A New Year Plea!!!
I wonder how many people got an ereader for Christmas? I can see the attraction – especially for holiday reading when you might previously have wanted to pack four or five books in your suitcase. I’ve avoided ereaders because I spend most of my working life staring at digital words on a screen. I like to read from a real book when I’m not working.
The big thing that worries me about ereaders is the possibility of piracy. I’ve noticed an increase recently in sites offering free digital downloads. These sites sometimes even carry adverts from internationally known companies – which is perplexing to say the least.
I know illegal downloading of films and music has reached epidemic proportions. I read somewhere that only 5% of all music downloaded on the internet is legitimate. (That is – the downloader pays a fee for the music. Some of which goes to the producer of that music.) This is clearly wrong and I have decided never to use the free music download sites. But musicians make most of their money playing live these days. Ticket prices have gone up astronomically over the last few years to reflect this change in revenue.
With films, piracy is also rife, although box office takings have not been badly affected. Watching a film on a vast screen in a cinema, with lots of other people oooohing, aaaarring and screeching, is still an experience you cannot duplicate in your living room.
But book writers don’t have these attractions. Maybe JK Rowling could sell out Sydney Opera House doing a reading from Harry Potter, but most of us would struggle to fill a church hall as a ‘live’ attraction.
This is my plea. Those of you who love reading, who love books, please don’t download them from free sites. Legitimately downloaded books are often a fraction of the cost of the physical thing (50-60% off) already. Publishers need income to fund their editors, marketing, publicity and production people, not to mention their premises, and they are there to sort the good writers from the indifferent and the rotten.
And writers need money to continue writing. If you make a habit of downloading their work for free you will kill the thing you love. These writers will turn their talents to other areas that pay their mortgages and feed their families. And people will be left with a VAST amount of rubbish to wade through on self-publishing sites before they find anything worth reading.
I hope readers on this site will readily agree with me. But if I’ve made one or two who do download from free sites think twice, then I’ll be a happy man.
It's been a pleasure writing these blogs. Thank you to those of you who have read them and commented.
Happy New Year!