Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Blog Takeover: Michael Cargill: Ebook Piracy Should be Embraced

Ebook piracy, and why authors should embrace it, rather than fight it

Literature is something of a latecomer to the digital revolution.  In some ways, this is quite surprising, as it predates other forms of entertainment like computer games, film, and TV by several thousand years.  Mind you, the older generations are often the slowest to get to grips with anything new.  After all, when was the last time you heard your granddad talk about getting an Xbox?
Some of the growing pains for ebooks, have been the same ones that other forms of digital media have gone through, and still are going through.  Piracy is one such pain.

The mere mention of the word ‘piracy’ generates quite an angry response from many people, whether they are a writer, or a reader.

To those people, I say you should perhaps step back, and rethink things a bit.  I’m an indie author, and I know for a fact that my work is available to download from torrent/pirate websites.  I know this to be a fact, as it was me who put them there in the first place.

Before I go any further, I’ll just mention a few things, to provide some context.  Firstly, you won’t see me on any bestseller lists anywhere, not unless that list is based on an otherwise empty shelf.  Yes, woe is me, get out the violin and all that.

Secondly, years ago, I used to be something of a profligate pirate myself.  My hard drive was chock full of computer games, applications, films, and TV shows.  I knew lots of other people who did the same thing as well.

Lastly, I have no formal legal education, or training.  This puts me at around about the same level as that bloke in the pub, who insists that it’s perfectly legal to shoot a Welshman with a crossbow, so long as you do it outside the city walls, on a Wednesday afternoon.

Just to be clear, I have no intention of getting involved with the tedious, semantic differences between copyright infringement, and theft.  I’m also mainly talking about the financial impact of piracy, rather than the copyright side of things.

So then: why did I upload my own work to some torrent sites?  Well, “Why not?”, is my response.  At the moment, practically no-one knows about me.  My ability to market myself is largely limited to blogs, Twitter, and pinning posters up on the trees along my road.  Now that my work is available by torrents, I have added one more avenue for readers to find me.  I created threads on the torrent site forums, informing them all of what I did.  I got a few replies from people thanking me, and wishing me luck.  In the few days following on from this, I had an increase in the number of hits to my blog, from people searching for terms like “Michael Cargill author” on Google.  Prior to doing this, that had never happened before.

Of course, the usual retort to this is “You don’t get money from pirates!”, to which I say is a load of poppycock.

As I mentioned earlier, I was once a profligate pirate myself.  Yet, despite the fact that my hard drives were heaving with illegally downloaded material, my shelves were also teeming with legally purchased material as well.

And the same goes for many people who pirate things.  There are numerous studies that show that the people who illegally download the most music, are also some of the biggest purchasers of music.  This won’t be true for all of them, of course, but it is a fact that cannot be ignored.

It’s also important to recognise that just because someone illegally downloads a book, or a film, or a song, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the copyright owner has lost a sale.  For a start, pirates will often download stuff that they have no intention of ever using.  They’ll often do it, just because they can.  I mean, who wouldn’t want to download the latest version of AutoCAD if the opportunity is there...?

A quick search on a torrent site reveals that I can download the entire works of Stephen King, in about fifteen minutes.  That’s everything that he has ever published, about sixty five books in total, right there on the Internet.  Ebooks are small in size, so they take no time at all to pirate.  However, to say that anyone who downloads them all has denied Mr King of sixty five books worth of royalty fees, is wrong.

First of all, very few people will ever go out and purchase that many books at once.  Secondly, that pirate simply isn’t going to read all sixty five of those books either.  He or she may read one of them, and enjoy it.  However, they aren’t that likely to immediately read another Stephen King book.  They are more likely to read something from someone else, whether it’s pirated, or legally bought.

The reading habits of a pirate are exactly the same as those of a ‘normal’ reader.  They will talk about it to their friends, and family.  They will join in with the discussions about it on Goodreads.  They leave reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and their blog.  After illegally sampling an author’s work, they may go on and purchase legitimate copies of their work.  This is something I did when I was a pirate.  It’s what I witnessed other people who pirated media do, as well.  It’s what some of the studies into piracy have shown, as well.

Of course, you don’t have to just take this indie’s word for it.  Bestselling author Neil Garman has taken a similar stance to ebook piracy.  He even made a video on YouTube about it, that is still available to watch, though he is someone who made his name (and fortune) long before ebooks ever existed.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that you can’t actually fight piracy, either.  For every anti-piracy method that is put in place, it is easily defeated.  Companies can spend thousands implementing an anti-piracy scheme, only to see it cracked within hours of its release.

An author could spend a huge amount of time, scouring all corners of the Internet, trying to hunt down those elusive illegal links to their work.  Yet, all that time is wasted.  It took me less than five minutes for me to put my own work up on a torrent site, but it might take days for a furious copyright owner to get something removed from a website.

Many people will say “if everyone pirated books, then authors would starve!”  Now, whilst that might be true, it’s also true that if everyone flushed their toilets at once, the sewer system would collapse.  The fact is, that not everyone will pirate books.  At least part of this is down to the fact that it requires a certain level of technical knowledge to pirate, that many people struggle to get over.  Some Kindle owners simply don’t know how to manually copy ebooks onto their device.

To be honest, I probably have more sympathy for the readers, than I do the authors.  They can be understandably annoyed when they see someone stealing books, and getting them for free, rather than paying for them.

In writing this short article, I’m not expecting to drastically change anyone’s mind.  However, the piracy debate has been raging for a long time now, and it really needs a more level-headed approach.  None of the heavy-handed antics employed so far have put so much as a dent in it.

I think we should embrace it, rather than hate it.

Study: Piracy Does Not Deter the Production of Music, Films, Books - http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/study_piracy_does_not_deter_the_production_of_music_books_films.php

Study Shows That BitTorrent Piracy Doesn’t Affect U.S. Box Office Profits - http://www.geekosystem.com/bittorrent-box-office-study/

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Quick update

Hey. It's me, and I apologize for my sudden silence. My modem died. I am currently waiting its replacement that should be here on Monday. If it is NOT here by then I will not be happy and have to call AT&T again and find out what is going on. I WANT NY INTERNET BACK!!!!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Blog Take Over: Natasha McNeely - Villainous Fun

Today, CoaB, has been taken over by Natasha McNeely, and she talks about Villainous Fun! Enjoy!

Villainous Fun: Dissecting Our Favorite Villains, written by Natasha McNeely.

Villains. They’re a lot of fun to read about and a lot of fun to write about. Trust me, if there’s any kind of character I love writing about, it’s the villain. The bad guys are always present and always have a goal in mind. But, a specific trait that labels them as villains is this:

They get in the protagonist’s way.

Somehow, the protagonist ends up in a fight with the antagonist. A fight for the world, his/her family, the fate of everyone on earth, the universe, and so on and so forth. So, how do they even meet?

At some point in the hero’s life, he/she might have done something to upset the villain. Another option is that the hero is the hero of legend and is destined to save the world, therefore the villain must destroy him/her before he/she thwarts the villains plans.

Sounds valid enough.

Of course, these are only some commonly used set-ups. There are many more and they range from the obvious, ”I see what’s going to happen.” scenarios to, ”Wait, that guy was a villain?” scenarios.

Another thing to keep in mind is that no two villains are the same. Don’t believe me? Look away from the diabolical things they’re doing now and instead focus on what pushed them to that point.

What was their childhood like? Their relationships with others? Friends, family? For all we know, something devastating happened in the villain’s childhood that permanently scarred him or her and turned them into the evil person they are today.

Maybe the bad guy can be saved, can be taken away from the darkness that dictates his actions. Perhaps the person we thought was a devious villain is actually a puppet, used by the true terror in the story to do his bidding while he becomes stronger and gains more influence over other people.

Villains are often the most controversial and unique characters in books, movies and shows. In the end, how we perceive them at the end of the book depends on the author, director and producer.

If the villain’s background is weaved intricately into the story, then by the end of the book, movie or show, the readers/viewers’ opinions may change. Suddenly, the villain won’t seem all that bad anymore.

If portrayed well and the hero’s understanding of his/her enemy changes, then viewers/readers’ opinions are sure to follow.


Many thanks to the lovely Martha for letting me write a guest post for her amazing blog. It’s an honor that she let me ramble about discuss one of my favorite topics in both reading and writing.

Who’s your favorite villain and why? I’d love to hear about them! If you’d like to discuss your favorite villains and more, feel free to contact me through social media:

Additionally, A Glimpse of The Dark, a collection of dark flash fiction, is available for only $1.49 on Amazon! You can also add it to your shelf on Goodreads.