inTouch: Should Book Pirates Walk the Plank?
Arrgh! Pirates never left the world stage, but they have been all over pop culture in recent years with Talk Like a Pirate Day and the launch of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise. Although I remember feeling chastised after reading a Facebook post where someone lamented the idea of a “fun” pirate because crime just isn’t funny, I still adore Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow.
But would I think piracy was amusing if I were an author trying to make a living in the publishing industry where profit margins are continually shrinking?
When author Mary Roach shared via Twitter that someone sent her a fan letter and $10, along with an apology for downloading a pirated copy of her book Packing for Mars, this sparked a Reddit discussion about what would make someone pirate a book.
People weighed in on reasons to cut a publisher out of profits and reasons to cut a publisher in. On Mediabistro, one person said that he bought paper books and then downloaded illegal copies because he liked reading on the computer. For that reader, buying one copy made it okay to get free access to another because a contribution had been made. Last year, The Consumerist pondered this question: Is it okay to download a pirated copy of a book you already own?
Before e-readers were everywhere, I remember getting an e-mail blast from an acquaintance with an attached PDF that was a copy of a book. I glanced at it but felt guilty and had no intention of sitting at my computer and reading the entire book. The next day, I heard somewhere that the author was very angry about the book being passed around this way. Since a friend had promised to let me borrow the book anyway, I deleted the e-mail. Is borrowing a book from a friend (and not paying for it) also a form of piracy?
For concerned authors, The Millions offers tips on how to Kindle-proof your book.
You don’t have to confess…but tell us, do you think e-book piracy is wrong? What can the publishing industry learn from the way the music industry handled illegal downloads?