When trying to decide on what photo to use for this post I decided on this one because it proves a point. Every single one of the books in this photo has been paid for, which means the author who wrote them was also paid. Now, I’ll admit I bought many of them used. So the author may have only been paid once and then I bought it and paid someone else with NO proceeds going to the author. As an author I know this will eventually happen and I’m okay with it. The point is, it was originally paid for at least once.
I’d like to tackle the argument that pirated books aren’t actually stealing from the author because that book wouldn’t have sold to that person anyway. Let’s look at that for a minute. Yes, it may be true that if you chose to illegally download my book for free you only did so because it was free. If you saw it somewhere else for even a penny, you would pass it up. Okay, I get that because I know how expensive books can be. But guess what, I DON’T STEAL BOOKS. Jut like I don’t steal anything else, if I don’t have the money for it I go without. In fact, I haven’t bought a book in at least two months because I simply can’t afford to. Here’s a little gem for thought, I promised my husband I would only spend the money on books that I earn from writing. So, while you’re stealing my books I’m not getting paid for them. That means I don’t have the few bucks it takes to buy myself a book or anything else.
The next argument is that an author isn’t going to become a millionaire from the few books that would sell if they were paid for instead of stolen. Really? No shit. I’d be happy to afford a burger. I’m a really low-maintenance gal. If I can use my royalties to buy a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk for my kids then I consider it a good month. The fact of the matter that e-pirates are either ignoring or plainly refuse to admit is: PIRACY IS THEFT. No, seriously, it really is. Any way you slice it, if you take something that is for sale and don’t pay for it, you have just stolen it. I don’t believe I’ll magically become a millionaire if pirates stop offering my books, but that’s really not the damn point.
Last argument, books that are stolen actually help the author by giving them exposure. Well, that might actually be true. However, if given the choice of having a HUGE fan base of thieves that love my books but don’t pay for them and having a few loyal readers who are willing to pay the money…I’ll take the loyal, HONEST readers any day. That’s just me. I prefer to surround myself with people I can trust and since PIRACY IS THEFT I would never trust a pirate. I wouldn’t even want to get book reviews from someone stealing my work, and reviews are something I love to read.
So in short, keep this in mind: you wouldn’t walk into an art gallery and take a painting off the wall and walk out without paying. Why not? That’s art just like writing. You wouldn’t get away with using a cell phone without paying the bill. Why not? It’s just air you’re using and not a tangible thing. Just because e-books are not made of paper doesn’t make them worthless. it doesn’t make them EVERYONE’S. Books are books whether they exist in your hands or on your screen. Be a responsible reader and pay for them
Final thought (for real), if your argument is that books are available at the library so they should be free game then go to the damn library. Mine aren’t there so it doesn’t apply. The library still gets permission for those books. That’s all authors really want, to be asked permission. I wouldn’t walk into your house and make a sandwich just because I found the door unlocked. Don’t follow the pirates links and take the books just because they’re there.