Piracy and ‘free’ e-books.
Anything digital is a target- movies, tv shows, games, magazines, and of course, books. As an author, I’m painfully aware that my books will almost certainly be copied and downloaded illegally.
Here’s where it gets weird. I’m not bothered by piracy.
Why? One simple reason. If people are pirating my book it means they care enough about it to read it. And if they’re reading it, I’m reaching them. Books have to compete with so many other distractions- games, Youtube, small screen shows etc. If someone is pirating a book to read instead of watching Youtube- good. Reading begets reading, and more readers. We need to worry about getting more readers because we’re not competing with each other, we’re competing with everything else.
Do I want to make money from my work? Of course. I put my heart and soul into my writing and this is it for me, it’s what I’m going to do for the rest of my life. That said, if I tried to fight digital piracy for the rest of my life I’d be an idiot. And a loser. A loser idiot. Because it’s a losing battle.
If it’s digital it is going to be shared. Even before downloading movies, people would burn pirated copies to CDs and pass them around to their friends. It’s not going to stop and persecuting some sixteen year old kid for downloading music is futile.
Also, not everyone can afford to buy books. Maybe they don’t have a credit card, maybe they have just enough for groceries for the week. Whatever. Some people just don’t have any extra. I’ve been there. Anyone who pirates your book was probably not going to buy it, so you’re not really losing money. Here’s where I make a controversial statement- you’re not losing money, but you might just gain a readership, and potentially, make more money.
I’m not sure what the answer is, or how the digital revolution will eventually evolve, but it will change and grow, like everything does. Or maybe the grid will go down and the lights will go out forever, making the whole digital piracy thing a moo point, as Joey Tribbiani would say.
Until then, I’m thinking about having a sort of ‘tip jar’ on here somewhere, so that if someone wishes to pay whatever amount they like for something they may or may not have allegedly perhaps maybe illegally downloaded- they have that option.
And it’s win-win for both of us. I can afford to write more books and they can feel good about reading them.
Hi-ho, hi-ho, back to work I go.