and get them to buy the rest of the book.

Hart Johnson said...

There was a time when it was said you couldn't claim to have made it in the international market until pirated books of yours were available on the streets in India. I think the more people who read you, provided you have a really good product, the more word will spread and the more will WANT to read you--but you need to have a darned good product. Then again, I don't think many bad products are going to be pirated, so maybe that is the point--it's a sign you've made it. (unlike giving it away for free, which--as part of a campaign like he did--short term... and BIG name, is great, but I don't know if that would work for everyone)

I guess overall, I have mixed feelings, but feel like making a stink is likely to backfire, and getting the name out is a good thing.