07 February 2013

Aarr! Aye! And Other Vowels As Well!

There have been a lot of posts lately about piracy and theft of intellectual property. The whole Glee vs JoCo fiasco that raised the internet and our proverbial pitchforks... Chuck Wendig and other authors posting about what book piracy means for them specifically. Piracy is a thing. It happens with music, movies and now--with the advent of ereaders--books. And in light of my recent good news, this directly affects little old me.

So let's talk about this.


I come from a generation of mix-tapes and bootlegs, so there are some things that I feel are morally grey. You wouldn't have heard of Metallica or Dave Matthews Band without bootlegs getting passed from person to person. However, we don't live in the 80s where you had to wind tapes with pencils and wait with your hand on the record button for the radio to play the song to finish your masterpiece. (And then the DJ talked over half of it. Dick.) Anyway, I don't feel like downloading a song from a friend's hard drive makes me a criminal. At the same time, I borrow books (the kind printed on dead trees) from friends. I don't see either of these things as theft. Why? It's probably intent. If I like that book, I intend to go buy everything that author has written so that I don't have to borrow shit anymore. If I dig that track, I'm more inclined to buy more from that person.

That being said, there is a line. It's got more shades of grey around it than that one book, but the line is there. For me that line with books specifically is pretty clear. If I borrow (from a friend or a library) a print copy of a book and love it, I will buy the fuck out of that author's work. I will pimp them, loan out copies so that other friends can do the same. At some point in the food chain, money exchanges hands and goes to the author. Yay.

Ebooks aren't like that necessarily. Ebooks are easily pirated and that food chain cannot be guaranteed. I will not borrow ebooks. I pay for them. Be it Amazon or Kobo or the author's site, I buy the book.

And here's why I ask you to do the same for me.

Look, I'm a debut author. That means that Entangled/Covet is putting a bet on me that you and many many other people will buy my book and prove they made the right decision to sign me. If you pirate my book, yes, you take money from me and the publisher, but that's not my biggest beef. If you pirate my book, I might not get to write more. Piracy skews sales numbers and for a debut like me, that is the pudding in which my proof is divined. (Or something.) If my sales numbers are low, my publisher can look at me and say, "This has been fun, but you didn't do as well as we'd hoped. See ya!" Then those sales numbers follow me around for any future contracts I try to acquire. And so on and so on. If you want to see me write all these books I've been talking about...if you want them to have a shot, please. Please. Do not pirate my book.

Thank you. 

4 comments:

Brian said...

All right, I'll roll up the Jolly Roger and put it away. I will not be the Scourge of the Spanish Mainframe. But here's a question: Public libraries are now carrying eBooks, now. Phoenix certainly does. If yours is carried...does that work for or against you? Is it possible that your publisher tracks how often a given eBook is checked out by library patrons? Seems like it would be simple enough to do. How do you suppose that might affect their perception of your value?

And when I do buy my copy, will you autograph my tablet? I'll spring for the engraving pen...

Jamie Wyman said...

I'm not entirely sure how that works. I don't know if publishers are selling ebooks wholesale to libraries or what. It's definitely something I'll look into with my publisher.

mmwelch said...

Libraries buy ebooks through a service like Overdrive or Baker & Taylor. Those services negotiate with publishers, who set their own prices. Each library's order of an ebook for their collection counts as one sale (unless the publisher puts a cap on the number of checkouts per copy, as HarperCollins does - after 26 checkouts, the library has to buy a new copy.)

Jamie Wyman said...

Thanks for the info, Meesh! :)

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