In what has to be the winner of the Captain Obvious Award, new voices are speaking out against rampant ebook piracy. Now, it’s not as though anyone doesn’t understand that piracy of copyrighted content is theft. In fact, that has been openly acknowledged for quite some time. No, in a shocking turn of events, authors have been told that piracy is not only a sign that they’re relevant and widely enjoyed, but even that it can translate into sales of their other works.
One of the most blithe responses to ebook piracy has been that of Hugh Howey, who once jokingly quipped at an Amazon roundtable event at BookExpo America that he “loves” piracy. Of course, he wasn’t actually supporting the notion of stealing from authors, but rather suggesting that authors look for the good in what is an otherwise unstoppable evil. Howey went on to describe readers who’ve left good reviews of his books after stealing pirated copies, who’ve sent him PayPal and Starbucks gift cards after enjoying them so thoroughly, and more.
While responses like Howey’s are probably the healthiest course when trying to fight back against faceless ebook pirate sites, bestselling fantasy author Maggie Stiefvater paints a very different picture. In an article for The Guardian, she spoke quite openly about her traditional publisher cutting the number of print copies produced for a subsequent book in her popular series, a fact she attributes to the high numbers of people who blatantly admit to her that they read pirated copies of her books.
“On her website, Stiefvater later explained that, when ebook sales for the third book in the Raven Cycle – Blue Lily, Lily Blue – ‘dropped precipitously,’ her publisher decided to cut the print run of the next book in the series to less than half of its predecessors.” You can read the author’s post here.
But that’s not the end of the story. Read the full blog post Stiefvater wrote that details the extraordinary lengths she went to in order to prove that piracy doesn’t just hurt an author’s sales, but rather that piracy hurts the chances that our favorite authors’ books will ever continue to be published. That fact isn’t because the author throws in the towel in the face of blatant theft, but rather that the publisher decides not to take any more risks on an author–even a proven, bestselling author–who isn’t generating sales.
Where does that leave readers? With a simple missive: don’t be a disgusting thief. Pay for what you read, support the things that you enjoy, and help authors of every publishing model continue to do what brings them income and brings you joy.