Saturday, January 15, 2011

Are You a Thief?

Author Saundra Mitchell lays out a compelling argument for why "free books aren't free" and how "fans" with an overblown sense of entitlement might actually be killing the careers of (mid-list) authors whose work they claim to love. Here's a quote from her post. The parenthetical addition is mine:

"I’ve been very open about the money I’ve made and not made, to help give the writing community some perspective. So I’m going to be very open about money today. I’ve told you before that I made a $15,000 advance on SHADOWED SUMMER. In two years, I’ve managed to earn back $12,000 of that.

It’s going out of print in hardcover because demand for it has dwindled to 10 or so copies a month. This means I will never get a royalty check for this book. By all appearances, nobody wants it anymore.

But those appearances are deceiving. According to one download site’s stats, people are (
illegally) downloading SHADOWED SUMMER at a rate of 800 copies a week. When the book first came out, it topped out at 3000+ downloads a week.

If even HALF of those people who downloaded my book that week had bought it, I would have hit the New York Times Bestseller list."

 I'm going to go all Lars from Metallica on this one. If you illegally download "free" copies of books, music, films -- whatever, from a torrent site or anywhere else, you are a thief. No matter what your reasoning may be -- lack of funds, not available in your region, laziness -- you are literally taking food out of the mouths of creative types who depend on royalties/residuals to earn a living.  Stop doing that and start buying the product! It's the right thing to do (a thousand blessings on those who support their favorite artists) and the career you help to save will thank you by continuing to churn out the books you love to read.


Keith Robinson said...

Well said, and heartily supported!

I run a fansite for the famous English children's author, Enid Blyton, who died in 1968. Her work is known all over the world (except in America!) and she stills sells millions of copies of her adventure and mystery novels every year. However, on my fansite I'm asked -- constantly -- "where can I download her books for free?"

I always tell 'em to bug off and buy the books (politely, of course) and utterly refuse to link to sites that have them available as free downloads. So many readers honestly believe they have a "right" to download these books for free, because they were written in the 1940s and 1950s; apparently, this automatically puts them in the public domain, despite the fact that the books are still being published and sold today.

It makes me MAD. >:-(

Roger Eschbacher said...

@ Keith: Yes! This is one of those issues that instantly infuriates me. I've never understood the entitlement mentality that justifies such behavior. To me, it is such obvious thievery that I'd wonder if I could trust these "downloaders" in other matters.

Brooke said...

Very well said.

Roger Eschbacher said...

Thanks, Brooke!

Roger Eschbacher is #opentowork

Hi everyone!  I'm sharing this because, well, you know...  As a television/animation writer, I’ve pitched and developed premises, outl...