Last week we answered the question once and for all, Is TUEBL legal? with a decisive YES! But on Friday, we heard from a pro-copyright author who still thinks we’re all dirty rotton thieves.
The fact remains that, despite efforts to serve both the writer and reader communities, our little library attracts the occasional hysterical mob. Authors and publishers, somehow missing all the DMCA Takedown buttons next to each and every one of their books, wind up taking out their frustration out on TUEBL. It can’t help but leave us bookworms looking up from our latest chapter a little confused, wondering WHY? Why, even though TUEBL is as legal as Google, Youtube, or your ISP, do the pitchforks and torches still get broken out with alarming regularity?
Observation suggests that this anger is the result of the all-too-common assumption that Well, MY books didn’t sell as well as I wanted; it is CLEARY those terrible, terrible pirates stealing sales! In other words, the library become the scapegoat for every underperforming (or perceived-to-be underperforming) title.
These authors’ frustration is particularly sad to me because it’s something I understand very, very well.
It is painful to watch small time and indie authors parrot out the copyright company line. Even with continued, mounting, and comprehensive evidence putting holes in the hardline-copyright rhetoric, the creators have often already had their perspective so perverted by the the anti-pirate, anti-artist rhetoric of the publishers (and the film industry before them, an the record labels before that) that they twist their every experience to confirm it.
My book didn’t sell. Pirates! But why? Pirates! But how? Pirates!
And so on.
Of course, when it comes to the effects of piracy on any given title, we can’t say unequivocally that they will always without fail guaranteed to be positive. We can’t say that piracy is a magic bullet, and that getting a book onto The Pirate Bay or any other sharing site will make it sell millions of copies and shoot the author into bestseller fame.
However, what we do know is simple: getting books in front of readers is an opportunity.
And opportunities are hard to come by.
But while some authors rage against their readers, they fail to see that libraries and file-sharing sites as the massive opportunity that they are for modern creators. By rejecting the sharing prowess of the internet, they are shooting themselves in the foot.
Yes, this is something that authors are doing to themselves.
Regardless of the effect of libraries on books – something that we may never be able to fully quantify or understand one way or another – the reaction of an author is key. Whether they choose to flourish within the new medium or fight against is up to them. And when they choose to fight the new over and over and over again, well…….
My pity is limited.
Limited, but not non-existant.
Of the saddest arguments that’s been recirculated among the latest pitchfork-and-torch-waving mob is: I can’t write because I have to spend all my time sending DMCA notices to pirates!
And to this, as an author, I just have to ask WHY?
It’s true. Writing, publishing, and marketing is incredibly time consuming.
I know because it consuming all MY time.
We have to write the damn stuff to begin with, rewrite it 2000 times, design and format it (if we’re self published), find people who will review it, find bookstores that will even consider carrying it……. oh and write the next one & start the process all over again! T___T
So WHY these dear pirate-chasing authors choose – yes, choose – to spend all their time on DMCA notices instead of writing is entirely beyond me. Fighting the greatest distribution opportunity creators have ever had is nothing but shooting oneself in the foot. And why, why, WHY would an author prioritize that over their real passion of writing?
And the Collateral Damage
It’s not just themselves that well-meaning authors are hurting when they crusade against libraries.
And it’s not just pirates.
It’s other authors.
See, I’m a newbie. And by newbie, I don’t mean I started this game yesterday. I’ve been publishing since 2011 and writing a hell of a lot longer than that. But publishing is HARD, especially when you don’t have a long resume in industry. Selling books is HARD. I write my ass off every day – and fiction is only a fraction of what I have to figure out for myself. I also have to navigate the self-publishing quagmire, keep up with the developments of the industry, and send my work out into the world – all so that I and my work don’t die in oblivion.
And I bet all the angry, anti-library, anti-TUEBL authors out there work just as hard.
So why take opportunity away from fellow authors?
Opportunity is what a struggling newbie needs more than anything else.
And I hope that one day my fellow authors stop trying take away the sites that give a struggling author just one leg up in this tough as nails fight for creative survival.
Particularly the sites that, you know, don’t in any way, legal, moral, or technical, resemble a pirate site.
That’d be real nice.