I’m being ripped off. Not for much money, but people are taking something from me that I didn’t say that they could have. My book.
That’s right, I recently found out that my book, Edge Play X, is on a website where people can download it for free. I contacted the site and filled out all their forms, but who knows if it will ever come off of there.
The funny thing is, a couple times a year, I usually do a promotion and give my book away for free anyway, and I don’t have this same feeling when I give the books away as when I realized that my book was free from this site. It’s a control issue. I didn’t say that it was ok for them to do that.
In a strange way, I feel somewhat flattered that my book is good enough to rip off. In every book I write, one of the characters steals a book. So in a way, the people who are downloading my book without permission are like some of the characters I write about.
Once, I stole a book from the library. Actually, I just borrowed it without checking it out and a few months later, I took it back. It was a vintage language book in the special section of the library. For weeks, every day after school, I would go to the public library and hide in the special editions section. Years later, they closed off that room except by permission. I’m not sure why I was so drawn to the Lenni Lenape dictionary. Maybe it was that their words were so different than English with its Latin roots (the only other thing I ever stole was a pair of bowling shoes). Anyway, with the help of a friend, we smuggled it out of the library, and a few months later I put it back out of guilt.
I guess when my characters are stealing books, maybe they are making a statement about art and ideas and the cost of those ideas. But the book I wrote is not a sculpture in a gallery that is selling for more than what most people earn in the course of a year, (“When you go to an Art gallery you are simply a tourist looking at the trophy cabinet of a few millionaires…” Banksy).
Some of the best art is done without a thought to making money, such as Banksy’s graffiti. I want to have readers, and I didn’t write the book to make money. Some might say that just having my book out there and getting my name known is worth what I would lose monetarily. The Grateful Dead, for example, used to let people listen and trade concert tapes for free and then they made a lot of their money from their tours. I don’t have any illusions that someday I will be a well-known writer. Honestly, I don’t really give a crap how well-known or not well-known I am. I like my privacy and I’m going to write whatever I damn well please, and if that gives me an audience, so be it. If not, I’m not going to bellyache.
Yes, I sell my book. Maybe that makes me a word-whore. Mostly, I think of it as just a little token of acknowledgement that the reader is giving me for all the time and effort that I put into the book. But let’s stop raping writers by taking their books for free without their permission. Writer’s are generally a mal-adjusted bunch and don’t usually make much money from their writing anyway. Show the poor schmucks some respect. Or pity at least.
I don’t think it’s cool for folks to take my book for free without asking. Aside from being illegal, it’s just plain rude.