Thoughts on Book Pirating

Sandra Mitchell has a blog up about how illegal downloading affects authors*. She presents some specific numbers that she’s seen from her first book, Shadowed Summer, revealing the clear and discernible effect pirating had on authors. The comments reveal that other authors have had similar experiences in regards to pirating.

Here’s a quote from her blog that paints a vivid picture of just how much pirating has affected her earnings and her career:
“If even HALF of those people who downloaded my book that week had bought it, I would have hit the New York Times Bestseller list.

If the 800+ downloads a week of my book were only HALF converted into sales, I would earn out in one more month. But I’m never going to earn out. And my book is never going to be available in your $region, not for lack of trying.”

This kind of thing breaks my heart when I hear it for a couple reasons. One, because I love book and I love authors, and I want authors to write books that I love and be able to make a living doing it. It would never occur to me to pirate an author’s book. I have too much respect for the work that goes in to it. I firmly believe authors have a right to earn money for the work they produce (in fact, sometimes I even feel a wee guilty about using the library, instead of buying my own copy of a book, but that’s me). If they don’t earn that money, if they don’t get a certain level of numbers, then there is a very good chance they will not be able to publish their next book — what a depressing thought.

Another reason is I am hoping to someday soon complete a book that I will want to publish. When I do so I am hoping to earn money from publishing said book, and I am hoping to be able to publish many, many books thereafter. It’s very disheartening to think that some of the joy of that experience could one day be robbed from me because of illegal downloading. (I know, I know, I’m not there yet to be worrying about this kind of thing, but I can’t help it.)

So, I know I’m probably preaching to the choir, but seriously, don’t illegally download copies of books, people. If you really can’t afford it, Sandra Mitchell presents some alternatives to pirating, such as going to the library or requesting a review copy from the publisher.

*which I found the link for through [info]mizkit‘s rather awesome blog.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here or there.]