Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tuesday's Tidbits

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.


Trent Kinsey said...

I understand what you mean about lending a book to a family member or a friend, but this is at a much larger level. It's one thing if I purchase a book and send it to my wife to read because we sit only five feet apart, it is a completely different problem when someone creates a site and posts and shares the work with not only friends and families, but the World Wide Web (heavy emphasis on WORLD).

Authors and artists should be concerned that stories and works they spent much time and effort creating are being offered for free to an audience of strangers.

I've worked for minimum wage at McDonald's and I've built myself up to the position and pay I rate today (more than 12 years since).
I got into writing because I have so many stories I want others to read and enjoy, but the truth is this is a JOB. It's a labor of love, but still requires hard work and I don't feel like a horse's rear by asking for some compensation for the work produced.

Tabitha Shay said...

I think you made valid points on both sides of the coin...in one way, it is a big compliment that people are seeking your books, but why not just go to the website and purchase them...E-books are very inexpensive, still there are those who can't even afford them at that low cost...Personally, I don't write just for the money, if I did, boy would I be shocked...I love sharing my work with others...if someone wanted one of my books and couldn't buy it, I'd most likely give it to them anyway, but I do understand the concerns of WORLD piracy...it isn't right..authors spend long hard hours at the computer writing. They deserve to be paid...Tabs

Clare London said...

Excellent points Ginger. I'll pitch in here because I've just joined the ranks of the pirate-d. One of my ebooks was downloaded 120 times before I got the link deleted. And I have no doubt that it'll spring up again shortly, and I'll lose some more. I don't have the time or the appetite to go chasing them all the time, though most hosting sites - not the torrent sites, who really are just a shop front - will take a link down as soon as you explain it's copyrighted material.

One argument is that these pirates wouldn't buy my book anyway. They see it as a challenge, to collect as much freebie as they can and :p to everyone else. There's some doubt as to whether they even read all the books they've downloaded! And I also have sympathy with people who don't have a lot of spare cash for book-buying.

However, I read a thread on one of the sites recently where they COMPLAINED that the authors challenged them to take down their links. What's more, they were offering MONEY to support the download sites. Well, if they've go the money in the first place, why don't they buy the damned book?! Especially if they're fiction fans - support your favourite authors, why don'tcha!

It's not like lending a book at all, which of course we all do. I think it's the scale of this operation, as someone else said. It's also attitudinal, in that these people expect things for free without care for anyone else involved in the process. They give nothing back to the industry, no money, no feedback, no respect. Whereas our friends and family - even fans at boot sales etc who may buy the book 2nd/3rd hand - are still showing a respect and interest for fiction.

*clare climbs off her soapbox*

LuAnn said...

You bring up some interesting points, Ginger. I've won some ebooks and the authors often ask me not to share them, but now that I read your comments, I wonder if they are being fair, even to themselves.
For example, I've had friends lend me paperbacks and say, "You'll love this!" Well, a few times, I have discovered a new author that way and began purchasing other books by that writer. Would I have done that if the friend hadn't given me their books? So, in the long term, the author made money by having me read one of their books for free.
I do buy a lot of books from second-hand stores and that's another way I discover new authors and go on to buy their books off the shelf new.
However, that said, I do feel it's not fair to an author to willy-nilly pass their ebooks on randomly. I realize they don't make much money off of a copy. It's not morally right to put a link out there for just anyone to snag. Sharing an ebook with a friend does carry some responsibilities, as well. With a print book, it can only go to one person and perhaps, that needs to be made clear when you share an ebook, as well.

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