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Friday, May 2, 2014

Why I am Against Book Piracy: A Love Story

Today while on Twitter (everything happens on Twitter...) I ran across a wonderful thread that had me ready to go into battle.

A popular YA writer posted to her Tumblr a statement about having her books pirated. She expressed that she was tired of finding her titles pirated and tired of seeing her next paychecks stolen... and she is completely right.

I'm going to run down these statements one by one and express why they don't make sense. Her words ignited a fire from both pro piraters and anti piraters, of course, I am against book pirating because I love books, I love publishers, and most importantly, I love the authors who inspire me - so I am going to support them in every single way I can.

If you're pro book piracy, this post will make you mad.

Common Misconception #1: "Authors are rich. Publishing is evil, it won't hurt for me to download this..."

Stealing is wrong. Period. No matter what you do nothing is going to change that fact. The thing that kills me about reading things like this is the amount of disrespect that is shown for the people in the industry.

Writers work damn hard for their money. On average, a book will take anywhere from 3 - 6 months to write, then editing it takes another 4-6. That is just to get it to the stage of being worthy to take it to a publishing house. After that comes more editing and revising until finally the title will be released a year or two later, sometimes more. When the writer gets their advance that is the only money they will see for that work for years.

Royalty checks exist IF the book is selling and only after the author has reached the amount of their advance. Until then, they're just statements. So, if the author gets an advance of 10,000 the royalty statements have to reach 10,000 before they get paid anything.

When you download a title you are taking money away from that author who spent years perfecting the thing that you are enjoying for free.

 Publicists work hard to get the book out there. Editors read manuscript upon manuscript and line edit them to perfection. Say what you will but publishing is not a monster who is trying to steal money from you. Countless people have worked hard to get that thing into your hands.

That cover that attracted you to the story? Someone designed that. That synopsis that made you giddy? That was written with intentions of a sale.

That book you're in love with? The sequel to it will never be published, because it didn't sell like it was expected to.  We can see where it was downloaded illegally all of these thousands of times... but it no longer matters.

There are real stories from real people who this has happened to. Piracy can be the difference between a book having a sequel, or be the difference in that author that you love ever being published again. At the end of the day, publishing is a business just like any other, and a business depends on sales.

Misconception #2 "I'm a student and I work minimum wage, I can't afford to buy all the books I want."
I have been working in fast food for three years. I understand the struggle, I am a college student who has bills, and who has a crazy book obsession.

I can't afford to buy all of the books that I want - that doesn't mean that I go and download them illegally.

I utilize my library like no other. Ninety percent of the time, I never have to set foot within it. Libraries across the country now have an OverDrive feature that allows an entire array of books to be at your disposal at the press of a button. Seriously, want a book? They have a ton, and since you're such a fan of downloading books, this is a way to do it legally.

"Libraries don't have the books I want..." Libraries have a trading system that allows you to bring books in from other surrounding libraries. I have never had to wait more than a week when doing this.

I understand being poor, and not having the money to buy books all the time. I choose the books that I buy carefully, I read reviews, I do the research and then I commit.

It's okay to not be able to buy every single book that you want. That's normal, and there's always a way to be able to afford these gems. It's all about being willing to choose what you really want.

Misconception #3 "I buy the books I like, I just illegally download them first so I don't waste my money on those I don't like."

In no way is this okay. Downloading a book illegally is not an excuse for making sure you like something. That's like going to Starbucks and demanding half of a muffin to make sure you like it and then refusing to pay. It doesn't make sense.

There are always, always, chapters available to see if you feel drawn in to a book before you buy it. If you hate fantasy, don't buy a fantasy. We all have an idea of what we will like, and yes, sometimes we are dissapointed but that is life. That is not an excuse to illegally download something.

If you are reading a title that was illegally downloaded, the author of that story deserves those royalties but they will never see them. 

Just buying the five titles that you like, does not change the twenty titles that you didn't like. It doesn't erase them and it doesn't make it okay for those writers to have not received the royalties that they deserved.

Misconception #4 "I download the books illegally, but then I review them so others will go buy them. Just because I illegally downloaded doesn't mean everyone will."
If you're reviewing and you do this, there is a problem. You're claiming to want to support authors, but then stealing from them at the same time. Not all books are created equal, but all people deserve payment for their work.

If you actually do get a few people to buy that title you're raving about, it doesn't change the fact that you're illegally downloading the title.

You claim to love it. You're proclaiming it from the rooftops? Why would you not want to support the author who gave it to you?

There are a lot of things within this argument that I can semi understand, but a reviewer stealing books is NOT one of them.

As reviewers we are trying to sell the books we love, not steal them and say that other people are going to do that part for us.

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