Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Wednesday's Words for January 25, 2017

Despite the amazing recovery from the great recession of 2008, times are still really tough for a lot of people.

Those that have jobs may have seen their hours cut. Some are still out of work, or newly out of work, and are just getting by, barely managing to keep body and soul together. For those who are working hard, frustration builds because it’s getting harder and harder to make those dollars stretch. The cost of living keeps climbing while the wages do not. Some people are looking for creative ways to make ends meet, coming up with all sorts of unique money saving options – from shaving cheap bar soap to make liquid laundry soap, to using less expensive paper products to substitute for the costlier. Some are using paper bags to make drawing pads for their kids, melting old crayons to make new—the creativity of the human spirit can be truly amazing.

Free stuff is a great resource, too, isn’t it? When you have the opportunity to snatch up free stuff, it’s a bonus. I like it myself. Some places where I go to shop have “rewards” programs, and there’s nothing better than buying that roast of beef at the grocery store, or filling your car’s gas tank, on your “points”. It really makes me feel as if I’ve ‘won’ for a change.

There is, however, one category of “free stuff” being offered on the Internet that is not free at all. In fact, it’s worse than these items not being free because they are, in truth, stolen property. And, since I am a published author, you may have guessed that one category is books.

Now, if you go to Amazon, or to an author’s web site, and a book is free, that’s perfectly ok, it really is free. The author or the publisher have elected to offer a free book hoping that after you’ve read and enjoyed it, you will then purchase other books that author has penned. It’s a great marketing tool, especially for brand new authors. But that’s not what I’m talking about. No, I am talking about those unassuming looking “sharing sites” where people upload books and say to all and sundry, “come and get ‘em. They’re free!”

The only legal sources of free books are the author, or the publisher (and this can be through valid third party sellers like Amazon, Apple, Google, Nook, Kobo, etc.). Period. If you have or are partaking of web sites that offer free books, and only free books, the rest of this essay is directed to you.

Those books, ALL of those books on ALL of those sharing and torrent sites, are stolen property. When you buy an e-book from the author, a publisher, or a legitimate third-party vendor, it is yours, but it is not yours to share. You may not send it to friends or family, and you sure as hell may not send it to the world at large by uploading it to a ‘sharing’ site. That is called pirating. Pirating is theft.

I know times are tough for you, but let me ask you this: because you’re hurting financially, does that give you the right to steal money from my paycheck? Of course, not—no more than it gives me the right to steal money from yours. I am going to assume that until this very minute—again, as I said, if you were doing that whole sharing thing—you didn’t realize it really is, by legal definition, theft.

No, don’t use that excuse that authors are all rich and it’s only a couple of bucks anyway. Most authors are not rich. Very few authors are, you see. Some of us are just barely making a living—just like you. We need the money from each and every sale. When you steal from us, you are taking food out of the mouths of our children; you are preventing us from providing for our families, paying our electric bills, paying our mortgages or rent, and enjoying the fruits of our own very hard labor.

I know of several good people who are giving up their hard-won dream of being a published author because they are no longer able to support themselves, thanks to the pirates. It was for many of them, as it was for me, their only dream. They’d achieved it! Can you imagine experiencing the joy of achieving your life-long dream—and then the crushing grief of having that dream stolen away from you by greedy, selfish people?

So, thieves—and that is exactly what you are— to recap: you’ve not only stolen our paychecks, stolen the milk for our table and the bread from our babies’ mouths. You’ve also stolen the dreams of those who only wanted to earn their living by painting pictures with words to uplift their readers. You’ve also stolen the anticipation of new stories from the thousands of readers who rely on their favorite authors to help them get through these very same tough times that we’re all experiencing.

If you are getting your books from these “sharing sites”, they’re not free—they are actually costlier than I believe you’re willing to pay.

Please stop. Honor the rights of myself, and others, to earn our living doing what we love to do, what we do best and that which uplifts you in these tough times.

It’s the right thing to do, and I thank you, in advance, for choosing to do the right thing.


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