JA Konrath's blog. I, for one, don't have the time or energy, to be beating this issue with a stick on a daily basis, but I have put my two cents in here and there and I did successfully get some of my material removed from a pirate site. Piracy is theft; it's that simple. Copyright laws are in place for a reason and until those laws change, I won't and can't condone copyright infringement and piracy, unlike my fellow author Joe, who embraces it and welcomes it. However, I'm not going to spend my days hunting down every pirate either; I have a business to run and novels to write.
I'm busy working on creating more value for my fans and more new works, but don't think I'll shrug it off if I find one of my works pirated. A lost sale is a lost sale. If you were interested in a book enough to search for it on a pirate site and download it (possible viruses and all) for free, you should still be interested in it if it's priced affordably (ironically, Joe believes in making ebooks affordable too.) My ebooks are $1.99 and $4.99 (the latter going down to $2.99 in July.) My new release Lancelot's Lady will launch in late September at $7.99--for a brand new book. You can't tell me these aren't affordable when the majority of books are priced much higher.
So how inexpensive do these book pirates want them? What's their price point? DUH! Free, of course. That's why they go to the pirate sites in the first place. Sadly, many get caught in the "free" cycle and that's where they stay for the most part. When they want a new book, they request someone download it. I'll admit, there are probably some who WILL use pirated copies to "test" an author out, as some pirates have defended. Then they'll run out and buy the book or another of the author's works, or so they tell me. I just don't see this as being the majority.
Since I got involved with the pirate debate, I've had about a dozen admitted pirates take up my offer of a free ebook (for their own personal use only)--and all said they'd consider buying it or another of my works afterward. As far as I know none of them have done this yet--and I asked them to let me know.
With Joe's "experiment", I believe he's cashed in quite smartly on this controversy. Kudos, Joe! He's using the hype of the situation to create awareness, publicity and branding. But don't get too caught up by the numbers he's quoting. Let's get real here: Joe sells exceptionally well --period. Just read his blog and you'll see his numbers. So, for me, his experiment does nothing but prove he's good at capitalizing on free publicity (something I'm fairly good at doing myself). It certainly won't and can't prove his claim that piracy doesn't hurt sales.
It's a skewed experiment that will show an increase in sales. Joe will always have great sales--because he's good at marketing his books and because all his new pirate friends who accepted his free ebook will want to defend their belief in piracy so a few will now pay. More than likely, the increased sales are from non-pirates who happen to read his blog or like his work or read about him online...or read about the experiment. There is no way to determine where those sales came from. Joe may not view the 15% or so he's lost to piracy as a big deal (or as real lost sales) because he's still making more than enough to pay his rent/mortgage and bills (and good for him!) For the average author, that 15% could mean the difference between having enough food for the month or keeping their home--especially in today's still-recovering economy. Not so good for them.
So while Joe says "steal this book", I'm saying "please don't steal mine." If you're interested in my books, download free samples from Kindle, Kobo or Smashwords, or visit my site and read samples on the cool BookBuzzr widget. (You can flip pages like a real book :-)
Here is MY challenge to pirates:
I challenge those of you who pirate books on a regular basis to read one of my FREE samples--you can read larger portions (50%) of my novels via Smashwords--then email me when you've decided to buy one of my novels at any of the ebook retailers I mention above and send me proof of purchase (the receipt). This will show me that pirates DO take pirated copies because they're looking for a way to sample an author's work and that the authors do then benefit by future sales. Of course, I'll be looking for staggering numbers, not just a handful.
I'll take my challenge one step further...you can call this The Tardif Effect ;-)
If you're a pirate who enjoys suspense thrillers, read a sample of my thriller THE RIVER on Kobo, Kindle, Smashwords or my site and email me when you're done. If after reading that sample, you're still intrigued by my novel, let me know and I'll give you the ebook for FREE. However, if you accept this challenge, you'll be honor-bound to email me with proof of purchase of any of my novels within, say, 6 months. This free ebook offer to pirates is good until the end of August 2010.
You can even share the file with 3 people--WITH my permission. BUT those 3 will be held accountable by the same terms. They'll need to email me to tell me they got the free ebook from you and then later email me to tell me that they've bought one of my novels. This should be quite fair in establishing that sales do result from piracy and that pirates are basically honest people--arguments I've heard numerous times.
I'm not saying "steal this book", I'm saying "please don't steal mine, but here, I'll give you a free sample, maybe even a free ebook and you'll have a chance to show me that piracy will help my sales, not hurt them." Prove this to me and I may change my views about book piracy.
Again, don't get me wrong, I think Joe is a great marketer. I just don't agree with him on this issue. I DO agree with him on most of his marketing advice though. So if there are any brave pirates out there who want to show me the error of my ways (or beliefs), please follow the above instructions. Without naming names, I'll report the results in as much detail as I can on my blog The suspense is killing me!
(No, really! The suspense IS killing me!!! lol)
Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
bestselling Canadian author