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Old 08-13-2008, 03:54 AM   #526
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the argument that "I think a book is too expensive so I'm just going to take it anyway" is immoral in the extreme
But who has espoused this view? Not I. When I said "if you are not going to support the content owners because you think their price is too high or they are strangling the content creators or whatever" I was merely giving examples (three of them, to be precise, and you focus on the 'taking stuff for free' one).

Tell me how to compensate the author in a reasonable way while at the same time not keeping a broken system chugging along, and I will be right there. I think a lot of people will. And, yes, there will be people who simply take without ever wanting or intending to pay. There is no way to stop them, and in the world of the digital, there never will be. But people like you and Steven seem to think that left unchecked and without your finger-wagging, soon everyone will do it. Which simply isn't true.
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Old 08-13-2008, 04:12 AM   #527
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Tell me how to compensate the author in a reasonable way while at the same time not keeping a broken system chugging along, and I will be right there. I think a lot of people will. And, yes, there will be people who simply take without ever wanting or intending to pay. There is no way to stop them, and in the world of the digital, there never will be. But people like you and Steven seem to think that left unchecked and without your finger-wagging, soon everyone will do it. Which simply isn't true.
Where we differ fundamentally, I think, is your view that the current system IS "broken". You seem to think that publishers are irrelevent in a digital age. With respect, I disagree. If you've never written a book yourself, you're perhaps unaware of how much work a publisher does "behind the scenes". Very few authors are capable of producing commercially-successful work without the aid of an experienced editor to fix their mistakes (you only have to read the posts on this site - presumably populated by people whose literary knowlege is above average - to see how poor most posters' grammar is, for example). Although I suppose people COULD go to a copy-editor independently of a publisher, how many actually would do so, I wonder?

Forget the "printing" aspect of books - that's really rather a "red herring". Very few publishers (if any) print their own books, anyway. What publishers do is edit books, publicise them, and 1001 other things that the typical reader is probably completely unaware of. Authors need publishers, and digital distribution doesn't change that.

You ask "how to compensate the author in a reasonable way" and I'll answer - "buy the book". If there's a legit eBook available, buy it. If there isn't, buy the pBook and write to the publisher to tell them that you've done so, but you'd much rather have bought an eBook. We're all (presumably) eBook fans here; the way to demonstrate that is to support the legitimate eBook industry, and let authors and publishers know that we want more eBooks available.

This isn't "finger wagging", but common sense .
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Old 08-13-2008, 04:19 AM   #528
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Forget the "printing" aspect of books - that's really rather a "red herring". Very few publishers (if any) print their own books, anyway. What publishers do is edit books, publicise them, and 1001 other things that the typical reader is probably completely unaware of. Authors need publishers, and digital distribution doesn't change that.

This isn't "finger wagging", but common sense .
I think the correct phrase would be "up until now, authors have needed publishers, and digital distribution might change that or the ways in which they need them, who knows". Again, you can't keep treating the digital domain as an exact analogue of the physical domain. I don't think that publishers are necessarily irrelevant, but that their role and profit model will necessarily change.

And how is telling people they are corrupt and immoral not finger wagging? I think Steve added the implied notion that our brains weren't working at some point in the thread as well.

Last edited by acidzebra; 08-13-2008 at 04:31 AM.
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Old 08-13-2008, 04:29 AM   #529
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And how is telling people they are corrupt and immoral not finger wagging?
Because, regardless of how people try to "justify" it, in my personal code of ethics, to take books without paying for them is immoral. I'm sorry if that offends you, but that is my genuinely-held view, and I have yet to be persuaded that it's wrong. You may of course live by a different ethical code - that's your personal choice to make. We all have to make these decisions individually.

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I think Steve added the implied notion that our brains weren't working at some point in the thread as well.
I have certainly never said that and never would.
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Old 08-13-2008, 04:35 AM   #530
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I think the correct phrase would be "up until now, authors have needed publishers, and digital distribution might change that or the ways in which they need them, who knows". Again, you can't keep treating the digital domain as an exact analogue of the physical domain. I don't think that publishers are necessarily irrelevant, but that their role and profit model will necessarily change.
I think personally that it's printers and physical bookstores who are "threatened" by digital distribution. I honestly don't see the role of the publisher as being too much different in the digital age - books will still need editing, publicising, etc. What part of the publisher's role do you see as being different in digital rather than paper distribution?
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Old 08-13-2008, 04:45 AM   #531
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I think personally that it's printers and physical bookstores who are "threatened" by digital distribution. I honestly don't see the role of the publisher as being too much different in the digital age - books will still need editing, publicising, etc. What part of the publisher's role do you see as being different in digital rather than paper distribution?
While I am fuzzy in my "future view", I have noticed that the internet itself is pretty good at generating "buzz" for content. So the publicizing role will conceivably take a backseat. Distribution mechanisms will change (costs there will likely drop to near-zero). They may be a role for the internet in distributed proofreading and editing. All in all I think they will have to do less and incur less costs. Will they pass on these savings to consumers?

To come back shortly to broken systems, what do you think of companies like Disney who take most of their stories FROM the public domain and then turn around and try to make sure their work won't end up there anytime soon, preferably never? What of the fact that they are partly succeeding (copyright extensions)?
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Old 08-13-2008, 04:54 AM   #532
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To come back shortly to broken systems, what do you think of companies like Disney who take most of their stories FROM the public domain and then turn around and try to make sure their work won't end up there anytime soon, preferably never? What of the fact that they are partly succeeding (copyright extensions)?
I think that the role that Disney have played in extending copyright terms in the US is utterly represensible. I condemn them unreservedly. Fortunately not every country has gone down the same road; here in the UK, for example, the government recently rejected a proposal to extend copyright terms on the grounds that doing so would not be in the public interest.

There's nothing wrong, however, in "taking" stuff from the public domain. The whole point of the public domain is that anyone can do anything with anything in it, including reselling it commercially, etc. If you want to take a Shakespeare play from the public domain and publish it commercially, that's perfectly legal.
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Old 08-13-2008, 05:04 AM   #533
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I think that the role that Disney have played in extending copyright terms in the US is utterly represensible. I condemn them unreservedly. Fortunately not every country has gone down the same road; here in the UK, for example, the government recently rejected a proposal to extend copyright terms on the grounds that doing so would not be in the public interest.
And that was a good moment, however, it won't stop the content owners (again, as distinct from the content creators) from trying again and again.

http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2008/01...amendment-time
http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/...tection_en.htm
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post...extension.html

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There's nothing wrong, however, in "taking" stuff from the public domain. The whole point of the public domain is that anyone can do anything with anything in it, including reselling it commercially, etc. If you want to take a Shakespeare play from the public domain and publish it commercially, that's perfectly legal.
Oh, I agree. It becomes immoral when you try to stop others from eventually using your work in the same way.
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Old 08-13-2008, 10:33 AM   #534
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If you're asking what I personally feel I deserve for my books: I feel I deserve exactly what I ask to be paid for one book. And I ask for $2.50 per book. Whether that is for one book sold, or a million... all I ask is $2.50 per book. In fact, if you want to buy more than one book, I ask for less per book. And I do not feel that I'm being unfair in asking that... especially since no one is being forced to buy my books.

(And I'm still trying to figure out how I can scale that price for economies that are further out of sync with U.S./European currency, such as the Third World. Anyone's cost should be roughly analogous to a cup of coffee.)

Since writing is a hobby of mine, I am not trying to make my living at this... I am not trying to make enough to retire, to buy a boat, or a new house. So I do not have a dollar figure that I am hoping to earn from this venture. I just want what I consider to be a fair price per book, and I'm satisfied.
Thank you.
BTW, I'm willing to pay a lot more for a good book (just spent 165€ on a particularly good edition of the Divine Comedy, which is PD), and no more than 2€ for a crappy one (like, say, Dan Brown or Lee Child).
So, maybe, I'm willing to pay more than you ask for.

As an hobby photographer, sometimes I'm asked to sell my photos. I've put a limit of income to 500€ a year. So, when I sold 100 photos or copies at 5€ each or two of them at 250€, they will become immediately free for everybody, even if there are other 100 people in queue with money in their hand. [I'm not there, yet...]
That's what I mean by to have a limit.

I understand your books will never do "enough" if somebody agrees to pay for them. They'll be PD in about two centuries from now... and it's not unfair at all.
It's just another effect of the force who drives piracy (which, in contrast, is a crime in my country).

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Old 08-13-2008, 10:38 AM   #535
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For what it's worth, I'm a socialist too, but I live in a world in which authors I know personally-- published authors with books on the NY Times Bestseller List-- do things like file for bankruptcy and go to Mexico for critical surgery because they can't afford to be treated in the US. I would like to live in a world in which people who tell great stories don't have to worry about food, a place to live, and adequate health care. Heck, I'd like to live in a world in which no one has to worry about these things. But I don't. I live in a world in which most people seem pretty attached to the idea of ownership, wealth is unevenly distributed to the point of being ludicrous, and good authors (and other artists, and people who support them, like editors) can go hungry all too easily.

Given those things, I don't think it's right to read books without being part of a system that pays for them. You can get creative about how you pay back, of course. Set up a CafePress t-shirt store for your favorite author, or an Amazon store so they might start to get a cut of even used book sales. Campaign your local library to buy their books, or buy copies of books and donate them to the library. See if you can get one of their books added to the reading list for a course at your local school or college. Get together with like-minded folks in your area and raise money to invite your author out for a book-signing and speaking engagement. Send cash. Or even cookies.

If you can't afford to do any of those things, consider at least writing your favorite author a postcard saying how much you enjoy their books. That won't pay the rent, but kind words do help one keep warm nights. And make a commitment to yourself that someday, when you can afford it, you will sponsor authors or other artists, to the extent that you can afford it.

Or ignore all this advice. I'm talking about my own ethics here, after all. As HarryT points out, these are decisions we all have to make individually.
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Old 08-13-2008, 10:49 AM   #536
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For what it's worth, I'm a socialist too, but I live in a world in which authors I know personally-- published authors with books on the NY Times Bestseller List-- do things like file for bankruptcy and go to Mexico for critical surgery because they can't afford to be treated in the US.
I agree with all of your expressed sentiments, as long as you don't contend that these authors went broke due to book piracy

So... what did make them penniless? I can take a few guesses (it would end up being filed under 'broken system') but it would be just that, guesses - and you know these people.

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Old 08-13-2008, 11:02 AM   #537
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For what it's worth, I'm a socialist too, but I live in a world in which authors I know personally-- published authors with books on the NY Times Bestseller List-- do things like file for bankruptcy and go to Mexico for critical surgery because they can't afford to be treated in the US. I would like to live in a world in which people who tell great stories don't have to worry about food, a place to live, and adequate health care.
Well, most countries have free adequate health care for everybody. I do not see how the US health care system is related to if people have some right to get paid for the thing they choose to do.
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Old 08-13-2008, 11:15 AM   #538
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Well, most countries have free adequate health care for everybody. I do not see how the US health care system is related to if people have some right to get paid for the thing they choose to do.
It isn't free. You pay what most Americans would say is shockingly high taxes for your welfare state.
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Old 08-13-2008, 11:34 AM   #539
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Old 08-13-2008, 12:11 PM   #540
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It isn't free. You pay what most Americans would say is shockingly high taxes for your welfare state.
Very true, but I honestly can't think of anything more worthy of paying taxes for. Certainly far better (IMHO) to spend tax money on building hospitals than bombs.
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