Monday, 14 March 2011

What's Your Integrity Worth?

Books. Tons of books.
More than you could ever read.
A beautiful, massive library of books.
So many stories.
Bold font against white backdrop.
Every book you've never had time to go read.
That book you read when you were a kid and never found again.
That books you've been dying to get your hands on.

Sounds like heaven, right? Well, here's the good news! You can have this. Yes, you heard me correctly. Your heaven can arrive here on earth.
Just one thing.
It is kind of stealing.
Recently this has been a big moral dilemma for me. I'm a college student, I don't have money. I'm a college student, I have a lot of friends who can get me books/games/music online. For free. I love books. I can't afford books. There are books for free. It may be stealing, but I'd definitely buy the book as soon as I could and give the author their royalties. I just want to read those books. So badly.
Then I hear the arguments that downloading books illegally is sort of free advertising. If the person likes it, they'll buy the book.
Then I hear that it's the publishing big-wigs who're getting all the money anyway and robbing the poor authors blind.
Then I hear that it really just isn't that bad.
It is kind of stealing.

This is a hard one guys, but I know I'll never steal a book. Know why?
Yup. You.
I'm watching you all try - and sometimes succeed - to get agents, editors, and publishers. I'm seeing the blood, sweat, and tears poured into each novel. I'm experiencing the same thing as I prepare my own.
How can I possibly steal from you?
You've supported me, befriended me, encouraged me.
I've learned so much about the industry, and those who say that publishers are sitting on gold thrones throwing coppers at poor authors and those royalties don't mean much anyway are so ridiculously wrong. And even if they ARE right (they're not), does that make it right to take some of those coppers away from the authors? Because just a part of what your stealing belongs to the author, that makes the whole theft hunky-dory?
I understand the temptation, heaven knows. I also know that we live in an age of instant gratification. It's hard not to steal books.
And know what else is hard?
Not to steal music.
Not to steal movies.
But how can I take a stand against book piracy and say nothing about music or movies? It's sort of the same thing.
That's my take on it. People who steal books? I don't hate them. Heck, I won't even judge them. I understand. I can only do what any of us can do, make my convictions and keep them. Even when its hard. Even when I haven't gotten a new book for awhile. Even when I'm impatient.
So I'm not writing this to change the world.
But that is my conviction, and if I tell you why, it may help you figure out yours. Maybe I'll convince you, maybe I won't. Like I said, that's really not my issue.
What's yours?


Stephanie Faris said...

There's an easy solution -- the library. My library system allows me to reserve anything in the entire county online and have it shipped to my closest library. I read everything for free and it's completely legal.

Janet Johnson said...

I was thinking the same thing as Stephanie! I love the library!