Saturday, October 31, 2009

So Much For That Experiment

So the argument is that e-books go up on the torrent sites, a bazillion people download them for free and those who enjoy the book go out and buy a legit copy, once they've found out for sure that the book is worth spending money on. I was skeptical, but figured I should give folks a chance. So back in July I issued a challenge to the pirates. Someone had uploaded a copy of my story, "Learning to Love Yourself," to the torrents and I was willing to wait for my next quarter's royalty statement to see if there'd been any positive impact on sales. I promised that if there were a clear (or even a squinty) increase in sales after the story had been torrented, that I'd stop chasing after pirates; my publisher would still issue take-down notices and such, but I myself would stop doing so and let the uploaders do whatever they wanted.

Well, it's next quarter and I have my royalty statement, and there was nothing. Not even a blip. So much for that theory. Sorry, folks, the cease-fire is over.

Given recent discussions [cough] on the net, I want to make it clear that I don't get too excited if someone likes my story and thinks, "Hey, I'll bet Mary would love this one!" and gives Mary a copy to try. A personal rec is more likely to turn someone into a fan, if they do like the story. My objection is to the torrents, where people steal copies of my copyrighted, for-sale books en masse. I'm not even going to deny the possibility that some people out there use the torrents to try before they buy; a few people have said they do, and I'm willing to provisionally take their word for it, although I still think torrent piracy itself sucks.

Reading the pirate message boards, though, there seem to be far more people there who actively mock the whole idea of paying for something you can get for free. These people think anyone who pays money for an e-book they could get for free is stupid, period. This isn't a case of try-before-you-buy, or of poor people being unable to afford to buy books. When people can't find a copy of something to "share" on the torrents, and someone in the group says, "I might actually have to spend money on this one, haha!" and everyone laughs on cue over how ridiculous that is, yeah, my spirit of compassion and generosity shrivels up pretty quickly.

You know, I was really hoping this would turn out differently. If there'd been any kind of visible up-tick in my sales, I'd have been willing to let things go and been happy to do so. It's really a shame.



Charles Gramlich said...

Sorry to hear that. Not really a surprise though. Everything seems to be moving toward supporting the consumer with content than supporting the content maker.

Angie said...

Charles -- I wasn't really expecting this to turn out well either, but I'll admit I was hoping. I'd love for it to be true that having your books uploaded to the torrents actually increases sales; that'd make things a lot easier. So it's not surprising how things turned out, but it is a shame. :/


laughingwolf said...

seems NOthing but freebies are what some folk go after, despite, as you say, having money coming out the yinyang :(

Angie said...

LW -- it seems so. :/ I think part of the problem is that the jerks who know exactly what they want, already know which writers are their favorites, and damn well could afford to buy those writers' books and make no secret of it, but choose to steal copies anyway just because they can and don't feel like paying, are the ones who get us all fired up. I'm not going to get all excited about someone giving a copy of something they really like to a friend, but the wholesale theft on the torrents, especially with the people with the above attitudes chattering all over the place about it, really pisses me off, and other writers as well. It might well be that these people are a minority, but so long as they're the visible face of the torrent pirates, most writers are going to hate them and many will extend that hatred to everyone who "shares" e-books without paying for them.


writtenwyrdd said...

Jeez, that stinks. But I'm not surprized that was the result.

Angie said...

WW -- right, as I said above, I wasn't really surprised either, but I was disappointed. :/


Unknown said...

I just wanted to say, as one of the people who actually does try before she buys and then actually buys the book/film/etc., I appreciate that you are willing to take people's word for it. I find a lot of new authors by sampling books online; I've collected entire backlists of authors recently that I would never have known about if not for torrents and file sharing (Karen Mae Moning and Diana Gabaldon come to mind, among many others).

Angie said...

Alexandra -- thanks for that. If all the people who use the torrents were like you, there wouldn't be any conflict over it.

Hope you're having a great holiday. :)