Joe Konrath Explains Why Authors Shouldn’t Fear File Sharing

Simon was the first of a few of you to send over a blog post by author Joe Konrath discussing why he doesn’t worry much about his books being available online via unauthorized file sharing avenues. The whole blog post is so reasonable and well argued that you really should just go read the whole thing, so here are a few snippets to get you interested:

People want to share files. There is this much file sharing going on for a reason. It’s what people want. Fighting piracy is fighting human nature. This is a battle no one can win. Getting your undies in a bunch at the thought of someone copying your ebook is a waste of a good ulcer. Worry about some problem that eventually will be solved. Like world hunger. Or cancer. Or war. Those will be conquered before file sharing is….

There is ZERO reliable evidence that file-sharing hurts sales. A shared file does not equal a lost sale, any more than someone reading a library book is a lost sale.

The best part is a bit later in the post, where he tries to pre-empt the usual “but it’s theft!!!!” arguments with a series of Q&As that read something like many of the comment exchanges we end up having here at Techdirt, by pointing out that it’s not the same as stealing a tangible object, and even so it doesn’t matter. He also takes on another popular argument made in our comments: but what if artists don’t want to embrace new business models:

Q: But Joe, if everyone steals your ebooks, how will you make money?

A: Show me an artist bankrupted by piracy, and we’ll revisit this question.

Q: No, seriously, in a future where everything is free, how will…

A: We’re not in a future where everything is free. But I’ll play the “let’s pretend” game. Let’s pretend that all ebooks are free. How will writers make money? The same way all media makes money. Advertising, merchandising, and licensing.

Q: But I don’t want ads in ebooks.

A: I don’t want ads in anything. But that’s how capitalism works. Deal with it.

Again, the whole thing is a worthwhile read, but highlights a key point that we keep trying to make over and over again. So many keep focusing in on the whole “piracy!” aspect, and that’s such a huge waste of time. Why focus on trying to stop something you don’t like, when you can put your energy into creating a positive situation that you do like? Why focus on trying to punish people you don’t like, when you have so many opportunities to happily engage with people you do like?

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