Thursday, August 20, 2015

book pirating is not a simple issue

Book pirating isn't something that you want to do. For one thing, it's wrong. But you're also cheating authors, who don't make much money, out of the money they would make from their work. 

But talking about it with a lot of authors, I usually feel uncomfortable. Everyone seems to approach the topic with so much privilege. They say things like "It's the same price as a movie ticket!" or "It's like two cups of coffee." Even suggestions to go to the library make me cringe.

Before I start, though, I need to point out that I understand where a lot of authors are coming from. There are a lot of people who could afford to buy books, who could drive down to the library, buy an eBook, and decide not to. I guess, because they can? I don't know. Those people are stupid and rude.

But I'm not talking about them. I'm talking about young adults who don't have any money because kids don't get to decide which families they're born into. Kids who don't have any way to make it to the library, or have friends who can send them books. 

It seems like authors or people from the industry don't seem to realize that not everyone has access to these things, especially kids. I know that I don't make it to the library very often, and I have a lot of privilege. I can't imagine what it must be like for kids who want to read, but don't have the means to. 

I think that it's important to recognize this when we're talking about pirating. I think, especially since pirating has become this weird aspect of our culture, that many kids don't understand what they're doing. That's not an excuse, but something that needs to be taken into account.

If you can just Google the name of a book and find an online copy, lots of kids are going to do it. Which is horrible. And there are also a lot of kids who don't have money and want to read. A lot of school libraries that don't have funding. Kids in countries that don't have libraries.

Basically, what I'm saying is that we have to keep in mind that there are a lot of different factors when it comes to talking about pirating. It's not always just people being entitled, and I'm sick of people simplifying it to that degree.



  1. Weird moment today when I talked to my local library about donating books to them. They said they can't accept any, because all of their book buying, covering, and labelling is outsourced, so it would "cost more to accept book donations". I still don't understand, but that there's bureaucratic red tape preventing me from donating books to a LIBRARY is frustrating.

    So yeah, "borrow it from a library" isn't always do-able.

    Great post. Thanks for writing it!

    1. Yep, this is accurate. It can take a lot of staff time (often very limited) to process and catalogue donated books vs. buying books from a library vendor where all the processing is already taken care of. It's not bureaucratic red tape in the current age of library budget cuts. However if a patron requests that the library purchases a book, rather than donating it, libraries are usually happy to do so.

  2. I'm always conscious of the fact that the book industry thrives due to economic privilege, just like so many other industries thrive. There are so many families and youth who have money only for the necessities--utility bills, food, and that's about it. Even then, not everyone has that. The novel came into existence out of upper class literacy, privilege, and free time. The working class was working to survive, much like it is now, except they're barely paid enough for their work to survive, let alone have hobbies or leisurely activities.