Wednesday, April 18, 2012

On Pirating Books

Dear self-proclaimed-book-lover,

As a lover of all things books, you can probably relate to my love for authors and their brilliant work in the form of books, short stories and all sorts of related stuff. You know the excitement you get when you have a book in your hands that you've been waiting for ages for to come out and you understand that feeling when you finish a book and you're just about *dying* for the sequel to come out. When you read the great news of your favorite author, who has just sold a new book to be published, you are ecstatic. You can barely contain your excitement, so in the meantime, you decide to get a few free ebooks off a downloading site. Wait, what?

Yes, you are pirating books. That means that entire series you just ripped off that website, is illegal. "But people can lend out their books to other people, too, so why should I have to pay 10 euros to be able to read it if my friend has it for free on the internet?" You ask - I answer. Because that copy you may have on your shelves, is one you bought (or someone else bought it for you), it's one that's been paid for. If you lend out your book a lot of times, how many times does it change hands? Five times? Maybe ten? Let's assume your copy gets read by ten different people. Those people all read the same book, that's been paid for once. The same thing happens with books lend out from a library. Once bought, several times lend out. So what's the difference? The difference is that these books don't get copied by the dozen. What, dozens? No, hundreds, often thousands of books are illegally copied from that one document - a document that may not have been paid for, either.

In every event that you download a book from the internet that is put on there by anyone other than the author, the publisher or someone who had explicit permission to do so (like placing an excerpt), it's illegal. Even if it's your friend who puts it on there. Because your friend does not use the legal ways to lend you that book. You can lend friends your ebooks if it's been made accessible by the publisher - you just don't have the book on your ereader for the next two weeks or so. Just like with a real book.

I can't even express the anger that I feel right now. That it's available online for free, doesn't justify you downloading it. That it's not on a torrent site, does not make it legal.

If you're an avid reader and booklover like I am, you know that authors spend a long time writing their books. It takes them months, years, sometimes even decades to write their next novel. And because readers want to read their stories and pay to read their books, they are able to write for a living. They have turned their passion into their job. There's nothing more beautiful than that.

But because there are people who call themselves booklovers and put books up for download, those authors may not be able to keep on writing for a living. You need to understand, that every time one of their books sells, they get a tiny fraction paid (I'm not going to go in depth on the way that authors get paid - but it largely depends on book sales) and all those tiny fractions (hopefully) make a decent amount that allows the author to live off. If you get your books illegally off the internet, the author does not get that amount of money. The download does not count towards their sales. The download doesn't help the author in any way, because they don't make any money from it. This may lead to sequels not being published because of disappointing sales, or even authors who have to give up full-time writing because they can't pay the bills anymore.

It's wrong. It's like sneaking into the cinema to see The Hunger Games without paying. It's like grabbing that delicious chocolate tart off the counter without paying the baker. It's called stealing.

On the message board that this discussion ignited, I read that this so-called book lover has already downloaded The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa. Which comes out on April 24st. That means that someone who had the opportunity to read an ARC or early copy of the book has taken this to a downloading website and put it online. To think that this person calls himself a booklover or may even be a book blogger, makes me sick.

A book costs what, $10 for a paperback and $13 for a hardcover and somewhere in between for the ebook? That's just as expensive as a ticket to go see a movie, but it lasts for longer. A book offers hours of entertainment, hours that you can spend in the carefully crafted world of the characters. And by spending that small amount of money, you help support the author whose book you just loved, so he or she can keep writing books for you to enjoy. You're taking away that opportunity from the author, and from fellow book lovers who may not be able to enjoy the author's book if people are taking an example from you and download everything without paying for it.

Yes, this is directed at you, the person who just downloaded an entire series illegally off the internet. Again, the fact that it's available on the internet does not mean it's legal to download. It still means you're stealing: whether you do so by taking a one dollar bill from someone without asking or by robbing a bank doesn't matter.

In my eyes, you're not a book lover. You're just a thief.

1 comment:

  1. Couldn't agree more. Also, the public library is a great place to borrow books from and mine, as well as a lot of others, now offer the option to borrow ebooks for a certain period of time. Also, it's important to note that real fans that have respect for their lovable authors, always will buy their books regardless of the population that download them without paying off the internet.


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