Thursday, July 24, 2014

STOP THIEF Part 3 - Trying to be a book pirate

Yep, I understand. Worst pirate ever! LOL (Meme courtesy of

This last part of the series I've delayed because I have, well, been the worst pirate! I tried to find some books that I didn't already own that I would actually read and couldn't come up with any. It's hard when you're a voracious reader in just about every category. I was getting desperate and even turned to the forums to try and find something. Pirate Bay and others really only carry the "usual", the "popular" etc. Dude, if you want to try and find any John Grisham novel ever written...just go torrent. 

But I was seeking the unusual. German translation of a young adult novel? Finally! None of the books really ended up being anything worth noting, but I did actually find one. Through this forum where I found my rare book I came upon a curious post by author JA Konrath. For those of you who haven't heard of him, he writes uber-cool thrillers about cops as well as short stories and a neat blog. Konrath as much as admitted in the post that file sharing is another way to get media out there in a marketplace that sometimes just isn't the right fit for a world audience.

"In some cases, file sharing is the only way to get media that is rare or out of print. It is astonishing how much stuff has never been released digitally. Stuff I'd gladly pay for, but no one will take my money because no one is selling it, except maybe on eBay for ridiculous amounts."***

I know *exactly* what he is talking about here. Books and stories and poetry I would give my eyeteeth to buy, but cannot, because of "out of print" rules or people greedily trying to sell their items for as much as possible (I mean, really. Some folks listed Alice Starmore books before her reprint deal at over $1,000 on eBay and Amazon. Come on! They weren't even signed. But I digress). 

What the post really made me think about was what several of the people later said, in thread:

"I have found some really awsome authors in genres I wouldnt normally buy, and will now be purchasing their work on a going forward basis."***

"I admit, I would not have bought your other books, unless I found one of your other books first online."***

What it said to me was, we've got some real book lovers here, but the costs of buying a book on a tight budget didn't make it especially good to make an investment in a new author. 

What surprised me though, is that all of the authors were saying the same thing!

"I've always viewed "pirating" in the same arena as a library...and every library I've ever visited allows you to take a book/CD/movie home and enjoy it for free. "***

Why is it that these authors have this figured out? Why are they so into the idea that they get it? Piracy happens. They move on. What I found so refreshing about studying this issue is that there are at least five authors here who were actively saying they were okay with pirating but asked that people start leaving reviews on major websites like Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads, etc. so that their book doesn't languish under the weight of, well, as one author put it "dinosaur porn".

Could this be the secret? That by using the power of social interaction, they can use the sunk costs of the pirated materials to increase their revenue...almost like marketing? I find this idea fascinating. At the same time, ebook publishers have also been moving away from rights management: 

"“After discussing it with authors and readers, it became pretty clear that DRM was not much of a problem for the sophisticated pirate, but it was, however, a meaningful problem and an annoyance to many of our readers,” Doherty told the audience. “So, we went all in.”" See the article at for more details.

The quote above, from Tor Books founder Tom Doherty, makes sense. He's thinking about his customers, not the pirates. 

In that light, I found many authors with the same experiences. Many give away their books now as part of a marketing effort, helping the authors get their books up the Amazon, Goodreads, and Smashwords lists, leading to additional paying customers. They have found that working with the customer, instead of solely focusing on the pirates and the bad behavior and made their situation work. 

 I'm going to end this series tomorrow with the last section - ideas for how to handle piracy across these areas, in an attempt to learn from the experiences of the people involved in book piracy, genealogy piracy, and crafting piracy. Stay tuned!

***I really would like to cite these quotes, but I'd rather not point y'all to a pirate site. If you're enterprising, you'll be able to find it on your own using the quotes listed.

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