Monday, October 18, 2010
Piracy is Theft
Stealing intellectual property is not Robin Hood stealing from the rich to give to the poor. Taking books and music from the internet to give to the world is stealing food from the tables of struggling authors and musicians and giving it to yahoos too cheap to buy their own. Reuters reports it could cost millions of jobs in another five years: http://tinyurl.com/ycjgsjc
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been poor. I’ve been fish-sticks-every-night-of-the-week poor. I coveted books. I dreamed about owning them. I’d go to used bookstores and drool over volumes I’d never possess, and then went to the library and checked them out. Not once did I shove a book under my coat and walk away with it. Instead, I worked sixty-hour weeks putting food on the table while I learned the craft of writing at night. You want free books? Write your own.
Most of us have made our electronic books cheap and have not applied DRM so readers can put them on every device they own and share them with their mother or best friend. There is absolutely no excuse for putting them on file sharing sites for the entire world to enjoy for free. I’ve heard all the excuses these pirates offer, and none of them are valid. Anyone who thinks e-books cost authors nothing is all about in their heads, as we say in Regencyland. Aside from the years of research and time and editing a book takes to write, a backlist e-book costs roughly $100 to have just one cover made. I’ve bought a dozen covers. Do the math. It cost another $100 each to have them scanned and another $75 each to have them formatted electronically. It costs hundreds of dollars a year to pay for the webpages where pirates have stolen them.
If authors cannot earn back their money on backlist e-books, they have no reason to put up more. I’m already pulling the most-pirated of my titles and will be releasing them—slowly—in print, at $10 a book rather than the $4.99 I’m selling them for now. When the day comes that readers have to pay $10 to buy a backlist book, don’t blame the authors or publishers. Blame the thieves who think the electronic world is free for the stealing—and then have the audacity to complain when we come after them with the law.