I don’t rant online. I try to be positive and figure if I don’t have something nice to say, I won’t say anything at all. Not online, anyway. But sometimes a rant is truly called for and piracy calls for it.
People can justify piracy all they want, call it whatever they want, but in the end, it’s nothing but stealing. It’s stealing from the booksellers, from the publishers and from the authors. People’s livelihoods depend on book sales. Bookstores can’t stay open if they don’t sell books. Publishers can’t continue releasing new books and discovering new authors if they don’t sell books. All of their employees and their families can’t pay their bills and put food on the table if they don’t sell books.
And authors cannot pay their own bills if they don’t sell books. Which means they must work full-time in a different job, they can’t write full-time and, eventually, they burn out by trying to do both. When they have to choose between feeding their families or writing books for people to steal, guess what they’ll choose?
Publishers will stop a series in the middle of it if the books aren’t selling, putting that author out of business. Without sales, they have no money to invest in new authors. In the end, readers lose out. Book pirates steal from all of us – authors, publishers, booksellers and fellow readers.
It’s not marketing. It doesn’t lead to more sales down the road. Would you steal a pair of shoes, thinking that if you like them, you’ll buy the next pair? Or justify by saying you’ll tell your friends about them, while at the same time counterfeiting a coupon so your friends can get them free?
Even if your morals are so poor, think about going back to the store to find it closed and the shoemaker’s gone out of business because nobody actually paid for the shoes. Sure, there are other shoes and stores, but others are stealing from them, so eventually they’re shutting doors, too. How sad it would be if we no longer had a choice of cute shoes. How sad it would be if we no longer had a variety of books.
We live in a privileged time that gives us access to art through our computers – music, films and books are all just a click away. I would hate for that privilege to be removed from all of us because some people believe they’re special, believe they don’t have to be responsible like everyone else does, believe they’re entitled to take what they want without paying.
Justify it all you want, but it’s still stealing.
Oh, except one other thing. Worse than file sharers? Those who resell digital copies. If you don’t have distribution rights, if you don’t pay royalties to the publisher or author, you have no right to sell. It’s illegal. It’s stealing. Karma’s a bitch.