Shiver Me Kindle (AKA “Please Don’t Pirate My Book” Day)

I talked, at length, because of Chuck Wendig’s post on e-book pricing last year. The sonofabitch never commented on it. I’m not really suprised. unless I’m waxing about how I’m being stalked by a denizen of an 60-year abandoned tuberculosis hospital, my readership is in the low-dozens. Which is fine.

But, here, Chuck brings up the issue of e-book piracy. And, quite honestly, he hits it pretty much on the button, and how I feel about it. Some of his points? Well, I’ve addressed e-book pricing in that other post, and I ranted pretty good on it. But the piracy itself?

Well, like he said. If he’s going to make February 6th “Please don’t pirate my book” day, and all he asks is that you talk about the idea of piracy, and your views on it? How can I say no? I mean, I LIKE to talk.

First though, go back to that link, and read his “25 thoughts”. Hell, I’ll make it easy, and just put it right here, again, for you: 25 thoughts on book piracy. I actually want to thank Chuck Wendig, a creator, for writing a well-nuanced, honest, both-sides-of-the-coin piece. More discussion like this, instead of one side or the other jumping up and down screaming the same shit that has been accomplishing nothing for fifteen years, is what we need.

Of course, it’s possible he’s just looking for people to admit that they pirate shit. But I don’t think so.

So, he did twenty-five points on the subject. I want to address a few of them, that I think are most important. In fact, they’re central to my argument about why and how people pirate.

First, this is how well he gets the internet, and the various industries (music, film, literary) need to pay attention to this one:

4. Except It’s Kinda Not Theft, Exactly
It’s easy to call this stealing, but it’s not. Stealing is the act of taking something that does not belong to you — and here, “taking” implies that the other person does not get to keep it. This isn’t stealing. This is getting water on Gremlins. This is doppelgangering. This is motherfucking multiplication. That’s not to say it’s right or fair or legal, but you cloud the issue every time you call it “stealing.” Yes, it feels like stealing. But this is copying. Illegal duplication.

This. Exactly. it definitely goes hand in hand with his point 18. Our Primary Source Of Revenue Is Our Books And, Oh, By The Way, We’re Fond Of Not Starving And We Also Like Paying Our Mortgages And Feeding Our Kids And Sweet Jeebus This Header Really Got Away From Me Didn’t It?.

And the answer is that I WANT to pay the guys I like, be they bands, artists, authors, film makers, the works. I also need to eat. And there’s an awful lot of well-marketed shit out there. In fact, that was, for years, the music industry’s business model. Market a song, sell an album of shit. You’ll all have to pardon my if I’m now pretty fucking cynical after paying eighteen bucks for album after album, and finding out the single was the ONLY good track. I’d refer you to 8. Theoretically lost revenue rather than actually lost revenue on this one. I definitely download music. Regularly. If I like it, I then GO AND BUY IT. If I don’t, I delete it. That’s pretty simple, eh? But the industry seems to treat that as ACTUAL lost revenue. Because that was their model: sell shit packaged with a modicum of sugar. But, if i’d have heard the album to start with, I WOULDN’T HAVE BOUGHT IT, BECAUSE IT WAS SHIT. We know damn well the music industry (and the rest, I’ll spread the blame around) most likely consider that “theft”. I don’t. I consider “try before you buy” just fucking desserts after twenty years of not having the ability to do so. I do the same with books. I did it with The Magicians. I also got six chapters in, decided I loved it, went and bought the hard cover. I also bought it for my dad (additional sale) who like me, bought the sequel (two additional sales). I also know a large number of my friends group bought the same books (at least ten additional sales) because one or two of us pirated the book in the first place. Try before you buy is great. So are libraries, and so is lending of the physical product. You know. Two things that the (music and video) industry would desperately like to go away. Because almighty dollar.

And I think Chuck gets this, as it’s the heart of his points 15. Downloader as potential fan, 10. Piracy helps some authors

Chuck, if you’re reading this? I’ll be honest. I stole pirated your book. I’ll even tell you which one.

It was Blackbirds. I missed the discounted (or free: I can’t remember which) by a really short period of time. But, I was interested. So, I went and torrented it (Because of COURSE it’s out there).

Then, I got half way through it, and much like Lev Grossman’s book, I went and bought it (on kindle, this time). I also bought both ShotGun Gravy, and BaitDog, and then Mockingbird when it was released, and DoubleDead in paperback/trade. Oh, and the kindle version of Irregular Creatures.

So, as you can see, and a lot of other people have talked about, i … buy… things… because.. i… try them… first. I don’t see the artist losing an awful lot in this equation. Unless, of course, what they’re producting is unmemorable crap. Which, obviously, you want to sell before people realize that it is crap.

6. It’s The Internet’s Fault & 9. DRM Probably Creates More Piracy Then It Deters & 13. Sometimes It’s About The Cost

Look, it’s EASY, as Wendig notes, to make a duplicate of a file. REALLY easy. That’s not a bad thing. Oh, it’s a bad thing if you only give a shit about every single nickel you can wring out of a product. But it’s an awesome thing if you want to make your money on volume, rather than individual sales. If you want to sell a brand, and create a following, rather than a unit. It’s why I continually commend a ton of authors for occasionally just.. giving their shit away. I’ve already given a few examples. And, I stand by ’em. I’ve talked about DRM only hurting the ‘legitimate’ consumer before: I had to “steal” a copy of an album I’d bought, because the site (HMV) kept aborting the download. But still counting the download as one of five I was ‘allowed’. Two weeks of tech support, and I finally had legitimate access to the music I’d bought. Of course, by then, I’d torrented it, so I could listen to it. DRM is fucking balls, ok? In fact, if most of these organizations were to drop their DRM budgets, they’d be fucking rolling in cash. And what do they get out of it now? it takes someone four minutes to copy a file, instead of thirty seconds. Unless, of course, you’re a ‘legitimate’ consumer, in which case, the DRM stops you using your thing (reading a book, in thise case) where and when you want to, and ever, if the company the file ‘checks in with’ goes out of business.

Also, if I buy a hardcover? I very often go and download the ebook. For free. From ze torrentz. Again, I don’t feel I’m STEALING anything. I’ve paid for the book. The format is irrelevant. It’s just me using it. But, this is something that needs to happen five years ago.

I’ll go one further. How many times have I got to buy the same thing, so I can watch/listen/read it on the new “standard” technology? I realize it applies differently for books, but DAMN.

I mean, how often did I buy the fucking Ghostbusters franchise?

Yes, I said Ghostbusters.

  • I saw the movie, in the theatre ($5), in 1985.
  • I bought the soundtrack, on vinyl($13), in 1985.
  • I bought the soundtrack, on tape ($14), in 1987.
  • I bought the movie, on VHS ($20), in 1991.
  • I bought the soundtrack, on CD ($20), in 2001.
  • I bought the movie, on DVD ($20), and the sequel on DVD ($20) in 2002
  • I replaced both DVD’s because they disappeared in a move ($40) in 2009

    So, that’s what, a total of … $152 actual dollars, of mine, on two movies, and a soundtrack. Fuck an industry that says I need to pay for that AGAIN on bluray, or pinkdisc, or ULTRAFUCKWEWANTTHEMONEYDISC. I’ve paid my god damn dues to the Ghostbusters. I may even have had the coloring book at some point. I’ll never tell.

    Point is, I do this a lot. And now, I don’t have to. If I spend $25-40 on a hardcover, yeah, I’m gonna go download the ebook. At the very least, it’s way easier to read an ebook on the shitter, but I want the damn hardcover on the bookshelf. Fingerprint-free. You know what I’m sayin’. Which leads us to…

    23. Combat Piracy By Adding Value

    This. THIS. FUCKING THIS. A THOUSAND TIMES FUCKING THIS: “Buy a physical copy, also get a digital copy.” (More publishers need to be doing this, stat.) . I LOVE that when I pre-order something from Scott Sigler, the day the hard cover ships, everyone gets an email saying “your dead tree version will be with you shortly: we understand you don’t want to wait, so please download a digital copy here”. This is how shit should work. And the grand thing is? It keeps the customers and fans happy, and BARELY COSTS A FUCKING THING.

    So, Ok, point 25. the whole point of this post, technically, it’s about why you’d like people to pay for your book instead of, say, just taking it.. And I know, this is from the point of the consumer. But it’s important to keep stating, much to the chagrin of the industry wonks, that the consumer isn’t a greedy fuckknob, who doens’t want to pay for anything. We’re just tired of getting ripped off, tired of being taken advantage of, tired of being a product to the industry, in general. I know there are performers, artists, writers, who get it. There is a happy medium, and it doesn’t include the assumption that all consumers are thieves.

    At the end of the day, and I say this everytime I get ranty on this subject, I want to give my money to the guys who are worth it. I want to pay them. It’s totally selfish. I mean, I don’t REALLY care if Chuck Wendig eats, or can feed his children. I don’t know him, I’m just a fan. But I do care that, knowing he’s going to make a conscious decision to make money so he can feed himself and his children, he might as well do that doing something that benefits ME. Which means, if I give him money, he doesn’t have to work at BurgerMac’s flipping tacos, and he can spend his time providing me with entertainment. Which is the important part.

    Seriously, I’m not kidding.

    I’m REALLY selfish like that.

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