Pirates and Bookshops

Let’s start the new year on a serious note. If you don’t want to hear any more bad news, skip down to paragraph three. If you need a smile, skip to paragraph four.

Internet piracy — copyright infringement — is running amuck. Every time a book is pirated instead of purchased through a normal retail channel, the author loses $2 or more in royalties. It’s a problem for musicians and indie filmmakers, as well. The recourse is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which says the author or his publisher can send a “notice-and-takedown” demand to the copyright violator. Author Damon DiMarco calls this a Whac-a-Mole process. “Take one copy of your work down, three more pop up. Repeat, repeat, repeat.” Pulitzer Prize winner T.J. Stiles (Custer’s Trials) reports, “I spend perhaps 20 minutes a day finding pirate sites that host my books, copies hosted on Google Docs, and videos on YouTube that advertise free downloads of my books…. It’s all time that is lost to creating.” And money lost. “Merely a few hundred pirated copies equals a mortgage payment, a few months of health insurance, etc.” Meanwhile, to get tough, to go to court with one copyright infringement lawsuit, costs at least $150,000. That’s a lot of mortgage payments.

Here’s an unusual book for your browsing list: Footnotes from the World’s Greatest BookstoresNew Yorker cartoonist Bob Eckstein chose seventy-five bookstores, found interesting anecdotes about each, and illustrated all with appealing color artwork. One little tale involved John Grisham, who was signing books at Burke’s Book Store in Memphis. Of course, he’d drawn a crowd; the line stretched out the door and down the street. After some time, the store received a pay phone call from a customer asking if books were still available, as he was at the end of the line a block away. Mr. Grisham stood and headed out the door with a copy to deliver to the man.

“Why authors write I do not know. As well ask why a hen lays an egg or a cow stands patiently while a farmer burglarizes her.” H.L. Mencken

Resolve to enjoy reading even more in 2017

*Written by Carol Cail — Read more from Carol at carolcail.com
*Originally published in January 2017

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