The first time I saw my book illegally downloaded on the Internet I wanted to cry – but not before punching in the face those six hundred-plus people who stole my book. Yes, stole. They didn’t pay for it, so it’s stealing. I had a discussion today with my sister about this issue. She knows a person who sells pirated-DVD copies of movies – new movies – movies less than a week in the theater new. She makes six hundred dollars cash a week. That didn’t sit well with me.
I told my sister this person was making money off someone else’s hard work. A writer’s words. A director’s vision. An actor’s passion. A costume designer’s sore, over-pricked fingers.
“She’s s single mom,” my sister responded. “Maybe I’d do that too if I needed the money. Would you rather have me work as a stripper and give lap dances?”
Please get over yourself, sister. You don’t have the boobs to be a stripper, but if you did, then yes. Yes, I’d rather you be a stripper giving lonely guys lap dances in dark rooms because at least that’s your hard work you’d be getting paid for. I had to explain it to my sister the way I explained it to my ten-year old niece that buying pirated movies is the same as walking into a store and shoving a DVD under your shirt and leaving.
“But we’re paying for it,” my niece said to me.
“Yes, but to people who stole it,” I responded.
The digital world has made books, movies, and music so conveniently available to us (on our phones, our computers, our Ipads) that it gives the delusion that we own the product before we even buy the product.
I know this didn’t just begin with my book. This type of theft has been going on for a long time. I remember Napster, but I never downloaded music I didn’t pay for, and that goes for books as well.
Authors don’t get paid much, especially authors of e-books that sell for three dollars. The price of a coffee. The price of my book. I didn’t become an author for the money because I knew long before the digital world came around that the writing business was tough. Not many people can make a living doing it, and those who do are probably not living the high-life, but merely scraping by (unless your last name is King, Grisham, Patterson, or Rowling).
Since I’m not here for the money, I admit, I got a little excited when I saw that over six-hundred people had downloaded my book. The prospect of over six-hundred people reading my book was thrilling, thieves and all. Recently, I’d been notified by my publisher about another piracy site. I checked it out and found that my book hadn’t been downloaded at all – not even once. I was relieved, but then quickly thought, “What the ^uck? People don’t even want to read my book for free?”
As a writer I think I’ll always be stoked when people read my work, but is it too much to ask them to pay for it, too?
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