When you don’t believe in fairies…

“…there’s a little fairy somewhere that falls down dead.”

– Peter Pan

I love turning pages, both electronic and real. Devouring words and being captured by a story is essential to my mind like breathing is to the body. So you can imagine the impact it had when one of my friends happened to utter the following words upon seeing me hold an actual, real-life  book in my hands.

“You still buy them? I just download books now.”

…I’m pretty sure a writer just died.

The resulting conversation got me thinking about people’s perception on ebooks.

A) Do they realise how affordable an ebook is?

B) Do they understand the detrimental impact lack of purchase has on an author’s career?

C) Do they simply not care?

I personally, will never ever illegally download a book. There are so many options available, ranging from libraries and book stores to online book sellers like Book Depository and hello…Amazon, just to name a few. Did I mention how affordable ebooks are? Knowing all this leaves me quite baffled that there are people out there who torrent books without giving the creator of the work a second thought.

You may now all picture poor writers living in a shoe.

This got me thinking more deeply about my own relationship with ebooks. When E-readers first came out, never in my wildest imagination did I imagine myself owning such a horrific creation…let alone two. Well, three if you count my phone. It wasn’t until I moved to Vancouver to go to acting school did I finally embrace the concept of a e-reader. I was happy to buy all the books to my hearts content, but they were expensive and the thought of leaving them behind when I moved back home to Australia broke my heart. (Remember, we are talking about a poor acting student here, and yes, the library became my friend). Naturally, owning a kindle became the next logical step for me. Not only were there free classics to download from Amazon, I was also able to lose myself in endless stories while not becoming destitute in the process.

Those are the positives. Unfortunately, I also happen to have a few major pet peeves when it comes to ebooks.

These are:

1) Purchasing an ebook that is more expensive than buying the paperback/hardback

The first time I encountered this phenomenon, I was dying to get my hands on the next book of a series. To my disgust, it was grossly overpriced – around the 12 dollars mark if I recall correctly*. I’m ashamed to say I did grit my teeth and buy it, but only because I was living in a small country town and the chances of my local bookshop having it in stock was slim. Plus, I wanted it right this second. I understand that some authors can command this kind of price or above, but when Game of Thrones is going for less than ten dollars it puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?

* I am more than happy to pay $12 and above for a book, my problems with pricing is solely with ebooks. I don’t want to feel like I am being taken advantaged of by a money hungry conglomerate.

2) Purchasing an ebook that is one dollar less than the hardback

Please, no explanation needed.

3)When an unknown published/self-published author charges a crazy amount for an ebook

I have purchased ebooks by unfamiliar authors no matter the price, because I am Team Writer all the way. But when I read a badly edited novel, deep down I can’t help but think that my time, or money, is not being respected. I believe the quality of the story is important, as well as creating a positive relationship with your reader. The reality of the current ebook market is that it’s saturated by novels that barely pass first draft quality. Don’t be that person, and don’t charge an exorbitant amount if you are that person.

4) When ebooks aren’t available. 

I have lost count of the times I have wanted to purchase an ebook only to discover it’s not available anywhere. This wouldn’t be a problem if actual bookstores weren’t going extinct left, right and centre and if one is patient enough to actually wait for a book to arrive in the mail. I’m not that person.

So the question remains, what can we as writers do?

Yes, we can bemoan the lack of respect toward our art and voodoo all those who dare illegally download a book, but there is serious misinformation and ignorance here. The reason my friend downloads books (another writer just died) is because he has ‘no money.’ Which I respect completely, but not everyone knows an ebook can be the price of a coffee. We can’t force others to love books the way we do and to support the author behind the work just because we understand the next contract depends on numbers.

No blog post can solve the dilemma of ebook piracy and the topic itself is quite complex and multifaceted. However, I believe there is something, we as writers can do. We need to be better prepared to survive in this industry by making ourselves accessible.  The writers I love the most are the ones who blog regularly, tweet, Facebook and even Instagram. I follow indie authors who are giving their ebooks away for FREE on their site while sharing their writing process with followers. I think it’s beautiful and reminds us again why we all write stories in the first place.

…To connect with readers.

When people feel connected to the writer behind the words, more often than not, we genuinely want to support them.

A writer is saved by buying a book.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic, so please feel free to share.

Love and light,

Anushka xx

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9 thoughts on “When you don’t believe in fairies…

  1. The problem with computers is that by nature they copy – that’s integral to how they operate. Hence the explosion of piracy. I am sure that some of those who pirate justify it to themselves on various grounds – even on the notion that they have a ‘right’ to do it (which they don’t). What people don’t realise is that if they illegally copy a book, as often as not, they are personally ripping off an author – somebody who probably has a little income as the pirate does, maybe less. Part of it is the de-personalisation of the computer; I bet the people who download others’ books without paying for them wouldn’t mug that author in the street and steal a couple of bucks from them…would they?

    • Hi Matthew, thanks for taking the time to stop by! You’re right, some people just don’t realise the repercussions illegal downloads have on an author. It’s a sad reality we live in a world where so many people treat the arts with such little respect – and ignorance. I’ve lost track of the times people assumed I will get rich once my book is published. Um…

  2. I remember being shocked when someone admitted they didn’t pay for music, just downloaded it all for free. That’s someone’s living. They wouldn’t give their time or do their job for free.
    I wish I’d had an ipod and an ereader when I went travelling. I had to send a box of books home by UPS – cost me a fortune! Mind you, if I had, I would never have read the autobiography of Lenoard Nimoy as being the only book in the hostel I was in (and enjoyed reading it!)
    I often tweet “for less than the price of a latte you can fly with dragons.” It doesn’t work, of course, no one seems to buy books because of a tweet, but hopefully it’s helping to highlight that ebooks aren’t expensive. 🙂

    • Just caught up on your posts, love the discussion about free ebooks happening there. There seems to be some strange standard where writers (for example) are expected to write for free, or not get paid appropriately for their work just because of the ‘field’. Please, try saying that to a doctor! ‘It’s good publicity for your name, you should come in and work nightshift with no breaks or payment.’ haha Seriously though. how crazy is it that we live in a society that has made it okay, or even expected, to give our words away for free. Don’t get me wrong, there is a beauty about sharing things – for free even – but it should come from the heart as a gift from author to reader, rather than a forced expectation that robs anyone from making a living. So much food for thought…hmmm ps – I love the line, “for less than the price of a latte you can fly with dragons.” It’s true though, you can’t really sell books with a tweet, but you can by making a relationship with readers which you are doing everyday on your blog! xx

      • Thanks Anushka. I think the difference is, when you go to see a doctor, you know they’ve trained for seven years to be good at what they do. A writer has no credentials but their written word, so there has to be a way for people to build confidence in them as professionals. In the past the authors were (hopefully) vetted by agents, publishers, editors, proofreaders, reviewers, ARCs etc, so when you paid money to read their book you had a certain amount of confidence that it would at least be a story with a beginning, middle, end, reasonable grammar and few typos. With the rise in self publishing all that has gone. With the good comes the bad. The good = I no longer have to hope an agent discovers me in the slushpile, THEN finds a publisher who likes it, THEN wait two years and hope the bookshops sell it. The bad = I have to prove myself as an author, by giving my time for free. A doctor gives seven years in training, and PAYS for the privilege so that their credentials are not questioned. (You might have guessed I don’t have a problem with free, as long as it is done for the right reasons!! Anyway, sorry to hijack your blog with my rant!)

      • No need to be sorry, very illuminating! I definitely see both sides, especially the frustrating aspect of each. SLUSH PILE VS CREATIVE CONTROL…arghhhh. Honestly, is the industry specifically set out to drive writers mental? haha What I find frustrating is that the writing profession in general constantly needs to prove its worth. For example, a university graduated journalist with industry experience and impressive folio still struggles being seen as a valued professional who SHOULD BE PAID for their freelancing work. Then add gender to that mix, but that’s another blog post! It’s true what they say, you really have to LOVE writing to pursue it. ps- I’m really enjoying you blog, what will I do when your 365 challenge is over?

      • Oh yes, don’t get me started on gender (and genre!)

        What will I do when 365 is over? Sleep! Hehe. It’ll be nice to get to bed before midnight. On a serious note, though, I’ve signed up to do a Children’s Fiction writing course next year, so I think I’ll blog about that. I like the discipline of the daily blog, but the Claire instalments and the monthly ebooks do stop me working on the paid stuff!

  3. Great post!
    So … let’s say, if a book weren’t available in an electronic format at all, would that mean it would no longer be possible to pirate it? Does this mean that ebooks have a serious flaw in their business model? Just musing here.
    I realize ebooks are here to stay, and to some extent I celebrate that, but I agree with you that it seems to make books seem less substantial in some ways–especially because so very often they are available for free. I love a free promotion as much as the next reader, but honestly, if a book strikes my fancy, I will be more than happy to shell out the price of a cup of coffee for it.
    And you know how much I love coffee, so that’s saying something! 😉
    As to your four pet peeves, I say: Hallelujah! I’ve never appreciated my local library more than when an ebook priced at something like eight dollars was available for free there!
    Thank goodness for the Look Inside feature at Amazon! I will not buy a badly edited book. One or two typos, maybe, but sloppy sentences, poor grammar and awkward constructions and I’m out. My time is valuable! There are too many really great books out there to spend time inside a shoddy one.
    But, I’ll go now, before I write a blog post about your blog post. 😉 Your words sure got me thinking though!

    • Your last line about writing a blog post about my blog post made me laugh. Always welcome to! I’m not sure about the technical aspect of ebooks, but I know that once things are in electronic format they can be taken and copied because *insert technical explanation here*. Hmmm…maybe should interview a pirate, lol. Great, now I just pictured Jack Sparrow!!! Where was I? I’ve started embracing the sample chapters/look inside feature too. Best invention ever, unless they are like 1 paragraph long and badly formatted – so probably need to update list of pet peeves. Ebooks are interesting topic…I’m curious to know how ebooks will be treated and viewed in the future.

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