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Posts Tagged ‘piracy’

I want to start by thanking Glenn Reynolds for the link to yesterday’s blog and welcome all his readers from Instapundit.  Pull up a chair, relax and enjoy your favorite virtual cup of coffee or other morning beverage.

It still amazes me how publishers and agents can cry foul when Amazon — or any other entity for that matter — encroaches on what they see as their territory.  It amazes me because it truly shows just how disconnected the legacy publishers and others are from the realities brought on by new technology and the change in reader demands.  Right now, these publishers are crying “foul!” because Amazon is trying to make them unnecessary in the road to publication.  They say they offer so many things of value to the writer, and the reading public, that Amazon and others can’t.  But, as I said yesterday, these very same benefits they tout are the ones they gave up on long ago:  quality editing and proofreading, formatting, promotion, etc.  This is especially true when it comes to e-books, the same e-books these publishers say cost as much to produce as the hard copy that is being released at the same time.  I could go one, but my friend Dave Freer has said it much more eloquently than I can over at Mad Genius Club.

What I do know is that legacy publishers are cutting their own throats, especially when it comes to the e-book market.  I’m not just talking price here, even though the majority of people don’t want to pay the same price for an e-book that they do for a hard cover and most of them don’t even want to pay the price of a paperback for an e-book.  Nor can I blame them, especially not when the legacy publishers view the e-book not as a book at all, but as a license.  They fill the e-book with DRM, which is expensive to the publisher and insulting to the reader/customer.  With DRM, you are limited to the type and number of devices you can read the book on.  Try to read it on an unsupported device and you can’t.  Want to break DRM, you’re called a pirate by the publishers.  Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy toward those publishers, doesn’t it?

These same publishers say they are paying extra, a lot extra if you believe them, to convert that next best seller into an e-book.  If that’s the case, I’d expect there to be no problems with the formatting or layout of the e-book and I’d sure as heck expect it to have been proofread so there are no misspellings, etc.  Guess what, it’s more than likely that you’ll find errors in the e-book.  For some reason, they seem to pop off the screen at you much more than they do off the printed page.  At least they do for me.  I’ve even checked printed versions of books when I’ve found errors in the kindle version and, yep, those errors are on the printed page as well.  I’m not talking indie books here.  I’m talking books printed by the big six publishers.  so where’s that wonderful quality control they’re talking about?

But it isn’t all gloom and doom in publishing.  I was pleased this morning to see the news that there will be two publishers focusing on books for middle grade kids.  The first is from Algonquin and will focus on the YA and middle grade markets and is expected to debut the end of next year.  While I wish it was happening soon, I’m thrilled to see anyone who knows there is a hole in the middle grade market and wants to fill it.  I just hope they fill it with books that are fun to read — and that therefore encourage kids to read them — instead of books that are all “socially relevant” and written in styles that send the kids running from them just as fast as they can.

The second is the one that really excites me because it is aimed at boys.  I’ve gotten so tired of hearing that boys don’t read.  They do.  These people who are supposedly in the know might be surprised if they climbed down from their ivory towers and actually looked at what middle grade boys.  The problem hasn’t been that they don’t read.  It’s that they haven’t had nearly enough well-written and FUN books to read.  It’s my hope that this new venture will provide just that.  At least Move Books’ slogan is encouraging: “Moving Boys to Read”.  Eileen Robinson, publisher of Move Books, gets it, in my opinion.  Here’s what she had to say about how her nine year old son was inspiration for this new venture: “He struggled as a reader, and it was difficult to find books that would grab his attention, make him laugh, and make him want to read on his own. . . He and his friends seem to be drawn more to nonfiction, and like a lot of boys, they tend to read for information more than for pleasure. I am hoping that the novels Move Books publishes will provide that pleasure, and will encourage boys to pick them up rather than turn to a video game.” Well said, Ms. Robinson.  Well said.

So, here’s a hat tip to those who recognize the need to encourage our middle schoolers, especially the boys, to read.  And here’s a swift kick in the pants to those publishers and agents who seem to think we can put the genie back in the bottle and go back to publishing like it was fifty years ago.

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As most of you know, everyone involved with NRP is very anti-DRM.  We feel that it is an insult to our readers because all DRM says is that a publisher or an author doesn’t trust the reader.  We also feel that you, the reader, should be able to read the e-book you just purchased on any e-reader you own.  Finally, we feel that adding DRM to an e-book is like waving a red flag in front of a bull.  It simply eggs on folks to try to break it and then, once they have, to offer it for free to others who haven’t paid for the book.

So, do we like piracy?  No.  If we find out that a site is offering our titles without permission, we will go after them.  After all, we’re here to make money for our authors.  However, we also know that a little bit of piracy is inevitable and, frankly, it is promotion.  The vast majority of people who read e-books are honest.  If they read an unauthorized version of one of our titles, they’ll go out and find the legitimate title and buy it or they’ll buy more titles by that author.  So it’s a win situation for us and for our authors.

What is worse, in my opinion, is what happened over on fanfiction.net recently (and this isn’t the first time something like this has happened, nor will it be the last).  Basically, Cynthia Eden was notified by a number of fans that her book, Deadly Heat, had shown up on the site in the guise of fanfic.  Oh the names had been changed — to Edward and Bella — but that was basically all.  The so-called author of this piece of Twilight fanfic also changed the POV from third to first AND — and this is where I can understand Ms. Eden getting a bit hot under the collar — acknowledged that the names of Edward and Bella belong to Meyer and the Twilight franchise but that she meant not copyright infringement.  Note that she said nothing about the book she plagiarized.

You can read more about this on Ms. Eden’s blog and this post on PW.com.

Plagiarism is the bane — and greatest fear — of most authors.  We work long and hard to write a novel.  It’s so much more than just sitting down at the computer and writing.  In a lot of ways, it’s like giving birth.  To then find that someone has taken it, filed off a few of the identifiers and claimed it as their own is enough to send us screaming into the night.  It doesn’t matter that this was posted on a fanfic site.  You’d be surprised how many people — people who buy books — read these sites.  Can you imagine how they’d react if they paid for the novel that had been plagiarized — after they’d read the so-called piece of fanfic?

All it takes is one reader saying in the right forum that author A stole a plot from a fanfic site and claimed it as her own.  The damage is done because someone else is bound to pick up the thread and spread it.  Even thought the author is the one who had her plot ripped off by the fanfic poster, it is the author who will have to defend her work against the cries of plagiarism.  After all, how many times do we compare the date of fanfic post to the publication date of a book or short story?

According to Ms. Eden, the fanfic poster has taken down the plagiarized piece, noting that it was an “experiment”.  Sorry, I buy that explanation no more than Ms. Eden appears to.  I’d like to give the fanfic poster the benefit of the doubt, but the fact that she made the disclaimer about Twilight and yet remained silent about the true basis of the work speaks volumes.  At least to me.

Don’t get me wrong.  I have nothing against fanfic.  I’ve been known to write it, as have a number of authors.  It is a wonderful way to hone our craft and have fun doing it.  But the key here is that you have to “write” it.  That means coming up with the idea, the plot, following canon — or having a darned good reason for breaking it — and putting your own spin onto it.  It’s not just changing the names and POV of someone else’s work.

Whether the plagiarized work is offered for sale or simply put up for free on fanfic sites, it is still plagiarism.  Worse, it’s stealing.  The poster has stolen another person’s hard work and is stealing their credit.  Instead of taking the time to go through and file off the literary serial numbers, spend that time and effort to write your own story.  It’s a lot more fun.

Cross-posted to The Naked Truth.

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I Have Been Pirated

I knew it was bound to happen.  At least I hoped it was.  No one wants to have their work pirated.  After all, it’s hard work to write a book and get it published.  So, once it is finally available, any writer wants folks to actually buy it.  We have bills to pay, after all.  But then there’s that niggling of self-doubt at the back of your mind.  What if no one thinks your book is good enough to pirate?  Okay, maybe I’m weird there.  But I had wondered.

Now, though, seeing a site that has Origins available for a free download — and it’s not a site NRP has an agreement with — I don’t know whether to be pleased or insulted.  Pirating really doesn’t bother me that much.  Not on an intellectual level.  Maybe I’ve spent too much time hanging around Baen that I’ve been infected by their point of view.  I really do feel that pirating is nothing more than a form of promotion.  It gets our books into hands that might not otherwise have gotten it.  Some of those folks will then go out and buy the book and others by me or other NRP authors.

But this site is one that bothers me.  Most pirate sites have contact addresses you can send a take down notice to.  This one doesn’t.  No, only after a searching and finally clicking on the “sign up for a new account” did I find a “contact us” link.  And that opened up an email form to fill out.  Further investigation shows that this particular site has only been around for three months.  But…and this is the big but…if you keep looking around, it is clear the site has been around much longer.  It is simply one of those that changes its address and name from time to time.

Now, like I said, I’m not all that worried about someone pirating my book.  In fact, I am sort of pleased — again, in a perverse sort of way — that only one site has, so far, posted it for free download.  (And no, I didn’t sign up for an account nor did I try to download it.  I like my computer too much to risk the sorts of bugs these sites tend to carry).  One of the reasons I like NRP, both as my publisher and as my employer, is the fact that it doesn’t attach DRM to its titles.  The fact that NRP titles aren’t showing up en masse on pirate sites tends to prove my theory that it is the challenge of DRM that brings out a lot of these guys, not just their need/desire to give away something that should be paid for.  Add in the fact that NRP doesn’t charge more than $4.99 so far and, well, there really is no reason to pirate their titles.

Still, part of me is outraged to find my first book on a pirate site even as it is thrilled to be there.  Mind you, I’ll be keeping my eye out for other sites as well as keeping an eye on this particular one.  In the meantime, I’ll keep writing.  After all, we do have to keep these pirates in business….right?

;-p

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