Monday, October 21, 2013

Book Pirates: Off With Their Heads

The beginning of the month I was up in Salem MA, one of my favorite places in the world for old books, Indie book stores and all around dead writer mojo. Birthplace of Nathaniel Hawthorne, how much better can you get. There is a little book store tucked into the brick store fronts on the main street, Darby Square Books. From the outside it looks like a typical book store. Then you enter.

Piles upon piles of books are stacked haphazardly around the store. Leaning towers of everything from Shakespeare to Tom Clancey and the occasional Elmo book. There is something for everyone. From new to used, it's here. You have to squeeze through narrow piles of books, navigating the smell of musty goodness. Digging through mountains of gems. It's a book lovers paradise. The kind you just can't find anymore.

After an hour of digging and chatting I left. Not just wondering how the eBook revolution is effecting them, but how the book pirates must be. That whole hour I was the only one in the shop. It was like a cemetery of words, quiet and peaceful. But eerily so.

As an indie author I have an e reader, but I also left holding onto a couple well worn classics I couldn't pass up. I love paper books and all the memories they hold. But even more threatening to all of us, Indie stores and authors alike, are the book pirates.

Last week one of my best author friends was targeted. She found her book on a file sharing site. Like Napster changed the music industry, we are being faced with these scums as well. (I was going to list some of the sites, but I refuse to give them any more publicity. I'm sure you know them.)

Book piracy cost the big publishing houses close to 2.8 billion in lost revenues last year. Billions. And that's not counting us, the little guys, the small presses and the self published. Every book illegally downloaded by file sharing sites takes money out of the pockets of hard working people. Weather the public doesn't understand that they hurt the author and the little guy when they do this, I don't know. People are looking to save money, and something free is enticing.  But this is our lively hood. And it's stealing. Words are intellectual property, someone's own property.

It's really starting to bug me. You wouldn't walk into a store and steal a book off the shelf. But that's what you do every time you download a book from a piracy site. The internet makes the free passage of information accessible, and that's a great thing. But you still have to think of who is on the other end. And something's are stealing.

You can legitimately borrow books from on line libraries, you can gift copies through Amazon, and really digital copies are pennies on the dollar from their paper counterparts. So why do we have to screw the artist? Do you know how much it hurts to see our work being sold with no compensation to us? It's like putting in a days work for no pay.

As authors what can we do? Look out for each other. Report piracy as soon as we see it. Set up a Google alert and put your book title and author name on it. Follow this link to a great article on Wiki
Help about how to combat book piracy. And share it.

This isn't the time to gripe about self published and small press, it effects us all. And like the music industry had to face it, so does the publishing industry. Tell your readers it's not okay to read pirated books. It's not a greed thing, it's a human thing. No one wants their hard work stolen. You can follow this link to the American Intellectual Property Law Association for more info on what exactly Intellectual Property is and isn't.

Thanks for letting me gripe. And if your ever in Salem MA,  visit Darby Square Books and support a fellow Indie. He gets his books through proper channels and is Indie Author Friendly.

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