I had an eye-opening experience last night. I found a discussion thread in which someone was trying to find out how to download my books for free. On one hand, I’m delighted that people want to read them. On the other, I feel as though I’ve just had my purse stolen.
I was conversing with an acquaintance the other day and she was bragging about how she’d illegally downloaded “thousands” of MP3 files. She couldn’t understand why I was aghast. Her rationale was that she couldn’t afford to download so many if she hadn’t found pirated sites. I couldn’t believe she couldn’t understand that she’d stolen from someone else.
You see, every book of mine that someone illegally downloads is a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread that is taken out of my kitchen. When my children stand at the checkout line and ask for a candy bar, it’s the difference between yes and no.
It doesn’t seem like much to the person who stole the book. THEY got a free book. It’s the world to my kids.
Put another way, how would you feel if you worked twelve or more hours a day for six months to a year for no pay and at the end when your check was due to come in, someone decided to help themselves to your wages. That is what piracy is, whether it’s MP3 files, book downloads, or the latest movies. The creative people who make the music, books, and films that others enjoy are entitled to just compensation for their labors.
I am not wealthy. I get no huge advance. My royalties would have to increase mightily to be considered modest. I can’t afford to absorb the losses incurred by book piracy and free downloads.
Please, if you feel you have to steal my book to read it, I’d rather not have you for a fan. I can’t afford you.