Jim Burke turned me onto this NY Times article about the “Napsterization of Books” and I gotta say, it kinda sends a chill up my spine. Why? Well, because first and foremost, I am an author. I feed my family, pay my house bills and supplement my teaching income working in a high school (because who, in California, can afford to “merely” live on a single teaching income… another story all together) through writing books.
And I just finished my 9th title. (I have 3 more works that will be on the shelves by the summer of 2011). It takes me years to write and publish a book and the idea that it can be pirated in seconds well, let’s just say that I am hoping for a little regulation of the Wild West on this front and that somebody somewhere learns a lil’ somethin’ somethin’ from what happened to the music industry.
I mean it’s one thing if I choose to give away my own material free on the internet (which I do in many ways, shapes and forms) but it’s entirely another if someone takes what is mine and posts it. Last I checked, that was called stealing.
Now, the thing is, it’s not like I have a problem with digital media, 21rst century technology and even an evolution off of Guttenberg’s printing press — but if it comes at the expense of legitimacy, well, this one strikes home BIG TIME.
And all the authors I know are fearful of this kind of scenario. I mean we write books and if people do not like the content, the price, the subject matter and so on, they do not have to buy them. But if they do want to read the stories, text, information, etc… why in the world is it just cool to take it?
Just because one can?
J.K. Rowling was pretty much on welfare when she wrote Harry Potter. Does she not deserve a wee bit of a payday for the work she did? If Potter was napsterized and read by as many people as it was yet Rowling was still on the dole because of illegal downloading, would that be just?
Yet, is that not the way this could potentially be headed?
Right now the book piracy problem is in its infancy — especially when compared to movies and music. But for how long?
And what can be done?
I’m not afraid to say it, The Napsterization of Books Freaks Me Out!!
Now no, I am not objective and yes, I already feel threatened by Google’s plan… though they are working with the Author’s Guild to create a system that is financially fair to all.
But how does this play out going forward? I mean if no one ever had to buy a book again because all books were free (due to the illegal availability of them) how does the world of writing — both fiction and non-fiction move forward?
I know not — and when you have skin in the game, it can make for sleepless nights.