Book Pirates Are Not “Fans”

It is an insult when someone says that the work you created isn’t worth their wallets. Not that they can’t afford it, but that the weeks, months, or years put into it, the training you underwent, and the skill you’ve shown aren’t worth a dime. That you are not a person with bills to pay, but a machine for spitting out entertainment, and that creators ought to be honored by this system.

But it is unforgivable when that someone says they’re a “fan.”

If you illegally download books (or movies or music), you are not a fan. In fact, whether you know it or not, you’re an enemy.

A fan is someone who loves and supports the thing they like. They put value in both the worker and the product. This is not to say they are to be easy prey for selfish schemes and price-gouging, but a fan says that the thing they love is valuable.

A fan may borrow, rent, or share an item. They may search for discounts, buy used materials, enter into giveaways, haggle, or otherwise find ways to save money. All these things put some worth in the creator and their works. These people do the best they can to support the people and things they love, even if it’s only a little.

Fans build up.

Piracy destroys. It says the author isn’t worth a fair price. It says authors should reorient their lives and careers in order to best convenience the reader. Get a different job, be happy people even read your book. It’s like the abusive lover who says, “No one else would put up with you.”

Piracy makes publishers wary, which makes them take on fewer books, which means fewer authors get published, which means fewer books even exist. Self-publishing is no exception. Writers who can’t make money writing have less time, energy, and will to write, so fewer books are created.

And when someone is told “You’re not worth it,” it makes them not want to continue at all.

I assume people download books for free because they really, really want to read them, but that creates a spiral where fewer and fewer authors can afford to write and so fewer books are created, or at least fewer quality books.

So this “love of books” is as destructive as hate. It threatens the industry and drives the creators to give up, leaving book lovers (or music or film) empty-handed.

Fans don’t destroy what they love.

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