What Stace had to say on Monday, October 26th, 2009
Why can’t we all just get along?

A little note in advance: I’m about to rant. I may rant at some length. I’m ranting about something other people have ranted about, as well. So be warned.

So here’s what happened. Wednesday, the New York Times ran an article about the Kindle and how many Kindle owners are now buying more books than they used to. The end of the article contained the following paragraphs:

Ms. Englin has linked her Kindle to the Amazon account of some nearby friends, allowing all of them to read books like “The Lost Symbol” at the same time — while paying for them only once.

“I read much more, I tend to read faster for some reason, and I read a greater variety of things,” said Ms. Englin, adding that this is nearly the same as lending a physical book to friends. “We haven’t really looked closely at Amazon’s terms of service. But I do suspect we are breaking the rules.”

Now. I read the original NYT article because it was linked to in Publisher’s marketplace, in the daily emails I get from them. I saw that last paragraph and, I admit, had a twinge. A moment of “Hey, that doesn’t seem quite right.” But then almost immediately after I thought two things:

1. That this was clearly just a couple of friends sharing books
2. That this is in essence no different from, say, a group of friends with low incomes or little disposable cash, who pool their money and buy books together to share. I did this a few times as a teen; mostly for hardcovers, but sometimes to get three books instead of one or whatever.

And that was basically it. I closed the article and went about my day.

Too bad some other authors didn’t do the same. I’m not going to name any names here. You can find them if you really want. But a few other authors also saw that article, either through PM like I did or because they get the Times or whatever. Those authors went on Twitter and began what I can only describe as a witch hunt, a name-and-shame campaign where they not only scolded Ms. Englin and called her a thief, but actually listed her Twitter identity in their tweets–her Twitter identity, which appears to be her professional identity, as her Twitter seems to be used almost exclusively for business (she’s in marketing or consulting or something like that).

No, I’m not kidding. These people actually felt perfectly justified in naming and publicly scolding this woman, and in encouraging others to retweet their rants and join in berating her as well, in public, in front of her friends, family, clients, and potential clients.

There are so many problems with this I don’t even know where to begin. The first one, but in my opinion not the biggest one, is that what Ms. Englin is doing is in fact allowed by the Kindle Terms of Service. She’s not committing piracy. To infer piracy from sharing a few books with friends is a breathtaking leap in logic.

The second one is even if she was committing piracy, even if she was committing a crime, the idea that it’s somehow okay to start calling her names in a public place, and encouraging others to do the same, is wrong. So wrong. Disgustingly wrong. I was literally made ill when I saw this. I used to follow one of the authors who participated in this lynching, and I say “used to” because, sadly, I unfollowed her due to this. I’m shocked that anyone would think this is okay. This woman wasn’t convicted of raping children or of breaking into the Louvre and destroying the Mona Lisa. She shared some books with her friends. She now reads MORE books than she used to.

Even more upsetting is that when it was pointed out to some of these Upholders Of The Law authors, they had the nerve to issue half-assed apologies. (Some are here in Ms. Englin’s blog post about the incident.) One or two of them even tried to lay the blame at the feet of the original writer of the NYT article, claiming it was his fault because the wording of the article was misleading or because he included the quote about how Ms. Englin had a sneaking suspicion they were bending the rules. Excuse me? NO. Your hideous behavior is your fault. I don’t give a fuck what the NYT writer made it sound like. YOU chose to go on Twitter and start shouting this woman’s name, branding her a thief. YOU chose to encourage other people to do the same. The NYT writer didn’t do that and he’s not to blame. YOU ARE.

Let me ask you a question. If your child was beaten up, and the child who did the beating tried to claim it was little Joe’s fault, because little Joe said your kid said something mean about the kid who did the beating, would you then say, “Oh, of course,” and go after little Joe? Or would you rightly call bullshit, because it doesn’t fucking matter what little Joe said, that shithead who beat up your kid was the one who made the decision to beat up your kid and followed through on it? Exactly. All of your “the article was misleading and so we’re victims too” crap is exactly that–crap. You’re not a victim here, you’re a bully, and you’ve behaved abominably, and I am horrified by it.

But even worse is how this incident has called to light something that’s been bothering me for some time, and that is what seems to be some sort of war between writers and readers.

I don’t understand how it happened, or why. But it seems like I see this sort of thing more and more lately; readers demanding things, and authors responding as though readers are supposed to care about the minutiae of their day and never, ever buy used books or check out books from the library or whatever because they’re supposed to keep first and foremost in their minds the Writer’s Need To Make A Living. Yes, we want to make money from this; I certainly do. But vilifying readers who share books or buy used isn’t the way to go about it. It’s not really their problem, and I’m tired of hearing about it.

I personally have shared ebooks. I’ve bought ebooks for people. I give away my ebooks fairly regularly, for any number of reasons but often just because it’s fun. I’m totally excited about Barnes & Noble’s upcoming Nook, which will allow ebook sharing; finally!! It’s about time! I can’t wait to see what changes this will bring and think it’s awful that we haven’t found a way to do this before. I can’t wait for it to come out and for readers who prefer ebooks to have that function available, and as I said above, I was pretty pleased to see that there is a way for readers to share books on Kindle. I think lending or sharing books is a good thing for all of us, and I think most writers agree, and most readers do too.

But why is it that it seems everywhere I look these days there are writers and readers arguing? Why does it seem that although in theory we both want the same things, it also seems that neither of us can speak without the other getting angry? Why are there writers out there who feel justified in yelling at reviewers or readers for bad reviews, or publicly berating readers, or screaming about how when you buy books used they don’t make any money, or whatever? Some of the bad behavior by authors, directed at readers, that I’ve seen over the last few years has been enough to almost make me cry. But on the same token, why are there readers out there getting angry with authors for things about which we have absolutely no control, or accusing us of hating them or looking down on them or thinking they’re evil thieves?

Granted, that latter accusation is certainly more understandable, when we have incidents like what happened Wednesday. But it seems to go so much further than that, and I don’t understand why. Only a few authors participated in the public lynching, nowhere near all of us. But it feels–it can feel–as though we’re all being tarred with the same brush, much as I guess many readers feel tarred with the same brush simply for expressing an opinion or sharing a book or whatever.

Yes, I think the vast majority of authors should shut the fuck up about how they earn their money. Explaining exactly how piracy effects us is one thing, because I do believe there are people out there who genuinely don’t know. And because piracy effects our ability to deliver books to readers, I would hope it’s an issue readers would be concerned with. And you know what? They are! I have never seen a genuine. publicly enthusiastic reader actually defend piracy. What I have seen are readers condemning it, over and over again. And it upsets me when I see those same readers being accused or yelled at or whatever. It upsets me to hear that those same readers feel they are being looked at askance because they buy ebooks.

But at the same time, it upsets me when authors are looked at as greedy or bad because, for example, we only sell North American rights to our books rather than World. Here’s the thing; my publishers didn’t offer for world rights. And even if they had, and even if I’d agreed to it, that is absolutely no guarantee that they would have used those rights. As things stand now, UK and Australian readers will be getting the Downside books two days after they release here, because Harper UK wants to get those books out so UK/Aus readers don’t buy the US editions from Amazon or whatever. Had I sold world rights to Del Rey? I absolutely love Del Rey but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they’d decided to hold on to those rights until they see how the book performs here. Why not? If UK or Aussie readers bought it from Amazon, the US company would be making the money. (Let’s not even get into the fact that Random House UK and Random House US are not the same company with the same catalogues and release calenders [they’re simply two separate houses under one umbrella], and do not answer to each other in terms of production schedules, and how the foreign branches of all the big houses are not the same, so how that would even work.) The fact is, UK/Aus readers are getting the Downside books precisely because Harper Voyager bought those rights separately, and having bought them now have incentive to use them.

Now, I totally understand the frustrations of readers in other countries who want books but can’t get them (I lived in England for three and a half years, remember?) I totally understand the frustrations of readers who want ebooks to release the same day as print. I don’t understand why that doesn’t happen. It frustrates me too. So why can’t we work together on it? Why are writers the enemy, or readers the enemy, when we all want the same thing–good books, released in a timely fashion, in a convenient format?

For the record, here is a list of things authors have NO control over. Absolutely none. There is no point getting angry or upset with us over these issues, or telling us we should be doing something about them, because we have zero say in them:

Release dates
Formats (i.e. Kindle, paperback, etc. This may change when it comes to hardcover but I don’t know; what I do know is nobody has ever consulted me about format and had I offered an opinion they wouldn’t have cared)
What countries our books are released in
Pricing of either print or ebook editions
where our books are sold
DRM

I understand that some of these are hot button issues for readers. You know what? It bugs me too. I hate that ebooks cost more and don’t understand why at all. I hate that ebook readers have to wait and think it’s silly. I hate that DRM means you can’t use your book on more than one device you own. I hate that I have to wait for someone to buy or choose to exploit foreign rights before I can see editions of my book in French or German or whatever.

But again, I can’t do anything about it. To be perfectly honest, in those situations I have less power than readers do. They can write letters to publishing companies in their countries asking for those publishers to acquire certain books. They can write letter to publishers complaining about delayed releases or ebook prices or formats not available or just about anything else. I can’t.

At the same time, I understand that being made to feel like thieves, or being deprived, is a big deal for readers. I understand that when you feel like you’re being kicked around the last thing you need is some author whining about not getting paid for used books. Quite frankly, it’s not your problem, and you shouldn’t be expected to give a shit about it. Why the hell should you? It’s the height of arrogance to expect you to somehow put your financial worries above mine. I too get tired of seeing writers bitch about this, especially when–sorry, the gorge just rose in my throat–they use it as fucking justification for their own decision to terrorize a reader online (and I assure you, “terrorized” is probably a mild word for what Ms. Englin must have been feeling at one point). When your apology for your hideous behavior includes anything like, “But you have to understand, people steal from us and so that’s why we jumped to conclusions,” you need a class in how to properly apologize and probably some therapy too.

I just find it upsetting, all of it. When I see discussions like this one at Dear Author, where it seems everyone is speaking at cross-purposes, it upsets me. It seems to me we had a perfect opportunity, in the Case of the Harassment of An Innocent Reader, to come together as one, readers and writers, and maybe find some new common ground. To reach a place where we could all agree; to act as one. We have power together, writers and readers. We can perhaps accomplish some things together we couldn’t as lone entities. We can be a community. But the comments seemed to quickly degenerate into an Us vs. Them, and it’s heartbreaking, and I find myself wondering what if anything can be done about it. I don’t want to be afraid of readers, or of expressing an opinion. Especially not when I am always, always, a reader first and on the side of readers first. Not when I go out of my way to make my blog, especially, a place where anyone and everyone can feel welcome and wanted, regardless of their politics or religion or color or anything else. But neither do I want to be vilified simply for trying to entertain people or having my own concerns.

When did we all start to feel so entitled? When did we start to feel that instead of being people who loved books and reading that we were separate entities, and that it was our right to condemn the other and order them around?

We need to work together. Yes, without readers I–and other writers like me–would be out of a job. But without writers I–and other readers like me–wouldn’t have anything to read.

And that would be the saddest thing of all.

34 comments to “Why can’t we all just get along?”

  1. Veronique
    Comment
    1
    · October 26th, 2009 at 8:32 am · Link

    Nicely expressed! As an aspiring writer and a reader, I’ve always felt guilty buying books used – which is really silly when I think about it. And in order for these books to fill the used bookstore’s bookshelves someone has to buy them in the first place… when it comes to the sharing, if it’s done amongst friends I think it is a great thing! I have gone out and bought books that I had already read when I borrowed them because I loved them so much.. or even more frequently, I have gone out and bought other books from a specific author I’ve liked when borrowing a book from a friend. As writers we win out from the endorsement of a reader who loved a book so much they just must have all their friends read it!! 😀



    • Stace
      Comment
      1.1
      · October 26th, 2009 at 3:32 pm · Link

      Sharing between friends IS a great thing. Word of mouth sells books, quite frankly. PERSONAL DEMONS didn’t break big, for example; it was a small press novel released without a lot of fanfare (although Juno certainly did everything it could as far as promo, and so did I; I’m not complaining at all). But what happened is, people who read it and liked it talked about it. They blogged about it. I’m sure they loaned their copies to friends. The end result was that although it never had a huge sales week, it didn’t have a drop-off either. Word of mouth sold that book, and kept it selling long after a lot of books fade; six months after release it was still selling steadily. That word of mouth–driven in part, I’m sure, by people loaning their copies to friends–is the kind of promotion money cannot buy, and I’m so grateful for it. I don’t understand how anyone can truly be against loaning books.



  2. Bree
    Comment
    2
    · October 26th, 2009 at 8:42 am · Link

    Thank you. Eloquent, well put, and pretty much summing up all the things I couldn’t say yesterday.



    • Stace
      Comment
      2.1
      · October 26th, 2009 at 3:35 pm · Link

      Thanks, Bree. I actually started this post yesterday afternoon; I cut out huge chunks of it where I was ranty even for me. 😈



  3. Tami
    Comment
    3
    · October 26th, 2009 at 8:53 am · Link

    Great post, and I utterly agree.

    At the risk of sounding a bit flippant : By our powers combined, we are : Captain BookLover!

    Authors love books, it’s why they write them.
    Readers love books, it’s why they read them.

    Being vocal about the things we like and dislike about current publishing trends is good. How else will publishers know what we want?

    Attacking each other is worse than petty – it can obscure or even negate our valid requests and complaints. Even a viciously self-righteous zealot may have a good point, but who is going to stand by and sort through his hate to find it?



    • Stace
      Comment
      3.1
      · October 26th, 2009 at 3:38 pm · Link

      Lol. Captain Booklover! We should make t-shirts.

      And yes, exactly. I really believe that if we keep first and foremost in our minds that we’re on the same side, and don’t expect each other to solve problems that have nothing to do with us, we can really make some positive change. I’d love to see that happen. Interacting with readers is one of my favorite things; it scares me to think it might not be possible one day or that it’s just a bad idea.



      • Tami
        Comment
        3.1.1
        · October 26th, 2009 at 7:42 pm · Link

        Agreed! Current advice to authors is to participate! Use twitter, blogs, websites – connect with readers.

        How distant the future in which authors are urged to remain silent for fear of sparking controversy? And what a shame, to think that Captain Booklover should be forced to segregate and choose a “side” in a war nobody can win?



      • Stace
        Comment
        3.1.2
        · October 26th, 2009 at 9:54 pm · Link

        I am totally picturing Captain Booklover torn in half, in a Hitcher-style tied-between-trucks scenario. Yuck.

        Oh, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see writers urged to remain silent. I’m sure it’s already happened in at least one or two cases. problem is, the ones who need that advice the most are too fucking arrogant to listen to it. :roll:



  4. Chandra Ryan
    Comment
    4
    · October 26th, 2009 at 10:09 am · Link

    Great post! I can’t imagine anyone not being able to see the difference between piracy and sharing a book with a friend. Thank you for sharing this with us.



    • Stace
      Comment
      4.1
      · October 26th, 2009 at 3:41 pm · Link

      Thanks Chandra! And yeah, it’s hard to believe, isn’t it? All it takes is ten seconds to think, “Hey…wait a minute. What’s really being said there?”

      I never used to think before I spoke or acted. I’d like to think I’m more grown-up now. (Doesn’t mean it’s true, lol, but I’d like to think it.)



  5. Tyhitia
    Comment
    5
    · October 26th, 2009 at 10:28 am · Link

    Great post, Stacia. I just went to a book sale sponsored by my local library and I bought books that were half-priced that day. 😈 As a writer, I’d just be glad that someone was reading my work, no matter how they got it. 😀



    • Tyhitia
      Comment
      5.1
      · October 26th, 2009 at 10:29 am · Link

      Well, let me rephrase that. I wouldn’t want them to steal the work or get it illegally, but I mean through a friend, library, sale, etc.



      • Stace
        Comment
        5.1.1
        · October 26th, 2009 at 3:42 pm · Link

        Lol, I knew what you meant, Tyhitia. And yeah, being read is awesome.



  6. Dhympna
    Comment
    6
    · October 26th, 2009 at 10:44 am · Link

    Thank you for expressing–in a far more eloquent manner I might add–what has been bothering me all week about this bloody situation. The whole “us versus them” thing just reeks.

    I really do not understand where this divide came from.

    I admit that this is making me whine “can’t we all just get along” because I think that we all want the same thing and we all love the same thing.



    • Stace
      Comment
      6.1
      · October 26th, 2009 at 3:45 pm · Link

      I don’t understand it either, and I hate it. I think maybe what happened is people kept their mouths shut or muttered in little private groups for so long, and it all just suddenly came out; not just feelings about this situation, but feelings in general, you know? And yes, unfortunately there are some people who just can’t see beyond the ends of their own noses, and think they have the right to dictate and yell, but I think those people are few and far between, really. The problem is they just tend to be more vocal, or they get caught, and it stains all of us. Sad.

      But I’d like to think it’s not irreversible.



  7. Barbara B
    Comment
    7
    · October 26th, 2009 at 11:05 am · Link

    Great rant!

    As a reader I’ve come to resent authors for several reasons. First but by no means most importantly, the anti-piracy thing is really getting on my nerves. I know how critical it is to authors but as a reader I have no power or control to stop it. When authors keep bringing it up on reader blogs it does sort of start to feel like an accusation. I wonder why they aren’t haranguing their publishers and law enforcement about it instead of readers.

    Another thing I’ve noticed is that some authors seem to think in the author/reader “relationship” that they’re the important ones. That we readers should defer to them and if we don’t we’re uppity or mean girls. I rarely visit author blogs because I’m not at all interested in the authors. I’m interested in the books. That’s why I frequent reader/reviewer blogs. I’ve literally got thousands of ebooks that are essentially unreadable and useless. I can’t even sell them as far as I know. I’ve wasted thousands of dollars on authors tripe because I didn’t have access to reviews. Now I want brutally honest reviews without regard to the author. Reviews are not for the author but for the potential buyer of the author’s books. I resent it when the author tries to insert her feelings into the discussion because they’re irrelevant. As a reader it’s all about the book to me.

    Another gripe is authorial imperiousness. I was on the RT forums a few months ago and a reader had the temerity to criticize an author’s work. Another author, Lori Foster, came to the defence with guns blazing as if she were the authority figure and had final say on how readers should feel. She tried to shut down the discussion. I had my say anyway. I feel like some authors think that because they’re the creative ones we should bow down in awe of them. As if they’re royalty and we’re their subjects. To hell with that. I can’t even write a credible grocery list but I still don’t kowtow to authors or anyone else on the planet. I have enough sense and respect not to argue with the experts about things I don’t know; that’s the height of arrogance and ignorance. However, I’m certainly qualified to list the elements of a story I did or did not like. Or whether I liked the book at all. I just don’t understand why authors think reviews or book discussions are any of their business. Or why they think readers are bound to give a damn about what the authors think.

    I respect authors for their creativity and storytelling ability. Life would be much bleaker than it already is without storytellers. I show that respect by buying their books, not pirating and that’s about as far as I can take it. I think that’s pretty much the extent of the author/reader relationship.
    I’ll never buy a pirated book because I don’t believe in stealing, but I will buy OOP used books and even occasionally new ones if I get lucky. I don’t and I won’t feel guilty about that.



    • Stace
      Comment
      7.1
      · October 26th, 2009 at 3:50 pm · Link

      I have to go make dinner, but will be back to reply to this in a few. Didn’t want you to think I was ignoring you.



    • Stace
      Comment
      7.2
      · October 26th, 2009 at 9:49 pm · Link

      Okay. Back now, sorry.

      As a reader I’ve come to resent authors for several reasons. First but by no means most importantly, the anti-piracy thing is really getting on my nerves. I know how critical it is to authors but as a reader I have no power or control to stop it. When authors keep bringing it up on reader blogs it does sort of start to feel like an accusation. I wonder why they aren’t haranguing their publishers and law enforcement about it instead of readers.

      And you shouldn’t be expected to stop it, and you shouldn’t be harangued about it, no. You’re right. It is an issue for us to worry about, along with law enforcement and our publishers. Right now there’s a petition going around basically asking the President to actually take notice and do something about this; I admit I find it very frustrating that, for example, the FBI will go after those who pirate movies, but do nothing about books. But again, no, it’s not your problem, and reader forums are certainly not the places for this to be brought up unless the owner of the forum brings it up first (I’m thinking of Karen Scott, who a while back posted a link to a pirate on Ebay, if memory serves). It is arrogant to expect readers to care about it, frankly. Being part of a writer/reader community is fantastic, but there are some things that we need to keep to ourselves. Just as readers don’t expect us to phone up authors we might know and bug them about when they’re going to finish writing their next book, so we shouldn’t keep lecturing you about piracy. Hell, lecturing about ANYTHING gets old after a while, and this is at the point of rudeness.

      Another thing I’ve noticed is that some authors seem to think in the author/reader “relationship” that they’re the important ones. That we readers should defer to them and if we don’t we’re uppity or mean girls. I rarely visit author blogs because I’m not at all interested in the authors. I’m interested in the books. That’s why I frequent reader/reviewer blogs.

      All I can say here is, those authors who are uppity to readers are usually also uppity to other authors. They’re the ones who tell us we have the wrong attitude toward this or that, or expect us to defer to them also; in at least one case I can think of, the author in question was a newbie who was openly condescending to a couple of NYT bestsellers. Not for any particular reason, but just because she was like that.

      In any event, I see those authors a lot. So do my friends. We all cringe and roll our eyes and mutter amongst ourselves or send each other horrified and indignant emails. It’s infuriating. But there’s very little we can do about it, unfortunately. There are assholes in every profession, and writing is no different.

      I’ve literally got thousands of ebooks that are essentially unreadable and useless. I can’t even sell them as far as I know. I’ve wasted thousands of dollars on authors tripe because I didn’t have access to reviews. Now I want brutally honest reviews without regard to the author. Reviews are not for the author but for the potential buyer of the author’s books. I resent it when the author tries to insert her feelings into the discussion because they’re irrelevant. As a reader it’s all about the book to me.

      And here’s the biggest issue. Quite frankly, the “Reviews are for us Authors” attitude is one that, in my eyes at least, instantly marks said “Author” (they always call themselves that, and often capitalize it) as an amateur. And yes, it’s extremely difficult to find sites that post honest reviews. I’ve read books that made me queasy, but when I Google them I find glowing reviews from those “Five Shiny Unicorn Balloons!” websites. It makes it extremely difficult for readers to find reviews they can trust and know what books to pick. Yes, the writer being reviewed should keep his or her mouth shut unless it’s a quick thank you or to answer a specific question asked in the review (not a plot-related one, but for example, my historical once got a review wondering if I’d based the castle on a real-life one. I answered yes and provided a link. In those cases I think it’s helpful and justified, but for the most part, no, the author does not belong in that discussion. At all. It’s tacky.

      This is one place, though, where I think writers and readers can help each other out. Say you’ve read my work, and liked it. Email me. Tell me that. Ask if I have any books I can recommend. I assure you that if asked privately, most of us will recommend books we genuinely admire, whether they’re by friends or enemies, and will not recommend books we think are awful even if the books in question were written by our friends. If you think I’m a good writer (this is hypothetical, I’m not assuming you personally actually know me or have read any of my work), then chances are the books I think are good writing are probably pretty good, right?

      Of course, you have review sites you trust, and that’s the first place to go. This is just another suggestion; I know a lot of review sites are awfully backed up.

      Another gripe is authorial imperiousness. I was on the RT forums a few months ago and a reader had the temerity to criticize an author’s work. Another author, Lori Foster, came to the defence with guns blazing as if she were the authority figure and had final say on how readers should feel. She tried to shut down the discussion. I had my say anyway. I feel like some authors think that because they’re the creative ones we should bow down in awe of them. As if they’re royalty and we’re their subjects. To hell with that. I can’t even write a credible grocery list but I still don’t kowtow to authors or anyone else on the planet. I have enough sense and respect not to argue with the experts about things I don’t know; that’s the height of arrogance and ignorance. However, I’m certainly qualified to list the elements of a story I did or did not like. Or whether I liked the book at all. I just don’t understand why authors think reviews or book discussions are any of their business. Or why they think readers are bound to give a damn about what the authors think.

      Ooooh, this sort of thing makes me see red. Who the hell does any writer think she is, barging into reader conversations like that and telling readers how they’re supposed to think or feel, and what they are or are not allowed to say about the books they’ve read?

      I hate the idea of being kowtowed to. Mutual respect is good. Asskissing is not. Jeebus, no wonder readers feel the way they do, if this sort of thing is a regular occurrence! It’s the equivalent of having a total stranger barge into a private conversation in a restaurant and start yelling at everyone that they’re wrong. Who behaves that way? Why treat people that way?

      I respect authors for their creativity and storytelling ability. Life would be much bleaker than it already is without storytellers. I show that respect by buying their books, not pirating and that’s about as far as I can take it. I think that’s pretty much the extent of the author/reader relationship.

      And it is. Yes, the world would be bleaker without storytellers, but what is the point of the story if no one is there to hear it or read it? We need each other, and we’re all independent people with our own thoughts, dreams, ideas, and opinions. I don’t get why it’s so hard to be friendly, respectful, and kind, you know?

      I’ll never buy a pirated book because I don’t believe in stealing, but I will buy OOP used books and even occasionally new ones if I get lucky. I don’t and I won’t feel guilty about that.

      And you shouldn’t. The fact that you read is enough, IMO. (Okay, yeah, I appreciate you not pirating a whole lot, too.) Nobody has the right to tell you how you’re allowed to enjoy books, least of all the ones who wrote them. We don’t have the right to tell you how to interpret them (check out my post on Annie Proulx for more on that, if you’re interested), how to feel about them, how to talk about them, or what to do with them when you’ve finished reading.

      To be perfectly honest, IMO any writer who is not capable of letting go of their books and who insists on controlling every discussion about it or inserting themselves or berating readers for their opinions of it or anything else is an amateur, no matter how many books s/he has published. They are unprofessional. They should shut the hell up. This is part of what being a professional writer is all about; learning that people are going to have opinions and criticism, and we need to keep our mouths shut about them.

      Barbara, I want to genuinely thank you for commenting here and sharing your thoughts with me. I really, really appreciate it. If you’d like, feel free to send me an email (there’s a Contact form on the site); I’ll send you one of my books, ebook or print, just for the heck of it. No strings attached, and you don’t have to tell me if you liked it or not or anything at all. Just tell me what sorts of books you like. And if you don’t email me, that’s fine too, and I still appreciate you commenting here and giving me the chance to talk to you about this.



  8. writtenwyrdd
    Comment
    8
    · October 26th, 2009 at 5:08 pm · Link

    People rant about this but you hardly hear a word about those sites with millions of free downloads of pirated ebooks. Boggles the mind, it does…



    • Stace
      Comment
      8.1
      · October 26th, 2009 at 9:51 pm · Link

      Apparently those people aren’t easy enough targets. :roll:



  9. synde
    Comment
    9
    · October 26th, 2009 at 9:54 pm · Link

    I loved this post..my coworkers loved this post..I read it to them at our morning meeting before opening the store..As a long time bookseller YOU SAID EXACTLY WHAT NEEDED SAYING..who doesn’t share books with friends..and yes it’s totally word of mouth for most books..then reviews and book seller suggestions.. very eloquent



    • Stace
      Comment
      9.1
      · October 26th, 2009 at 10:10 pm · Link

      Thanks, hon. {{{hug}}}



    • Stace
      Comment
      9.2
      · October 26th, 2009 at 10:11 pm · Link

      Hey, wait, did you read it to them complete with fuckwords?



      • synde
        Comment
        9.2.1
        · October 29th, 2009 at 1:19 pm · Link

        I said insert expletives here..yah I didn’t wanna get in trouble. 😈



  10. Emma Petersen
    Comment
    10
    · October 27th, 2009 at 6:41 am · Link

    I completely agree a lot of people who download books don’t know it’s wrong. I actually had a reader email me about books she downloaded from a pirate site and enjoyed. I honestly had no idea how to react but I knew one thing, she had no idea what she was wrong.

    I’ve always been one to give away books. I trade books w/ friends all the time. I don’t know if I would if I had a kindle (I’m still resisting the kindle) but I wouldn’t harass someone who did. *shrugs*



    • Stace
      Comment
      10.1
      · November 3rd, 2009 at 11:18 am · Link

      Yeah, we had that on our Yahoo loop once, a reader mentioning that she’d found our books on a pirate site, and entering a contest. There wasn’t much we could do, really; we emailed her a polite note about the problems with piracy sites (we didn’t say it publicly) but thanked her for joining us anyway and said we hoped she’d stick around.



  11. jali
    Comment
    11
    · October 27th, 2009 at 2:53 pm · Link

    Hi Stacia,

    I’m a Mellophant member and came here to say, “thanks” for sharing your story with us! We really do appreciate it.

    I love this article and I agree with you 100%. If I love a book, I share it with my friends – some buy copies of their own to keep and hopefully they pass the word on to others.

    I’ll look forward to reading more of your work and I’ll share the link with others.



    • Stace
      Comment
      11.1
      · November 3rd, 2009 at 11:19 am · Link

      Hey Jali! Thanks for coming by! Yep, I do believe legitimate sharing encourages sales, absolutely. I think it always has.



  12. Michele Lee
    Comment
    12
    · October 27th, 2009 at 10:25 pm · Link

    I feel so stuck in this situation because I’m a reader first, but I am trying to build a writing career so at the least I understand the fear and frustration the writers are feeling when they go off on this kind of thing.

    By the way, my reviews are for the READERS not to tickle the author’s ego or the like. I know there’s some really bad, some great and a lot of just meh books out there and I know what it’s like to not have money to waste. So I try to focus on letting people reading my reviews know whether this might be a book for them or not.



    • Stace
      Comment
      12.1
      · November 3rd, 2009 at 11:22 am · Link

      And that’s exactly the point of reviews. 😀 I rely on them myself, when choosing books; it’s important to find reviews you can trust. It’s one reason, actually, why I find the bad reviews on Amazon more useful; the bad reviews generally say what they didn’t like, and I can determine if those dislikes match mine or are the opposite, you know? I’ve bought several books off terrible reviews simply because it’s obvious that my taste and the reviewer’s are total opposites, so what they hated I will probably like; and I’ve pretty much been right every time.



  13. kirsten saell
    Comment
    13
    · October 29th, 2009 at 5:07 pm · Link

    I admit, I was really shocked by the kerfuffle over Ms. Englin’s sharing. I mean, in at least two places online, where people have expressed interest in the Sony, but but but outlay for device + cost of books + no sharing = will continue to wait, I’ve suggested if they have a couple likeminded friends, they could buy three Sonys and share an account. Or five Sonys, if they only wanted to register one computer between them. Imagine, they could all read the books at the same time!

    No one even blinked. So when they tore a strip off this poor woman I was left going “Whaaaa?”

    I agree, it’s the worst sort of bullying. And really, what was stopping any of those authors from checking the Kindle terms of service themselves, before they all went kablooie?

    Now they not only look like jerks, they look like idiots.



    • Stace
      Comment
      13.1
      · November 3rd, 2009 at 11:24 am · Link

      I was shocked, too, and yeah, check the Terms of Service first, you know? Like I said, my initial thought when I saw that was “Hey…!” But it took less than ten seconds for Further Thoughts to intrude, to conclude this is no problem and no different from sharing paperbacks, really, and that it’s no reason to get upset. Sometimes all it takes is a few seconds to stop and think, you know?



  14. darchole
    Comment
    14
    · November 28th, 2009 at 11:24 pm · Link

    Do these same people who decied to TERRORIZE and STALK this person think libraries are a bad idea too? How about used bookstores? Or donations to charities? Are people not even supposed to throw out books anymore too because someone might take them out of the trash to read them?

    As far as this kind of activity (and I’m not talking about piracy, which is essentially a FOR PROFIT enterprise at it’s root), does anyone have any PROOF it actually decreases sales and therefore profit? I’d really like to see a study about this kind of sharing and profits both current and future publishers and authors might see.

    As far as my own buying habits go, buying used books or borrowing books from a library actually INCREASES the amount of money I spend buying new books. I can ‘test drive’ a book and see if I like an author or series. Sometimes I don’t like a book I bought used or borrowed from the library, but most times I go out and buy other books by that author or in that series.



    • Stace
      Comment
      14.1
      · November 29th, 2009 at 5:28 pm · Link

      Sadly, Darchole, it’s my understanding that some of them do indeed have problems with libraries. I can’t say the people involved in this particular issue do, but I have heard there are writers out there who feel that way. (And lol on throwing away books.)

      I agree loaning books only helps. I haven’t seen any official numbers on any of it, though.



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