I’m a geek – and I get it. It’s not reasonable to expect that people will carry with books on a regular basis. As a consultant we are on different client sites on a regular basis and it’s really difficult to lug around one (or more) technical books. To hear that “see page 601 of so-and-so book” for the answer doesn’t help me now which is why I’m looking for the answer in the first place. So I get the concept of ebooks. I can carry an ebook reader and have access to thousands of books or just search them on my laptop.
To re-iterate something I discussed in a previous blog entry: “I also see them (ebooks) as a huge risk to the book publishing industry because they are so easy to copy and distribute to everyone on the planet. Speaking as an author – trust me when I say that authors don’t make a lot of money unless they have a huge following (insert favorite author here such as one who was told he could write out his laundry list and have it published). To clarify how this works from my limited experience neither authors nor publishers really make much money at least when it comes to writing technical books. My favorite quote when this question is asked to me is that on an hourly basis I would be better off learning how to say ‘Would you like fries with that?’”
I personally have issues with how books and ebooks are licensed. In my opinion if I buy a book, I should have rights to the book in any format (or to spend a few dollars more at most to have that right). I should be able to read the same book in print, on my phone, my laptop, my portable eReader or my toaster if it supports the file format. I believe that the publishing industry needs to get ahead of curve on this and find a way to make it work.
From my perspective, here’s the issues with illegal distribution of ebooks:
- It is stealing which is both illegal and immoral: Even when you try to look at it from different angles the answer is still the same. When you download illegal ebooks you are stealing. It’s not a victimless crime – there are publishers and authors who work hard to write these books. These aren’t some unknown fat cats, these are your neighbors and members of your communities.
- Authors and publishers deserve to be compensated: There really isn’t much money made on writing books from what I have experienced, and from what I have heard there isn’t a lot of money in it for the publisher either. Speaking from my own own experience I would seriously have made more money working at a fast food restaurant than I did on an hourly basis writing any of the books that I have worked on. It’s hard to justify spending that much time working on a project when there are easier more effective ways to earn some additional income.
- Put yourself in the author’s shoes: You have spent days or months of your life working on something to get it published. You finally get it published only to find out that people are stealing it rather than buying it.
- Follow this to it’s logical progression: Why should authors write books? If there is little or no money for the work why would qualified authors continue to write books? The result is either less qualified authors start working or fewer solid technical books are released. The other result is a push-back against even creating ebooks because it will simply decrease how many books are actually sold due to theft. It’s easier to just print a physical book and that helps to push back against the theft of the book via illegal downloads.
This is my plea and call to action to the technical community:
- If you have illegal copies of books – delete them.
- If you know of sites which are providing free copies of books, email information about them into the publisher or report them to the authorities:
- If you are already taking these steps, thank you – steps like this can help our community to make a stand against things like this.
To quote a friend of mine who wrote something tongue-in-cheek in his book introduction: “If you have not bought the book and are just reading at the book shop you’re taking food from my child’s mouth and should stop now”.