A Pirate’s Life: Downloading E-books for Free

When I read in the New York Times that the E-book version Dan Brown’s new hit had been uploaded to piracy Web sites and was now available for free, my first thought was: serves those idiot publishers right for giving Dan Brown a book deal in the first place.

No, I’m kidding. My first really popular article was about Miley Cyrus and I understand that everyone has to make a living. However, it did get me thinking about how much piracy would prohibit publishers and authors from actually making that living. (By “publishers and authors” I mean the ones that aren’t already doing it for free on the Web.)

So I wrote up a post for Popmatter’s Re:print, thinking about whether the E-book threat was really as big as the MP3 threat:

“There are people who would prefer to carry a book with them, but the ability of that handful of people to sustain an industry is unlikely. And it’s going to be the new authors, the literary fiction writers and the memoirists who need to find other methods of distribution. After all, when you compare a publisher’s arbitrary decision to print someone’s first novel with the release of the low-budget movie Paranormal Activity, which was only produced because online users demanded it, the differences are glaring. But is it possible to imagine a world in which readers get to commission books?”

It turns that this article was also popular, although not quite in Miley territory. However, I think it’s the only thing I’ve ever written that shared on social media sites by someone other than me. I was overly delighted about this, perhaps because, as my 9th English teacher once said, “it’s a dull subject, you’ve got to get your kicks where you can.”

But enough negativity. Let’s pretend this is an omen of the dawn of a yet-to-be-determined new era for writers (aka bloggers) (aka people destroying the industry) (aka is she done, yet?). To infinity, and beyond!


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