Posted by kacates on January 20, 2011
YA author Saundra Mitchell posted a few days ago about a disturbing trend – the illegal downloading of ebooks, otherwise known as stealing. Here's what she says:
I’ve been very open about the money I’ve made and not made, to help give the writing community some perspective. So I’m going to be very open about money today. I’ve told you before that I made a $15,000 advance on SHADOWED SUMMER. In two years, I’ve managed to earn back $12,000 of that.
It’s going out of print in hardcover because demand for it has dwindled to 10 or so copies a month. This means I will never get a royalty check for this book. By all appearances, nobody wants it anymore.
But those appearances are deceiving. According to one download site’s stats, people are downloading SHADOWED SUMMER at a rate of 800 copies a week. When the book first came out, it topped out at 3000+ downloads a week.
If even HALF of those people who downloaded my book that week had bought it, I would have hit the New York Times Bestseller list.
She has more about this issue here, and several other YA authors weigh in on the subject in the comments. Basically, every time you illegally download a free copy of a book (or movie, or song, etc.), you're robbing the creator of that content of their fair earnings. The fewer official sales, the less money they make, and the lower the likelihood of publishers taking a chance on another book of theirs. And if you really like an author and their books, why would you do that to them?
Now, none of us are made of money, and being a book lover would be a very expensive habit if you had to buy every book you wanted to read. Luckily, there's a much better option. Here at the Normal Public Library, our goal is to provide the public with what they want to read. As the teen librarian, I do my best to pick out the books that I think you guys are going to want, but I'm not a mindreader, so I always welcome feedback. Let me know what books you're into right now, and I'll buy them. If LOTS of people tell me they want a book, I'll buy more copies! This way, the books sell more, the author makes more money, and the publisher is hopefully willing to take a chance on his or her next book. And you still get to read the book for free!
Even if it's a book we don't have, you're not out of luck, because of a cool thing called interlibrary loan. Basically, if we don't have it, we'll get it for you by ordering it from another library. Our policy at NPL is that as long as the book is available at a library somewhere in the state of Illinois, we can get it for you here. So unless you're looking for something REALLY obscure, you should have no problem tracking down a copy to read for free.
One last thing: the author I quoted at the beginning of this post? Her first book, Shadowed Summer, is available right here at NPL in the teen section – in fact, we have two copies. I recently read it myself and thoroughly enjoyed it. If you like creepy ghost stories with a little bit of romance, then I highly suggest you run in and check it out now! Her second book, The Vespertine, comes out this March, and I've already preordered the library's copy and can't wait to read it myself.