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How to talk friends and relatives out of their addiction to free e-books?


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#1 Brighton

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 08:26 AM

I didn't quite know which thread to put this in, but it seems business related.

 

I saw this morning that someone I know was posting asking for suggestions on where to get good free ebooks, and lamenting that the good ones are few and far between. Someone suggested going to the library and it was said they didn't have enough time to do that. (To which I wanted to be snarky and reply if you don't have time to stop by the library you don't have time to read, but I resisted.) 

 

A large number of my friends and relatives seem to pirate books. Over the holidays one even saw that my mother's kindle had hardly anything on it (because I'm pretty sure my mom doesn't pirate, and she usually reads paper books) and they took it upon themselves to load up her kindle with pirated books. And they apparently don't even know my mom very well as not one of them appeared to be a mystery novel. 

I threw a not very articulate fit about the whole thing and they just replied with: "Well you pirated Downton Abby."

Which is not entirely true. I buy the DVD when it comes out and, I did not download it free of commercials, I live stream it through a friend in the UK while they watch it live over there on ITV and it's just as if I were coming over and sitting on their couch which is only to avoid spoilers because they insist upon releasing it six months late in the USA, and I eventually do pay for it on DVD, I seriously doubt that they eventually go back and pay for any of those books. Which are in fact available for purchase now, they just choose not to. 

 

I know I have it easy, the library is literally half a block away, I got an email once that the book they ordered through interlibrary loan was in and I shocked the woman and got there within two minutes of her email being sent. She looked at me like I was magic, it was awesome. But, people are willing to wait in line and drive out of their way to get their really expensive fancy coffees they will down in ten minutes, but they can't pay for a book they will enjoy for hours? I don't know how to talk some sense into them. 

 

So if anyone has a very concise way of phrasing the argument for actually paying authors for their hard work that I could use that would be awesome, because right now I am just silently judging them. 

 

Is it rude to point out that: good ebooks aren't free just like (insert goods or services provided by that person's profession) isn't free, because in order to do your work you need to be able to make a living. 

 

I just feel like someone might take that as a personal attack rather than really see the point. 

 

Also what are clam books, and oyster books? Those were some of the suggestions people put in the comments to my friend's original post, which I gather are subscription services, much like netflix is for movies, but are those sites actually good or do authors get screwed over? It wasn't immediately apparent from their websites how (or how much) it is that authors get paid through such a model. 


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#2 Jeanne

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 09:09 AM

I don't know about your library, but my library lends out ebooks. All you need is a card and an account. You can download a copy (for a few weeks) to your Kindle, tablet, or computer. When the borrowing time is up, the book disappears.

 

As to pirating, I think it's disgusting. It's illegal (you might want to remind your friends of that) and is considered theft of intellectual property. Some Internet providers enforce the law by removing your service (something else they should know). And I'm sorry, but I don't think you need to pirate a copy of Downton simply because you couldn't wait for it to be broadcast in the USA. Buying a DVD later doesn't excuse stealing something now.

 

Can't speak to Clam or Oyster books. I've heard of them but don't know much about them.

 

Jeanne



#3 Mallory

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 09:43 AM

I'd like to point out that there are a lot of great free ebooks free on Amazon. Some amazing authors I know will put their first work free, and these are polished, enjoyable novels.  I can't imagine pirating is easier than taking a few moments to look over the reviews to determine the quality of what they're getting.


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#4 Brighton

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 09:45 AM

I'll have to respectfully disagree on the Downton point, I want to pay for it and I do pay for it. I've tried contacting PBS and starting petitions to get them to move the release date up so I don't have each seasons spoiled for me months before I am allowed to watch it. I think my relative and you missed the difference in what is stealing and what is not. When you pay a content provider what they deem their product to be worth you are not stealing it. When you both buy the DVD and see all of the commercials when live streaming with a pal in Manchester when it runs on ITV in the UK. I provide them the exact payment they are getting from my pal in the UK, through commercials I watch and DVD sales I pay for. So to think that just because I am in Vermont live streaming with them instead of physically coming over to their house in the UK that I am therefore a thief offends me. 

Instead of drawing such lines that do nothing other than alienate loyal consumers we should all be advocating models that allow a more open market where consumers can easily pay for the content they want. Not chastising people who put their money where their eyes are and grouping them in with people who just want something for nothing. 

 

In a globalized market having arbitrary boundaries where some customers can legally get information while others have to wait for something they are eager to pay for makes no sense. 

I am someone who has taken a six hour train to New York City just to see a movie because it wasn't playing in my home state and I really wanted to see it and I don't believe it is right to pirate it. 

 

 

 

I think the main problem with the people I want to talk out of doing this is that they seem to want free ebook versions of traditionally published popular books. Which just isn't going to happen legally, I just wish I knew how to convince people to value content more, value it enough to spend their money on it, and see that eventually if no one pays money for art that there will be less and less art because people will have to work doing other things and only do art in their spare time. That quality costs something, even if it looks free. Indie and self-published authors who offer their first book in a series for free can only afford to do so if people then buy the sequels. 


"The truth was that Jay Gatsby, of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. ...and to this conception he was faithful to the end." -The Great Gatsby

#5 AQCrew

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 10:07 AM

Just for clarification: when you say "free" books, you really mean free "pirated" books, right?  We might change your title to reflect that because there are a ton of legitimate free books put out into the world by the author themselves -- including permanently free titles.  

 

The whole piracy argument is a loop that you won't win.  Personally, the fact that they took your mom's kindle and loaded it with books without her input or knowledge is WAY more offensive.  That's like barging into someone's closet and filling it with shoplifted clothes.  



#6 Brighton

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 10:24 AM

Yes, it's the pirated ones that I take issue with, as well as the trying to push the culture of "don't pay for stuff" that seems to be happening. From what I gather the people that I know seemed to start off with legitimately free books and then got hooked on the concept of not paying and then found that they didn't like having to wade through the large number of legitimately free books and instead wanted the books that are currently "in" i.e. stuff on the NYT bestsellers and such regardless of if they are free, and they seem to have developed the attitude that they don't want to pay for stuff, and they also don't want to be locked into restrictions such as the two week limit on renting ebooks through your library. 

So what may have started out as ohh cool look at all these free books you can read on your tablet! Turned into: now I never want to pay for any book ever again! 

(Which is silly what on earth are you going to decorate your shelving with if not books that make you look smart and worldly to any visitors to your home?) 

 

I do realize that I am never going to win this argument that people will just do what they want, but I just woke up and found myself in a particularly bad mood after reading my friend's post and feeling like them and other people I know are not only not willing to pay for books but also now are trying to push that onto others and paint them as patsies just for wanting to actually pay for what they consume. I really wanted to just be able to respond to them with something that might at least change their mind.

 

And it's something that is just probably in general hard to talk about with people, as I know I got offended and was hurt by Jeanne's opinion of my paying for Downton after the fact instead of before was stealing, that pointing out people's actual stealing and never paying will ruffle some feathers as well, and be even harder to talk with them about. 


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#7 Jeanne

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 10:34 AM

Perhaps you could explain the damage of pirating in these terms. Ask your mother's friends to imagine themselves building a dream vacation home from scratch. For two years they spend every weekend and every holiday framing the house, putting up the drywall, painting the inside, etc. The house is finally finished, but they can't get out there for several months to use the house. When they finally get back to the house, someone else is living in it, squatters who say, "You weren't using it, so we thought we'd take it."

 

Many writers put two or more years of their lives into crafting a full-length novel, writing, revising, editing, prepping the book for publication. They get paid nothing for those hours at the time. If they're lucky, the book is picked up by a traditional publisher who pays them a small advance in installments that has to last until they earn it back via royalties. So, if the author receives a $5000 advance, he or she will often receive 1/2 upon signing the contract and 1/2 upon delivery of the edited ms. Sometimes those payments are divided into thirds. If the author has an agent, the agent gets 15% of that $5000 before the author ever sees a penny. The author will receive NOTHING after the advance until he or she earns another $5000 in royalties from sales of the book. That process alone can take another year, depending on sales and how the royalties are calculated and paid out.

 

Ask your friends if they could live on $5000 for about three years. Every time they pirate a book, they are taking money away from someone who worked hard to earn it. If they want "free" books, they can download them free from the library, sign up with places like Goodreads and Penguin for free downloads, or pick up free copies offered by self-pubbed authors. It's not that hard to find good free books--legally.

 

I'll leave the discussion about pirating Downton alone other than to say I disagree.

 

Here is the link to Penguin's "First to Read" program. http://www.firsttoread.com/

 

Note that many of the authors on this list are quite famous. In the past two months, I picked up 9 free books from reader's groups and publishers--all of them legit sources. I received a print copy of Rebecca Makkai's new novel, The One Hundred-Year-Old House from her publisher and an ebook of Sarah Waters's new novel, The Paying Guests from Penguin. It's actually kind of fun to get books this way, and it's all legal.

 

Jeanne



#8 J. Lea Lopez

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 05:08 PM

Like you, they likely have a list of reasons why they feel justified doing what they're doing, and nothing anyone says will change their minds. :-)

 

Watching via Google Hangout (or however you're doing it) with your friend in the UK is... well, I have to say it's kind of clever lol. And it's not the on the same level (in my mind) as uploading a video of it to a torrent site for hundreds of thousands of people to download and share. When you say I PIRATED DOWNTON!! that's what I think of, and that's what I would have a huge issue with. Are there levels of piracy, some more acceptable than others? Maybe. I don't know. I'm not sure exactly where I stand on all of it. But I would put that somewhere on the level of making a mixed tape by recording songs off the radio. Technically illegal? Yeah. Actually hurting anything? Doubtful.



#9 J. Lea Lopez

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 05:10 PM

Also, you could point out, as a last resort, how many of those pirating sites are just waiting to infect their computers with nasty malware and viruses. Ask them what's more expensive: tech support and computer repair followed by top of the line anit-virus software to make sure it never happens again, or actually paying a few bucks for the books they want to read?



#10 E.B. Black

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 04:31 PM

EDIT TO ADD: This somehow got posted in the wrong place, lol.

ORIGINAL POST:

 

GASP! I knew I was doing something wrong. You opened up a whole new world to me! LOL. Now I have to go like a bunch of people as my author page, so that I can have a newsfeed. XD

 

EDIT: OH! And facebook won't let me make my name on my profile "E.B.", it always lower cases the B. But it's fine on my facebook page. Facebook is weird that way, but it does make things easier to separate!


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#11 J. Lea Lopez

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 04:45 PM

GASP! I knew I was doing something wrong. You opened up a whole new world to me! LOL. Now I have to go like a bunch of people as my author page, so that I can have a newsfeed. XD

 

EDIT: OH! And facebook won't let me make my name on my profile "E.B.", it always lower cases the B. But it's fine on my facebook page. Facebook is weird that way, but it does make things easier to separate!

Wait, how did this end up on this topic thread? lol



#12 E.B. Black

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 05:00 PM

I have no idea honestly. T_T I am confused.

 

It's probably my fault though. I got so excited, liking things on my facebook page and probably just posted in the wrong place.


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