Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

Books and Money

with 8 comments

I know, I know.

I don’t post for days at a time, then it’s two or three in a single day.

But Cathy F posted this link


on FB, and it’s about books and money, and I wondered what people would think of it.

I don’t know anything at all about illegal downloads, and I don’t know where they come from or where people could get them to make them available.

And I make, well, okay, a lot more than this woman does, per book.

But if this holds for all novels out there, if there are a statistically proportional number of illegal downloads to actual sales…


Written by janeh

January 12th, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

8 Responses to 'Books and Money'

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  1. Hmmm. Got me. Assuming the author and the publisher keep a tight grip on the manuscript, You’d have to get a print copy and scan it into a computer. OCR programs only work so-so, as I can demonstrate from some print books, so to get a good clean e-copy, someone had to WORK at stealing from this author.

    I will say, as a reader, that it is sometimes very difficult to give money to an author. I’m currently replacing my Lord Peter Wimsey omnibus editions with individual hardcover books–but the Sayers estate will see next to nothing from my purchases, because only one volume was available new in anything other than a mass market paperback. I could and would pay to have them on my kindle, but only two are available. POD trade paperbacks would have given me a nice uniform set, and me buying them again on kindle would have been gravy. Instead, I have the ugliest collection of used hardcovers you can imagine.

    This is fairly typical, even for works with established coopyright holders, and our “orphan” books, which can’t be reprinted because we don’t know who holds the copyright, are a acandal. I could list 50 to 100 books I’d begin buying this week just to improve my set if I could, and I’d happily pay again to have them on my kindle. But I can’t buy what they won’t well.


    12 Jan 11 at 5:21 pm

  2. I plead Innocent. I didn’t even know you could download books that way. I do have a fair number of free books on my Kindle but they all came from Amazon or Baen which are official sources.


    12 Jan 11 at 6:37 pm

  3. I somehow doubt you guys are the demographic in question.

    And if a book is orphan enough that they can’t figure out how to get permission to reprint it, I’d guess it’s orphan enough that no one could sue you. And I’d find that morally acceptable to download, too.

    But what we are often talking about is, yes, someone scanning and uploading a book for everyone to download illegally.

    I guess the younguns don’t realize that artists need to be able to make a living to keep creating.



    12 Jan 11 at 8:22 pm

  4. I hadn’t heard of this, but it sounds like a natural extension of the practice of downloading of ‘free’ music. It would take a bit more time and effort to scan a book than to copy an audio file, but I suspect that there are people out there willing to do so in order to ‘share’ their favourites, and others willing to put up with OCR mistakes if they don’t have to spend money.

    So, I guess I’m not really suprised, and would expect the practice to expand as kindles and similar machines become more and more commonplace. There are always people out there who want to save a buck and don’t see anything wrong with downloading someone else’s work without permission as long as it’s free.


    12 Jan 11 at 8:27 pm

  5. The “orphan” bit is a minefeld. Just because I can’t find a copyright holder doesn’t mean one can’t find me and sue–and a publisher would be worth suing.

    I would pay good money for a reprint of MAJOR DUNDEE, by Harry Julian Fink, a movie tie-in from 1965. (Better than the movie, by the way–closer to the original acript.) But Harry Fink’s been dead 40 years. Who holds the copyright? Grandchildren? Great-grandchildren? How do I find them? Estimate the cost of a search, work out what a publisher might make on a paperback reprint, and see why I cling to my 1965 printing. Google COULD make me up a trade paper for about $15 and put money aside for the copyright holder. The technology is there–but we can’t get a legal settlement through the lawyers.

    Jarndyce v Jarndyce for the 21st Century.


    12 Jan 11 at 9:57 pm

  6. You people ought to get your complaints straight! First you whine nobody is reading, then you whine that enough people are stealing books to impact writer’s livings!

    I think part of the bootleg book phenomenon is the perceived cost of e-books vs the perceived value. People not familiar with the publishing process think that the ONLY costs of producing a book are the writer’s advance and the printing and shipping of the physical item. They don’t get all that in-between stuff and don’t feel they should pay for it.

    If you charge $9.95, or $14.95 for an e-book, you’re going to sell about 100 (or 1000) times fewer than if you price it at $2.99. Your profitability at the lower cost may actually be greater.

    We’ve got 3 Kindle versions of our books out there, and the one that costs the least sells the most. (not that we have sales out of double digits per month) If you read JA Konrath’s blog, you know that he puts the real numbers out there with his experience selling e-books, and that he made about 10 times as much money when he dropped his prices drastically. He’s gone from a “doing okay midlist writer” to a “kickbutt e-book author making a shitload of money.”

    Where the big money (publishers) are perceived to be holding hostage the purchasing public, theft is going to take place.

    I will point out though that the music industry is NOT dying, nor are artists ceasing to record, as was direly predicted not so long ago. In fact, far more little known artists are getting their music out there on YouTube and such. The publishing industry needs a new business model, as do authors. If those same books being stolen were priced at $1.99, nobody would put in the labor to steal them, they’d just click BUY.

    Obviously the readers are out there. People might collect paper books for reasons other than reading them (to be *seen* to have books, for investment, etc) but the only reason to acquire an e-book is to READ it. Just as obviously, the market isn’t reaching those readers properly.

    And yes, there are always going to be some young doody-heads who are going to steal. They’d steal paper books too. The wide-spread phenomenon is the one that needs attention, and a new approach.


    12 Jan 11 at 11:52 pm

  7. AKKK! My first paragraph above was supposed to be enclosed in sarcastic tags to show it’s not serious. Holy cow. WordPress stripped off my fake tags. Sorry.


    12 Jan 11 at 11:52 pm

  8. ‘Sokay, Lymaree. We know you don’t have a nasty bone in your body. :-)


    13 Jan 11 at 1:52 am

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