The culture of entitlement, illegal downloads, and how it all totally pisses me off

Posted: January 27, 2012 in Fiction, Random wifflings
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Before I begin, I would like to wholeheartedly thank all those people, and you are in a fantastic moral majority, thankfully, who have paid for my book. Whether you loved it or hated it or fed it to the dog, thank you.  Loving message ends. Rant begins.

What’s up with Western civilisation right now? A burning sense of entitlement. That idea we have rights and expectations of reward just for breathing. Yeah, of course I mean the dole cheats and the folk who never work, the chaps that claim disability allowance and get caught doing backflips. I don’t have an issue with the government wanting to cap benefits (unemployment payments, American people. Not your rights to holidays and sick pay). The social safety net is one of the greatest moral achievements of Western democracy, and marks the human race out for being if not individually even-handed, at least somewhat corporately. But benefits and rights have gone  too far, it’s doing stuff it never was intended to do, like trapping people, like giving people an excuse not to get off their lazy arses, like bankrupting the continent.

The SF community is left-leaning, so I expect some bother for that. But before you cut up your The Guardian to send me anonymous hate mail, hang on, here’s a digression. Author Neal Asher, whose books I really enjoy, tweets a lot of stuff that is deemed right-wing. I retweet it not because I agree wholeheartedly with him, but because I want to see the other side aired. One thing that winds me up about politics and people is that both are wholly partisan. I hear dross peddled from all sides by folks who don’t question their political convictions, convictions often inherited from their parents. (No, of course I don’t mean you, you are much too intelligent to be taking things at face value just because they accord with your micro-cultural preprogramming).

I’m also saying this: The super-rich at the top, the plutocrats, also have a ludicrous sense of entitlement, an entitlement to massive bonuses they don’t deserve, to not pay a fair amount of tax, and to squander money and resources because they can. I’m sure many SF types will agree with that, so flame off? ‘Kay?

But then, I’m also going to say, it’s me and you too. I assume you’re in the squeezed middle. SF is, after all an overwhelmingly bourgeoise pursuit. Pardon me if I’m wrong.

I grew up expecting to live in a big fuck off house. To effortlessly get a good job, to be able to piss around and do what I damn well please provided it didn’t impact on anyone else (this last standpoint I clung to for a very long time, but even that kind of watered down moral relativism — leave me alone, and I’ll leave you alone — doesn’t help societies work, so I’m re-evaluating). A lot of people like me spent a good part of the 90s and noughties  living high off the hog on fake money. Credit cards and profits from house sales buoyed me through endless drunken nights, hallelujah and pass the beer. All non-money enabled, in the main, by New Labour’s economic miracle, which was miraculous in that it conjured money out of thin air by the very bankers we purport to so loathe now. Don’t blame them, we were all at it.

In the “middle class” (whatever the hell that is these days), we get do much hand-wringing, without thought as to how we can pay for all the good, honest, well-meaning services and so forth we wish to provide our fellow men so we can get on with our privileged lifestyles guilt free. An argument you’ll hear in the right-wing press, but it goes much further than that. We might complain about our slipping standards of living, but compared to some poor dude working on a dump in Lagos stripping wire from junk, and the hundreds upon hundreds of millions of others like him the world over, we’re frankly still having a ball. As much as the hippies I know make me grind my teeth sometimes (I grew up among hippy refugees, fleeing the end of the sixties, I know a lot of neo-hippies now. I must be attracted to them), at least they’re trying to do something about their outmoded 20th century lifestyles with their pigs and ducks and druids in their orchards. Never mind that they proselytise this lifestyle in a somewhat patronising manner, and overlook the fact that you have to be loaded to be able to afford to do what they say we should all be doing. At least they try.

Somehow, I can’t see all we hand wringing pseudo-liberals (I am one too, from time to time) wanting to give up our multi-room houses, cars and regular meals so we can all equally enjoy the bounty of Mother Earth any more than bankers want to give up their obscene bonuses. We’re all hypocrites, just a little bit, if you think about it.

Which brings me on to my real point here: Illegal downloads. We’re so damn entitled, we think we should get stuff for free, all the time! Hooray! I have people who are related to me (I won’t say who) who insist on giving my son copied DVDs, despite the fact that I tell them not to. They maintain copying is not illegal in their country of residence (it most certainly is, but sadly it is so culturally acceptable it has destroyed the arts industries there. A further note – I am not saying all copyright laws are the same worldwide. But the differences in the territories I am talking about are not that great), and they can’t see who they’re hurting. In fact, they’re often congratulating themselves on how much money they have saved, and on the great quality of whatever movie they have ripped off.

The gentleman of this couple was most offended this Christmas. He had produced an illegal copy of a famous animated movie to watch, and he said “Good isn’t it? It did really well in its day, made $30million dollars!” To which I said, “Well, they won’t be getting any money for that copy, will they?” Cue shocked look, and mouthed upset.  I don’t see Mega-Entertainment inc being fleeced of a few pennies here, I see some poor ex-kid actor or struggling screenwriter living off his residuals who ain’t going to be having Christmas next year because of people like you. (Yeah, I know most of the money goes to Mega-Entertainment inc, but the people at the bottom won’t be getting what pittance is due them either).

I tell you who else they’re hurting, through their furtherance of the acceptability of stolen entertainment, they indirectly hurt their own family. They’re hurting me, they’re hurting my kid.

I’ve found several illegal copies of Reality 36 knocking about on the web. Every time I do, I tell my publishers and they shut it down. These copies are usually tailed by dutiful thanks from all the mendacious, thieving bastards who were too damn tight to prise open their wallet to pay the £2.00 it costs to get it legitimately. On one forum, I found a lady thanking the person who had provided the copy to copy, saying “the epubs I use are usually my own, but…” What?! That’s not your book, that’s my book. It’s not yours to give away. You didn’t write it.

Another note – I don’t expect to make my living from this book, nor I am not out to get rich. It stands on its merit on lack thereof alone. What I do expect is to be paid for goods I provide.

Am I being precious? Someone’s getting rich, aren’t they?

I’ve spent twenty years trying to get published. I’ve had dozens of rejections. I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words. I’ve had my work demolished over and again, and I kept doggedly coming back for more. Why? Because one day I wanted to get a book published. Because I wanted to be writer. Writing of any kind, unless you are lucky or really good, or both  doesn’t pay well.  I am hugely in debt. I live in a small terrace house, I don’t have an office. I work in a gap on the landing between the bannisters and my bedroom wall. I spend hours writing this blog to publicise my work and provide a point of contact for those lovely folks who do pay to read my stories. Seeing as my old job went when Death Ray closed, what I earn from writing fiction is more important than ever.

I get 8% of every sale price of each book. So, each time someone downloads it illegally, I lose 16 new pence, give or take, at the current discounted price for the e-version  (really! You can get it in the Angry Robot sale for two quid! Go on, buy it). You might say, so what’s the big deal? It’s only 16 pence (give or take, remember). But I say, every 16 pence I lose is a 16 pence more I have to earn twice, effectively, as I tread the slow road to paying off my (small) advance.

More importantly, every illegal download goes uncounted by publishers who use sales figures to determine if they commission more books from an author. At the early stages of a writer’s career, like now for me, every tick in the box is crucial, one more penstroke in the flimsy wall of ink between me and a job behind a till at a supermarket.

You’re not entitled to my work for free, just like you’re not entitled to unemployment payments while you are working a job, and I’m not entitled to make you carry my bags around and give me pedicures for nothing. I assume that the people who do look for free copies are intelligent. I also pray then that they are moral. Here’s a message for you: You are literally taking food out of my kid’s mouth. Literally. He’s three. I might be an angry fucker worthy of your contempt, but he’s an innocent casualty in your quest for free shit. (Okay, I admit, I’m overegging it there. Sorry. He never goes hungry).

And you do yourself a disservice. A lot of people who download Reality 36 for nothing might love the book. They might well want to see more Richards & Klein adventures. But if  enough people pinch it, there won’t be any more. Not because I’m sulking, but because I’ll be processing your shopping at the supermarket, if I’m lucky enough to find a job.

Or I’ll be chasing you out of the door as bacon slides out from under your coat and skids all over the floor. Downloading stuff is exactly the same thing as shoplifting. Exactly the same thing.

I paraphrase a quote I read the other week, I can’t find the original, but it went something like this:

“A society that is unwilling to pay for art will have to learn to live without it.”

For art also read Star Trek, and novels about cyborg detectives.

It’s pennies over £2.00. For God’s sake, don’t be a twat.

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Comments
  1. redfox4242 says:

    You have a good reason to be upset. I bought “Reality 36” on Amazon. I will be buying the next one you write as well. Best wishes to you and your family.

    • Name (required) says:

      ——— quote ———-
      They maintain copying is not illegal in their country of residence (it most certainly is, but sadly it is so culturally acceptable it has destroyed the arts industries there)
      ——— end of quote ———-
      Well, I do not want to endorse unauthorised large-scale copyright infringement, and I most certainly do not think they should give your son burnt CDs and DVDs when you have asked them not to.
      BUT!
      In many, *many* countries – my country of origin included – making a copy of copyrighted work (such as a picture, a newspaper article, a book, a song or a even movie) for your personal private use and for use of your close family and members of your household is NOT illegal. Just yesterday I have read statement from a judge, from an actual case, that says that “you have right to make a copy for your personal use and the law does not differentiate if the ‘original’ you used to copy from was legally made copy or not”.
      What IS illegal is DISTRIBUTING copyrighted work. This is all that is needed to fight large-scale unauthorized copyright infringement. If you remove uploaders, there will be nowhere to download works from. And making one personal copy from a CD that my mom purchased for herself so I can listen to it in my car isn’t going to bankrupt any artists.

      • guyhaley says:

        That’s all fine – if you copy a CD onto your computer, so what? You’ve paid for it already. (hopefully in light of your comment, you’ve paid for an original, eh?) Ditto if you’re backing up a film, making a second copy, whatever. You have paid. The people I’m talking about, however, are very much of the “get it off the internet and don’t pay at all” types.

        Anyway, distributing. Hit the nail bang on the head there.

  2. JWUsher says:

    This is Gaiman’s take on the issue.
    http://gigaom.com/2012/01/27/gaiman-sopa-and-pipa-are-on-the-wrong-side-of-history/
    Do you think Gaiman’s assertion that areas that he was pirated boosted his sales are utterly wrong or only right for a writer of the stature of Gaiman? Really interested on your view on this. I think creative people have to be paid for their work but I’m also very worried about SOPA, ACTA etc and Big business controlling internet policy.

    • guyhaley says:

      I think there is probably something to be said for free stuff boosting sales – it’s why I try and get free short stories and samples up here, why I write this blog, really, and make my old reviews etc available. There’s probably a complicated equation in there somewhere that gives you a tipping point as to profit versus loss when you’re pirated. On the one hand, I’m a new author, so the more people that know about me the better. On the other hand, unlike Gaiman, I don’t have a large corpus of work that people can select purchases from should they like something they stole. There’s just the one for now. Once that’s consumed, it’s gone. Sure it might build a bit of word of mouth impetus, but how much? And will the pirate’s buddies be as morally loose as the pirate in any case?

      Gaiman is right, although he stands in the comfortable position of already having made his fortune. SOPA and ACTA and all that are trying to manipulate something new with the tools of yesterday – like trying to type by hitting a keyboard with a flint axe – with the dubious aim of establishing the typical amount of plutocratic control the US powerbrokers always go for when there’s money involved. But just because those bills are bad doesn’t mean something should not be done. Enforcing existing laws should be enough – Megaupload was shut down using previously established legal powers, I believe.

      What we don’t want is a situation like they have in Spain. In Spain the artistic industry is really suffering, because downloading has become like speeding – illegal but culturally acceptable, and is therefore now endemic. I read about one author who said she’d have to give up writing, as her latest book had been illegally downloaded more times than it had been legitimately purchased.

      Who knows? I wrote this blog to provoke debate. It’s emotive and wine-fuelled. I am not saying it is particularly incisive, or holds any answers. All I can say that as someone nervously awaiting to see if one of his next raft of book pitches is picked up, something that will in part be determined by sales of Reality 36, seeing my book for free online doesn’t make it any easier. It makes me feel my career is in the hands of pirates. Probably overstated, but the rage is there nonetheless.

  3. Neal Asher says:

    Well said. No matter how it’s dressed up it’s stealing, plain and simple.

    Incidentally my supposed right-wing views (I don’t have them. I have libertarian views which many are too thick to grasp) come from having worked for every penny while also learning, without payment, to do what I do now, and from being self-employed for 25 years when stopping to scratch my arse meant stopping earning. Some of the hand-wringing ‘socially conscious’ should try it.

  4. Small Pith says:

    This is a really complex issue. I don’t for a second support stealing or copying copyrighted material. That should be regarded as theft and punished as such. But… what about people loaning each other their books or music? I know a family that share Kindles and read each other’s books and everyone has probably loaned a friend their favourite novel at some point. Does this count as theft? It certainly has the same effect as copying from the perspective of the author.

    Part of the problem, I think anyway, is the concept of “fair exchange”. Music has a much bigger problem than books but the same thing applies. People will be inclined to copy (illegally) material if they feel that the price they’re asked to pay is higher than the value they think they’re receiving. Okay your £2 novel is probably not included in that and I might go find it to see if that’s true but when the price is artificially high due to the publisher’s supply chain – something the music industry was famous for in the pursuit of endless parties and profits – the problem becomes more difficult.

    Prices are falling everywhere and the arts are suffering the worst. Mick Jagger famously pointed out that the glory days where musicians made millions are gone forever. It doesn’t stop the current crop looking back and wondering why they’re not in the huge mansions with the lavish lifestyle. It’s not just the illegal copiers, though they’re definitely a problem, it is just that people won’t pay the money they once did for books and music and for people in those arts, this is going to mean they’re going to be less well compensated than they previously were, especially where the publishers are in there protecting their own margins.

    And, FYI, I have zero illegally copied books or music, but at the same time I refuse to buy any books other than on Kindle (for now…) or listen to any new music unless it is on Spotify or YouTube. Sorry, I’m (apparently) not going to make anyone rich this way.

    • guyhaley says:

      This is true. And I think the music industry has reached an accommodation with the online world now. I think Spotify pays royalties per play in a similar manner radio stations do (at a much lower rate), for example.

      No way I’m looking at the rock star lifestyle! Most writers die in penury! This isn’t really a new problem either, just the reawakening of an old one. In the 19th century, before modern copyrighting laws, books used to get ripped off all the time. Dickens used to struggle with unauthorised versions of his work in the US.

      As for lending, you can make that argument, but firstly you’ve already paid for the book you loan out, and it’s going to one person, not potentially millions.

      Cheers for the comment! Good topic for debate. The world’s changing alright.

      • Small Pith says:

        I like to use the music industry as a comparison because music is so much more consumable than a book as it can be done passively in a few minutes. As an avid Spotify user I have listened to a bizarrely varied amount of music that I would never have heard had I been forced to pay for iTunes or a CD.

        The problem I see is that the artistic community, or possibly moreso their publishers, assume that if something is shared it will be consumed by “millions” of otherwise potentially paying customers leading to huge losses and hence the hilariously OTT sentencing laws in place or proposed these days. Each “copy” is assumed to be consumed by another discrete set of “millions” and so they just look silly.

        Theft is inevitable. The internet and electronic distribution makes this easier. I’d just prefer that people gave me great content at a great price point. I, and “millions” like me, will keep paying for that.

      • guyhaley says:

        Check out my book then, the e-version really is only a couple of pounds/ few dollars on Amazon. (Sorry, you can’t blame me for trying!)

  5. Simon Morden says:

    I recently blogged on this too (http://www.simonmorden.com/2012/01/20/piracy-and-sopa/), and I was contacted by someone who’d downloaded my books off a torrent site, giving his reasons as to why.

    Now, I’m as bleeding heart liberal as they come (and a screaming lefty to boot), but your argument and mine coincide pretty much exactly – which must mean either the great old ones are about to rise, or we’re on the money here. I certainly think it applies without question to those people who simply choose not to purchase the ebooks legally despite the income to do so.

    However, this one downloader actually made a cogent case for doing what he did, and made me realise that there is more than one reason (“because I can”) for his actions. I’ve been winding up for a follow-up blog on this, and may get around to writing it tonight.

  6. Kathryn says:

    Well, what to say? I don’t know you, you don’t know me, but still – let’s get started.

    “the chaps that claim disability allowance and get caught doing backflips”
    Bam, right off the mark you’re a total jerk. That’s offensive. You’re assuming, wrongly, that disability is physical and that being able to do something like that is obviously a sign of being able to work. Jeez. What about someone who has a mental impairment that stops them being fit for work, but still keeps physically fit? I knew a guy, years back, and he was on disability because of mental issues, but he cycled everywhere and was as fit (physically) as can be.

    So then you talk about your personal experiences – I agree with you. Wholly. I get frustrated when my mum’s boyfriend brings copied DVDs over (note: in the UK, it’s not illegal to own a copied DVD, it’s illegal to produce and distribute them), y’know – “his mate” does them. My dad used to do the same years ago, but has since shifted to getting them legally.

    “So, each time someone downloads it illegally, I lose 16 new pence, give or take, at the current discounted price for the e-version”
    No, you don’t. You lose the *potential* of that money. A pirate copy does not equal a lost sale. It might be someone pirating a Kindle version after they’ve worn a paper copy out or after deciding to replace their paper copies with ebooks, it might be someone wanting to see if it’s worth their time or money, or it might someone being a pirate. You don’t know, I don’t know. There’s no way of knowing.

    Did you miss the research from France? Apparently those who pirate the most are actually amongst the biggest spenders, too.
    http://boingboing.net/2011/07/31/french-copyright-enforcers-pirates-are-big-spenders-on-legit-content.html

    “More importantly, every illegal download goes uncounted by publishers who use sales figures to determine if they commission more books from an author.”
    So… what? Publishers use sales data to decide if to continue with an author/series or not, yes, but ‘piracy’ is just a scapegoat excuse. It’s happened for many years in the book industry. Did the music industry collapse because people could record the radio onto a tape, or copy a CD/Vinyl record onto tape? Nope, I believe it’s still going. Maybe if your books aren’t selling – and I mean this as a “general” you, not yourself – then perhaps there’s a reason? Maybe people don’t want books like that, maybe your publisher isn’t backing you properly, maybe you’re not even doing enough yourself. Who knows? But piracy is just the single biggest scapegoat around. Is it a problem? Yes, but I’ll get to that later.

    “Here’s a message for you: You are literally taking food out of my kid’s mouth. Literally. He’s three. I might be an angry fucker worthy of your contempt, but he’s an innocent casualty in your quest for free shit.”
    Oh, pirates are stealing your food now? Jeez. Yes, you are making fewer sales than you would due to piracy, but that is the same for every author, every musician, every game designer. So what do you do? What you do is you make people want to buy your books, you make them want to give you money. I’ve not bought your books, nor even pirated them, so does that mean I’m taking food out of your kid’s mouth?

    You know what – I’ll sum this up quickly and briefly. Piracy is a problem, piracy is out there. It’s real, it’s happening and it’s a problem. But it’s not the only problem out there, and it’s not the only thing sapping your potential profits. It’s as much a problem as it is a scapegoat. There’s publishers of games, record labels – even book publishers (Hi, Baen!) – have risen above the problem that piracy creates. They don’t stamp their feet and fling insults around. They get their heads down and try to find a solution. Maybe instead of flinging insults around, and maybe instead of making offensive statements, you should sit down with your publisher and try and work out something to do.

    You’ve got financial problems, a family, and you’re in an unstable career – I understand your frustrations. But don’t be a dick, because you might as well shoot yourself in the foot. Mind you, it’s not stopped Orson Scott Card and Terry Goodkind being top sellers, so that’s up for debate.

    • guyhaley says:

      I’m not going to reply to all your points, I respect your opinion (hey, I approved your comment). But I will say, the offensive comment about people on disability benefits doing backflips relates to a few high profile example cases in the UK, which uncovered people claiming for physical disabilities doing very physical things…

      Having disabled folks in my own family (who incidentally work, and don’t claim), I completely understand that not all disabilities are physical.

      • Kathryn says:

        High profile as in… high profile or “in the Daily Mail”? The latter isn’t news. Misrepresented statistics and hatred of anyone who isn’t Straight, White, Christian and Racist.

      • robotii says:

        I was going to buy your book, until you made the comment about stealing your kids food. So I guess you’re taking the food out of your kid’s mouth now?

        The problem with piracy at the moment is caused by the fact that bits are virtually free to copy, resulting in the value of those bits falling to zero. I don’t see this changing anytime soon.

        The other problem I see is that attempts by both sides to portray the other in a poor light causes each side’s beliefs to be more polarised, resulting in extremes of opinion.

        I’m also a “content creator” although not a writer, but ive come to the conclusion that piracy is like shrinkage, simply part of the cost of doing business. I need to make sure that the genuine article coming from me is as convenient for people as possible.

        Gone are the days when people would tolerate a little inconvenience for art.

  7. Richard Ford says:

    Great post, Guy – I’ve got to agree with everything you say. As someone who’s in exactly the same situation as you (a new novelist struggling to find his way in an already crowded marketplace) I can more than empathise with your frustrations.

    I do, however, feel the need to confess that I’ve read both your Richards & Klein novels for free. In fact I got paid to do it. But I’m happy to give you the 32p the next time I see you 😉

  8. Randall says:

    I’m not sure I understand/agree with an assertion that I’m not “entitled to job benefits while working” in this context. Seems an odd example, considering you then say I’m not entitled to your work for free. I’d say that being paid for something you’ve done qualifies as a benefit, and you’re certainly clear that you feel entitled to that money.

    None of which is to say I have a reasonable defense of illegal downloading of anything, really. There’s plenty of entertainment available through the library to dissuade a reasonable person from feeling the need to steal. On the odd occasion I lack the patience to wait my go with a library copy, I splurge, though ofttimes on a second-hand copy, I’m afraid. Doubt that helps anyone’s sales figures or finances, but I sure hope that doesn’t give impression that the copy of the book is still YOURS and not MINE.

    Don’t know how it relates, but I know that most of the authors on whom I do spend actual money for new books are unilaterally people whose work I’ve read for free, whether it be borrowed from the library or a friend, and liked so much I found myself in need of purchasing their newer work when available as soon as possible.

    Sticky issue, all around. I wish you well. I don’t probably disagree with any of your points at their core, but I don’t think it’s as cut and dried as saying the existence of pirated material is strictly taking food off your family dinner table and that it’s all a symbol of an over-entitled society.

    • guyhaley says:

      “Benefits” is Brit English for “social security payments”. (I assume you are in the US?) There are people who work and fraudulently claim government cash for being supposedly unemployed, that’s what I meant. I’m not saying people shouldn’t get paid, or have holidays or whatever, if that’s what you think I meant. If not, my apologies.

      Like everyone says, this is a complex issue. I’m glad it’s provoked so much debate.

      • Elf says:

        Aah. “Benefits,” in the US, is paid sick leave and health insurance coverage. Sometimes includes the job paying for education, or transit coupons, or a Christmas bonus check. Less formal benefits include choice of office music or the right to decorate one’s cubicle.

        None of these are mandatory for US jobs, so hearing “you’re not entitled to benefits along with a job” sounds a lot like “shut up and be happy you’re employed at all; don’t expect luxuries like paid vacation time or comfortable working conditions.”

  9. Steve Blease says:

    Whilst not a Libeterian for many sane reasons including “the social safety net is one of the greatest moral achievements of Western democracy” I completely appreciate your fury at illegal downloads. I’ve had my wargames rules pirated and given how much they cost (less than a takeaway or a round of drinks) I can’t comprehend gamers actually stealing them (hell, if you are going to be a crook think big!).

    Kathyrn is right on the loss of a potential sale, not everyone who steals would have bought the thing but it is natural to look at it as loss of earnings (I know I do).

    However I am somewhat surprised at what you get off the publisher for your work. 16p out of £2, for an e-book. seriously?! If you are looking for someone to accuse of theft surely it is the publisher you takes 92% of a sale for something they didn’t create and in the case of a e-book even print.

    I appreciate you are “playing the game” in the system and in some respects this is the same as the music industry where artists get pennies from sales but surely it must occur to writers (who by and large seem quite intelligent) that they are getting fleeced and maybe they ought to seize the means of control and set up some kind of e-publishing co-operative and get something more than 8% (by comparison I get 65% of the sale of each set of PDF wargames rules).

    I must say I am still rather shocked at the royalties more than the illegal downloads. Set up a tip jar on your blog Guy, I’d rather give you the £2 in full than most to a publisher who does very little (hell, I didn’t know you’d written anything but knew Dan Abnett had via AR).

  10. Happy Hippo says:

    Copying =/= Stealing food from a supermarket.
    You don’t carry food out of the market, leaving an empty shelf behind, but rather fill your pockets while all there is on the shelf stays intact.

    Quite honestly, I do pirate ebooks these days. I don’t even have an e-reader of any kind, aside from some software on my PC. I still buy books retail, way too many than I can possibly read in due time, actually. If I accidentally damage a novel so that it’s look on my shelf is ruined, chances are good that I’ll replace them asap.
    I pirate ebooks of these novels on my shelf, and some others I plan to add next. If a new novel convinces me from the first few chapters, or audiobooks, I’ll buy it.

    I don’t feel like I’m doing anything wrong that way. I pay for what I enjoy, yet I want a bit more flexibility. Having a 7-800 pages omnibus collecting 3 novels in one volume at hand might get troublesome, especially while performing other tasks on the computer or, say, you’re having dinner. An ebook on screen is easy to access, browse through and enjoy.

    However, I’ve already paid for said book, or am having it on my shopping list at least. There’s no way ebooks will completely replace my hardcopies, and I love being able to carry books around, be it at home to the bathroom or on my way through the city. I wouldn’t pay the same amount of money (or maybe 1-2€ off a 10€ base price if I’m lucky) for a digital version. The document has already been written and is readily available, and from creating some ebooks myself I consider producing ebooks using a template fairly effortless in comparison, especially without distribution other than downloading. And not even the bandwidth for downloading gets consumed by myself, so there is factually no “loss” for the publisher either.

    Occasionally, I lend novels to friends, or send them the ebook version if they’re not within reach. Some of them might even start getting interested into the author or series, and get aware of the novels in the future, picking one up in the bookstore around the corner. I consider that a success.
    Especially with ebooks, which are digital versions of material goods aka books, most people would prefer a copy in their hands to a digital one on screen.
    Music is different in that area, since no matter what, it requires a device to play the tracks. You cannot listen to an mp3 or CD without having such a device, while you can read a novel everywhere however you want. You might even wipe your arse with some of its pages if necessary.
    That’s why I don’t think ebooks will overcome printed copies. Flexibility is the key here, and aside from that people like to show off their full shelves.

    I also am one of those people who spend all their money for games and merchandise but download a lot of music or japanese cartoons. While retail goods of said cartoons wouldn’t work for me since they don’t carry subtitles or have never been licensed in my region nor is importing a solution I could ever afford, I try to support the brand by buying merchandise like figurines, singles of theme songs or games. Of course I evaluate soundtracks before buying them, but can you blame me for that? I’d like to know what I’m spending money on before I regret it. If the product convinces me, I’ll spend cash on it. If it doesn’t, it might not even stay on my harddrive much longer than it took me to download. It’s also a fantastic way to make sure the product actually works – which is a big risk in today’s gaming market, as nearly every game that gets released on PC is a bug-ridden mess, from hardware errors to glitches and flying mammoths. That state of a product is another big factor to check if a product is even worth the money.

    Of course, there are authors, developers, artists or publishers who earned my, a consumer’s trust through their past releases, samples or the way they handle customer support.
    Some Game-publishers could release “Barbie and the big POS” and chances are that I’d pay for it, just to support them. If the prices are right, I’d even make sure that my friends get a copy of that game as well, and heavily promote it.

    Yes, I am a pirate, I’m having fun collecting things on my PC, trying fancy stuff I wouldn’t even have heard of if it weren’t for filesharing sites.
    But I am also a consumer willing to pay for quality products.
    I know a lot of people exactly like that. Of course I know a lot of Pirates that simply don’t care, but for the most part you should not assume that a Pirate equals a lost sale or lost money.
    It’s an opportunity. If your novels is good enough to make the pirates talk about it, enjoy and appreciate it, chances are good that a lot of said pirates might pick it up the legal way. Not all of us are ungrateful bastards without morals. We’re just being careful, trying to spend our money the best way possible.

    Anyway, cheers, I’m done with my essay.

  11. […] Tags: Champion of Mars, Piracy, Real life, Reality 36, Response, writing 0 The post I made on 27 January certainly got a lot of people stoked up, that’s for sure. Which is really good, because I […]

  12. Hear hear!

    I’ll tell you who is the biggest perp in this disgraceful era – the vile, loathsome libraries! Giving people books to read without charging them a penny! And often to thise work shy leeches that claim benefits!

    Shut them down I say!

    Undersigned – the moral book buying majority.

    • guyhaley says:

      What? No! I was going to write my next post on how when I’ve finished reading my Daily Mail, I like to roll it up and beat my child with it. Instead I’ll stick with these “libraries”. They sound like a terrible idea to me. Books, for poor people? Cripes. Can they read?

  13. Testify, brother! Thank you so much for this post. I’ve shared it on Facebook and Twitter.

  14. Jobby says:

    I get 8% of every sale price of each book. So, each time someone downloads it illegally, I lose 16 new pence, give or take, at the current discounted price for the e-version

    Wrong: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120129/17272817580/sky-is-rising-entertainment-industry-is-large-growing-not-shrinking.shtml

  15. Fred says:

    If you’re only getting 8% of each sale then your economic problems are not down to pirates but the people you do business with, which is down to you and the choices you made.

    If you have faith in your product, which you seem to if you consider each download to be a lost sale (demonstrably false), then why not self-publish on Amazon, you appear to be firmly in the price range for it, and make a far greater percentage of every 2 quid you can persuade people to part with?

    For reference:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/feb/20/useconomy.booksnews?INTCMP=SRCH

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jan/12/amanda-hocking-self-publishing?INTCMP=SRCH

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