3 April 2008

Will Online Book Piracy (or anything for that matter) Drive Authors to Stop Writing?

“An interview with Tracy Chevalier, author of Girl With a Pearl Earring, in Monday’s Times of London suggests that digital book piracy may discourage authors from writing. Unless, that is, the publishing industry can come up with a different business model.”

Will Online Book Piracy Drive Authors to Stop Writing? Library Stuff

When I read this, I could not help but react.

Let's take a couple of steps back.

Why do writers write? Writers do not write to make money - that is just a bonus. Writers write, well, because they have to, because they are the conduits that allow the story to live. They are no more able to stop writing than they are able to stop breathing.

As a writer, I would love to know people are actively seeking out my stories to read. And, even if they cannot afford to buy it, they are able to enjoy it. And the more people download my stories, the more people get to read it. And I do see this as beneficial.

Recently, Neil Gaiman and his publishers made American Gods available as a free download/online read. Apparently, this caused book sales to surge. Which makes complete sense to me.

These days, there are just too many books available, and no real way of gauging whether one would like it or not, and there is no way of discovering new authors without visiting bookshops, or by downloading books online. And, in my experience, bookshops carry specific authors and publishing houses - often excluding lesser known authors in favour of more popular ones.

However, how does an author gain popularity? By being read!

Maybe pirating may drive older writers to stop writing, but I doubt any self-respecting writer would. They might stop publishing, but they would only spite themselves, because readers can always find other authors.

Now playing: Kirishima Noboru - Tareka Kokkyou o Omowazaru


Artalexis said...


Mandy said...

I just don't see the difference between reading a book online and borrowing it from the library to read it. It's a cycle and money-grabbers just need to adjust their marketing strategies. Books encourage you to see the films encourage you to listen to the soundtracks. In that equation, many people will either pay for an opening week cinema ticket or buy the book / soundtrack to complete their collection or because it looks nice on their shelf. The trick comes in no longer exploiting the fan, but in taking advantage of the cross-medium desires of today's fan base.

Given that I never even knew Girl With a Pearl Earring was based on a book, I'd say that the author chose to exploit the fan.

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