Wednesday, February 3, 2010

AAAAARGH!! Please Don’t Steal Books

Google Alerts notifies me when one of my book titles or my name appears online. This helps alert me to reviews I’ve missed, awards nobody told me about, or mentions of my books—good and bad—on people’s blogs.
Every so often, it will turn up a link to a post on Yahoo Answers or a torrent site that goes something like this:
I LOVE LOVE LOVE Cinda Williams Chima’s books. Anyone know where I can download them for free?
Call me crazy, but I’m just not feeling the love here.
Book and music piracy is stealing. It is not a victimless crime as some people seem to believe.
I know—I’ve heard all the arguments used to justify piracy, some of them from people who wouldn’t think of walking into a store and walking out with a ham, a pair of jeans, or a physical book without paying for it. Somehow, that ink and paper book has value. The message I’m getting is that the work that I do does not.
YA authors Laurie Halse Anderson  and Mary Pearson have done a good job of addressing those arguments on their blogs so I won’t repeat them here. I believe that people steal books and music because 1) they don’t view it as hurting anyone, really, and 2) they’re unlikely to get caught.
I recently was directed to a website that offered illegal downloads of three of my books. Total downloads: 781. And that was just one site. Not all of those downloads represent lost sales, but a hundred books here and a hundred books there--it adds up. And as e-readers proliferate, it’s bound to get worse, unless we—all of us—take action.
In any given week, my publisher knows just how many books of mine have sold. Guess what—if I don’t sell enough books, my publisher isn’t going to publish any more of them. I’m not a musician. I can’t take my show on the road and sell tee shirts and merchandise. Touring authors don’t draw huge crowds of paying customers. I’m not an entertainer. I’m a writer.
So I’ll have to find something else to do for a living. I can’t afford to work this hard at something for free. With a few notable exceptions, most writers—even successful ones—make a modest income. Can’t wait for the next book in your favorite series? Well, it’s going to take a lot longer if your favorite writer is working a day job. If he or she is able to write at all. I left a day job that I loved because I was exhausted.
All you aspiring writers out there: speak up now, or say goodbye to a future as a professional writer. If your friends are illegally downloading books and music, call them on it. Let them know you don’t approve.
To any pirate reading this: I know you don’t mean to, but when you illegally download an e-book, I can’t help but think you are targeting me, because what you are taking is what I contributed. The story. Not the ink and paper or the fancy binding. It may not seem real to you, but it sure seems real to me.
It takes me a year to write a book. And I hope you think it’s worth paying for.


Anonymous said...

Wow... That was deep Mrs. Chima... Now with those kind of words-(and by the way, I have never pirated anything, I know some who have)- I just want to hit those Pirates over the head! Heck! They don't even deserve to have their names capitalized! pirates it is! I'm angry at them! *Puts dyrne sefa around neck and speaks unnoticeable charm and walks to nearest pirate's house. Hits them over the head and breaks their computers*... 'Nough said. And the Aspiring Authors (me)/Already Authors lived Happily... Ever... After... THE END... :-)

Unknown said...

Mrs. Chima i hear exactly what your saying. I do belive its wrong to do this kind of thing to the author. You spent your time creating a story for us all to enjoy (and trust me i loved them enough to read each one twice)and the least we can do to repay you for such a great story is buy copies of the book to help you keep your publisher. The world would be much dimmer if we lost great authors such as yourself.

Alyzabeth Lewis said...

I hear you! If you love a book, movie, or a song... pay for it. You are stealing otherwise, and when you steal you hurt someone. Even if the writer is rich (which most are not), that doesn't justify taking their work from them for free.
One of the reasons I resent the push to eBooks is because making things digital makes it easier to pirate them. That and I will die the day my books can crash like computers.

Dani said...

It's interesting to see the shift in the generations of the things that are important. I was raised to learn to treasure a book, because of the wonders that were inside them and now it's all about the computer. There's just so much to be said for the feel of the book in your hand and the smell of a new book. Why would anyone want to replace that with an ebook? I have thought about getting one of those book things from like amazon but I can't bring myself to not have the physical book in my hand. I want to turn the pages. :) Your work is amazing and people should DEFINITELY pay for it!

meleah said...

Well said! Seriously, people should support their local library if they're wanting to read a book without paying. I hope these pirates get a nice dose of karma.

Jessica Powers said...

I think in the ebook generation we are going to see more and more pirated books. It is a sad thing. I can remember how excited I was as a child to get my monthly box of books from my grandmother full of grand new adventures. It was an exciting time. Now as an adult I've learned the reality of waiting sometimes 2-3 years to read a book I really want because I just can't afford it and the library systems are getting smaller and smaller. As the average american with no money working my butt I hate not being able to read my one indulgence everything that comes out. But I realize that just as I earn my living so do you. So I wait... one day I'll get to read your newer books and I'll be excited when that day comes. Until then, I'm sorry your books are being pirated.

Slotos said...

Looks like this post is relevant to problem I'm facing.

Basically, is there a ebook store that:
- pays you for every copy sold
- sells DRM-free copies

Both are equally significant for me. I got disgusted by iTunes selling music without paying artists, and I wouldn't like to support such businesses. And DRM forces me to buy a eInk device not of my chosing, which I won't tolerate (there are ways to remove it, but I'm automagically flagged as criminal afterwards).

PS: As for piracy, I can see how music and movie businesses can adapt to piracy. But for books it's disastrous. Which is sad, for nothing can replace the good old written word.

Nathan said...

Piracy is bad. I know that. But wouldnt the library (where i get all my books i read from) be just as bad as someone downloading the online book somewhere? I mean i believe i only have purchased 2-3 books in my life. I love reading. But i usually get my books from the schools library or my local county library. Since its free and all. So in the end its a "Legal" way of reading the book for free. Wouldnt that hurt your sales just as much as someone downloading the book through piracy? Maybe not As much but in the end you still would lose sales.

mnrbradley said...

Nathan, I had the same thought about the library. In fact, I read the first two books in the Seven Realms series from the digital library (Overdrive). Interestingly, I went back just now to look and those books are gone. At any rate, I enjoyed the books I read so much that I added the 3rd book to my Amazon Wish List and if I don't get it for Christmas, I'll be paying the $9 for the digital edition. So, the library does drum up at least some revenue.

Phyx said...

I understand your point of view. However, there's a fundamental flaw in your reasoning. Many of the people that pirate books, music, and movies would never have spent the money to begin with. One download does not equal one lost sale. I, for one, pirated each of your books. Each time I finished one, I immediately went and purchased a copy because I love them so dearly. In my experience, most people that use torrents, still purchase a copy of the books (as well as movies, games, and music) that truly stood out and meant something to them.

Rest assured, each of your books have a place in my library, proudly on display. I love each and every title thus far. I will, however, download the next before purchasing.

alucard said...

i understand where u are coming from very well and i buy all your books and have done so twice because the first set went up in a fire that burned down my house. i was told to download them because i did purchase a copy that it wouldn't hurt ur business but i bought a second set because i enjoy your work and i feel that because i enjoy it i should help you out by buying them again

alucard said...

i understand where u are coming from very well and i buy all your books and have done so twice because the first set went up in a fire that burned down my house. i was told to download them because i did purchase a copy that it wouldn't hurt ur business but i bought a second set because i enjoy your work and i feel that because i enjoy it i should help you out by buying them again

Tonya said...

Hi, just doing a search on you so I could read more of your books when I came upon this site. I love your books. You are my new favorite author and I read all the time! Thanks so much for sharing your talent. I just finished the Dragon Heir and what a fun series that was. I've recommended it to my whole family and it has been a series that we've shared and passed around. I'm asking for this Heir Series at Christmas. Thanks and keep writing, Tonya : )

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

I guess you don't share similar views with Neil Gaiman does then. this shows it all but he says that through people reading his books online his sales increased 300% while this number isn't necessarily what one can expect it still shows an increase in sales.

Unknown said...

Hi, so I wanted to express my opinion here. The torrenting & downloading of the books is mainly because of the high cost of the books. If you compare a paperprinted book to and ebook the prices are the same.
How is that even possible?! The prizes of ebooks should be half of what they are today!!! The cost of producing an E-book is literally 0 dollars. The book takes at most couple of Mb thats literally nothing. How do you justify it costing the same amount as a paperbooks whitch process of production & distribution is several times higher than of an ebook?
Sorry for my poor english grammar its not my first language.

Matt compton said...

I was about to find a free version of your book the demon king. But read this and it had completely changed my mind on the entire conversation of the sorts. Stealing is stealing. Thank you for being so concise and captivating even outside of your work. Because of the passion you have shown in your work and wooed me as a reader in 10th grade in oss (out of school suspension) now as a 21 year old I am going back to recover my ambitions you have driven quietly and confidently. Thank you for the inspiration, merry Christmas I'm buying your entire series after i post this message. Sincerely, Matt

Unknown said...

There Is much controversy about this particular issue, and I have done a little research on the subject. What I have found is that when someone downloads a book or app or song or anything else for free they are actually helping the artist more than hurting them. In many cases an individual will not purchase the product originally but when they obtain it for free they often times share it among peers and their respective social groups to those that may actually purchase it where they would have other wise never heard or it. Essentially they are advertising your product for you free of charge. This actually, in the vast majority of cases, increases revenue by a low estimate of 25%. In conclusion people who download your books for free expand your reader base and increase your profits so don't be happy or angry about simply accept it as a inevitable occurrence that can help you in the long run