I’m about to confess a secret I’ve held for a very long time. I’m sure it will change the way some people view me, but you must know this happened a very long time ago. I was a young, stupid, broke college student. And, at the time, everyone was doing it. It was the “in” thing.
Okay. Here it goes.
I was a Napster user.
No, not the legitimate Napster that requires a $60 per year membership. I was one of those early, no good, file-sharing, music-stealing Napster users.
(Pausing for the cyber flogging I so richly deserve).
The fact that I used sites like Napster years ago has created an overwhelming feeling of hypocrisy as I now stand in self-righteous indignation against the growing number of piracy sites that are popping everywhere with tons of books available for free downloads.
Back in those college days, I justified my actions by convincing myself that those music artists had millions. Would my one, two, or two hundred downloads really hurt their bottom line? Nah. Since publishing my first book, I know first-hand how people grossly (and I do mean grossly) overestimate how much a new author is paid. I can imagine some young struggling college student falling prey to the same mindset I did, thinking one, two, two hundred downloaded novels won’t really hurt an author. But it does. It so, so does.
As much as I dislike a hypocrite, I must wear that hat these days and stand up against illegal downloads. Writing is a hard job. And for many of the writers I know personally, a couple thousand illegally downloaded novels would not only hurt their bottom line, it could be detrimental. If something isn’t done soon, I fear some writers will not be able to afford to continue in this career.
Even though it’s still a problem, the music industry was able to curb a lot of the illegal downloads of music. Until the publishing industry is able to come up with a system to fight piracy, I can only plea with those who do engage in this activity. If you’re ever tempted to download a novel, take my advice: Don’t. You don’t want to suffer the guilt I suffer. Not to mention putting out of business the same authors who's work you're stealing. It’s just not worth it.