Someone tweeted the question about whether or not book piracy provided more exposure for author or robbed them of sales, which is a question that has been bandied about a lot over the past year. For some, the hundreds, if not thousands of reads you get (or possibly get at least) far outweighs the loss of a few actual sales. Though I don’t believe it’s actually been proven with numbers, the assumption is that people who pirate books, are in general, not those that would have been buying the book anyway, regardless of its praise. For others, lost sales are lost sales, and as difficult as it is to succeed in this business, especially as a new writer, losing any sales can be significant. However, one could believe that the extra exposure might lead to the pirate talking about the book to someone else who may actually buy a real copy. I’m going to make the assumption that at the least, it’s a wash, and if one is lucky, spurs some extra sales and readers.
This discussion does not however, take into account the fact that piracy, irrespective of its benefits or drawbacks, is disrespectful to the author. We won’t even go into the fact that it’s not actually legal. The point here is, and I believe it’s the only point that actually matters, is that authors deserve to have their work respected. By purposefully trying to obtain someone’s creative work for free, the pirate is saying, for all intents and purposes, that the author does not deserve to be compensated for their time/effort/creativity, that it is not worth paying for. I’ve heard excuses, like “I have no legitimate outlets to obtain a real copy of your work” or “I can’t afford it,” but that point is moot. If you have respect for the work, then you compensate the creator, or you don’t get it. Period. End of story. Personally, I find ebook piracy to be a slap in the face. I feel bad for readers who, for whatever reason, don’t have legit access to many books, but that is not a reason to condone or turn a blind eye to piracy. I don’t care if it gains me more readers. Respect for storytelling is more important to me, and for this issue, all that really matters.
Happy reading/writing everyone!