This is a subject I hate to have to write about, but it’s a growing trend that could mean the end of the line for many authors. Which means the books you enjoy won’t be written.
Ebook piracy is taking off like it did in the music industry a decade ago. When bands discovered their sales were dropping, many had to go back to live tours to make a living. Authors can’t do that. I mean, seriously, how many people would really pay to go hear La Nora read her latest novel? It’d be great at first, but how long does it take most of us to read a novel? Could you sit and listen to someone read that long?
But I’m jumping ahead. Ebook piracy isn’t only affecting the new releases published in ebook format. Pirates are scanning copies of print books and offering them for free. Or better yet, some are SELLING collections of ebooks. Some publishers are refusing to release their books as ebooks. J.K. Rowling insisted that Harry Potter not be made available in e-format. Yet it’s out there, thanks to the efforts of some scum.
Already there are authors who have ended certain series because of the number of prior books circulating for free. They’re focusing on print publishers instead.
There are those who insist that copyright is taking rights away from them. Huh? I will never understand that one. What I understand is they can do their 9-5 job and get paid for the work they did, without question. But we authors are expected to do our job for free. Cool, set me up mortgage free, with a working car, groceries, utilities, and all, and I’ll work for free. As it is, I work two (or three) jobs to be able to keep a roof over my head while my writing backlist grows. Those hours away from my computer mean stories that will never be written.
Another argument is that authors can afford to lose some sales. Or, the pirates would never have bought the book to begin with. Or, if they like the free book they’ll go buy it, or the rest of an authors books.
Get real, people. Does your grocer let you eat a steak before deciding if you’ll buy it? If you’re concerned, look for excerpts and reviews before buying a book.
Back to contests. The latest thing to do is surf the Internet, Twitter and other social networking sites, and join the author loops to try and win free ebooks. Then offer them up on a file-sharing site so others can read it, too. It’s a game to them. They do it because they can.
Big name authors and publishers are getting involved, though, so prosecution and fines will finally be handed down. Sure, some ebook pirates will just go deeper underground, but a majority are like the woman who recently got fined in the six-figures for downloading files illegally.
Most importantly, authors are discovering that giving away ebooks hurts their sales more than helps it, because of pirates. They’ll give away print copies or items other than books instead.
I apologize to those who enter contests for the right reasons, and tell their friends about the books they enjoy, without sending the ebook to all of them. You are the reason we still write, and why we fight to keep the pirates at bay. We’re spending more hours sending take-down notices and filing complaints than we should, but maybe one day we’ll be able to use that time as we should: to write MORE BOOKS!