An interesting development. A few weeks ago I found that my latest book, The End of Materialism: How Evidence of the Paranormal is Bringing Science and Spirit Together, which has been out about a year, had been pirated and was available for free on the web from a pirating site.
At one level, I took this as a compliment. At least one person found it valuable enough to go to a lot of work to scan that big book in so others could read it!
At the more important level, I was quite upset, not so much for myself as for authors in general. Publishers depend on selling at least several thousand copies of books to break even, much less make a profit, and if a book is pirated like this shortly after publication it is much less likely to sell enough copies to justify publishing it in the first place. I wrote to the pirate site, reminding them this was stolen property they were distributing and asking them to take it down, and I wrote to my publisher and the Authors Guild asking what could be done. Apparently nothing can be done. The Harry Potter books have been pirated the same way. My book is a drop in the ocean compared to that, and if they can’t stop it for Harry Potter…..
We may be moving quickly toward the end of publishing as we know it, with fewer and fewer people being able to make a living as an author, and so fewer and fewer books being published, no matter how valuable their content might be to some people. Book pirating is rapidly becoming widespread with no clear way to stop it. The same thing happened a few years ago with music, with the rational of the pirates that it gave new bands exposure they would not otherwise get thru the big record companies and they would earn a living thru people thus coming to their concerts. I don’t see that model as applicable to book publishing: when was the last time you spent money to hear a book author speak?
Well I don’t want to go glooming and dooming, the world is changing and it’s going to be ….. interesting? Better? Worse? We’ll see.
The interesting development is I just got an email today. My publisher has found that The End of Materialism: How Evidence of the Paranormal is Bringing Science and Spirit Together is not actually available at the pirate web site – but you can catch a virus by going there! A strange manifestation of the end of materialism, you try to save some money by stealing and you catch a virus that trashes your computer?