OOOooo, get to make a new category! I’m expanding! — Though as I write the actual post, I haven’t decided what it will be yet. I just know that my current ones don’t fit. Maybe [Non-fitting Fluff] or [Serious Crap]. Theoretically, I’ll figure it out by the end of this post.
Today’s regularly scheduled book review will not be shown in order to bring you my views on piracy. I have no stance on Ninjas vs Pirates, though pirate chicks are way hotter. No, I mean book/music/game/digital piracy. This post is brought to you not only because I failed to read my required one book a week, but also because I was saved coming up with the blog idea myself. Per Chuck Wendig‘s post today, he called for an internet wide Please Don’t Pirate My Book Day. You can see his thoughts here, and listen to my ranting below.
I went on a while ago about Doctorow’s anti-DRM awesomeness, and I still agree with that, but Wendig brings up several points as well. Writers do need to eat. While they may create stories with self sustaining technology and utopian societies, that isn’t reality yet. Authors need to be fed, the team that supports the author needs to be fed. While delicious, the blood of word babies they bring into this world is not nutritious enough.
Someone needs to contribute money to this ecosystem, but that doesn’t mean the current methods of paying for media are the best way to go. DRM is straight crap, no matter how you frame it. Having to pay for things multiple times is crap. It pisses the consumer off and while many people will fork up if they have good reason, it turns just as many away from one or all media systems in frustration. If you buy something, even the digital right to read a book, it should be yours regardless of where it goes in your control.
The problem is that many people get uppity about people then sharing that. Libraries have been around forever, people have lent books, people have read parts aloud forcing their friends to suffer through until they feign interest and are allowed out of the handcuffs just to escape out the back door. Authors are still making money. Yard sales and used book stores and library sales have been around forever. Authors are still making money. E-readers, and the easy access of books in digital form, have been around several years and people are still buying hard cover books. I have several ways to read books in digital format, and I still go to the library and check out books, I have both a digital and physical monthly spending limit on books. There is also the word of mouth factor, lending someone a book often helps them find a new author. They get excited and go buy all of their books for themselves.
So how to feed the starving masses of wordsmiths and make the consumers happy? No one has come up with the answer yet, and I don’t know that a good one will ever be implemented in America, we are too capitalistic. Even if one idealist publisher came up with the perfect system and implemented it, there would always be someone out there pitching a fit or trying to take them down somehow. A DRM-free system is a must. A Netflix-like rental system for e-books would be awesome, especially audio books. The downside would be some people want to own what they pay for and do not like the idea of renting. How to appease them?
I really like the idea of all physical media coming with digital media as well, even if it were a little extra. Books are one thing that I love to have around, just a comfort thing, but I still love having digital copies to make finding and taking them elsewhere easier. There would still be people complaining though, people always complain. Something about the physical copies being resold, or even the digital copies. Well, if companies price individual physical/digital copies for low enough, people would be more willing to buy it directly than from resellers. If the difference between new and used is a dollar, most will go for new. For digital, most people will hit trusted sites than risk downloading some fatal computer crud.
On a side note, I argue that those who would buy books, will buy books because the type of person that enjoys reading is the type of person that has common sense and is a generally honest individual. Those that pirate, either a- do it because they can but don’t necessarily get around to looking at everything they pirate or b- enjoy with the full intention of buying a physical copy later when they are able. Yes, broad generalizations, but reading commentary on the subject and my own experiences leads me to believe I am mostly accurate. But music and video games don’t hold the same kind of culture.