Tag Archives: authors

Book Piracy is Stealing and Stealing Is Not Okay


Recently, author Ellen Hopkins noticed that someone had uploaded an Advanced Reader Copy of her not-yet-released YA novel Tilt to a pirate site. She was, understandably, upset by this. Her book isn’t even out yet and people are already stealing it.

The problem isn’t ignorance. Most people who illegally download things like books know what they’re doing. But on the off-chance you aren’t sure, Author Rachel Vincent has a good post on what piracy is. And Author Ally Carter has an old but timeless post on why it’s bad for everyone.

SO FIRST! Confession time. I’ve pirated books. There, I admitted it. I did and I feel really shitty about it. When I first got my Kindle, friends linked me to book sharing communities and it was a little overwhelming, like being in a book store. I just wanted to grab everything. I knew it wasn’t legal but I told myself lies about it not being a problem and justified it to myself and downloaded probably a dozen books. For the record, I have since deleted these illegal copies and legally purchased all of the books I pirated to assuage my guilt. It doesn’t make what I did okay, but I hope I can be forgiven for the error.  As an aspiring author myself, I feel sick thinking about it, but let’s look at how people (even me) have justified this kind of theft:

1: It’s the Same As Getting It From the Library

It is not the same. I’m not a librarian, so I’ll leave it to people who know better to correct me if I’m wrong here, but from what I understand libraries purchase special copies of books at higher prices. A single copy of a book may cost them $80-100. This is because the book is purchased with the knowledge that it will be lent out to lots of people, and helps cover the cost to pay the author and the publisher. There are also things like how its popularity at the library indicates things to publishers, but again, I don’t know much about it. All I know is that illegal taking a book is not like getting it from your local library.

2: Authors Make Tons of Money Anyhow – My $10 Won’t Make a Difference.

This is so not true. I can name at least three authors off the top of my head who are reasonably successful and still work day jobs to make ends meet. Also they’re paid based on sales, so your money not only helps, but stealing is like sneaking into their house and taking their wallet. And not only are you ripping off the livelihood of the author, but also the agents, editors, and publishers who worked hard to produce the book. Plus, even published authors have to sell new books to publishers. If a book doesn’t sell enough, the publisher might decide that it hasn’t made enough or generated enough interest to buy the rest of the series, leaving the author without a job. So those people who upload a copy of a book and let 10,000 people download it mean the author whose work they enjoy might be out of work entirely due to their theft.

#3: I Only Download Books That Are Not Easily Available:

An actual friend of mine pulled this once, and it’s bullshit. (Sorry, friend.) What does that even mean? Is the book not yet released in your country? Well, not to be crass, but tough shit. Is the book not even out yet? Again, guess what? That means you wait. You can enter contests to win ARCs, or wait til the book is legally released and purchase it. Your impatience is not an excuse to pirate the book. Do you mean it’s not available in digital format? Then get ye to a bookstore, or go to an online book store and order the physical copy and have it mailed to you. You can do that. We live in the future. If you have no more room on your bookshelf for physical books? Donate some or don’t read books that are not available in e-format. It’s still not an excuse.

#4: It’s the same as borrowing it from a friend.

Rachel Vincent addressed this in her post: “When you lend books to your friends, you’re lending them the ONE copy of the book you presumably paid for (or were given). You’re not making a COPY of that book, then enabling THOUSANDS of other people to make THOUSANDS more copies of that book.” And that’s exactly it. If I buy one copy of, say, Clockwork Angel, and I lend it to my coworker, maybe that’s one lost sale (assuming she would have bought it on her own, which maybe she wouldn’t have). But probably she’ll become obsessed with Will Herondale (WHO WOULDN’T?) and buy the rest of the series. If, however, I upload it to a book sharing site and let thousands of people have it for free, that’s a ton of lost revenue and the author may not even be able to get her publisher to pick up the third book and WE WILL NEVER KNOW WHAT HAPPENS and that IS NOT OKAY.

#5: I can’t afford all of the books I want to read.

Yeah. Okay. So like.. do you go to the grocery store and take a package of Port Salut, and insist you can’t afford it but are taking it anyhow because you can’t afford all of the artisan cheese you want to eat? No? Okay then. Why are you doing the same thing to books? How is it different? That’s right, it’s not.

#6: I support the author buy reviewing the books and recommending them to friends.

Good. That’s good. But that doesn’t make stealing the books okay. Getting two people to buy a book you stole (assuming they don’t just steal it too) doesn’t make up for your crime.

#7: The author should be happy I’m reading their work at all, whether I paid for it or not.

*bangs head on desk* No. Should you be happy your boss lets you work even if they don’t cut you a paycheck? NO? Would you happily work for free? Writing is hard work. And as Ally Carter points out, the publishing process is harder. It requires hours and hours of work from many people. They are not working for free. A writer may write for free, but until we can all pay rent with sunshine and rainbows, they need you to legally purchase their book in order to live.

Piracy is stealing. There is no excuse. There is no justification. Downloading a book from a torrent site or a “book sharing” site (a pox on them for making it seem like a friendly swap when it’s really just piracy) is the same thing as going into a bookstore and putting a book under your sweatshirt and stealing it. It is stealing and it is not okay.

How do you stop piracy? Stop pirating. Stop illegally downloading books. If you have done so, purchase legal copies and stop doing it from now on. Leave book sharing communities. Report them to the sites that host them and hope they get shut down.


Signing at Theatre Royal Stratford 26/05/2012: Cassandra Clare & Maureen Johnson [#1]

City of Lost Souls by Cassandra ClareThis is my vastly overdue post series concerning the above signing, for which I apologise. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend this at the end of May. The London weather was beautiful and I was very lucky! The signing was organised through Foyles, a bookstore in London which I cannot recommend enough, as part of Cassandra Clare’s release of City of Lost Souls, the fifth book in her acclaimed Mortal Instruments series. This post will more than likely be one of two or three over the next few days, as I’m trying to make these accurate and an easy length to read in one sitting. I hope that you enjoy the posts.

The Q&A opened with an introduction from the ever-entertaining Maureen Johnson, author of The Name of the Star and 13 Little Blue Envelopes! Maureen felt the need to explore the theatre and introduce herself and Cassandra Clare from a balcony, which was a wonderful introduction. Needless to say, overall a genius plan and everyone was very excited to see both authors. Maureen also decided to gauge what type of audience we were from how loud we applauded for Jace and Simon (protagonists in Cassandra Clare’s books). Maureen is a hardcore Simon fan, which you will get to hear a bit more about later!

Ticket to see Cassandra Clare & Maureen Johnson

Cassandra Clare opened the talk with an excerpt of Clockwork Princess, the upcoming third instalment in The Infernal Devices. For those not familiar, Cassandra Clare has two ongoing series about the Nephilim, also known as Shadowhunters. They are ass-kicking, demon-slaughtering, risk-taking and outright fun characters. The modern-day series, set in New York City, is known as The Mortal Instruments. The prequel series, set in Victorian London, is called The Infernal Devices. Needless to say, I was very excited to hear what was in store for some of my favourite characters such as Will and Jem. The scene was a really interesting snippet between Will and his younger sister Cecily. I won’t spoil for anyone who hasn’t read the series at this point, but let’s just say that things stand to get a lot more complicated in the world of the Victorian London Shadowhunters. I’m very much looking forward to reading the book when it is finally released.

I took a lot of notes during the talk as a whole, so I’m going to be summarising below a tag as this will contain spoilers. Please note that these will not be word for word quotations as I couldn’t write that fast, they will be summaries of the answers given. I got spoiled for the most recent book of The Mortal Instruments, City of Lost Souls, while I was at the signing, which I really should have expected, as both series were being discussed fairly widely. Consider this your final warning! Here there be spoilers! Continue reading

CopperCon Panels: Meet Carrie Vaughn

At this year’s CopperCon in Phoenix, Arizona, author Carrie Vaughn was the guest of honor. On Saturday, there was a panel held to get to know Vaughn, who’s authored more than ten books including the bestselling Kitty Norville series, about a werewolf talk radio host, and After the Golden Age, a superhero novel.

Carrie Vaughn

Vaughn’s always been a writer. It wasn’t until 8th grade that she realized not everyone enjoys writing stories.

Her popular series, about a werewolf named Kitty who hosts her own late-night supernatural advice show, wasn’t an instant sell to publishers. It took four different novels until she was signed. At one point, Vaughn decided to let Kitty speak her mind. She put quotes around all of the snarky, sarcastic, or rude thoughts that her character had, and all of sudden things worked. Instead of Kitty watching two other people converse, she was part of the conversation and moving the action along.

When asked why she choose to make Kitty a werewolf, rather than a human or a vampire or something else, she says it was a very deliberate decision. She had the concept of a midnight DJ and had to make the call. She chose to make her a werewolf because other than horror movie monsters at the time she began writing, they didn’t get a lot of attention, and anyhow, she’d “had enough of vampires.”

“I wanted to confront the mythology directly,” she explained. Besides, werewolves often get shorted in fiction, or used to.

Vaughn talked about her other stand alone novels, saying she’s very proud of After the Golden Age. It’s about a woman whose parents are famous superheroes, but she has no powers. Still, she tries to save the world with her one skill: accounting. Vaughn’s mother is an accountant and really likes that novel.

Then she revealed her secret hope for a future spin-off to the Kitty Norville series (which she says does have an ending she’s working towards). She’d like to do a Buddy Cop series featuring Cormac, whom she originally intended to just be a one-off character in the first book.

It took Vaughn ten years to sell a novel from the first time she tried, so she encourages aspiring authors to keep at it. She thinks maybe there’s some level of insanity to people who are driven to write and that she, at least, would have kept doing it even if none of her books was ever picked up.