A Cocktail Mix – EBook theft, Rothfuss and Libraries


Here is a concrete example of how stealing electronic/digitized books hurts an author, with actual numbers provided. Saundra Mitchell tells exactly how much of an advance she got, and why she’s finding it hard to get published again, even though her book should be hitting some bestseller lists (if you count the number of illegal downloads).

“Free” Books Aren’t Free

It’s going out of print in hardcover because demand for it has dwindled to 10 or so copies a month. This means I will never get a royalty check for this book. By all appearances, nobody wants it anymore.

But those appearances are deceiving. According to one download site’s stats, people are downloading SHADOWED SUMMER at a rate of 800 copies a week. When the book first came out, it topped out at 3000+ downloads a week.

As I said on Saundra’s site, there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle, either. The technology to digitize books is out there and being used to make a profit by those with no right to a red cent off these books. Even without it, all you need is one person to type a copy in to any computer, save the file and distribute it. I think people have this idea that if there is nothing tangible, no physical book to hold and pages to turn, nothing has really been stolen. Or so they tell themselves. I’m so appalled that there are that many people willing to do this, and then actually tell the author “Hi! I stole your book!” as if it’s a good thing.

In Other News

Patrick Rothfuss, author of “The Name of the Wind” and “The Wise Man’s Fear” is going to be out on a book tour this spring, and will be signing at Powells Book in Beaverton on March 2! Very excited, already marked the calendar. Check his tour schedule here to see where he’ll be when. I am told he is “dynamic, funny, and lives up to the hype.” Well worth going to hear him read.

And Finally

For the booksluts among us, view, if you dare, Libraries of the Rich and Famous. Who knew Rod Stewart was such a geek?

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8 thoughts on “A Cocktail Mix – EBook theft, Rothfuss and Libraries

  1. Loving it “book slut”, I can’t wait to call my cousin that when I see her in a few more months.
    I never understood E books. I can not see spending hours at a screen reading something. My eyes would be bleeding, plus too much going on to stay focus. When I use to really read, lol, I am being so serious I would go in my room in the corner of the room and read a book. For some odd reason it was the most quiet place and dog ears my pages. Poor books. I feel bad for the authors who people rip off my hijacking their books. But are those people like serious. What is wrong with having a real book to treasure, hold, and share with friends and pass down to love ones. Or just be a good paper weight:)
    Are you going to take photos of Patrick Rothfuss? I wonder how you will act when you see him?:) Will you be a giddy high schooler, a fan who want to talk his ears off, or a melow person …I really like your books smile down at him while he is smiling. Which one of the above are you DD I am now curious:)

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  2. Hahaha! 🙂 Hopefully I can maintain some decorum and not turn into a squealing fangirl. I hadn’t even thought about doing photos, that’s a good idea. I wonder if he’d mind? I might bring my little camera and ask if it’s ok. My cellphone is really old, no camera in it so that’s out.

    I still don’t have any desire to make the switch to e-books. Maybe I’m just too set in my ways, but I’m like you, I like the feel of a physical book in my hands. It’s like holding a little self-contained world.

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  3. Lagerfeld’s library makes me want to “bad touch” myself… TMI? 😉

    Even though I got an e-reader last year, I use it seldomly. You just can’t beat a real, live book in your hands. The e-reader is convenient for travelling, as you can load many works of fiction and always have something to read, but it’s useless – to me – for anything in the “reference” or “art” category. Pictures don’t display properly (or at all) and you can’t flip back and forth between sections.

    Sadly, I fear my paper friends’ days are numbered.

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  4. LOL I think it gave me ‘lady wood’ too 😉

    E-readers have a LOOOOONG way to go before they’re of any use for graphics and art books, photography, etc. a) they’re too small, b) most are b&w, c) the resolution isn’t there yet. Maybe someday when they’re equipped with a built-in projector so you can put it up on the wall in hi-def at 32″ width they’ll be ok for art books.

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    1. Whew – you women are getting me worked up, and this is the first time I’ve even heard of the guy! Yet another author to add to my evergrowing list.

      Poor Saundra Mitchell – to work so hard on a highly-regarded book, only to have it stolen out from under you by a bunch of free(down)loaders too cheap to buy a damn book. I mean, if you’re so fu*king cheap, at least go to the brick-&-mortar-library, so that the author at least sells ONE copy legitimately!

      I can’t be bothered with e-books, either, but I promise it is not out of any kind of Luddite righteousness – information is information, however it may be stored. For me it’s about what I want to do with the book as object, after I’ve purchased it: take it to the beach and get sand in the binding, set my coffee cup on it if I don’t have a coaster handy, loan/give it to a friend – because of course half the fun of reading is finding out what OTHER people got out of the same text (seriously, I might bitch about my job occasionally, but having the opportunity to talk about books for a living has been the joy of my life these past 5 years, even though a lotta my students are doing so under duress, with limited enthusiasm.) Being able to do that with an actual paper book makes me feels as though I get more for my money – if the publisher doesn’t want me to forward my copy to DD or Gypsy or Rosie after I’m done with it, I can understand that – especially in light of what happened to S. Mitchell – but I still think they are making a much bigger profit on these paperless books, and it bugs me that they are not passing any of that profit on to the authors.

      Speaking of books as objects, here’s an interesting little article about another direction that the concept can take:

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  5. OMFG that’s awesome! Now I want to run home and wrap all my books in pretty papers! 🙂 Oh, the possibilities leave me almost breathless.

    I hope Saundra Mitchell divulging financial details of the real cost (literal and figurative) of illegal downloads to her career will make at least a few people reconsider their behavior. Most of these books come out eventually (if not from the get-go) in paperback, which while not as cheap as they were when we were kids, are pretty affordable for just about anyone. And there are always used bookstores if you can’t afford a brand spanking new copy. Even buying used creates a demand for the book. As far e-readers, one of my biggest concerns is what if you lose it? You don’t just lose one book, you will have lost your whole library. I doubt whoever you bought the book from will allow you to re-download all your books for free. And you will have to shell out for another reader, as well.

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    1. Exactly – the paper book, although a delightful object, is affordable enough that you can afford to lose one or spill coffee on it. If you lose your Kindle, you’re out over $100. Plus I notice the devices keep getting cheaper, but the eBooks are still overpriced.

      Are you familiar with Dennis Lehane? He is the author of a number of very decent crime novels, many of which have been made into very decent movies: Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone (I can vouch for these, having seen them) and Shutter Island (v. good beach book, and it got Scorcese’s attention.) You and Gypsy would probably like them as they all take place in a very believable, atmospheric New England. Anyway I mention this b/c in his latest book, the protagonist is a private detective who gets roped into a convoluted, scary involvement with some very threatening members of the Russian Mob. It turns out (just barely a whiff of a spoiler here_)

      that while some of the Russian mobsters are murderous and horrible, a couple of them, although murderous, are actually on the protagonist’s side and have no intention of murdering him. In fact, by the end, one thug is offering our hero all sorts of stolen electronic equipment by way of a peace offering, and it goes like this:

      Russian Thug: ” ‘you got Blu-Ray?'”
      Patrick (protagonist): “‘Huh?'”
      Thug: “You got Blue-Ray player?'”
      Patrick: “‘No'” …
      Thug: “‘I like the Sony, but Pavel swears by JVC. You take two … tell me which you like best. Hey?”‘
      Patrick: “Sure'”
      Thug: “You want PlayStation 3?'”
      Patrick: “‘No, I’m good'”
      “‘iPod?'”
      ‘Got a couple, thanks.’
      ‘How about a Kindle, my friend?’
      ‘Nah’
      ‘you sure?’ He shook his head several times. ‘I can’t give those fucking things away.'”

      A cute, meta little bit of author humour, no?

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