What we (hopefully) learned this week (and a few rambling thoughts)

23 Oct

From the “Readers have copyright rights too” conversation over at Dear Author, I hope that we have all learned to think before posting, commenting or tweeting.

It has been said, ad nauseam, that all people should think before putting their thoughts up there in the internets for everyone, their pet parrot and their alien relatives to see. After all, it’s there forever, in one way or another (from Google cache to screen caps).

It has been noted that we eeeeeeeeeeeeeebol readers keep lists of authors behaving badly, and that we are not shy to share those lists with other readers whenever flaps like this latest break out.

It has been repeated all over the cyber-universe that, however unfair it may be, authors ought to behave in a different (wiser, more professional) manner than readers do–after all, authors are selling stuff to readers, and it behooves them to keep that in mind at all times.

Please note that I abhor piracy with a vengeance–as a reader, anything that will discourage authors from writing hurts me, and since it’s all about me…

However, equating “sharing within a very limited circle” to piracy and theft?


Ouch–for ALL involved.


Now, coming at it from another perspective.

The main difference between sharing a physical copy of a book and an electronic copy is that you cannot have three–let alone six–people sitting shoulder to shoulder and reading that one copy at the same time (unless one of the six is reading it out loud, of course, and that’s not the case).

With a print book, at no point there is a second or third copy to go around. With a print book, there is a limited viable life for the copy–just ask our very own SuperLibrarian about weeding out copies that are truly no longer viable. With a print book, even one that is sold and resold via used book stores, sooner or later the reselling stops–either because the last buyer kept the copy or because the copy fell apart.

None of these is true of electronic copies.

Electronic copies are pretty much eternal–just make a new copy to your next device and voilà, you are set.

Electronic copies are pretty much like bunnies on steroids–no limit to how many you can make and give away.

Electronic piracy can be extremely discouraging for authors–if your debut novel is being downloaded a few thousand times on release day, but your sales are of a hundred or so copies on the same day, it’s difficult not to feel that at least a few of those ‘free’ downloads could have been legitimate sales.

No, there are no hard numbers on this–but, let’s us readers be realistic here: we have a book that has been buzzed up the whazzo all over big readers’ sites. Then, on release day or before in some cases, we have hundreds of thousands of downloads from filesharing sites.

Is it unreasonable for the author to feel that at least one hundredth of those would have likely been sales?

Even if it had been half of one hundredth, those sales could have made a world of difference to the author whose next contract hinges on sale numbers.


None of the above means that I have a solution or answer to the continued conflict between authors wanting to make a living off their writing and readers wanting cheaper and more easily accessible reading material, but hey, I’ve been told I like the sound of my voice so here you have it.

One Response to “What we (hopefully) learned this week (and a few rambling thoughts)”


  1. On piracy, again | Her Hands, My Hands - 11/01/2015

    […] are many discussions and points of view on this–both Karen and I have talked about it, Shiloh Walker has spoken frequently and eloquently on the topic, and via […]

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