On the Theft of Ebooks

Note: This post was originally scheduled for late 2014. It didn’t post to MailChimp, so I’m posting it again now. I’ve revised the original post so it’s up to date.Hi Folks,

This is a necessary post. There is a subculture out there who seems to believe anything electronic is up for grabs, that it belongs to everyone at once. It doesn’t.

My unintentional mentor, Dean Wesley Smith, recently (as I write this) posted a blog regarding the fact that ebooks differ from paper books in that courts have established customers do not “own” an ebook once they buy it.

That’s true, of course. When you buy an ebook, you are only licensing it. It’s no different than “buying” a movie. You don’t own the movie. You own the right to view it for awhile. Same with an ebook.

Note: that’s why ebooks generally cost a lot less than paper books. Duh.

Well, his post, incredibly, incited a lot of WRITERS to comment on various and sundry ways to STEAL the copyrighted work in ebooks! Seriously!

Why would ANY writer even condone stealing copyrighted material, much less advise people on how to do so? Are they freaking mental?

So all of that is what has brought me to this:

For the first time in a very long time, I’m glad I found Writing Into the Dark at such an advanced age.

Yes, I do writing into the dark.

Like Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Ray Bradbury and practically EVERY other major successful long-term fiction writer. It just means I don’t outline something to death and then rewrite everything and then run it past a critique group and then polish my own unique voice off of it just because some non-writer in my past told me that’s what I have to do.

Besides, frankly I Don’t Have Time for all that. I’m too busy writing the next story.

But I stand pretty much NO chance of becoming a “long-term” professional author because I got started (in a serious, my-writing-comes-first kind of way) far, far too late.

Will I sell enough to make a living? Probably, but maybe not. The point is, I’m old enough not to be concerned about it. But I digress.

Frankly, if someone cares enough to steal some of my work, well, I just have to hope that will be the exception rather than the rule. I’m not flattered and I don’t think it’s a minor thing. I feel pity for anyone who would deny an author the price of his or her book. That is the height of selfishness and greed.

If you buy my work and want to share it with your spouse or significant other, that’s fine. I personally have no problem with that. But if you steal it outright, or if you buy it once and then share it with several of your friends, you’re taking money out of my pocket.

If the book cost $5 and you shared it with twenty of your closest friends, you’ve just stolen $100 from my bank account.

Don’t shake your head. It’s EXACTLY the same thing.

Now, there is a thing called Digital Rights Management. A lot of new authors (who generally do not understand copyright) tend to use it.

Let me state unequivocally, I will never use DRM. It sends the wrong message to readers. Using DRM says I don’t trust them.

And the fact is, I’ve always been the sort who will trust you until you prove to me I can’t. Then I won’t have anything more to do with you, period.

I will continue to publish both ebooks and print as long as I am able, and I will continue to write my a*s off, as much as I can, every single day that I can, and I will continue to just enjoy the process.

For example, I wrote over 4,000 new words of fiction on Thanksgiving Day (2014). I hope I’ll have that good of production every day, yes, including Christmas. And I will just enjoy the process.

I am a professional writer and I am extremely fortunate, not because of what I’ve sold or hope to sell, but because writing, putting new words on the page in the form of short stories and novels, is what I do. It’s my day job.

Do I wish I’d been involved with my contemporaries, Dean Wesley Smith, Kris and the others from the very beginning? Oh HELL yes. If I had, today I would be a best-selling internationally known author with a hundred or so novels under my belt, as well as countless short stories.

But that isn’t the way it worked out. (shrug) And as for those who feel it’s all right to STEAL the content in ebooks and all the rest of it? There’s so little I can do about it that I find it healthier (for me) not to worry about it.

Listen up— No matter how they justify taking someone else’s copyrighted material without paying for it, thieves are thieves, period. They have no honor, and they are not worthy of my time.

Until next time, happy writing.

Harvey

I am a professional fiction writer. If you’d like to get writing tips several times each week, pop over to my Daily Journal and sign up. In the alternative, you can also click the Pro Writer’s Journal tab on the main website at HarveyStanbrough.com.

Distractions

Hi Folks,

Distractions happen. They do. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do about them.

But if you’re a mechanic and you get a phone call (distraction) and your spouse or significant other shows up unannounced for lunch (distraction) or a chunk of spy satellite falls out of the sky and flattens the dry cleaner across the street (distraction), you look, you take care of it, and you go back to work on the engine or the transmission or whatever.

Or you can use the distraction as an excuse to take a day off. Doesn’t matter to me. I’m not making a judgement here. But I’m just sayin’, it’s your choice, not something that’s forced on you.

If you’re a writer, same thing.

Distractions will happen. You can either say “Oh darn. Guess I won’t be able to write today. Maybe I’ll start tomorrow.” Or you can take a look or a listen, deal with the distractions, then go back to work on the story or novel or whatever.

Today I had distractions. It’s end game on the novel (see yesterday’s post). I’m all geared up to use whatever excuses happen to offer themselves to me. I didn’t think I’d put a thousand words on the page today (like the past few days). Yet I surpassed my goal.

How?

Distractions happened.

I gave them the attention they deserved.

Then I went back to work.

I hope that works for you too.

Happy writing,

Harvey

“Real” Books vs. Ebooks

Hey Folks,

Note: If you’re one who prefers reading paper books over ebooks, that’s fine. I’m happy for you. Enjoy. This post is not to bash you, but to shed some light on some misconceptions that have been circulating far too long.

On my Facebook pages, I recently announced the BundleRabbit bundle (Guns of the West) that includes two of my books, two of DWS’ books, and one each by five other writers. (You can see it at https://bundlerabbit.com/b/guns-west/.)

I’ve had a great response thus far, and I know at least 20 people have bought the bundle as a result of my letting them know it was available.

I hope the old “80-20” rule holds in this case. (grin) And if you’re one of those who has already plopped down $2.99 (no tax) of your hard-earned cash for the bundle, thank you.

But this morning, I checked Facebook to find this question and comment:

“Can’t I buy the actual books? I don’t like reading on line. I like to hold the real books in my hand.”

This question/comment is flawed on at least three levels, which I find amazing in our current age of technology.

It’s like saying you’d rather watch a “real” film in a theater for $15 a pop instead of buying it on DVD for $5 or $6.

“But the movie is the same,” detractors say.

Yes. It is. And the ebook is the same. Every word.

Okay, so here are my responses to the three flaws in the question/comment:

One, ebooks ARE “actual books.” Every word of every story or novel is included in both ebook and paper editions. The assertion that a paper edition is “real” intimates that the ebook edition is not, and that’s an insult to the author.

Additionally, the ebook edition often contains little extras that are not available in paper editions (just as the DVD of a film often does). In my ebooks, I include those extras as a special Thank You for not insulting me and for being wise with your money.

Two, you don’t have to read ebooks “on line.” To continue the analogy with film, this is like saying “I don’t like to watch movies on my TV.”

You can read ebooks on your phone unless it’s the kind that’s permanently tethered to the wall. You can also read them in .mobi (Kindle), .epub (Apple, B&N and others), or .pdf formats on dedicated e-readers made by numerous manufacturers.

If you don’t want to spend the money to buy a dedicated e-reader (I don’t blame you), you can download a free app for your phone or your computer and read them on that. You can find links to a few free e-readers on my website under the Readers’ Resources tab in the left sidebar.

But with current novel prices at around $16 and up for paper books and $5 for ebooks, a dedicated e-reader pays for itself pretty quickly.

Three, it really isn’t that difficult to find out whether a title is available in both paper and ebook. Simply key a title or author that interests you into any search engine (or Amazon or Barnes & Noble) and see what pops up in paper and ebook editions.

Identical titles are most often displayed alongside each other, which I particularly like as a writer and as a proponent of ebooks because it gives the reader an immediate price comparison.

If you key in “Harvey Stanbrough The Right Cut” for example, the first four entries are Amazon Kindle, Amazon paper edition, Smashwords (ebook only but with a link to the paper edition) and a single entry for Barnes & Noble.

Then the listings continue with Amazon UK, Amazon Japan, etc.

At B&N, you DO have to click one more time (See All Formats and Editions) to learn that the book is available in both ebook ($6.99) and paper ($15.99).

And that’s just for The Right Cut, the last book in the Wes Crowley Series.

You can also buy the entire 10-novel series in paper for around $150, or you can buy all 10 novels in one big volume (but still with all 10 covers plus the cover for the compilation) in ebook for $20.

As an added bonus, if you’re going on vacation and you don’t want to limit your reading choices, you can carry an extra bag with several of your wanna-read-someday paperbacks, or you can simply slip your e-reader (or phone) into your bag and carry them all that way. I prefer less weight.

Finally, Support Your Favorite Authors.

Strictly as an example, if you buy the ebook version of The Right Cut, I’ll earn 70% of the purchase price. You’ll spend $5.99, and I’ll get $4.19.

But if you buy the paper version for $16.99, I’ll earn about $2 per sale. Yes, that’s two dollars. It’s also very bad math from a standpoint of personal economics.

(Yes, writers who are dedicated to publishing only paper editions, I can earn more per sale if I want to order a stack of them myself, then schlep them around in the bed of my pickup or sell them at book signings, etc. But I’d really rather be writing, wouldn’t you?)

So the upshot is, the reader spends more per book for the paper edition, and the author gets less. As Yakov Smirnov used to say, What a country, eh?

Ebooks are here, folks. They aren’t going away. And they’re a boon to readers, not something we writers do to annoy you.

Chances are you already have the ability to read ebooks in your smart phone or on the tablet you carry with you pretty much everywhere you go. The app is free and the SAME STORIES cost a lot less. What in the world is the downside here?

Please, dive on into the 21st century and let’s get back to things that actually matter, like writing more stories.

Oh, and if any of you writers out there are not publishing your works as ebooks yet, feel free to ask me anything you want. I’ll be happy to help.

‘Til next time, happy writing and reading,

Harvey

Happy Independence Day

Hi Folks,

No writerly wisdom today, except an exhortation to enjoy your freedom. Oh, and thanks for participating in celebrating my wife’s birthday. (grin)

Enjoy the food and drink. Enjoy the fireworks and music. Celebrate the fact that the sun came up on another day.

Enjoy the children and grandchildren and parents and grandparents and brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and cousins and friends and all the other loved ones you are blessed to have.

And if you choose to do your job today, well, happy writing.
Harvey