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Old 01-22-2009, 04:17 AM   #1
Alexander Turcic
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Author tries to turn piracy to her advantage

Suprina Frazier, self-publishing author, recently discovered that she became the victim of piracy. One of her books got uploaded on the text hosting site Scribd.com, from where anyone with Internet access could download it without the author's consent.

And what did Suprina do? Rather than contacting Scribd with a takedown notice, she turned to the uploader (aka the pirate) himself.

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Instead of contacting the site’s copyright agent, I directly contacted the person who pirated my work. Not to take down my e-book. No, to keep it up (after all, it was a freebie anyway), but with certain considerations. I even went so far as to post my requests/considerations in the comment section of her Scribd page so that everyone that links to that book will see that I’ve given this person my permission to leave that e-book up.

I also posted a statement on my main blog giving all my readers permission to post that particular e-book along with another freebie on their sites (with certain considerations, of course).

I decided that if that site can be used to pirate my books, why not use that same site to PROMOTE my books.
So, instead of freaking out about her discovey, Suprina actually felt the piracy in this particular case was a good point ("it was a freebie anyway") and is now looking into an alternative business model. What do you think - could it work to her advantage?
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Old 01-22-2009, 04:26 AM   #2
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Old 01-22-2009, 05:06 AM   #3
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They had a survey done here, about piracy and its effect on sales: on the whole the effect was positive.

(sadly, there's no English translation of the article).

One point made was that well-known artists will have more damage from (illegal) downloading, while unknown artists will get more revenue as they become more known (try-before-you-buy!).

So, I think this action will have positive effects for her sales. She'll become better known in a bigger circle.
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Old 01-22-2009, 11:12 AM   #4
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well, it certainly seems to have worked for others ; if i'm not mistaken, Cory Doctorow's business model is somewhat similar, and there was recently a thread about Paolo Coelho who is also doing something similar. i think it's really admirable that this author recognised the benefits (publicity, promotion, new readers...) she could derive from the situation and decided to take advantage of it, rather than having some kind of primitive reaction without evaluation first (since, in this case, it was originally a free book, that would be a bit... hmm... shortsighted i think).

it looks like it has paid off for her, as well :

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after posting excerpts of my own at that site over this past weekend, I’ve had a tremendous spike in e-book sales. Which means people are not only reading samples of my work, but going the extra step to actually buy copies.
i'm sure this would come as no surprise to Doctorow, Coelho, et al.
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Old 01-22-2009, 01:16 PM   #5
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From what you're saying it looks like the ebook wasn't for sale, it was available for free from her site for promotional purposes. Under those circumstances people usually want to post it to as many places as possible, including manybook.net etc.
Yeah, at that point the P2P network basically just becomes free distribution. Why would an author not want that in this case?
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Old 01-22-2009, 02:03 PM   #6
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Eric Flint point out on his note in the Baen Free Library that authors suffer more from obscurity than piracy. All the books on Baen are DRM Free and some are free to download as well. I have read some of the free ones and have purchased others. I have read all of Steve Jordan's books because he posted a freebie and I liked it, so I bought the rest. Those are also DRM free. Go to www.stevejordanbooks.com if interested in good sci-fi/fantasy. My first e-book which I read on my Palm T|X until I got my Kindle, was "1632", which led to many more. This does not mean that I advocate piracy, only that I advocate DRM free books.
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Old 01-22-2009, 02:32 PM   #7
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I remember reading somewhere that one possible drawback of having your (free) e-books distributed by others without your control is when books get converted and the conversion is done poorly (like when special formatting gets lost). This could in turn diminish the value of the original work.
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Old 01-22-2009, 03:44 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by TadW View Post
I remember reading somewhere that one possible drawback of having your (free) e-books distributed by others without your control is when books get converted and the conversion is done poorly (like when special formatting gets lost). This could in turn diminish the value of the original work.
From what I've seen ebooks from the Publishers are often worse than the ones you can find from other sources. I don't think the quality of the conversion has much to do with whether it's done by a "professional", it's more about somebody just spending the time to get it right.

Besides, if the original author is releasing the ebook themselves in the formats that people want, there shouldn't be any need for others to do any conversion.
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Old 01-23-2009, 02:10 AM   #9
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Well, during the run-up to my producing ebooks of my Chaos Chronicles series for free download, I mentioned on my blog that I was thinking of making my new book available as a download. A reader commented that a whole bunch of my earlier books were already available on bit-torrent pirate sites, and he even zipped up a bunch of them and sent them to me. It was a haphazard assortment of PDFs, all apparently from scanned and OCR'd books. They ranged from unreadable hack-jobs to quite carefully constructed documents.

I'd had no idea they were there, and my first reaction was like that of the author mentioned above: a deep growl. But as I thought about it, I decided, what the hey--it was free publicity, and even though some of them competed with commercial ebook versions, it was still probably better for me than that other doom, obscurity.

So I just forged on with my own project and didn't think much more about it.

Just a week or so ago, someone on my town email list posted a notice to local authors that she'd found one of her books up on Scrib'd without her permission. I checked to see if mine were there, and found that someone had reposted the one-time Tor freebie of my Battlestar Galactica novelization. I didn't worry about that, either, because in fact I had just asked if I could get permission to put that up for free, too! (I'm still waiting to hear.)
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Old 01-23-2009, 12:52 PM   #10
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What happens if you have published for the Kindle? Amazon forbids Kindle books to be sold for less than their own asking price. Does Amazon get after them, or do they get after you?
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Old 01-23-2009, 01:46 PM   #11
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What happens if you have published for the Kindle? Amazon forbids Kindle books to be sold for less than their own asking price. Does Amazon get after them, or do they get after you?
Dunno. But if that's true, how do they get around restraint of trade?
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Old 01-23-2009, 01:48 PM   #12
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It was a haphazard assortment of PDFs, all apparently from scanned and OCR'd books. They ranged from unreadable hack-jobs to quite carefully constructed documents.
The Hack Jobs are the first uploads posted then someone will come along and go through the document and spend a few hours restoring it to its original glory.

This is alot of hard work (hours, sometimes days) and very few pirates will take the time to do it, i feel thats to a authors advantage since once you have the book in your possession and then realise its a hack job that needs alot of work and you (same as most)are not willing to take the time to edit it, you still want the book so end up buying it anyway(once you have seen a book you want it no matter what)

Plus if you happen to pick up one book by an author through the darknet that you enjoyed but cant find the others by author or in the series you will go out and buy them as ebook or dead tree format.(this actually boast an authors sales)

You Have your hack jobs (hours to convert) and PDF's (Hours to convert and remove page numebers and filename inprints) and now the darknet has been flooded with these Split HTML'S that to your avarage person has no idea how to convert them and even then will take hours anyway to convert because of the amount of imprints it has in it.

So other then your dedicated ebook convertor, most will go out and buy the book if they really want it because once you have seen a book you want it one way or the other and will end up purchasing it because now its in your mental list of books you want to read.

I have had an ebook reader for 2 years now but still buy on avarage 2 dead tree books a week that i cannot buy in ebook format because i have seen it and i want to read that book now.

if you wanna know why the darknet is flooded with ebooks, its because publishers are not releasing the books we want for are readers, so what do you expect, scanning software is so simple now a monkey could do it (why i do not understand why most are such terrible scans)

You goto any main fiction book site now and if you ask for books you must learn to scan or edit and post in return and too be honest some of the edits are much better then what sony store are selling.

Publishers should make all new books availible now or they are going to lose out, because as soon as anyone gets a reader now and cant find what they want from crappy sony store they go straight to darknet to find what they want, and you should check some of these edits now, Book Designer is being used to its full potential at mo, all books that are being edited are then posted in multi-format (check some of the files not only are they perfect but they come in 10 different file formats for nearly every different reader posted in one file including cover and synopsis)this is a reaction to publishers dragging there feet, they are scared to release ebooks because they worry they will end up on darknet but thats the reason why they do end up on darknet because they are not availible.

so maybe authors should have a rethink, because no matter how many restrictions (DRM, Split Publisher House HTML's, Password Protected PDF'S) you put on them someone out there will break them and post them.

You Can say what you want about them but if a DRM Sony eBook Breaker program came out tomorrow everyone would want it because it would make sure at least you have a proper copy of the book you have purchases but might be void once your reader stops being sold which means having to buy it again.

You can go down your local bookstore and pick up some books for a few quid that are still being sold on sony ebook store for 10 pound upwards its silly and they gonna lose out because its not bout piracy its about the books you want to read on your reader not being there when you want them, i would rather have a proper ebook thats formatted properly rather then some hack job i have to spend hours sorting out but if its not there someone will upload it knowing someone else will edit it.

Last edited by andyafro; 01-23-2009 at 01:52 PM.
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Old 01-23-2009, 02:18 PM   #13
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Well, I actually agree with most of what you said. Except...

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so maybe authors should have a rethink, because no matter how many restrictions (DRM, Split Publisher House HTML's, Password Protected PDF'S) you put on them someone out there will break them and post them.
You do understand that it's mostly the publishers who make these decisions, not the authors, right? Or the online booksellers.

Ereads, for example, partners with fictionwise and puts out books in multi-format DRM-free editions. But when those same titles go to mobipocket or Sony or other stores, they show up with DRM because that's required by the stores. Stupid, yes. But that's why it's always good to check around and see if there are other editions of a book you want, because maybe it actually does exist in a DRM-free edition.

As for the books you want not being available, we're in a transition period now, I think, where there's a huge backlist of books that need to be brought into ebook format (and sometimes that requires new contracts), as well as current releases. And some publishers, like Tor, are trying to ramp up--but it's a big undertaking, and everything takes longer than you think it will.
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Old 01-23-2009, 02:35 PM   #14
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One good thing about the darknet is its ability to make availible books that are now out of print in dead tree format now.
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Old 01-23-2009, 04:27 PM   #15
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One good thing about the darknet is its ability to make availible books that are now out of print in dead tree format now.
I, personally, would *LOVE* to see all of L. Neil Smith's "Probability Broach" series put up. Those and "Hope" and "The Mitzvah".

Derek
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