Let’s say you buy a printed book. You read it. You think it is great. You pass it on to a friend who also reads it who then passes it on to another friend, etc. By the end of the year, 7 hypothetical people have read that book. Yet, the author got paid for just one.
But that’s how it goes. Authors on the whole don’t mind you sharing your book. It spreads our name around and perhaps get some more sales later. Perhaps one of that 7 decided she wanted the book on her shelf so went and bought one.
Now here comes the e-books. That’s the digital form of books (electronic books) for those who don’t know. There are now a plethora of e-book readers out there which is good! People reading is always good. Except when it is a pirated book.
Back to that first scenario. You buy an e-book and you love it so you send the electronic format via email to all of your friends. Who then send it to their friends. And by the end of the year, umpteen have read it yet that same author has sold one book. And this time, those that perhaps wanted to keep it, can. They can send out copies vs the original.
Just so you know, that is illegal. In nearly all cases, all e-books are copyrighted and cannot be copied except as a backup copy for your own use.
But e-book piracy goes further. There are website specifically set up to display books for free. Tons of books. Sometimes an author’s entire collection. Sometimes even scanned in copies of printed books. This happens a lot. And it is all so very illegal.
People say it is good for the author. It spreads her name around and people buy her books. But do they? Why should they, really, when it will be up free just like this one?
In Big Name Publishing, they may not notice the sales difference. And unless they have a dedicated staff to track down these sites and watch them for pirated book re-distribution, they don’t do anything about it. But with lesbian fiction being such a niche market (read: small), we notice.
Like I said, people reading books is good. People reading illegal books is not. The author is trying to make a living, the publisher too. The editor. The cover artist. The distributor. The bookstore. All of these people depend on sales of books. But if the book is being given away free by the thousands (yes, thousands), it is noticed.
Work is being done to educate readers. Many have no clue it is illegal. Many think they are doing the author a favor by reading her book. And while myself and others think it is wonderful, we wish you had paid for that book. Else, we may decide to go flip burgers instead and you’ll not get to read another by us, paid for or not.
Karin Kallmaker, a wonderful writing and an advocate for fighting book piracy, has had several posts about this. And she says it much better than I do. As a writer of many books (vs my one), she has a vested interest in getting this stopped. Her way with words is amazing and she puts forth the problem both subtle and with the grace of a Mack truck trying to the next drop before the timer runs out. Here are some of her posts, in chronological order:
Ye Olde Myths of Piracy
Lesbian Fiction Fans—To the Rescue?
Sunday, Day of Leisure
“Appropriate Royalties” are Paid?
No Bang. Lots of Whimpering.
So if you frequent any of those places. If you don’t see a problem with uploading or downloading pirated (ie stolen) books, then, well, I feel sorry for you. Karma’s a bitch and some day it and the law will catch up to you.