Friday, January 28, 2011

The Positive Side of Piracy?

Son of Ereubus (Guardians of Legend, Book 1)So, over the past couple of months you may have heard about Son of Erebus. I have it on my "to read" list after hearing about it and reading the excerpt chapter available online through the publisher.

It seems there were a bunch of people who were much more interested in the book than I was....they swiped the book and posted the pirated copy online for download. The pirated version quickly grew legs and "went viral." I haven't seen download stats, but from the sounds of things, it spread across the web like wildfire

Today, the publisher and author released a press release talking about the positive angle they tried to take with this piracy. Basically, they posted a request on the author's Facebook page for everybody who downloaded the pirated copy to post a review of the book. I'm sure there were some who didn't post for fear of repercussions, but the publishers made the request in good faith and were rewarded with a ton of great reviews comparing the book to "the likes of Tolkien, Barker, King and Goodkind."

The book is slated to be the first in a trilogy. And even though the first copy was pirated, it's getting a ton of great hype and added press from the piracy. I'm sure the piracy hurt the sales. I've been involved in many discussions about how piracy can hurt actual sales of products (talking in the past with regards to music, movies and video games) though I'm sure there are also a lot of people who have now legitimately purchased the book as a result of the media spin around it and the great reviews that are out there.

I know that with the increased use and acceptance of electronic versions of books, there was a lot of concern from the literary world that they would see pirated versions of books in the same way as there have been pirated versions of other media. The past couple of years have certainly proven their fears to be valid as a number of books have been pirated.

However, the debate once again opens with the question of - Is there a way to spin piracy in a positive light and actually reap some benefit from the downside? The author, J.S. Chancellor, notes that she was flattered that it was stolen, but also left feeling sick at the thought. And the press release points out that, although the publicity is certainly not coming in the preferred method, "the book is quickly gaining notice".

My personal opinion is that there are (sadly) always going to be thieves and crooks out there. There are always going to be hackers who try to break through a DRM or other form of security system just to prove they can do it. At the same time, there are going to be people who will work through the system legitimately as and purchasing and generally doing things the right way. I optimistically hope and believe that the majority of people actually go through legal rather than illegal means. I would potentially worry about those who got the illegal copy without knowing it was illegal (if someone just posted a version online and they got a link saying "check out the new book for free"...a person may think it was part of a promotion or something) but still, I think the ignorant pirate is another fairly small category.

With regards to books (and even some movies, music, and games), there is almost ALWAYS a way for the frugal reader to get a FREE copy of the book (even the ebook in some cases) and that is to simply make a trip to their own library. The literary world is somewhat unique in its use of the library system...there is actually an acceptance of "getting the books for free." However, even then, this free copy is given with certain rules and with certain protocols to be followed...which again brings me to my earlier point that I think a lot of piracy (especially book piracy) begins more with those who just steal the copies for the sake of stealing them.

As a person who eventually wants to see my own work published and for sale, my heart really goes out to J.S. Chancellor over this issue. I'm very saddened to see her lose out on the sales and have her book dragged through the mud of piracy. At the same time, I agree with her that it must be somewhat flattering to have her book the subject of piracy and then to see it spread so virally. Furthermore, the reviews that came of it have been good. I think she and her publisher did an excellent job of making lemonade from lemons and doing what they could to turn a bad situation to their advantage.

I would love to see piracy go away entirely. There are also a lot of other bad things in the world that I'd like to see go away. But the sad fact is that many of the problems in society/world are here to stay. I think Rhemalda and Chancellor handled this example of privacy very admirably and set a good example for the future. I'm not saying publishers and authors (or musicians, movie/game studios, etc) shouldn't try to stop piracy or should endorse/promote piracy, but I think they should strive to wind ways to turn negative situations to their advantage rather than just bemoaning the situation and looking to post fines all through the dark underbelly of the Internet.


Michelle D. Argyle said...

I love the way Chancellor and Rhemalda have handled this, for sure. Thanks for spreading the word about the press release!

Brian Miller said...

nice...first i have heard of this...and cool the approach they took with the piracy...if you can spin it all the better i worked, so...

Unknown said...

I agree with Michelle an Brian, the move to join the fans rather than fight them was a long term, strategic move which I believe will pay out dividends over the years.

Farnnay said...

What is it about?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking the time to read our press release and spread the word about how we, as you so perfectly put it, "are making lemons out of lemonade"."

When you do get a chance to read Son of Ereubus we would love to hear what you think about it.

Thank you again for spreading the word.

Emmaline Hoffmeister, Vice President of Rhemalda Publishng

Anonymous said...

I apologize for leaving a second comment, however I thought I would address Constructive Attitude's question about what Son of Ereubus is about.

Son of Ereubus is an Epic Fantasy Trilogy. Withing the story there are 3 races. The Ereubinians, gifted with the power to steal the human soul, rule Middengard: the realm of Man. Man, who lives in Middengaard and the Adorians who are the protectors of man and live in a fabled world of Adoria.

In the beginning, Middengard was successful in defending its people, but as the first age of war came to an end, and the Ereubinians conquered the once legendary city of Eidolon, Man began to weaken in their resolve and a legend began to take shape; passed down from one generation to the next.

For centuries the legend fueled the vitality of the human heart, but eventually the free lands waned and Eidolon’s rule overshadowed the few that subsisted on their own. Finally only one stronghold, Palingard, remained.

As Palingard falls, three individuals will discover that their lives are inextricably intertwined, and everything they once thought to be truth will be irrevocably changed.

Ariana, spared in Palingard by her would-be captor, journeys in her father’s last known footsteps only to discover that not only are the legends of Adoria real—she is more a part of them than she could ever imagine.

Garren, High Lord Commander of Eidolon, and sworn enemy of Adoria, must grapple with his suddenly waning faith after he saves the life of a girl in Palingard, and weigh what remains of it against the light he never knew existed.

Michael, sovereign ruler of Adoria, bears the same burden of guardianship as that of his forefathers, but when the divide that has always protected Adoria fails, and an elaborate conspiracy to keep his sister’s existence from him is revealed, he must decide if man’s soul can still be saved – and at what cost.


cbearly said...

I personally do not think J.C. Chancellor or Rhemalda Publishing could have handled the situation any better. It is my greatest hope that the hard work and dedication put into the novel by both the author and publisher will eventually be rewarded.

Jacquelyn Frank said...

I admit, when I see my stuff pirated it really chaps my ass. Theft is theft, no matter how you spin it. However, I applaud this clever way of turning a negative into a positive.

Farnnay said...

Thank you Rhemalda :)