Sarah's Scribbles

The Year of Months

Why You Should Think Twice About Pirating ebooks

With the increasing popularity in electronic books, many people in the industry are discussing the effect pirating will have. However, I haven't seen too many people outside of the industry consider it. In fact, my very own boyfriend proposed pirating a certain book. Poor guy; he got quite an earfull. But you can bet the thought won't ever cross his mind again.

The point is, I wanted to write this post to help those who aren't so close to the industry realize what happens when you pirate a book rather than buy it - and how this differs from the music industry.

When you pirate music, you are able to afford to listen to more artists and genres. Ideally, this means you're able to buy more tickets to concerts and concert-related paraphernalia. The artists and their agents and writers and musicians and all them still get paid. The business-savvy musicians are even using their CDs and MP3s as a sort of concert flier.

However, for the book industry, the book IS the thing. There are no concerts and (most of the time, if we can all agree to ignore Twilight and HP) there is no merchandising. In fact, authors often pay their own way to speak for free at events and bookstores.

Already, I have seen many authors forced to return to 'traditional' 40 hour a week jobs because they're not making enough to feed themselves. Many people don't realize: 99% of book authors DON'T make very much at all - not even a median full-timer's salary. It's not because they're not good ... many people love their books. And it's not like they just dump these things out in a few hours and it magically arrives in your local bookstore:

We slave over manuscripts for (on average) a year; rewriting and editing and rewriting and editing over and over again. And that's the easy part. Then we have to figure out how to get it into the hands of a publisher and convince that publisher that people will actually want to read it. Then, there's the endless hours of promotion and marketing that we also don't get paid for. I know what you're thinking and no. Most books do not get very much marketing budget from the actual publisher.

So, after several years, finally checks start coming in. But when you subtract all the money you spent on marketing and self-promotion, sometimes you even come in at a loss. Unless you get stupendously lucky and end up like Brown, Meyer or Rowling. (You're more likely to get struck by lightning)

So if you're thinking about downloading an e-book without paying for it, ask yourself this question: If it turns out you love the book, is getting it free worth never reading anything from that author again because they had to take a job at Pizza Hut to pay their rent because no one was buying their books?? You think I'm being too doom-and-gloom?  It's already happening.