This post by Patricia V. Davis originally appeared on the Women’s National Book Association San Francisco Chapter site on 3/18/13.
A few years back, I was in the audience listening to a speaker at a prestigious writers’ conference as he warned us about book piracy and how many potential sales authors stood to lose as a result.
“I know for a fact that people are pirating my work and even selling my books illegally online,” he said, clearly not happy about that.
He went on to inform a roomful of mostly new writers that he’d even caught some reviewers ─ legitimate ones ─ selling their review copy of his book on eBay after they’d reviewed it. “When giving out review copies of your books, be sure to write ‘review copy’ in it, to help prevent that from happening,” he cautioned. He continued in the same vein about illegal copies being obtained for his ebooks, as well, and I observed several audience members taking notes diligently on his piracy prevention suggestions.
The problem is, I’d personally never heard of him before that conference, and if you ask me even now, I couldn’t tell you the title of even one of his books.
What does this mean? I’m getting to that.
Let’s take another scenario: Me, as a teenager at a neighbor’s garage sale. She had a bin of old paperbacks that she was selling at ten cents each. Obviously we’re going way back here, before the internet even existed, so in essence, her reselling of those paperbacks at ten cents each was that era’s equivalent of today’s online book piracy. I bought a paperback that looked intriguing ─ why not, at that price? ─ and took it home to read. I became so enraptured by the story, that I read it all in one sitting, then raided my babysitting money which I’d saved for something else, walked all the way to the local bookstore and bought another of her books at the full paperback retail price that same day. Over the years, I’ve repeatedly bought her titles, and sometimes, if I’m feeling famished for the quality brain candy novels that she writes, and something new she’s written looks particularly appealing, I won’t even wait for the paperback version ─ I’ll spring for the hardback price of 25 dollars plus tax. (Yes, even this day of eReaders and iPads, I still buy hardback books.) So, the novel that I bought “illegally” hooked me into becoming a lifelong fan of this author.