Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Book Pirates

What to do about pirates?

I have Google Alerts set on the titles of my books so that whenever they appear anywhere on the open internet, Google sends me an email with a link. This is a good way to track reviews, mentions, and buzz. It’s also a good way to track piracy. Lately I’ve been getting notified that ten or so pirate sites are offering a download of an audible version of my second novel, Mind Over Ship. As far as I know, no legitimate audible version of this book has ever been produced. I can’t imagine that some fan has made his or her own recording (14.5 hours unabridged) and posted it somewhere for download, but I can’t think of any other alternative. I’ve got to wonder if it’s professionally made or is doing more harm than good to my book’s reputation. And why would someone do something like this without asking or telling me?

As an added bonus, Counting Heads, the pirated download, is getting increased traffic as well.

As I said in an earlier post, I’m not a big fan of the “open culture” which says that everything digital wants to be free. But I, myself, read way more books that I check out of the public library than ones I pay $24.95 for. So I don’t know how to react to the piracy of my work. It’s not like authors can go on tour like musicians to recoup the value of our labor with paid live performances. (And please buy a CD on your way out.) To paraphrase Cory Doctorow, the enemy of a writer is not piracy; it’s obscurity. This is especially true when everybody and his cousin thinks he’s a writer and Amazon and B&N (and others) make it so easy to self-publish. So I guess I should be happy that someone felt moved enough by my novel to spend 14 hours reading it into a microphone. I can only hope they did a bang-up job.


David S. said...

I think that's a very good way to look at it - someone willing to produce their own audio book version of a novel (for free) has to *love* it like crazy.

That person has not only bought the printed version and loved it enough spend many hours of their own time producing an audio version (for no monetary reward), they've probably also recommended it to several other people they know and may well also have bought one or more copies as gifts.

It's also quite possible that they have given it rave reviews on one or more sites like Amazon, B&N, etc. Who knows how many extra copies were eventually sold thanks to that one person who's soul you touched?

That's one person who's going to buy your next book no questions asked.

Anonymous said...

I downloaded the audio version, and you have nothing to worry about. Just a lot of "Ayeeee"s and "Arrrrr"s.

Anonymous said...

There's also an unofficial Counting Heads audiobook version I just torrented. Nowhere near as good as the Recorded Books one, I'm afraid; as I appreciate its quality I've now bought that one to support your work (and that of Recorded Books).