Terry Goodkind is quite famous in literary circles for his Sword of Truth series of books. Recently he self-published a new edition to the franchise with the First Confessor. It was released earlier this month and quickly rose to the top of Amazon’s best seller list. With any digital content, piracy runs rampant.
Goodkind employed the “shame game,” as quoted by the Guardian, against one particular ebook pirate. He posted private details, a picture, and made some disparaging remarks that sparked a huge outrage. Terry posted the following, “So Josh, how about it—no respect for a hard-working author and fellow racing enthusiast? Not even for someone that is emphatically trying to reach out to people that might consider pirating our hard work? Can’t be bothered to read and consider our note on piracy in the front of the book? How ironic you claim to be a fan of books that uphold truth and honor above all else. We hope the price of fame is worth the cost of your infamy.”
Within a few hours of the scathing remarks “Josh” had deleted his Facebook account and took down the links. This entire situation poses an interesting conundrum. Should authors take it upon themselves to single out specific individuals, condemning their piracy and publicly outing them? It is obvious that Terry Goodkind has sold over 25 million books in his series and one book being shared does not hinder his financial well-being.
Should authors spend their time hunting around for people pirating their works? Is it justified to employ a witch-hunt mentally in getting your legion of fans to jump on the bandwagon and crucify someone who shared a book? What would happen if J.K. Rowling publicly outed someone for putting her books on a file sharing site? She would have legions of fans from all walks of life threatening the ebook pirate. Going one step further, what would happen if Goodkind ripping into someone resulted in one of his overzealous fans physically hurting the pirate? Authors in their own rights are celebrities, and have a social responsibility to not single out specific people and rip into them for stealing their works. Do you see Brad Pitt or Al Pacino posting on their Facebook account that someone watched their movie without paying for it?