Right now though I feel like I’m coming down with a cold so it might be a bit of a slow week review-wise. When I get sick, I tend to not be able to focus much on reading. Maybe I’ll watch some book-based movies instead?
My only other thoughts at the moment are centered around another post relating to Saundra Mitchell’s situation. This thoughtful post comes from Jim C. Hines, an author whose books I just checked out of the library.* Here’s a bit of what he had to say:
That said, I disagree with some of Mitchell’s reasoning. She argues:
If even HALF of those people who downloaded my book that week had bought it, I would have hit the New York Times Bestseller list. If the 800+ downloads a week of my book were only HALF converted into sales, I would earn out in one more month.
Yes, and if my dogs pooped gold, I could quit my day job. But it ain’t going to happen. Author Scott Nicholson guesses that 10,000 illegal downloads equates to maybe 5 lost sales. I suspect he’s underestimating, and the true numbers are somewhere between his and Mitchell’s, but I don’t think there’s any way to say for certain. I’m just not buying the argument that half of those downloaders would have actually bought Mitchell’s book (particularly since we’re talking about a hardcover.)
(Jim C. Hines’ full post titled “Arguing Book Piracy” can be found here.)
This is sort of a relief because it’s one thing for the situation to be bad, but it is another for it to be as horrible as the plight of a Lovecraftian protagonist. I would never suggest that authors do not suffer from illegal downloading, and yet I think Hines is right in pointing out that hypothetical sales don’t matter in the grand scheme of things because they remain hypothetical.
Obviously it still really, really is shocking and disheartening to learn that a lot of people are illegally downloading books, but the truth is it’s impossible to know how many of those people a) read the e-book they downloaded or b) would have bought the book anyway.
I don’t think this takes away from the horrible experience Mitchell is going through, and I don’t see that as being part of Hines’ intention. I see his post more as an effort to help people realize that the illegal downloading issues are complicated and its impact is still sort of up in the air. And that it’s just actually kinda hard to be a successful writer regardless of the other adjectives that can be used to describe a writer.
I think Mitchell is perfectly right to feel cheated by these downloaders just as I think it is important to I take a look at Shadowed Summer as well as other people when/if they get the chance, but I always like have things be less overwhelming and put more into perspective, which Hines does a nice job of doing.
And none of this changes the fact that stealing is stealing or that there are alternatives. I sincerely doubt anyone really wants to have their income negatively impacted. Of course there are plenty of authors who think seeing their books available even illegally is a great thing for their own sales and some even think that sales don’t even really have to matter, but that is neither here nor there. Ultimately, I cannot speak for the experiences of authors who go through this issue and it seems like everyone finds their own approach to the situation.
As a reader, I will continue to buy books when I can and get libraries to get me the books when I can’t. As a writer who still would like to be an author someday, I think that while reporting these things would be good, it’s also time-consuming and I’ve seen it cause no end of misery and frustration for others. Sometimes authors even end a series because of illegal e-book downloads, which makes sense but also hurts fans. So while it’s unfair and sort of lousy that stopping illegal downloads is not a problem that can solved any time soon, maybe it’s just better not to go looking for stupid people on the internet.
Anyway, happy Bloggiesta and goodnight!