Some E-book Ramblings

Chuck Windig wrote an incredibly thoughtful, not annoying or one sided post on piracy here and it is well worth your time to read it first. I thought that as a reader and an unpublished writer I would lay some thoughts down in honor of his desire that today be “Please Don’t Pirate My Book” Day.

I have deliberately pirated a book exactly one time. It was Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer. (I figure you knew who wrote it, I just wanted to be open and let you know that yes, it was that book.) My friend Gill kept talking about it, and where books are concerned, I refuse to spit out others’ opinions. So I got the first three from her (in a .pdf, so I suppose that is indirect piracy.) After reading and hating the first three, I had to know how it ended, because I’m a sadist. So I downloaded it.

I had reasons. I didn’t want to pay money for a book I truly didn’t value. I didn’t want to go to the library and be put on hold for it, and I didn’t want to have to answer every squeeing fangirl at work telling me how great these books really aren’t. I wanted it to be on my phone, where I could read it in silence and pretend it was incestual donkey porn or something less embarassing.

Karma had its way with me though: There was two pages of text written in Turkish inserted into the middle of the book for no reason. I had to sneak to the library after I read it and grab a copy off the shelf, find the section of the book the Turkish was in and make sure I hadn’t missed anything. I hadn’t, but I had to be sure.

I guess the point is that in my mind, torrenting a book I have no intention of buying will forever be stained with the thought that I value that author less than I value the Twilight series.

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I’m gonna put this out there, with the caveat that I can change my mind if I want, because my mom was a woman. If someone wants to pirate my work, I’m alright with it. I don’t much care. I don’t like to focus on things I can’t control, and whether or not someone decides to pay for my shiz is not something I’m gonna lose sleep over. People are gonna get ahold of my work at some point through buying it, checking it out from the library, or downloading it. That click may require a credit card or it may require a virus scan. I don’t know and I don’t care. I just hope they like it. And if they like it they consider throwing money at the next one.

Two things though:

If they try to make money off my work, I will destroy them.

And if they approach me at a signing or something and tell me that they torrented my book and loved it, I will lay the sales pitch down hard on why they should buy a copy. I’m a story teller. Let me tell you a story about my special needs son’s medicine. And my other’s son’s debilitating fear of foods that don’t cost a a million dollars an ounce.

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Now, in the grey nether world of the debate, it could be said that I’ve been pirating for ages, considering my main reason for buying a book is to be able to loan it out. If I just want to read something without any guarantee that I’ll love it, I go to the library. They have patron request forms and interlibrary loan services. But if I love a book so hard that I want to preach it from the mountaintops (like say, Breathers by S.G. Browne, Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway, or anything by Christopher Moore), I want to be able to physically press it into their hands and guilt them into reading the damn thing. One of the largest regrets I currently have, bookishly speaking, is my inability to loan a copy of Redshirts to my dad. He’s a huge Star Trek fan, but I know he’d get the joke and love the end. I am excited that Chuck Wendig’s writing books are going to be in print, even though I own all the e-books, for that very reason.

But we are all readers, and we know that loaning a book to a family member is not really piracy, no matter how much the publishing companies want it to be. I don’t want to villianize them, because honestly I don’t blame them for trying to put restrictions of some type on files. I have had to replace my copy of Lamb so many times, because of the simple fact that if someone doesn’t give it back, then I don’t have it anymore. That doesn’t happen with a computer file. I can’t impact a books sales in any measureable way by loaning my copy out to one person at a time over the course of a year. A book takes time to read. Depending on reading time, I have the potential with a physical copy to keep 365 people from buying the book, assuming that they only take a day to read it and are willing to wait. (Realistically, it’s probably closer to 50, and actually, it’s more like 2, because when I loan a book out it tends to stay with that person for a long time.) But with an e-file, I get it. I can distribute that file to an infinite number of people. It makes a difference, theoretically.

But loaning and borrowing books is so much a part of the culture of reading that it’s hard to argue with the rationale of the “pirates” who wipe the DRM off the files and put them on torrent sites. It’s not an arguement that I’ve seen presented, and it’s not an excuse to do it. But it is why I have a hard time getting worked up about it.

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There are always going to be people who aren’t willing to pay for art or entertainment (artertainment?). The Internet has not only made it easier for them to get the things they want but it has made it easier for them to avoid paying for it. A friend of mine just told me he and his wife brought home $60,000 last year, and he doesn’t spend any of it on entertainment, as far as I know. He just torrents everything. When I got through The Walking Dead on Netflix, he gave me the files for season 3 and told me how to torrent the rest. I watched the episodes he gave me, and when we decided to rewatch them, we bought them on Amazon. And not just so we could stream them to our Wii. It’s more that we want to pay for the things we love so they will continue to be around. I think that as readers and lovers of books, we need to make a concentrated effort to support those people whose work gives us the most joy.

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About wombatdeamor
I am a writer who has yet to be published. I am using this blog to shame myself into writing more regularly, in the hopes that I will be able to improve the "About Yourself" box to something less awkward. I also like to cook and use profanity.

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