At the end of June an author friend of mine emailed me to tell me they’d found their books and every single one of mine on a site called LendInk. I’d link to it, but it’s recently been taken down. Of course at first blush the site looked like every other pirate site that was offering my books for free. Only … it wasn’t. It was a matchmaking service for kindle and nook owners who legitimately purchased books and were willing to lend them and readers who wanted to borrow them. (Please see THIS post for an explanation of how it works.)
But the site made authors noodgie. It’s scary watching your hard work being downloaded for free at sites where they don’t have your permission. Pirating is like a flu bug making you puke and weakening your resolve to keep writing.
So I completely understand when authors started banding together on twitter and facebook, sending DMCA notices to take down their books at LendInk. The fact is, they reacted before reading the fine print. (They had actually given Barnes & Noble and Amazon permission to have their books lent.) Hey, it happens. Authors are carrying a lot of responsibility for their careers these days. More, I believe, than any other time in publishing history. It’s a tough business with so many trying to carve out a career in the crazy noise of so many books.
And now LendInk is down and people are pissed … angry enough to post author names with twitter and facebook posts. (I’m not giving the link to that post.) One commenter mentioned he went to an indie store with the list and pulled all the authors’ books from the shelves. Others are boycotting the authors listed in protest.
And the whole thing makes me sad. Yes, LendInk was completely operating within Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s terms of service. Yes, they were making a small amount of money as Amazon Associates when someone clicked through their site and made a purchase on Amazon. Yes, readers were enjoying their site to find books to lend/borrow. BUT, for some authors, it smacked of, if not breaking the rules, definitely pushing the envelope of what Amazon and B&N had originally intended with their lending ability.
I completely understand why DMCA notices were sent. I understand why readers (and many authors who like the lending option) are upset the site was taken down. But making matters worse by punishing authors who felt they were only protecting their intellectual property seems to me, to be pushing things just a little too far.
Seriously as a middle child I’d just like to see everyone drop their pitchforks and torches, grab a coke and start singing:
Techdirt has a great explanation of how the whole thing unfolded (and I particularly admire their disclaimer at the beginning of the post).
*** NOTE: My apologies on missing a couple of posts the last couple of weeks. I’m working REALLY hard to edit my next book and seriously … these vampires are just NOT cooperating. But I’ll try to be better next week. ***
This is the story of an avid reader. A regular JoAnn who stops at Starbucks and buys her double double mocha latte with extra foam on her way to the bookstore. It’s a wonderful day. She’s visited her favorite author’s websites and has her list all ready.
The bookstore is bustling and JoAnn gets all caught up in the excitement of adding to her “to be read” pile. She peruses the paranormal shelf, choosing a couple of books, even picking up a book written by a debut author. She then heads over to check out the latest releases in the historical section. gathering several more books and finishes her visit in the erotic romance section bashfully picking out the backlist of her favorite authors. With two bags filled with books, she heads to the front of the store.
But on her way to the register she comes across someone who has all the books in her bags for free. That’s right. Completely free.
“Why are you buying those books. I’ll give them to you for free.”
“Wow, why don’t they cost me anything?”
“Oh, I got one copy of the book and made more copies. I’m happy to give them away.”
“Well, if you’re here in the bookstore, then it must be legal.”
“Who cares if it’s legal. Everyone’s doing it. Besides authors are rich. They’ve already been paid to write the books.”
“Well, then I’ll take one of everything you’ve got.”
People wouldn’t do this. Of course it would never happen in a bookstore. But it happens all the time on the internet. As much as authors shout from the rafters about internet piracy and their bottom lines, readers don’t seem to understand how much money authors and publishers are losing to these thieves.
I don’t usually get too uptight about people pirating my books. I’ve never had many downloaded. But in the last two days, one of my best selling books has been downloaded 22,000 times … for free. I made no money from these books that were stolen from me. I’m sick. I’m not foolish enough to think that all of these people would have purchased the book, but even if a third of them had, I could make my mortgage payment from the royalties off those sales for THREE months!
And now I’m pissed. Downright indignant that people continue to think this practice is all right. Worse than the torrent sites offering books for free are people who go on ebay or create their own sites and SELL illegal copies of books. Talk about adding insult to injury!
I’m not sure if everyone understands that authors who write for digital publishers don’t get paid advances. My hard work is only rewarded when people BUY my books and I get royalties from the sales. Writing is what pays my bills. There isn’t anyone who wants to work a full week making widgets only to have all the widgets given away and the business not paying them for their time. Yeah, it’s the same thing.
I know I’m preaching to the choir here on the blog. You’re all wonderful authors and readers and I appreciate all of you. But seriously, I’m beyond frustrated with this particular website that’s giving away my book and all the people who visit it and steal from me. I’m fortunate that my publisher actually has someone who sends out cease and desist letters, but they take time to get the books taken down. Congress is working on copyright infringement laws, but they’re just not coming through fast enough for me. I believe if the music industry was able to fight the illegal downloads, the publishing industry will be able to follow suit.
In the meantime, please get your books from reputable sites where the author and publisher are making money from the sales. Secretaries, editors and cover artists also depend on book sales for their salaries.
Because seriously, this kind of pirate isn’t sexy at all!