You may or may not be aware that I’ve just published my third book. It is called Five Little Zombies And Fred.
This book was made possible thanks to generous donations. In exchange for their donations, they received a number of perks. One of these perks was a DRM-Free eVersion of the book in either EPUB, MOBI, or PDF.
A few weeks ago, the electronic perks were delivered into the hand the awesome people who thought my book deserved to be a real thing to be share with the world, so that the world, too, could fall in-love with a project of which I am extremely proud. It has been a long time since I’ve created something that I am completely in-love with and want every one to have. If I didn’t have bills to pay, and an illustrator to pay, there is a large part of me who would have made this book available for free.
But I do have bills to pay, and children to clothe and feed, and an illustrator who put a lot of awesome hard work into a project with which he, too, is in-love. So, alas. People have to pay for it because people cannot live on love and oxygen alone. Even if those two things certainly make life more enjoyable. Especially the oxygen thing. Because, you know. We’d be dead without it.
I’ve gone of on a tangent, haven’t I? Back to the point of this brain vomit.
Today I learned that in the passed 24 hours, someone has made the EPUB version of Five Little Zombies And Fred available as a torrent! Currently, it is on three different torrent sites!
People who’ve known me for awhile know that I am firmly against DRM, except under a couple of circumstances such as renting something in digital format. I wrote about my position on this when Tor announced last summer they are releasing all eBook DRM-Free. Now that I’m being pirated, have my views changed? Hell, no!
My first reaction to discovering that my book is being pirated? I laughed. Hard.
Why? Because, thanks to my preconceived ideas about the types of things that get pirated, my brain could not comprehend that my book is available for people to pirate. My brain found this reality to be absurd.
As I’ve not sold any copies of the EPUB, the book is being pirated thanks to one of only two people who asked for the EPUB version of Five Little Zombies And Fred when I was giving out the electronic perks for my IndieGoGo campaign.
I honestly mean it when I say thanks to the person who decided my book is worthy to be bundled with “legitimate” authors such as H.P. Lovecraft, Seth Grahame-Smith, Shirley Jackson, and more, and shared. The fact my book is in a bundle with such authors makes the fact my book can now be pirated even more ridiculous, and therefor, difficult for my brain to comprehend.
Let’s get honest for a minute. I can completely understand why people would want to pirate H.P Lovecraft, Seth Grahame-Smith and Shirley Jackson. In my brain there are four categories of things that are worthy of pirating: 1) Porn; 2) Things created by “famous” or “legitimate” creators, whether it be book, music, etc.; 3) Movies and television; 4) Games and other computer programs. As I do not see myself as any of these things, though many people find them self on Geeky Pleasures when they are searching the Internet for porn, my brain naturally finds this scenario to be both ridiculous, and, at the same time, I find myself to be very flattered.
When I published my book, I consciously made the eFormats DRM-Free because I wanted my legitimate customers, current and future, to be able to enjoy the book in any way of their choosing. More importantly, I wanted to make it easy for them to share the book! I want as many people as possible to see this book, even if that means seeing it in the crappy eFormat, instead of enjoying it in the physical format how it is meant to be enjoyed.
Five Little Zombies And Fred is a picture book, with a lot of background details and Easter eggs that will be missed when viewed in EPUB or MOBI. Even if someone has the full-sized PDF, it is not the same as holding the physical book. BUT, maybe, just maybe, someone will see the EPUB, and it will entice them into purchasing the physical book. And for those who pirate the EPUB, or have any electronic copy shared with them, and they don’t purchase the physical book, they probably were never going to purchase it through legitimate channels to begin with.
When I create something, I want people to see it. I don’t want it to be locked away somewhere, buried beneath digital rights management junk. Anyway, that doesn’t prevent people from removing the DRM and sharing it. If someone wants to make something available as a torrent, they will find a way. Nothing I do is going to prevent that. And if I make it difficult for the legitimate user to share this electronic version of the book, then no-one is going to see it. In my mind, the eVersion is no different than a physical version. I want people to have the same freedoms with THEIR PAID CONTENT, regardless of format. In my mind, DRM means you are only leasing the content.
Some people may want to ask, “Then why don’t you, too, give the electronic version away?” The answer is that I want to encourage people to purchase the book, in their preferred format, even if I think the eFormat is a crap medium for this book. At the same time, I want to encourage people to share my book, both electronically and physically. While I may not be in a position to give it away — that whole have to make a living thing — if someone bought my book, it is theirs to do with as they see fit.
That was a long first thought, and subsequent tangent.
My second reaction to learning that people can pirate my book was, “Does this mean I’m now a legitimate creator? Can I call this an achievement unlocked?! CAN I?!”
I do see this as an achievement. People will argue that any time you create something, you are a legitimate creator. I agree. But there is something different when people, even if it is only one person, thinks your content is good enough to be pirated. I feel like I’ve arrived, or some such shit. Someone wants to steal my stuff! Or, maybe more accurately, someone thinks my stuff is something people will want to steal!!
When I published this book, I was terrified that people will hate it! I was terrified that it would not be well-received, and people will feel they wasted their money by donating to my IndieGoGo so that I could make this book available for the world to hold, fall in-love with, and share. In the last 24 hours, I’ve received two 5-star reviews on Amazon.com and my book is being pirated. The feedback that is slowly coming in from backers has also been nothing but positive. People are reading and sharing my book!
Bottom line: Anyone who “steals” my book and doesn’t purchase the physical copy after doing so was probably never going to purchase it to begin with. I haven’t lost anything. But I have gained extra eyes. I have gained potential customers. And I’ve gained a little bit of self-satisfaction, with an ego boost, because someone saw something I created, something that I am crazy in-love with, and according to my preconceived ideas about what sorts of things are worthy of pirating, thinks pretty highly of my book.
So, with complete sincerity and honesty, thank you for pirating my book, person who purchased it. I hope it leads to others liking my book and deciding to purchase the physical copy.