Book pirating,especially ebooks has become a hot topic on the net of late. I just received an invite to join a group comprised of authors committed to track down those who "pirate" and stop them dead in their tracks. I joined, not so much because I fear a mega loss in my own sales, but because I was interested to see what concerns my peers and what tactics they use to combat the problem.
There is one huge site that deals not only with books, but music, videos, etc. People can actually become a member and post requests for books, etc they wish to read/view/hear. I found some of my peers 'requested' there, but none of my work.
Strangely, I was jealous. While I don't encourage the free sharing of ebooks because it would minimize royalties barely enough to cover a Happy Meal at Mcdonalds, I think I would have preferred seeing a least one of my books coveted by someone. *lol*
I'm still conflicted. I guess I'm having a hard time seeing the difference between someone passing a PDF file to a friend or lending an actual book. I totally understand the concern of authors who feel this limits their income, but haven't used books stores done that for generations? I've used them, and lord knows I've shared books back and forth between family and friends.
Are we failing to realize that once a book is purchased, it becomes the property of the person who paid for it? What they do with it beyond that point, short of plagiarizing it, is beyond our control. AND... What actually constitutes a "pirate?" If I lend a book to someone, have I joined the dastardly eye-patch wearing brotherhood? Are we silly enough to believe that all those PDF files we submitted for reviews over the years stayed with the one person who read and reviewed the manuscript? All the years before I became an writer, I read hundreds of books and saved them. When I sold them at a garage sale for a fraction of the original cost, I didn't once give a thought to the author. I doubt those sharing their PDF copies consider they are doing a disservice to us. Are they?
I understand the concern at the ebook level. Let me explain the vast difference between Mainstream and e-published authors and maybe you'll understand too. Bigger publishing companies operate with a budget that allows them to do mass printings and provide their contracted authors with an advance check on their projected sales. The big houses promote their authors, where smaller houses do not. If books go to print with a traditional e-publisher, they are Print On Demand (POD) and cost more money to purchase. I've always had a hard time expecting people to dish out more cash for me than they would a Nora Robert's book at Walmart. Unfortunately, POD books are not printed in quantities large enough to be carried in stores, UNLESS the author foots the bill and finds a place willing to carry them. It's a major investment because our discount isn't very significant in the first place.
I'm not aware of any e-publisher who provides an advance upon signing a contract, and I know from experience that all houses who have published my work made it clear that all promotion was at my expense. Websites, blogs, conferences, promotional items, video trailers, not to mention the massive amount of time spent on the computer requires a deep investment. I had hoped e-publishing would be a foot in the door for me, but I've come to the realization that given my competition, the rising numbers of new authors adding to that factor, and my inability to write in the current HOT genre, Mainstream is a pipe dream for me. But, being a dreamer, I'm not giving up. *lol*
So, even if you're like me, and write because you love it and not because you consider it a career, being an author is a costly job. I figure, based on my current royalty check (indicating I sold only 35 ebooks this last quarter, despite all the promotion time I spent), I made less than a nickel an hour. Convincing people who prefer turning actual pages over sitting at a computer to read a book still remains the hardest obstacle to overcome.