Today, in the world according to writer Chuck Wendig (of the mind-boggling Terribleminds blog), is International Please Don't Pirate My Book day. That makes an adequate reason to do as he suggests and write about book piracy, or, as some suggest we should more accurately call it, Unauthorized Copy Sharing (so as not to make is sound all romantic and swashbuckling). Chuck gives 25 different sides of the debate in his discussion, ranging from the impossibility of getting books in some markets (thus justifying pirating), to the fact that it makes the author feel like you don't think the work is worth paying for--yet another blow to our fragile writerly egos.
But here's the bottom line: whether the author is huge and the publishing company even bigger, or the author is independently published and sells two copies a month, stealing the book is a refusal to pay the people who did the work. Make all the arguments you want about providing publicity and word of mouth so that after you steal it 24 other people will buy it because you raved so about it, and how you wouldn't even have read it if you'd had to pay (like that's supposed to make me feel better?), the bottom line is, if you don't pay for what you take, you are, well, a thief. The fact that it's still there for someone else to buy doesn't change that. It's called intellectual property and until and unless we completely redesign the system of how art is produced, the worker needs to be paid when you consume the work.
Usually people who think that books and music should be free don't produce them, or they'd know that while having lots of fans is nice, artists usually like to eat, too (and need a little extra money for the coffee it takes to fuel the endeavor). You see, it takes time to write and edit and produce and market a book. That's time you can't spend in a cubicle or digging ditches or whatever to pay the mortgage and buy groceries (and coffee. Don't forget the coffee).
Now, I'm willing to acknowledge the grey areas that Chuck Wendig and all the interesting people who commented on his blog bring up. But in the end, it still comes down to taking something you didn't pay for. That's bad Karma. Worse, when you get a book (or anything else) from a piracy site, someone IS making money from it. It's just not the people who deserve it, the writer and illustrator and publisher who made an investment of time and/or money in the product you just skipped away with. Instead, that money is going to someone who has made a whole business of defrauding the people who produce what they make their money on. If you follow me.
So ultimately, the point of this post is just what the title says. On the off chance that you have the opportunity, please don't steal my book. If you really, really want it and you really, really can't afford to pay $2.99 for the ebook, leave me a message. If you are convincing enough, I'll give you a coupon.
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