Monday, 29 December 2008

And Our Own Worst Enemy Is...


Recently a new group formed to combat e book piracy. I joined a few days ago and began reading through posts.

On the surface it seemed like a wonderful effort. And it still could be. However, I don't see that happening. I'd expected to see a group working together and setting goals, taking first steps to make the problem of piracy known on a more intimate level to authors and readers. To educate the public about the legalities and explain why sharing e books is just plain wrong.

Unfortunately, that's not happening.

I've only been in this business a couple of years and to some I'm still considered a newbie. I suppose there are those out there who will always look down on me like the red-headed step child, and that's fine. I may not be knowledgeable about everything that goes on in e pub land, but I am at least knowledgeable enough to know that thwarting every suggestion and wallowing in past failures is not going to fix the problem of piracy.

It doesn't make any difference if you are a publisher or an author, whether you have a hundred books out there or one, each of us has a stake in this. But for some odd reason, this group fails to see that.

At first I thought it was just growing pains. That the group was just trying to find its way. Not so. This group vehemently opposes anything that is positive. Opposes any thing that is suggested. I watched a few posters, myself included, make suggestions, voice their opinion in support of something, just to be "shouted down".

It made no sense. I finally stopped posting and set to digest. I know of one other member who simply unsubscribed.

In order for us to make a dent in e book piracy we're going to have to come together. I don't see it happening with any new organization for sure. Maybe through EPIC. Oh, they even argued about which "writer's organizations" were the best. I'm still WOWED by it. At any rate, I don't see anything happening with piracy until authors come down off their high horses and realize that there are more than just a few of us out there. And that some of us are even willing to put a little effort into it.

Any organization that fights e piracy must have a large umbrella and welcome all authors to come under its protection. Which organization will that be? Well, it will end up being the one whose pockets are hit. Maybe these organizations should stop spending our money on these huge once a year parties and start doing something that actually benefits an author. Will they? No.

Do I have a defeatist attitude? Well, I didn't until I joined that group. But now I guess I do. If you want all your hopes and dreams to go up in flames, if you want to see nothing but doom and gloom for the future of e books. Then join this new group. Trust me, they bring new meaning to the term negativity.

Will I post the link to join? Nope. I'm doing you a favor.


Nita Wick said...

You really are doing your readers a favor, Tess. Anyone who joins that group will only have to read a couple dozen posts to be firmly convinced that

a) every idea out there to combat ebook piracy has been tried, and they all failed,
b) You're foolish, naive, and just plain stupid if you think you can argue with the facts and figures produced, and
c) You may as well just write your books and give them away yourself because ebook piracy cannot be stopped or even stemmed. It's a hopeless cause, and you are wasting your time even trying. Give up now. You'll get more results by pounding your head against the wall.

I came very close to posting a sarcastic reply similar to yours, but far less subtle. Mine would have been something like, "Okay, I concede. All of you experts (read as know-it-alls) are correct. There's nothing we can do. It's a hopeless cause. I guess we can all go home now."

{shaking head}

I had that reply typed up, but I thought better of it and deleted. It probably would have gone right over their heads just like yours did anyway. The simply could not see how their negativity stifled the group.

There should be a warning upon entering that group: “You must have a prescription for Prozac to join this group.” If you’re not depressed when you join, you will be.

Tess MacKall said...

Yes, and you've done your readers a favor as well. It's good to know that I am not the only one who felt that way about the group.

All it takes is to go back and read the posts to feel the defeat. It amazed me, truly.

But, we're not going to pound our heads against the wall on this one. We're just going to move forward and do what we can. Keep writing and putting our work out there.

Some day the publishers will be in a position to do something about it. The more popular e books become the more demand there will be for securing our rights.

Thanks for your comment, Nita.

M.E Ellis said...

Sounds horrendous!


Jude Mason said...

Hi Tess,

I joined the same group and watched as ideas, suggestions and comments about what we could do to halt the theft of our ebooks were ridiculed and derided as useless, inane. I posted a few times, thinking it was going to be that group that finally did something, but soon stopped when I saw what was happening. I still belong, I honestly have no idea. The group seems to simply go out and find new pirate sites and post about them. A waste of time, in my opinion as most of the time you can't get the pirated stuff off the site. Or, the site moves and opens shop up under another name.

I think you're right. Once e-publishing is a more recognized and prosperous industry, publishers will find a way to, if not stop, at least slow down the theft. New formats or secure e-books will happen. I'm just going to quit worrying about what I can't stop and write. That's what I do best anyway.

I will say, though, that education might do some good. Many people, including authors, don't realize that giving an ebook away is against the law. The authors are given a certain number of books they may legally use for promotions or whatever, but that's it. I had an author post that she thought piracy might be wrong. We need to educate ourselves.

Thanks so much for saying what so many of us have been thinking.