Online piracy is going to be the death of a way to make a living for every creative person, eventually. Remember years ago how the “fans” shit all over Metallica—especially Lars Ulrich—for taking Napster to court over file “sharing?” Didn’t matter how many times he said it was the principle of the thing—that he was in court not just for rich Metallica, but all the poor bands for whom every lost sale of a CD actually matters—the “fans” were like, “Metallica only cares about money!” Well, now everyone’s CD sales are way down (except Susan Boyle, because her fans are clueless old farts who don’t know about file sharing torrents). Lars was right.
I recently experienced the joy of being pirated. Somebody—no doubt some naïve teen or college kid who thinks, like, everything should be free, man—scanned and uploaded issues of From the Ashes onto a torrent site. I saw one issue had been downloaded about 1500 times. I’m not saying all those downloads would have translated to sales, but suffice it to say that if it meant some lost sales on a book doing as modestly as mine, that hurt me. It hurts every creator who’s trying to make a living plying his or her craft.
The book trade has been suffering steadily declining losses of revenue for some time. Between Americans by and large not exactly being readers and a bad economy, book sales are down. But now, with things like the Sony’s E-Reader, Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook (and why such infantile names? Why not the Chaucer or the Tome?), and more and more books being digitally available, well, Publishers Weekly reports “Publishers could be losing out on as much as $3 billion to online book piracy…”
Like books? Love books? Keep buying them or taking them out from the library. Every time you download some creator-owned item that’s *readily available for legitimate purchase, be it a book or song or movie or whatever, just picture yourself taking food from its creator’s mouth.
*Note: This is an important distinction. If you’re downloading stuff that’s out of print or isn’t currently and won’t likely ever be available for purchase, that’s when I think file sharing is not only a-okay, but a commendable way of sharing odd and interesting materials.