Please Don’t Pirate My Books (Unless)
Over at his website, Chuck Wendig’s been writing a lot about the pirating of ebooks, and he declared today to be Please Don’t Pirate My Book Day, asking authors to pitch in a post about the subject. So here’s mine.
I don’t worry about piracy all that much. I want people to pay for my work, but I don’t tear out my hair worrying that people might be shoplifting my books from stores or borrowing them from a friend or a library. If they read it for free, then dammit, I hope they at least enjoy it.
If you experience some kind of art and love it — book, film, music, painting, and so on — you should figure out some way to thank the creator in a meaningful way that you can afford. It’s the right thing to do, and it helps make sure that the creator doesn’t have to go back to driving pizza and selling plasma instead of making more things for you to enjoy. (Chuck writes eloquently about this today.)
But there are cases in which I don’t mind if my work is pirated. For instance, I’ve written six Dungeons & Dragons novels and four Blood Bowl novels. They’re all out of print, and the publishers haven’t shown much interest in releasing them as ebooks. Those were written as work-for-hire, so the rights will never revert to me. The publishers clearly have better things to do with their limited time, and while I may question their judgment, that’s their right.
Despite that, pirates have scanned them and put them out there on the internet for people to read. So, if you want to go grab those books off a pirate server and read them, more power to you. Other than stumbling over a used copy on eBay or Amazon or in a local store, you don’t have many other choices. And you know how much the publisher and I see from those used book sales anyhow? Not a penny.
If you enjoy those books (and I hope you do), then pony up some of your hard-earned cash for the books my publishers and I do keep in print and available to you. Go grab my books from Angry Robot. Snag my Leverage novel. Buy the BNW Omnibus I have on sale on this very site right now. (All the money from that, barring PayPal’s cut, goes straight into my pocket and from there into my children’s mouths.)
So, enjoy as you like, pay what you can, and keep those wheels spinning. I’ll do my best to keep up my end of that bargain too.