The subject of Internet Piracy and Intellectual Rights has come up on one of my groups. As an author, I have some very strong opinions on the matter – opinions which my fellow authors and intellectual content creators often simply can’t grasp. The fact is that the human mind will naturally try to protect itself from novel ideas, especially if those ideas fly in the face of “conventional wisdom.” Robert Anton Wilson attributed it to “Cognitive Dissonance”:
What follows below is my own take on the subject of so-called “piracy” and intellectual property. If you are an author or musician or other intellectual content creator, prepare to feel some heavy cognitive dissonance! LOL
A member of my group posted:
> I cannot get over the stupidity of pirates. [...] You steal from
> us AND them, and I’m on first name basis with a few of the heads of mine
> cause the publishing companies are that small, and often they’re run
> by single mothers trying to put food on the table for their kids.
I can certainly understand where you and many authors are coming from on this one. However, I’m afraid these authors are currently making the same mistakes the record industry did – and the record industry put itself out of business with the *exact* same kind of thinking.
As the record-industry parasites taught us, you can’t apply the business wisdom of the past to the current market. That old wisdom says “one downloaded unit for free = one lost sale for me.” Many authors see it that way too, and those authors simply won’t be around for much longer.
Rather than fighting the inevitable, and thereby making ourselves extinct, we need to be intelligent about it. Time and time again, it has been proven that offering free content the right way can *increase* sales. Offering no free content at all can *decrease* your sales.
-Amazon offers a “search inside this book” feature that allows anyone in the world to sit down and read your *entire* book online. They never have to purchase it. And yet “search inside this book” regularly increases sales of the books that utilize it.
-Google Books offers some complete books and lots of “previews” that include very large portions of certain books. Want to read “The Angelical Language Vols. I and II” for free?:
-PDFs can be very powerful when used wisely. A low-quality scanned PDF of your book released for free can result in increased sales of the book. Especially if you wait to release the PDF only after its initial sales run begins to peter out.
-Even better, authors who release their *older* work for free find that sales of their *newer* work increase accordingly. Fiction authors who write serials have figured this one out: the latest episode in the series is for sale, the previous episodes are free. Anyone who wants to read my older work for free can go right here:
http://kheph777.tripod.com/ (Click on “Writings.”)
-And if you believe that folks will just print out PDFs and never buy the books, think again. While there are certainly a small number of people out there who do that, the greater majority of people still want a nice pretty bound book to set on their shelves. When you release a PDF, it will get into the hands of people who would never have seen it otherwise, or who were on the fence about buying the book in the first place. The simple fact is that PDFs *sell* books.
Now I am aware that most of what I have said here will fall on deaf ears. I will be accused of “not wanting to make money.” I’ve heard it time and again for the last decade at least. And that’s ok. We are in a new world now, and those who jump up and down insisting that things *should* still work they way they did in the past will simply be left behind. Just ask any record company executive what happened to their industry when they decided to fight Napster rather than work with it. (Same lesson today’s governments are learning by trying to fight Wikileaks. The examples go on and on…)
So you other authors are free to jump on yesterday’s bandwagon. I launched my writing career with free content, and I’ll stick with the model that works.