Yarrr… (Post on Pirating)

Yarrrrr! Someone wants me to be pirated.

Hmm. Okay, so I know the ebook market in the UK for SF and Fantasy is miniscule against the physical book. Once you wade through stats and spin on the rise of digital sales (which, are often bumped up massively by mp3 audiobook downloads), you realise how small we’re talking for ebook fiction markets at the moment. Yes, there is a future and a place for them, and sure, you might be a reviewer with dozens of books to blast through on holiday, but let’s not get carried away when we’re talking about the vast majority of the SFF market.

I’ve ranted elsewhere that people love them book things – hey, it’s the perfect cheap portable device!

So what do I think now that I see someone actually wants pirated versions of my book uploaded to the interwebs? Well… meh.

What do any other writers think about having their own work pirated?

Is it any different (in theory) to people lending your physical book to someone else? Many authors make a habit of releasing their work under Creative Commons Licenses, to make sure it’s out there, if anything as a word-of-mouth tool. Other publishers have released free ebooks to promote an author’s backlist. I’m all for that jazz. Speaking solely as me as a writer here, I’m not so fussed about free copies going online. The more people that read me, great. It’s such a tiny percentage of genuine readers, and I can see through a lot of the spin “ZOMG teh end of books!” I ain’t gonna lose sales here. I can see publishers viewing this differently – it’s a tough argument to make, and if they lose a single penny in a competitive market, that shows.

And let’s not even bother comparing it to the music industry – books and music are vastly different entities. If anything, those differences (music has for decades been played on a device, is more passive, is casual, was influenced deeply by single sales so you wouldn’t get the same for chapters, you don’t skip from chapters of one book to another, yadda yadda yadda) to me suggest people are more likely to gloss over this sort of thing.

The only reason I would be pissed off if my book was pirated would be if it was torrented before the release date, but only if people went on to use it as spoilers. “OMG so and so DIES!”

Anyway. I’m off to buy myself an eye patch. Yarr etc.

By Mark Newton

Born in 1981, live in the UK. I write about strange things.

8 replies on “Yarrr… (Post on Pirating)”

Not much of a problem until the ebook market grows significantly, as you say.

Even the ‘market’ for pirate ebooks seems to be accordingly pretty small – if Villjamur were a film or a CD then your man there wouldn’t even have to ask for help; he’d have very likely found a torrent/rapidshare/other and have downloaded it already.

It’s hardly something to keep you awake at night. The ebook market is just too insignificant to make a difference (and long may it stay that way).

At least it proves you’re worth pirating. I mean, if your book was shit people just wouldn’t even bother!

Personally I think it’s like any other form of piracy in that a) for every one pirate theres probably a 100 people buy a copy and b) people only pirate it if it’s something they want – ie there’s a market out there.

I think the audible books are at far more risk as they are often more expensive and the download is the same experience, whereas digital books wont be the same as books until the ibook comes out (it’s like a book with pages that can have text digitally attached).

If it becomes a potential threat simply have a cheap digital book service and most folks will pay for it if they deem it cheap enough. The good thing about books is that you can give a fair amount of it away for free as a sample.

I guess an author may lose out to bands as they can at least make a lot of money off gigs whereas i suspect signings aren’t that lucrative.

I’m not a writer but a relative of mine directs/produces audiobooks (nothing mainstream, though), which is indeed where piracy is more of a problem than with ebooks, for now. Knowing how much work and money goes into the making of those, I can very well understand how piracy can actually cost people’s jobs. While I don’t think that every downloaded movie, song, audiobook or whatever would have been a sale otherwise. I think it’s part of the mentality of people to be less choosy about things they “get for free”. Whereas most of them wouldn’t steal from a shop, I doubt many of them actually give much thought to the fact that, this way, they do and that the author, artist, musician, etc. whose work they pirate needs to eat, pay the rent, […] in order to be able to create more of what they enjoy. It’s a simple logic. [Not to mention that we still have libraries who lend out books for free. For me at least, the limiting factor for books isn’t money, it’s time to read them.]
(Sorry for the rant, people like that guy sadden me.)

I think Per Olov Enquist and Henning Mankell are taking a very strong stand against piracy (just can’t find a link right now).

On another note, think of Stephenie Meyer (not sure about the spelling, I mean the author of those YA vampire books). Not that I’m into her books, but I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like, if you find your unfinished work leaked out to the internet.

Generally speaking agree with what you are saying…but… if I lend someone a book, I generally expect to get it back. If I sent a copy of an ebook to a friend they could keep that. Maybe it would mean they would go out and buy paperbacks from the same author, perhaps even of the same book, but still they have have a copy for free and I still have mine.

My girlfriend is a huge fan of Audible, which provides a cheap source of Audio books, although she gets annoyed how the UK content is inferior to US version.

I still think the problem with business’ attitude to the internet is that they try and make it illegal to download. The internet is the most widespread and cheapest distribution they have access to but none of them are willing to readjust to the times. Thank god that the people behind Spotify have realised there is a way to provide people with free music – why illegally download something when you can have it instantly.

As for Stephanie Meyer, it sucks but I can probably guarantee that most people looked for those spoilers – and they will still buy the book when it is released. Most people don’t look for spoilers unless they are already hooked. Even as a reader I would want to kill someone if a spoiler was plastered on the BBC main page, i dread to think what the author would want to do. At least Meyer can dry her tears on 100 dollar bills.

sorry for what seems like unabashed plugs there (at least I’m not linking to torrents of “Nights”). Same goes for the “just woke up” sentence structures.

Thanks for the opinions, guys. And sorry for the limited response (see following blog post for laptop mishap).

I think audio is definitely something else entirely; quite right, Anne. It seems odd that few people actually talk about this – me included. It’s more centred on ebook formats. But stuff to think about there.

Interesting points in general, Neil. Publishing is very resistant to change. I’ve been watching this for a few years, and I get the impression that no one really knows what’s going to happen, so it makes it difficult to plan around…

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