Sunday, May 30, 2010

Steal This Ebook

Let's run an experiment and see if piracy is harmful to sales.

I'm currently selling my ebook JACK DANIELS STORIES for $2.99 on Kindle and Barnes and Noble. Here's the description:

JA Konrath, known for the Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels thrillers set in Chicago, offers this collection of short stories and novellas from the Jack Daniels universe.

Join Jack Daniels, her partner Herb Benedict, private eye Harry McGlade, and part-time criminal Phineas Troutt, in this omnibus of 15 stories.

On the Rocks - Suicide or murder? Lt. Jack Daniels solves a locked room mystery.

Whelp Wanted - P.I. Harry McGlade becomes a dognapper in order to stop a dognapper, or something like that.

Street Music - Phineas Troutt hunts a prostitute through the dangerous streets of Chicago. Are his intentions pure?

The One That Got Away - The Gingerbread Man (the villain from WHISKEY SOUR) hunts one final victim.

With a Twist - It looked like the man fell from a great height, but the body is in his living room. Jack Daniels solves another impossible crime.

Epitaph - Phin Troutt takes on a Chicago street gang with vengeance on his mind.

Taken to the Cleaners - Harry McGlade tries to solve a difficult mystery, but mostly just goofs off.

Body Shots - Jack Daniels faces her most challenging case yet; a school shooting. But does she know more about the perp than she realizes?

Suffer - Phineas Troutt has taken some questionable jobs, but will he murder a man's wife?

School Daze - P.I. Harry McGlade investigates a private school, but he's not entirely sure why.

Overproof - While shopping on the Gold Coast, Jack Daniels notices traffic has come to a stand-still. When she realizes what the problem is, she's confronted with her own mortality, and the possible deaths of hundreds.

Bereavement - How badly does Phineas Troutt need a fix? What is he willing to do?

Pot Shot - Detective Herb Benedict just wants a home cooked meal. But his plans get interrupted by a very determined sniper.

Last Request - Phineas Troutt picks up a hitchhiker, with deadly results.

The Necro File - Harry McGlade investigates some bizarre murders in this hilarious, gore-filled mini-epic. (Author's note: This is easily the funniest thing I've ever written, but it's also very offensive. Let the reader beware...)

That's about 65,000 words of Jack Daniels and friends. Some of these are laugh out loud funny. Some require you to solve the mystery. Some are thrilling. Some are scary. All of them have been previously published in various magazines and anthologies.

------------------------

Currently, on May 30 at 7:00pm, this ebook is ranked at #2009 on Amazon. It sold about 315 copies in the month of May.

It is ranked at #44,480 on Barnes & Noble.

So let's try an experiment. Here are some ways for you to obtain a copy of this ebook.

Click HERE to download a free zip file of JACK DANIELS STORIES. It contains versions in html, pdf, doc, epub, and prc (for Kindle). So no matter what ereader or computer or smart phone you own, you should be able to read it or convert it. That's the tracker link. If it isn't working, here's the direct link: http://www.jakonrath.com/Jack.zip

Or, if you own a Kindle, you can click HERE to go to the Kindle store and buy it for $2.99.

Or, if you own a Nook, you can click HERE and go to Barnes and Noble and buy it for $2.99.

If you download the free version, and feel the overwhelming need to donate $1.99 (or any amount) to me, you can click HERE and go to Paypal to donate. Paypal is free to join, safe, and easy to use.

I'll keep track of my free downloads, Kindle numbers, Paypal donations, and my rankings on Amazon and B&N for the next 30 days, then post the results.

Also, I encourage pirates to post this everywhere. Go ahead and proliferate the internet with JACK DANIELS STORIES. You can explain that I'm encouraging it, or you can just take it and not say a word. I'd appreciate it if you post in the comments section where you're uploaded it, which you can do anonymously. Or you don't have to.

If anyone sees this ebook on file sharing sites, I also ask that you please post a link to it in the comments. The more places I can see this being shared, the better I can compare ebooks sold to ebooks shared.

Will giving the ebook away for free hurt sales? Will it help sales? Will I gain readers? Will people donate money? Will people who take the free ebook buy my other ebooks?

What do you think will happen?

Should be interesting. Now some Q & A.

Q: Why are you doing this?

A: I've said repeatedly that there is no proof piracy hurts sales. So I'm manning up and putting my money where my mouth is.

Q: How long will you run this experiment?

A: I'm going to keep track of it for a month. But the links will be live forever. I fully expect the ebook to appear on file sharing sites forever as well.

Q: Do you have any predictions?

A: I have no idea what will happen. It depends on how many people see this post and act on it. But I really don't expect my sales to drop off.

Q: If you're so pro-piracy, why don't you give away all of your ebooks?

A: My stance has always been that I don't believe piracy is harmful to the artist, and that it can't be stopped, so don't worry about it. Does that make me pro-piracy? Or does it make me realistic?

Q: You didn't answer the question.

A: The majority of my ebooks are currently free on my website, www.JAKonrath.com. If you want them for free, there they are.

Q: Why did you use this particular ebook for your experiment?

A: I think it's a good cross-section of my work, and will appeal to the widest range of people. It also has modest sales, which should be easier to track.

Q: I clicked on the free download. Now what am I supposed to do with it?

A: Save it to your computer, then open it using Winzip. You can download Winzip HERE. It's free for the first 45 days.

Q: What if the ebook is downloaded for free 10,000 times and no one pays for it?

A: That would be awesome. I hope those people who download it take the time to read a few stories. As a wise man once said, writers should fear obscurity, not piracy.

Q: What if your sales drop off to nothing?

A: Want to bet they don't? :)

Q: Can I give away this ebook on my blog and website?

A: The goal here is to share it by any and all means possible. Link to it, copy it, upload it, make torrents, put it on Usenet, stick it in file lockers, etc. Whatever you'd like.

Q: You're encouraging people to steal, condoning piracy, and turning your back on your fellow authors. You're the devil.

A: I get that a lot. No one is forcing you to read my blog. If you don't like what I'm doing, change the channel.

Addendum:

Lots of disagreement in the comments. That's good. Disagreement is the pathway to discussion and understanding, as long as everyone keeps an open mind.

Some points I'm seeing repeated:

1. This experiment doesn't count. Because I'm giving permission, this isn't "stealing."

JA sez: For the nth time, I don't care what the legal or moral definition of file-sharing is. I want to see if free books, widely distributed, cannibalize book sales. That's the test.

2. The final stats will be inconclusive.

JA sez: I agree. The whole reason it is impossible to prove piracy is harmful is that there is no direct association or causality between people getting free books and books for sale. There are too many other factors at play. That said, if my sales don't drop off, that's a promising indicator that free books don't effect sales.

3. If a person takes the free ebook, you've lost a sale.

JA sez: Actually, the opposite is true. If a free option is available right next to a paid option, and people take the freebie, that PROVES they wouldn't have bought the one for sale because they took the freebie.

4. You pay a cover artist but don't expect to get paid yourself?

JA sez: I hope to get paid. I'm doing everything within my power to give readers good, inexpensive ebooks. But I also know that some people will get copies for free. I see no reason to fight this. It isn't going to stop, and I don't believe it hurts sales.

5. Why not just make everything free?

JA sez: There's a big difference between giving away everything for free and tolerating media file-sharing. If you don't see that difference, I doubt I'll be able to convince you.

6. What about the future where everything is free?

JA sez: Everything will be free in the future, eh? How about using that crystal ball to get the lottery numbers for next week.

7. You're getting publicity for this. That will fuel sales. Pirates may just buy your book just to prove that file-sharing doesn't hurt.

JA sez: So now I have to figure out who is buying my ebooks and what their intent is? Now I can't use publicity to fuel sales, as I've been doing in the past?

Bottom line: there are versions that are free, and versions that are for sale. Will the free versions slow down the sales trajectory I've been on with this ebook (selling about 10 copies per day)? To my knowledge, this ebook has not been pirated before, so I'm taking a book with proven sales and adding the free factor to it. Why don't we all take a deep breath and actually wait and see what happens?

I believe the majority of piracy exists because copyright holders are unable or unwilling to meet specific consumer demand, such as availability, price, and convenience.

To see the tracked free downloads so far, click HERE.

347 comments:

1 – 200 of 347   Newer›   Newest»
Likari said...

The idea of piracy drives me crazy, but I'm willing to let go of that notion. This is an interesting experiment.

Victorine said...

My guess is that it will boost your sales. If someone reads your work and likes it, they'll want more. Good luck with the experiment!

Zoe Winters said...

Okay this is going to sound REALLY fruity froo froo, but...

There is someone on my Twitter feed who absolutely FREAKS OUT about how much her ebooks are being pirated. She's all over the place sending cease and desist letters. It takes a lot of her time and energy which she could be putting to use building platform and writing more books.

To hear her tell it, she's one pirate away from starvation and living in a cardboard box.

I'm not downing her, but... I wonder if perhaps it's unwise from some "cosmic" perspective (that was the fruity froo froo part) to be SO obsessed with the negative.

It seems to me that her writing life revolves around avoiding piracy and other badness.

Whereas you seem to be more concerned with the positive and focusing on what you can really influence most.

I'm not saying you'd be destitute if you thought like her or she'd be rich if she thought like you, but I do wonder if when we have a mentality of "hoarding" if we don't get less benefit from whatever is out there in the world making stuff run our way, then if we just would calm down and write.

It seems to me that those who succeed the highest in lives are the ones who focus on the positive and move continually in that direction rather than obsessing about the negative and putting out little fires everywhere.

Zoe Winters said...

*in life (sorry, typo)

David Wood said...

I have a theory that most 'readers' who visit pirate sites are really compilers who compulsively collect and rarely read. Even if some 'pirates' really do read the book, as long as it's a good book, there's a good chance they'll tell someone, if not many someones, about it. Nothing like a little grass roots PR! I actually felt a little bit flattered when my books finally started showing up on pirate sites. It was like I had arrived!

D.A. Królak said...

The link to Black Fire Networks didn't work for me...is it down?

Joe Konrath said...

The Blackfire networks link is the tracker, so I can keep count. It works for me.

If it doesn't work for you, try the direct link:

http://www.jakonrath.com/Jack.zip

Ellen Fisher said...

David, like I said on Joe's last post on pirates, my books showed up on pirate sites years ago. I still don't feel like I've arrived:-).

Joe Konrath said...

Just checked the Blackfire stats--thirty downloads in about 40 minutes. So the link should be working...

Rosanne said...

I'd just like to say that I downloaded one of your books for free last year and having never read your books before found out how much I enjoyed your writing. You are now on my "Author to Buy" list and I download (and pay for - unless I get it free) all your books to my Kindle. Good luck with your experiment!

bish8 said...

I posted a link to your piracy experiment on my blog here:

http://bishsbeat.blogspot.com/2010/05/jack-daniels-e-pirates.html

I also downloaded my free copy and ripped you off for $1.99. Then again, as a result of a previous inexpensive Konrath e-book, I ponied up some bucks for a few more.

Works for me . . .

Go, Joe! Viva the revolution!

C. Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

Linked and blogged, Joe. Good luck with this one-- I'll be watching closely.

If your sales on this title go up, I'll be even more impressed.

Wouldn't it be nice to say "I told you so?"

The White Wolf said...

The formatting on your Kindle stories is a bit wonky. Took me like fifteen minutes to find the beginning of THE NECRO FILE.

Just sayin.

Terry Westley said...

I bought it on Amazon for my iPhone and downloaded the zip file as well. When you buy a book on Amazon, you're really only renting it for as long as Amazon doesn't pull it back or supports the platform so I appreciate the zip file. This is my first Konrath book, so your experiment is already a success.

A $1.99 rented book is cheaper than a rented iTunes movie of which I often partake for those long sleepless red-eye flights. A good book is always better than a mediocre movie.

You have the right idea about convenience and price being the key to "fighting" piracy. I wonder if the Netflix model would work with ebooks.

BTW, I first heard about you from Mike Masnick's blog on Techdirt.

Yaaaargh said...

Excellent idea, and bravo for enlightened thinking!! Oh, Zoe, if that "someone" is a certain dimwitted Southern would-be pornographer with a double "a" in her name, well, the "badness" she should be worried about is a good deal closer to home than any pirate. Wink wink, nudge nudge, nuff said.

Joe Konrath said...

The formatting on your Kindle stories is a bit wonky.

Explain, so I can fix it. What are you reading it on? What do you mean by wonky?

~ Kat said...

Well, I am one of the weirdo's who truly believes that people can benefit from piracy. When I finally finish my book I hope someone pirates my stuff! It's really a complement of sorts, I shared your blog link on Facebook and have purchased from Amazon for my Kindle!

Jonathan Pritchard said...

I posted the link to this page on Reddit.

http://www.reddit.com/r/reddit.com/comments/c9r6x/steal_this_ebook_author_jakonraths_experiment/

Geekomancer said...

I say yay to your forward thinking! I've thought that about you since I found your blog. I've been a tech enthusiast for a long while and I watch with morbid fascination at all the anti-pirate shenanigans out there. It's good to see people not freaking out over a non-issue! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I'm sharing this with my family! Thanks!

evilphilip said...

Who did the cover art? It is excellent.

Jude Hardin said...

I'm all for giving things away for promo, and I agree it's futile to worry about piracy, but...

How would someone downloading this book be considered piracy, since you're willingly giving it away?

I don't participate in file sharing, but I'll take something for free if someone gives it to me. So maybe I'm not getting what the gist of this is about. How are you going to prove piracy doesn't hurt sales when giving something away doesn't constitute piracy?

It's kind of a weird catch-22.

author Scott Nicholson said...

Sounds fun, I'll tweet it. While we're making pirates walk the plank, let's hang everyone who every checked a book out from the library and guillotine those who loaned a book to a friend.

Scott Nicholson
Drummer Boy

Joe Konrath said...

How are you going to prove piracy doesn't hurt sales when giving something away doesn't constitute piracy?

Free is free, whether the author wants it or not.

What's the difference between an author caring about it and not caring about it?

This isn't about permission. It's about if file sharing hurts sales.

mlouisalocke said...

I just watched the plenary session at BEA on the "value of the Book" on Book Talk today, and it was sooo depressing how mired in the old paradigm many of the panelist were. Particularly depressing was Scott Turow who was the only author represented, and when asked what authors were most concerned about-his answer was piracy!!! And then he berated the publisher for allowing ebooks sales to come out at the same time as hardbacks. Then made a swipe at you (not by name) as a writer who was anxious to be the first book published by Amazon. The very fact that they chose an author who was so hostile to epublishing should have been a clue to how scared they are.

I just love that you keep pushing back.-besides your experiments do help those of us who are self-publishing make more informed choices. I lowered my price on Kindle from $4.00 to $2.99 this month, and the number sold went from an average of 22 books on Kindle a month, to 52 sold in May! Small potatoes to your numbers but very gratifying increase to this first time novelist. Keep up the good work!

Joe Konrath said...

Just changed the mobi file to prc, which will work on Kindle and is formatted much nicer.

John said...

@Jude:

Because I think the point is that the problem with piracy, at least from a financial standpoint, is that the belief is that these people are getting the book for free and not paying for it, thereby hurting sales.

So if you give the book away for free, then your sales should go down, because why pay for it when you can get it for free?

I'm guessing Konrath is banking on the assumption that giving away the book will increase his sales because more people will be aware of his work. A free book is an easy entry into Konrath's work, so if someone gets the free book, reads it, and likes it, maybe he'll buy some more of Konrath's books. I've heard over and over people say that checking books out from the library leads them to buy more from the author, so the effect ought to be the same here.

@Konrath: However, I think one month is too short a time frame to get an accurate look at what is going on. It doesn't seem long enough to notice a trend, unless you see a huge spike, which is possible. Also, how long has the book been available to purchase? If the book has only been available for a short time, then it will be difficult to gauge how much free downloads have affected your sales since a sales pattern hasn't had time to form.

D.A. Królak said...

It worked this time - thanks!

Joe Konrath said...

However, I think one month is too short a time frame to get an accurate look at what is going on. It doesn't seem long enough to notice a trend.

I'll keep this going for a while, reporting every month.

Also, how long has the book been available to purchase? If the book has only been available for a short time, then it will be difficult to gauge how much free downloads have affected your sales since a sales pattern hasn't had time to form.

March is 135, April is 124, May is 311. So we've got three months of sales data, which appears to be on an upswing. When I post the final numbers, I'll also include other ebooks of mine for comparison.

Jude Hardin said...

I still don't understand.

A while back there was a card table set up outside my local Books-A-Million. On the card table were several stacks of paperbacks and a sign that said Free Books.

How would taking one of those be the same as walking into the store and putting a paperback under your shirt?

In the first case the author/publisher/bookseller is willingly giving the product away for free, hoping (I assume) to garner repeat business somewhere down the line. In the second case, a thief is taking the product from the author/publisher/bookseller against their will.

It's not the same, no matter how you slice it.

People who take something offered for free might actually buy something in the future; thieves will probably just keep on stealing.

Joe Konrath said...

It's pretty simple, Jude.

The argument is that getting the book for free leads to fewer sales.

Whether the author gives permission for the freebie or not isn't the point.

The pirating community really paid attention to my last post. I predict they'll post this on various file-sharing sites--the same sites which have other ebooks available for free.

If my sales aren't harmed by that, I'd say it's a pretty good indicator that free books don't effect sales.

Terry Odell said...

How does your model stand up to those who write for e-publishers?

Joe Konrath said...

How does your model stand up to those who write for e-publishers?

I don't have a model. I have a hypothesis. That hypothesis is: ebook readers want good books at low prices.

Likari said...

"If my sales aren't harmed by that, I'd say it's a pretty good indicator that free books don't effect sales."

Actually, I think you're trying to prove that they do effect sales -- but they don't affect sales negatively.

/editsnark

Jude Hardin said...

The argument is that getting the book for free leads to fewer sales.

No, the argument is that stolen books lead to fewer sales.

People who steal and people who will take something offered for free are different crowds.

Geekomancer said...

No, the argument is that stolen books lead to fewer sales.

People who steal and people who will take something offered for free are different crowds.


No, actually. That's not it AT ALL. Most of the hue and cry comes from the idea that if you can get it for free, no one will ever pay for it. Not specifically stealing.

Joe Konrath said...

People who steal and people who will take something offered for free are different crowds.

Really? And your proof is...?

The point of my posts about piracy is that people don't consider it stealing. It's called file SHARING.

If anything, an author encouraging people to widely share a file should result in even fewer sales.

This isn't about labels. It's about digital media wanting to be free. It's about copyright being unenforceable on the internet. It's about piracy not really being the problem that everyone keeps whining about.

Call it free, shared, or stolen, it's all the same. Just because the owner of the IP encourages it has nothing at all to do with if it effects sales.

Redstarsix said...

Surely you don't believe that a thief steals every single thing they own Jude?

John said...

Many people who pirate ebooks would never buy the book if purchasing it was the only way to get it. They would just do without.

With Konrath's experiment, if his sales either go up or stay about the same, then that could be evidence that file-sharing does not hurt sales.

If his sales drop, then that could be evidence that file-sharing does hurt sales. Either way it will be difficult to say for sure, given how many things affect sales.

But if you're actively trying to give away the same products you are trying to sell, and your sales go up, or even stays the same, then it would be hard to argue that file-sharing hurts the author.

Cheryl Kaye Tardif said...

Sorry, but I had to chuckle at this "experiment". If even one person takes the free ebook over paying the $1.99, you've proven that piracy hurts authors and affects your sales.

You'll also have proven that people don't pirate books because they're too expensive, but because they're free.

Let's not confuse authors or publishers giving books away as a promotional strategy with copyright theft and book piracy.

It's that simple.

Support Authors, Buy a Book!

Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Rob in Denver said...

"No, the argument is that stolen books lead to fewer sales."

Thieves are going to steal regardless... you're not going to sell to those people anyway. Not sure how this fact has any influence --- let alone a negative one --- on the population that will buy.

John said...

Sorry, but I had to chuckle at this "experiment". If even one person takes the free ebook over paying the $1.99, you've proven that piracy hurts authors and affects your sales.

No, actually, it doesn't, because there is no way to know if that person would ever have purchased the book at $1.99 if that were the only way to get the book.

Konrath's books don't interest me in the slightest (not hating, just being honest here). However, I've also never read any of his work, except this blog. So I will never pay $1.99 for one of his books, unless I already liked his work.

The only way to know if I will like his work is to read it, and for me, that means checking a book out at the library or buying one. If it turns out I like his work, maybe I'll buy more. Then his sales go up.

But even if I don't ever buy one of his books, Konrath hasn't lost any sales because I would never have given him the chance to prove himself with my money in the first place. Not trying to be harsh, but that's just how it is.

So the argument is that giving people a free entry into your oeuvre might be a good way to get readers you may never have gotten before. Maybe someone who would buy Konrath's books otherwise will now get them for free instead; certainly that will happen some. But what is the net effect? I think that is what Konrath is trying to find out (correct me if I'm wrong).

Jude Hardin said...

The point of my posts about piracy is that people don't consider it stealing. It's called file SHARING.

Sorry, but anybody with a rudimentary knowledge of copyright law knows that downloading a song from, say, Limewire, constitutes an infringement. Yes, they will still take that song, and will continue to take other songs in the future, because they know that it's highly unlikely they will ever get punished for their larceny. It's not sharing, it's stealing. They know it's wrong, and they still do it.

I agree with you that it probably does not hurt sales. Much.

But giving something away attracts a completely different demographic, IMO, so I think the results of your experiment are automatically skewed. More people are going to take something offered for free than would dare to steal outright.

And no, I have no proof. Maybe we should take a poll.

Geekomancer said...

Actually, I'm not sure how you can steal a digital file. Stealing means you're depriving someone of their property. When you download a song or book, you're downloading a COPY of said work.

Look, ethics of it aside, I think everyone can agree that the system is broken. If Joe's experiment can help clear up some of the FUD that's being put out there, I think that's a good thing.

Rob in Denver said...

"Sorry, but anybody with a rudimentary knowledge of copyright law knows that downloading a song from, say, Limewire, constitutes an infringement."
I'd bet real money that the actual number of people with rudimentary knowledge of copyright law wouldn't top .001 percent of the US population. They might have some sense they're doing something "wrong," but that doesn't mean they understand copyright law in the least.

More to the point, though, is that no one, and I mean no one, would feel any twang of guilt about burning a disc full of mp3s for a friend. Yes, a digital mix tape. The classic example of sharing... and it's all kinds of illegal. I could make a pretty strong argument that this practice is actually quite good for sales.

Rob in Denver said...

"Sorry, but anybody with a rudimentary knowledge of copyright law knows that downloading a song from, say, Limewire, constitutes an infringement."
I'd bet real money that the actual number of people with rudimentary knowledge of copyright law wouldn't top .001 percent of the US population. They might have some sense they're doing something "wrong," but that doesn't mean they understand copyright law in the least.

More to the point, though, is that no one, and I mean no one, would feel any twang of guilt about burning a disc full of mp3s for a friend. Yes, a digital mix tape. The classic example of sharing... and it's all kinds of illegal. I could make a pretty strong argument that this practice is actually quite good for sales.

Jude Hardin said...

Actually, I'm not sure how you can steal a digital file. Stealing means you're depriving someone of their property. When you download a song or book, you're downloading a COPY of said work.

Good grief. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe we do need to spell out the basics of copyright infringement to file "sharers."

Geekomancer said...

No, you actually don't. What we need is to fix the system. It is broken, and woefully inadequate for the digital world.


I'm sure we can agree on that!

John said...

The thing I hate about the whole thing is nobody ever says a word about libraries, which (in the US) share whatever books, DVDs, and CDs they want with their patrons, without getting permission from the artists or publishers. If their patrons request a certain book, the library buys it and now people can check it out. U.S. law has upheld this; once you own something, you can do whatever you want with it.

As far as I know, the courts have not weighed in on how this affects file-sharing, though I could be wrong. It is legal to videotape something you see on TV (VHS, Tivo).

The only difference between these legal activities and file-sharing is that i don't have to give up my copy in order to share it with others, and no one has to return the things they share.

The Supreme Court needs to decide how significant that is, and whether or not that changes things.

Devi said...

I've been reading and loving your blog for a few weeks and think I've gotten at least $1.99 worth of enjoyment out of it so I bought the Kindle version.

And then I checked Demonoid. It's been on there for four hours with a link to this entry. So far there's just the one seeder and no downloads. The uploader added "The long and short of this is: this book is actually legal. But, if you're feeling generous towards the author, you should probably buy the book for less than $2 on amazon or his website."

C. Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

John has a point. Libraries share books, and the public expects it-- authors think it's okay, too. So what is the real difference between file sharing online? Is it because it's easier? Is it the actual trip to the library to pick up the physical book that makes it okay? Libraries are now lending e-books. Why is a physical library okay, but an online library NOT okay?

I've mentioned before that I hate piracy, but how can I hate someone for re-selling or giving away my books? I did it, too-- every time I sold back my college textbooks.

I do hate plagiarism, though-- that's never going to be negotiable for me.

Steve Lewis said...

Okay, I wanted to add my two cents here:

1) Baen books, a science fiction and fantasy publisher, has been giving away digital copies of books for years. They have an online library where you can get pile o' books for free. Also, they put cd's in hardcover books that are, again, full of books. They said that it sent they're sales through the roof.

2) Orson Scott Card used to post his new books for free on his website until his publsiher made him stop (this was years ago) and he also said his sales increased because of it.

So, Joe, I think that your sales are going to go up. Also, this practice is used in lots of other industries. It's called sampling. :)

John said...

It's worked for Paulo Coelho as well:

http://torrentfreak.com/alchemist-author-pirates-own-books-080124/

Anonymous said...

suggest the best promo of this book being 'pirated' for free by its author, would be on kindle ebook page for it, wouldnt it? Wouldnt that really get the message out, right there on the kindle page, your letting people know you're inviting people to steal your book?

Anonymous said...

should have put word steal in quotes in last post, 'steal' your book, as it's not actually stealing if you invite a stranger to take this one thing, that it's ok.

R.J. said...

I downloaded the free version, but I've also purchased the first four Jack books in mass market paperback and fully intend to get the rest of the series once I finish these and the other books on my book list.

Haven't gotten an e-book reader yet. Not a fan of wireless, so I'm waiting for the Kobo e-reader that Chapters/Indigo sells to iron out a few problems and then spend $150 on that. The 100 classic titles it has ought to keep me busy for some time, too. Then I can grab all of those Smashwords books of yours, Joe. I particularly look forward to Serial, The List, and Origins. Heck, once I have an e-reader, I'll probably grab this one too (is it on Smashwords?).

- R.J.

Silverfox said...

http://www.demonoid.com/files/details/2262911/?rel=1275284003

I uploaded to Demonoid for you.

I am willing to bet that this goes well for you.

FKN
William Stanley

Zoe Winters said...

@Jude

Most people aren't thieves though. There aren't a statistically large enough number of thieves to hurt sales. Most people who file share who aren't inherently wired to be dishonest, will feel some little twinge somewhere. They will justify it by promising themselves to buy future work by the author if they like it. Or buy a print copy.

And many do.

I'm not pro-piracy by any stretch of the imagination and I don't really regard someone as a fan who would take my work without permission (especially given that if someone doesn't have a Kindle or can't afford it, or lives in another country they can email me for a free copy), but... regardless of "how I feel about it" I don't think most readers are jerks who would begrudge me the small amount I charge for my work.

cassandrajade said...

It will be very interesting to see the results of this experiment. Wishing you well with this. Have shared the link on twitter.

Moses Siregar III said...

Cheryl, I'm gonna disagree on one point and agree on another. On the latter, I agree with you and Jude.

Sorry, but I had to chuckle at this "experiment". If even one person takes the free ebook over paying the $1.99, you've proven that piracy hurts authors and affects your sales.

That would be an incorrect conclusion, because that's only one side of the story--only the negative. What if two people take the freebie, and one of them just takes it instead of buying it and just rides off into the sunset ($2 lost), while the other becomes a JK fan and buys one or more of his other books ($2 or more gained)? And maybe that second person wouldn't have ever read Joe in the first place.

What he's actually done in that case, is expanded his readership, and quite possibly made some more money, too (if the second person buys two or more books). What if that second person also happens to be the type that tells all his friends about his new favorite author, etc.

Okay, now for where I agree with you:

Let's not confuse authors or publishers giving books away as a promotional strategy with copyright theft and book piracy.

Yes, there is a real difference here. A file-sharing site is very impersonal. Joe is not hanging out there, effectively handing out free copies of his books. On his own blog, he is. And there is a real psychological difference between the two.

It's something like this. On the one hand, your cousin's kid's best friend's father's personal trainer anonymously drops off at your doorstep a delicious ham, which he stole. And you know which store he stole it from.

On the other hand, you actually go to the store yourself, and the owner offers you a free, delicious ham.

The psychological impact of those two scenarios is very different. If you A. go to the store yourself (Joe's blog or site), and B. Joe himself says, "Here, have a delicious ham," (and mmmm, it is delicious) you're going to feel a lot more inclined in the second situation to somehow support the store owner compared to the first example.

That's not to say that this experiment won't be interesting, and won't teach us anything. Kudos to Joe for doing this. But I agree that it's a pretty different situation compared to a file-sharing site.

Moses Siregar III said...

Btw Cheryl and the gang, in the recent piracy thread I said that there should be similar benefits with piracy as with giving away freebies (for example, reaching new readers), but I agree with you (as I mentioned in my above post) that there is a still a difference between the two, and that if the author herself gives the file away, then the positive impact for her is greater.

Mat said...

Hi Joe, piracy completed!

Jack Daniels Stories is now available:

Mininova as a torrent (http://www.mininova.org/tor/3193498)

Free download from my shop On The Wall (http://www.onthewall.com.au/shop)

Free download from my website (http://mathewferguson.com/free-downloadable-ebooks)

The Mininova torrent will be scraped by other torrent sites in a day or so which will then spread it to a hundred other places.

cheers,
Mat

ojm said...

"Sorry, but I had to chuckle at this "experiment". If even one person takes the free ebook over paying the $1.99, you've proven that piracy hurts authors and affects your sales."

Nonono! The whole point is that, his sales are what they are, and if they go down, piracy might affect it negatively. If the sales go up, piracy might boost it.

It's not at all about if 99% pirates it, it's all about if his profits will go down or not!

Anonymous said...

Well, as a statistician, the 'test' of if and whether sales go up/down, as detailed here, are likely to be inconclusive fact-wise. In reliable stat, if there is a correlation between two factors, it may be that one was caused by the other, but it often may also be that both were influenced by a third factor. And fourth. Etc.

Testers in solid research and fact-finding may use correlation to suggest the possibility that one thing causes another, but causality cannot be proved by using only correlation. That's like building a tabletop but leaving all four supporting legs off. It wont stand scrutiny.

A tester designing a factual test would have to isolate and measure all factors, not just one or two, carefully measuring known and presently unknown factors (found through inquiry beyond one's present knowledge), to determine which factors are potentially responsible for changes in one variable.

A one-time test as given here, is not a proof, it is only one anecdotal outcome. For a test to approach a proof, the exact same test would have to be replicated over and over again, with same a priori controls, and with same outcome for others, not just for one person.

To reference reliable data, other authors would have to tell p2p sites to upload/ read their ebooks/print books for free, and authors would have to have as close to the same publishing background in both print pages and ebooks as the first author, with as close to the same depth and length of exposures the first author had; blog, publisher pr, amazon, news mentions, etc. Outcomes of such a test would have measured all influences, and would have to be close to the same in outcome of up/down sales.

Precise language is important.
Here, in language, there is a strong ambiguity about an author urging others to pirate his work, vs author giving permission to others to put/mention/let others know he has given permission for his work to be on file sharing sites.

In reliable fact-finding, those are two different premises, and reliable outcome has to rest on testing one or the other (defined with precision), not both at the same time.

It's an interesting personal experiment, anyway.

ojm said...

Well, overall Pirates spend approximately 10 times the amount that others do on culture. That's why it's just the smart thing to do to make yourself known for those people.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/apr/21/study-finds-pirates-buy-more-music

Anonymous said...

I think you're right. Joe's got how many people from here now mentioning his book all over the viral pirate networks? If uptick in sales, more likely all that free pr driven by others has done it. Very clever.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog posts about e-publishing with interest. I agree with some of your points and disagree with others. e-publishing is the cheaper, electronic version of Lulu IMHO. Writers need to go through the process of being edited and critiqued and reviewed by real reviewers and not friends and family. However, if it works for you, that's great. You've been through the process, you've grown your audience and you do well with it. I'm happy for you.

However, this current post is completely out of line (again, IMHO). Pirating is stealing. If *you* want to give your work away, that's fine - put in a caveat to that effect but do not force the rest of the publishing world/authors to accept that stealing is OK. It is not.

I put in long hours of research, editing, working on a story and I will not give it away for free. People have been trying to screw over real authors for years. The money flows to the author who does all the hard work.

Let's put it in perspective. I receive "X" at my day job. I do the work, my company pays me. Simple, right? My company does not expect me to work for free.

If I write a book and you are interested in it, you should pay me for my work. You should not expect me to give you that book for free - if *I* hand it to you and say "no charge," that's a totally different story. I'm agreeing to give it to you for free. Piracy takes that option out of my hands.

Let's take it one step further and do the math. Let's say I earn out my advance and then receive $0.10 per copy sold after that.

In the real world, before pirating, if I sold 10,000 additional books, I would receive a royalty payment of $1,000.

What can $1,000 cover?

My mortgage
10 weeks of groceries
8 months of gas and electric
1 year of car insurance
3 months of medical insurance

Now, every time someone downloads my books from a piracy site, I lose. So if even 1,000 people decide to pirate my book, I lose $100. That's a week's worth of groceries for my family.

You are asking that I literally not feed my family for 1 week.

Sorry, but I respectfully disagree with you on this.

Someone mentioned libraries and lending books. Libraries *purchase* books from the publisher and local libraries do not have the reach of the internet. There are thousands of libraries who purchase thousands of books every year including re-orders of popular titles.

If I loan a book to a friend, that book is my property, I paid for it and I can loan it to a friend. That is a far cry from downloading it and making it available for free to tens of thousands of people.

Again, this is just my opinion. You may want to give your work away for free - but I do not and I resent the fact that you are advocating piracy. That hurts *all* authors.

Coolkayaker1 said...

"No, actually, it doesn't, because there is no way to know if that person would ever have purchased the book at $1.99 if that were the only way to get the book."--Joe.

I'm going to download it for free now, even though I was going to buy it.

Now you know.

Anonymous said...

Omg my friend was readin this book on classs (he downloaded for free) and now i am addicted to them =) you just6 won yourself a long term buyer

Anonymous said...

Hi Joe,
I'm going to take a free book. I've never read anything by you before, but I do enjoy discovering new authors. This is what commenters like Cheryl are failing to grasp and gets to the crux of the problem for mid-listers and less-known authors. I discovered you through this blog post that was linked on Hacker News (link). I would never have read a book by you. I may never read anything else by you. But, if I like the book, I may seek out other works by you, and if someone makes it easy to buy a DRM-free, relatively inexpensive digital copy, I'll pay for it.
Let's be clear though, I know what you are up against. I write open-source software for people to scan deadtree books, proof the text, and create their own digital books. I hold no illusion that some people are using this to create ebooks that are getting distributed on the darknet. And I'm behind the curve on the book piracy front, because the vast majority of newly pirated works are DRM-stripped copies direct from a (maybe) purchased copy. I'm also a downloader because IRC is just fscking easier than paying for it and dealing with the DRM. I do love my Kindle though.
Good day and good luck.

Anonymous said...

I expect everyone who thinks this is a good idea to come work for me for free for a month. I expect that you'll work hard for no pay because, well, I want to see how you work before I pay you a dime.

Oh, and tell your landlord that you will move in to the apartment for one month for free because you want to see how the neighborhood is before you actually start paying rent.

This might work at the grocery store too. I'm not going to pay for this box of cereal because I've never bought this brand before and I want to try it for free. If I like it I might come back and pay for it but then again, maybe not since I can get it for free, why should I ever pay for it.

Good luck with that.

Anonymous said...

Joe,

Will you also track increased sales of your hardcopy version of the book?

I know it sounds crazy, but there are still people who might get hooked on a partial free read of the digital version, and then decide to buy the hardcopy.

I often purchase shareware, and the model is such that the developer gives the software away for free.

The shareware developer only asks that the user to donate and register if the user finds the shareware useful. There are benefits to paying and registering, such as free future software upgrades.

It seems you are trying a similar model. How could you provide a special value-added benefit for subsequent purchase of another title?

For example, when the grocer (in a previous example) hands out a free ham he might also give the patron a coupon for $3 off her next purchase at the store. If you give your book away on your website, could you embed an electronic coupon to give a discount on a subsequent purchase? Or, could the reader provide proof of purchase (email Amazon order # to you) of another title, and you could send back a premium (a short story?).

Anonymous said...

"Q: Who does your covers?

A: My artist is a friend of mine named Carl Graves. He's at cgdouble2(at)sbcglobal.net. Tell him I sent you. Expect to pay around $300 for a cover, though the price fluctuates depending on your needs."

So, we're expect to pay the artist but not expect payment for our work?

Yeah - that makes a whole lot of sense.

Casey Moreton said...

I've received some great feedback from my request the other day. The input was very constructive and much appreciated. So much so, that I'm going to throw it out there one more time to see if anyone else wants to chime in. And thanks again in advance.....

Thanks for the mention, Joe.

These are my 3 Kindle books:
AROUND EVERY CORNER
CRASH
BLINDSIDED

In the nearly 2.5 months that I’ve had these books on Amazon, I’ve sold thousands of copies. In fact, my Kindle sales are paying for my entire trip to Thrillerfest in July. Not bad, if you ask me, because spending most of a week in NYC ain’t cheap.

But I’m fascinated by how the sales of my titles vary. Around Every Corner is a lot like Harlan Coben’s standalones, and is my bestseller, nearly 2 to 1. Blindsided is next, followed a distant third by Crash. Why is this?

I ask, because Crash is probably the best thing I’ve ever written, just based on overall quality, at least in my opinion. Blindsided is more of a Jack Reacher or Joe Pike novel, and features a possible series character named Thomas Mercury. It’s pure action and I think it really sizzles and that book would make a really fun beach read.

Around Every Corner is the shortest of the three, and is told in first person. It was without a doubt the most fun I’ve ever had writing.

So, I’m here to ask you guys a favor, go over there and just take a look at my books, at the titles, the covers, the product descriptions, the sample chapters, and decide for yourself why you would pick one over the other, because I genuinely have no idea.

Anonymous said...

Piracy is a problem for authors, but it's also a big problem for Amazon, Apple, and Google (and anyone else who wants to sell ebooks).

iTunes coexists with massive music piracy by offering the product at a low price (Apple's market research showed that 99 cents was the price at which people will buy vs. shoplift).

The book industry faces a similar challenge, and Amazon has determined that 9.99 is the anti-piracy price point for new bestsellers. For midlist? It appears they are placing their bets at around 2.99.

The problem for the publishing industry their inability to make margins at these lower price points. Indies have no problem with that, and especially if we are receiving 70% royalties.

Amazon also knows an author must make enough money to keep writing . . . and the bottom line is that they want us to keep writing. No new content means everybody loses . . . especially the readers.

At some level most readers know that JA Konrath won't be writing his next Jack Daniels book if piracy takes all profits from his endeavors. Most of us won't keep working for free. If piracy takes away my ability to make a living at my writing I'll simply close up the store and get another day job, and it would likely be a writing job that pays a straight salary.

The key is pricing and perceived value. If the readers feel they are getting a good value, most will pay.

Joe Konrath said...

I'm seeding Mininova torrent and 2 different Demonoid torrents set up by some friendly pirates. Danke.

FARfetched said...

Okay, I've posted a link to this page at 40 Acres, More of Less, where some authors (published and otherwise) hang out. I'll write up something more in-depth and post it at my own blog tomorrow, since Mondays are reserved for episodes of the novel I'm serializing.

I've also d/l'ed the zip and will slip the PRC on my Kindle sooner or later — if it were paper, it would now be in the "gonna read these" pile.

James H. Byrd said...

My wife and I are also self-published authors. We put on the Self-Publishers Online Conference (which we'd love to have you speak at next year, btw -- we'll be in touch) to help others learn how to get into self publishing.

I also enjoy your writing (here and in your books) and vehemently agree with your take on DRM. The Big 6 are going to waste a lot of time and money figuring out that DRM does not work.

I downloaded your story package and I'm looking at the epub version in Adobe Digital Editions. Some observations for your reference:

* There's no cover image. Not sure if that's intentional. I just see "Jack Daniels Stories."

* The "table of contents" feature on the left shows only Jack Daniels Stories, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3. The chapter links seem to be random selections from the content. It would be cool if they were links to each story.

* The story titles are not set off in any way, so they just blend into the text as another paragraph between stories. Hard to find start/end.

Thanks for conducting this experiment! I'm interested in seeing what you learn.

Oh, and the "tracked" download link worked fine for me.

Joe Konrath said...

I added to the blog entry to address some of the issues I keep seeing in the comments here.

Anonymous said...

3. If a person takes the free ebook, you've lost a sale.

JA sez: Actually, the opposite is true. If a free option is available right next to a paid option, and people take the freebie, that PROVES they wouldn't have bought the one for sale because they took the freebie.

That PROVES nothing. You have no empirical evidence to back your assertion. Sounds like justification to me.

I've bought books based on Amazon recommendations even if I've never read the author before. If it's priced right and it looks like something I may be interested I will buy it.

Ellen Fisher said...

Your sales ranking on Amazon has improved quite a bit. Yesterday when I looked, it was around #2800; now it's at #1002.

James Melzer said...

Posted a blog about this and put the file in my feed at JamesMelzer.net

Hughes. said...

I've downloaded the zip, and posted a link to here to go along with my semi-related poll on what readers are prepared to pay for ebooks.

Link

I'm hoping the poll will be useful for indie authors in setting prices for their work, too. Votes so far seem more generous than I was expecting towards the work of unknown writers.

I couldn't agree more that writers should care about being read, first and foremost. Unless a book is so bad nobody would buy anything else by the writer, having as many eyes-on words as possible is the best marketing there is.

John Brown said...

I think this is a great idea. However,

To see if piracy hurts sales, you actually need a control group for comparison. We don't have one here.

Second, there's the idea that those who consistently pirate and those who consistently pay don't don't overlap much. Or that those who visit Amazon and obtain their copies there don't go much to pirate sites and vice versa. If this is true, then it would explain some of the effect we see with Joe's books. If it's not, then it raises other interesting questions.

But I think that in order to test this, you'd actually have to put the pirated copy up in the paying venue (Amazon) as well. I don't know how you'd factor in price.

But as it stands, without a control group, this will only prove that Joe can sell books on Amazon, not how much piracy may or may not affect sales.

Anonymous said...

"But I think that in order to test this, you'd actually have to put the pirated copy up in the paying venue (Amazon) as well. I don't know how you'd factor in price. "


I think Stacey Cochran can speak to this, as he had a free book on Kindle for a while. Did it boost sales of his other titles? Would he do it again?

Maryann Miller said...

Interesting experiment, Joe. I just posted your link on Twitter.

You are so right about not wasting time and energy worrying about the pirating. I liked what Zoe had to say, too. I know authors who rant about all kinds of negatives from bad reviews to poor sales. They even say the "bad" news ruined their writing for the day or the week. Wow, what a waste.

Joe Konrath said...

You have no empirical evidence to back your assertion.

Sure I do. If you took the freebie as opposed to paid for it, that proves you were not going to pay for it. If you were going to pay for it, you would not have taken the freebie. That's about as empirical as it gets.

@John - I don't have a control, but I have numbers that will help analyze this data. I have 14 months worth of ebook sales. I can compare last month's sales to this month's sales of this ebook title and several comparable titles, and make some assumptions.

As for having a freebie up on Amazon, I also have some interesting data on that. SERIAL was available for free, and downloaded over 200,000 times. SERIAL UNCUT is currently for sale, and selling well (about 435 a month), despite the shorter version being free.

Is this pure science? No.

I simply want to show that free doesn't hurt sales.

Now, as it stands, the sales numbers for Jack Daniels Stories are higher than they were prior to this blog post. I'm attributing that to the publicity this post is getting. We'll see, after a month and after six months, what the trend is. That will be a more realistic indicator of the long-term effects of file sharing.

But I gotta say I'm tickled to see this has gotten to #880 on Amazon. :)

Joe Konrath said...

Just added a tracked to the end of the post, so people can see how many times the freebie has been downloaded from this website. This doesn't count all of the downloads going on elsewhere on the interwebs, but it is a concrete number for me to compare to the sales figures on Kindle.

tuxgirl said...

I see a lot of people saying that this is different from piracy because the author is okay with it, so it's not a valid test. I agree that it's not the same. However, I think that the way the test is skewed is actually toward the claim that piracy hurts sales.

See, I have chosen to avoid pirated works. However, if an author makes their work available for free, I will download it and give it a read.

My guess is that this experiment will have possibly a slight drop in the sales of this book, but a significant increase in the sales of other books.

Anonymous said...

No way am I going into one of those torrent virus-infected whorehouses to download.

I'll pay the 1.99 for the extra-large, condom-fitted (after all, it IS JA Konrath) clean version.

The prospect of facing husband's wrath if I put a virus on this machine . . . just to save $1.99? No, thanks. I don't know about the rest of you folks, but my marriage is worth at least $1.99.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to look at it from the consumer side for a moment.

Piracy of music began when there were two alternatives:

1) Pay $15 or $20 for a CD, the content of which was an unknown. If it was garbage, you were just ripped off.

2) Download songs for free, decide if the CD is worth purchasing.

Itunes found the sweet spot for pricing (cheap) and convenience (immediate download without having to go purchase a CD).

Same thing is happening with books.

A lot of authors seem to think that because they put so much work into a book, that it is worth money.

Not so.

You may have worked years on it, but if it is poorly written with a poor story, it is worth zero. But the purchaser is buying on faith, because he or she can't preview the entire book. If it is worth zero (and let's face it, many books are terrible), you just stole $X from the purchaser.

Buying books is not like buying cookware or a sofa. You can look and touch those things and know what you are buying. Books are a leap of faith and may have a value of zero to the buyer.

King makes millions because of his brand - buy his book and you are guaranteed a good read.

No-name authors have to be careful about asserting their work has any value just because they wrote it. You could be the pirate for charging even $2.99 for it.

I'm not justifying piracy, but there are reasons why people are hesitant to purchase an unknown, or may want to try a pirate copy for free first.

Moses Siregar III said...

I have to echo what some others have said. If Joe gets a sales spike from this experiment, my money says that it's mainly because of the promotion from his own blog post and from everyone else blogging and tweeting about this.

Hypothetically, this month he could get 1,000 people downloading the freebie, and 1,000 people paying $1.99 for it, and most of the extra sales could be coming from the extra publicity and promotion, rather than from the freebies.

However, that would still prove one of his points (which he's actually proved before, anyway). That an author's work can be freely available, and yet many people will still buy the work.

Such results would also support the strategy of an author giving away free stories to financially support his business. "Here, try a sample of my chili." In the end, you lose some money by feeding some people for free, but you make more money by attracting new buyers and fans.

But as I mentioned last night, one of the key differences here is that Joe himself is giving away the free ham, at his own store. That alone makes this considerably different than typical file-sharing.

But we will likely find that more people buy this book from Joe, as well as other works of his, mainly because he's expanding his audience with the freebies.

I give Joe a lot of credit for doing things that other authors are afraid to do. For example, pricing his ebooks very low. And, condoning piracy. These are bold moves, and they are supporting *his own* business. I have to wonder, though, how sustainable is such a strategy if everyone else did it? Then again, that's just hypothetical, because many authors will never condone piracy, and the publishing industry is unlikely to start selling new works for $1.99.

But once again, Joe is showing himself to be a genius at self-promotion, and I'm happy to see him succeed.

Brent Billy Curtis said...

well played mr. konrath. i just spent the 1.99 for the kindle version. for me it's worth the two bucks to have it available instantly on my kindle, pc, and iphone. sure, i could have gotten the free version and gone through the rigmarole of uploading and converting, etc. But i have enough spare change in my bank account to avoid the hassle so I did. I'm paying for the convenience.

Joe Konrath said...

Hotfile link

Joe Konrath said...

This is interesting:

Mininova stats

Moses Siregar III said...

That is interesting, Joe. The US (13%) and Canada and UK (17% combined) are only 30% of the free downloads on Minerva. Makes one wonder if most of the piracy is from people in other countries that aren't likely to buy your works on Amazon.com anyway.

Moses Siregar III said...

Oops--Mininova, not Minerva.

Zoe Winters said...

I'm the type who would rather just have the convenience of buying it on my Kindle. So even if it's free somewhere, if it's cheap on Kindle, I'm just buying it. Most other people aren't going to haggle or begrudge the author anything $2.99 or under.

Also, most people who are BUYERS, actual shoppers and not people looking for a freebie, aren't googling a book anyway, they're going to their favorite book buying site, and searching and buying there.

I have never looked for a book on Google when i wanted to buy. I went to Amazon and typed the book in the search box.

People who keep talking about 1,000 free downloads being a certain amount of money they'll never see... that's not accurate.

Yes, some of those people may take free if it's available and might have paid, but most people who take free stuff without buying weren't buying you anyway, so it's not a true lost sale.

Also... some have mentioned that Joe isn't harmed by piracy because he's making so much money and has a platform (maybe not in this comment thread but in others.)

The first novella in my series is free on my site and several other places, and it gets pirated like crazy. (I gave permission for that because I used a Creative Commons license just for that one work, but as others have said, free is free. And many of those pirates may not even KNOW I gave permission for that work and may just be pirating it cause that's what they do.)

Nevertheless, it's free in a bunch of places, but I've sold over 1,000 copies of the same book on Amazon this month. My sales have been consistently climbing even though it's free in a bunch of places.

I don't really know how it all works. I don't know if I'm losing money or gaining money. I'm not for piracy because I'm against anything that creates a cultural belief that I shouldn't be paid for my work and want to nurture the idea in readers that I SHOULD be paid if you want more stories.

But... I do think that in the grand scheme a lot of people get too worked up about this issue.

We only have to look at music to realize, that despite rampant piracy, a lot of music gets bought at itunes and Amazon for 99 cents a song.

L.V. Gaudet said...

I have to say that I share your philosophy on pirating. You didn't know you were being philosophical, did you?

I agree that piracy, in all its forms, exists and cannot be stopped.

The real questions are, "Where do we draw the lines?" (and there are so many lines to draw), and "How do we choose to live with it?"

Borrowing a book from a friend or public library, buying it from a used book store or sale and at garage sales, and participating in book swaps all have something in common with e-pirating. OMG, you read my book without BUYING it!

Should these perpetrators all be rounded up, flogged, and locked up in a bookless, internetless asylum? Probably not.

Would they have purchased the book new from a book store if all avenues of getting it without the author being compensated were taken away? A few maybe, but most not. New books are darned expensive, and publishers want to charge just as much for ebooks.

Do I think e-pirating is as bad as shoplifting? No. It costs money per item to manufacture, store and ship physical products. Those losses (theft) adds to the cost of production. How much per e-file does it cost to manufacture, store, and ship each shared file download?

Would I go on a rampage of self-righteous indignation if I learned something I published was e-pirated? Seriously? Hey, they liked me enough to pirate me! I must have done something right.

Moses Siregar III said...

Coming back to the library issue, as others have said, it's an uncomfortably similar comparison to file-sharing sites, especially since libraries are lending ebooks now. I haven't done that at my library yet, but with libraries do you have to "give back" the ebook after a while? That would be one of the few differences, if that's the case, but that seems like a pretty minor difference.

I think it comes down to what's culturally acceptable in this case. For example, in the US alcohol is legal but marijuana isn't, so drinking a beer is considered normal, whereas smoking a joint is considered socially deviant (at least in public).

"Borrowing" via the library is something that all good citizens encourage their kids to do, but downloading an ebook is something you have to hide with an anonymous name and a secret email account.

I still want to say, "The right thing to do is to buy books to support their authors rather than get them from swarthy pirates," but then I also have to accept that I'm a hypocrite for picking up some free Hemingway and Faulkner at the library yesterday (I'm doing some research on stories that end with deaths).

As for the argument that libraries buy books, I don't find that very persuasive because one copy of a book might make an author enough to go in with three other people on a cup of coffee, yet be lent out countless times by the nice old ladies at my library, who are paid by our government, out of our tax dollars.

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds," says Waldo Emerson. In this case, is it foolish consistency, or the good kind, to be pro-libraries and anti-pirates?

Moses Siregar III said...

*Ralph Waldo Emerson,* you damn fast fingers.

Anonymous said...

One aspect I haven't seen mentioned is this: cheap ebooks and a certain amount of piracy may actually get the kids reading again.

Kids don't read much anymore compared to past years.

But give them a gadget (e-reader) and cheap (or free) content and we may actually get kids reading again.

This is crucial -- if we don't have future readers, we don't have future customers.

We need to encourage the next generation to read -- that will require a gadget and cheap / free content.

Jon Renaut said...

@Joe

I had never heard of you before I read about your thoughts on fighting piracy (via Techdirt). I just downloaded your free book, and I've stuck it on my reading list.

@Jude

You can't argue against the word "sharing" by calling it "stealing". As you say, it's not theft, it's copyright infringement. It's still wrong, and it's still often against the wishes of author and publisher, but calling it theft is wrong.

Dave said...

Joe Konrath said...

I'm seeding Mininova torrent and 2 different Demonoid torrents set up by some friendly pirates. Danke.


Wow...you're really going above and beyond here Joe...seeding your own books. I love it. I'll grab a copy from Demonoid tonight so you have another stat to parse.

I love your attitude toward all this, I think you're right on, and I wish you much success.

Moses Siregar III said...

One aspect I haven't seen mentioned is this: cheap ebooks and a certain amount of piracy may actually get the kids reading again.

Kids don't read much anymore compared to past years.

But give them a gadget (e-reader) and cheap (or free) content and we may actually get kids reading again.

This is crucial -- if we don't have future readers, we don't have future customers.

We need to encourage the next generation to read -- that will require a gadget and cheap / free content.


That's not a good point, it's a great point. On a related note, Tom Dupree wrote a really interesting blog post explaining the history around how women came to be more influential in the book world, both as professionals and as readers.

He and I agreed on one element of the failure of the agency model, in that it's created a disincentive for gadget-inclined *males* to read books. One of the more important things the industry could try to work on is how to get men, and young men, to read more. E-reading devices are one of the best opportunities in a long time for appealing to Y chromosomes. Not so much at $14.99 per ebook, though.

Young people and males: Without them we're just a bunch of savage amazons.

Jude Hardin said...

You can't argue against the word "sharing" by calling it "stealing". As you say, it's not theft, it's copyright infringement. It's still wrong, and it's still often against the wishes of author and publisher, but calling it theft is wrong.

Of course it's theft. It's illegally obtaining something that doesn't belong to you without paying for it. How is that not theft? Just ask the four guys in Sweden who had to pay a hefty fine and spend a year in jail for "sharing."

Elen Grey said...

I read this post, and this is how I responded.

First, I bought your Newbie's Guide for Kindle PC. It cost me 4.99 in Canada. Second, I bought your Jack Daniels Stories (my first Konrath read) for Kindle PC. It cost me 3.99 in Canada.

I don't own a Kindle. I think it's still too pricey. But I have a mini netbook, and the software is free. The netbook is not much bigger than the Kindle, and it does so much more. For now.

I'm holding out for an e-reader that is around $100 and can use multiple formats.

I'm looking forward to the results of your experiment.

Cheers!

Zoe Winters said...

@Jon,

Actually taking something you're supposed to pay for, without paying for it, is the definition of stealing.

Jason said...

I couldn't agree more. There are quite a few excellent pirate sites out there, and they've saved me hundreds of dollars since I bought my kindle last year. I went from buying 40+ books a year to buying 2 or 3 books a year at the most.

I've downloaded close to 200 pirated ebooks since last June including the entire Stephen King library, and it was all free! I also found several out of print titles that would've cost me a fortune to track down through used bookstores.

It's the same with audio books. You can find almost everything you'd want online. It's crazy! I used to spend so much money on audio books because I travel a lot for work and it's nice to have a good book to listen to, but now I've got a backlog of books to listen to, and I didn't have to pay for a single one of them.

Thank God for the internet and for open minded authors like Joe for spearheading the free content movement. You rock, man! I'm going to download every book of yours I can find in the future, hopefully the audio version.

Moses Siregar III said...

So what we have to do, is to try to weigh out the impact of the Jasons (lost sales) versus the impact of expanded readership through freebies (sales gained), which is hard to quantify, although this link and this link, both provided earlier by someone else, suggest that file sharing may be a net positive for sales.

Story Teller said...

Interesting experiment, Joe! I will post your link on my blog, www.thekickboxingwriter.com. Good luck, and thanks for all the useful info!

Story Teller said...

Done! www.thekickboxingwriter.blogspot.com/2010/05/steal-this-book.html

Anonymous said...

Moses those are great links.

We live in a consumerist society. We enjoy purchasing items that we enjoy. We are not a society that values "free" above all else.

Look at coupon use (online or otherwise) for any product. It is at about 1-2%. Coupons get you closer to free and they are a hard sell.

It would be interesting to compare the 1.2 million free classic titles on Kindle (where the copyright has expired) vs sales of those classic books.

C. Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

@ Casy-
I checked out your book links, and I think all your covers look good.

Crash is a fantastic cover-- but it doesn't have any reviews.

Blindsided has a few really shitty reviews, including a one-star.

Around every Corner has the best reviews, and it's hovering at a 4-star.


The reviews are so important, and one shitty review can affect sales dramatically, especially if the shitty review is well-written and gets into the spotlight position.

That's my opinion-- but I have hard data to back it up from my own book sales.

This is especially true if the book review says "Amazon Verified Purchase" which makes buyers believe that the review isn't some author shill.

I co-wrote a book about self-publishing with CreateSpace and it was selling very well, with 23 positive reviews. I got a single bad review (two star) from a buyer and it dropped the book's sales from 100+ per month down to about 40. There was no other change except the bad review.

Robin O'Neill said...

How many people who are shouting about piracy being illegal smoke pot? Or go 45 in a 35 mph zone? Do we pick and choose the laws we like to follow/are convenient and ignore the ones we don't?

Joe Konrath said...

I'm going to download every book of yours I can find in the future, hopefully the audio version.

Do you have a Demonoid account? Someone is sharing all six audiobooks in a single torrent.

http://www.demonoid.com/files/details/2228796/18933912/

Joe Konrath said...

And thanks all who linked to this, tweeted it, posted it, bought it, and have chimed in.

Casey Moreton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Casey Moreton said...

C. Pinheiro, 



Thanks for the input on reviews. As for the reviews of BLINDSIDED, those haters make me smile. Everything is relative and everyone is entitled to an opinion. Those haters have a constitutional right to be wrong :)

Jude Hardin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jude Hardin said...

Interesting article on Pimp My Novel. http://pimpmynovel.blogspot.com/2010/05/e-pocalypse-draws-ever-nearer.html

F. Paul Wilson said...

Sorry, Joe, but your "experiment" (had to use quotes) is seriously flawed. The sample is anything but random -- it's irredeemably skewed. And if you haven't seen my rants on the subject, go here: http://tinyurl.com/28nza6d

Joe Konrath said...

Why do I need a random sample, Paul?

The experiment is simple: do free downloads hurt sales. I'm not targeting any particular sector of the population. I'm targeting everyone.

Anonymous said...

seriously?

doesn't anyone else see this as it is - just another promotional post pushing Brother Joe's books?

if you really want to test piracy, then upload a story ANONYMOUSLY to one of the pirate sites and then see if it affects sales. Giving it away like this does nothing - but generate more hits to the stories and thus more sales in the long run.

while e-piracy is something all authors should be aware of and concerned about, this "experiment" does nothing but sell more books and proves nothing. People will take the free copy because it's from the author's site, not a pirate site where it may be loaded with viruses.

Joe Konrath said...

if you really want to test piracy, then upload a story ANONYMOUSLY to one of the pirate sites and then see if it affects sales.

Like all of the people who currently pirate my ebooks and audiobooks have done? And yet, I still make money?

I have yet to see solid evidence that piracy hurts sales.

But allow me to play devil's advocate for a moment, and say it does hurt sales. Let's say I'm losing a substantial amount of income because of piracy.

What am I supposed to do about it? Dedicate my life to searching for my work being pirated? Charge more for my books to make up the difference? Use DRM and restrict territory and enforce proprietary formatting?

Customers hate DRM and high prices. That would be annoying to the very group who is kind enough to plunk down their money for my books.

As for hunting down pirate sites--I have enough things to worry about. I don't need another ulcer.

I simply don't believe file sharing hurts authors. If you believe it does, I encourage you to construct an experiment of your own in order to prove your statement.

I don't care about legality or morality on this particular issue. People try to justify their actions, whatever their actions may be. The fact is: copyright can't be protected in a digital world.

Wishing that it could be protected, or fighting to make sure it is protected, isn't going to change human nature.

Coolkayaker1 said...

Joe--I'm new to your blog and your writing, and I enjoy greatly your wit and wisdom, and we live fairly close to one another; I'm in Geneva, IL.

Okay, now that we have the touchy feely stuff out of the way, I have to comment:

For an author who (a) does not feel that piracy and free downloads significantly hinder book sales, and (b) who feels steadfast that it's nothing that can be controlled anyhow, you sure do spend a ton of blog posts and time justifying your position.

I just bought your New Authors book on Kindle for $2.99 (the price was $1.99 earlier in the week, so I suppose you do still wish to make some money on something you write, which I applaud; your book is pure gold for me, a budding writer). Here's a vote for this blog maybe getting back to the basics of writing and the art of it, as in your book. You've made your case for your thoughts, your "experiment", Joe has so many variables it's completely unfounded (and please just accept that on faith; no need a rebuttal), and everyone on here has chimed in repeatedly all week.

Your "voice" is so funny in your books, as I am pleasantly discovering, and I just wish we'd get back to those nuggets of "gold" on this blog. If you want ideas about what I'd love to hear your opinions about, email me. Thanks again for listening, and y'all have a great night now. Thanks, JA.

Joe Konrath said...

you sure do spend a ton of blog posts and time justifying your position.

LOL. Indeed I do.

A lot of the statements I make are provocative and controversial. This blog is a good way to test the strength of my arguments by having other post contrary opinions and evidence. That allows me to hone and strengthen my positions, and I do enjoy a vigorous debate. It's one of the reasons I blog.

Currently, there is so much happening on the publishing landscape, I've found I have a lot of things to talk about that aren't specifically writing-related. I have no doubt I'll return to that, as the current environment calms down.

Joe Konrath said...

Someone just emailed me this link:

http://www.ioffer.com/search/items/Konrath

Which has several folks selling ebooks and audiobooks that they've copied.

Here was my response:

I've already stated there is a difference between someone sharing my media, and someone making money from selling copies.

That said, I'm not concerned about people on iOffer making a few bucks. Digital media is going to be pirated. That's just the way it is. And I'd much rather have this incredible method of distribution (digital) and the accompanying piracy, than go back to the old ways of publishing and distribution.

As long as we have the internet and digital media, there will be pirates.

But until someone can show me:

1. Piracy does indeed harm sales.

and

2. A way to successfully stop pirates without alienating paying customers.

I'm simply not going to be concerned about it. And I don't think anyone else should be concerned about it either. Some people who have posted here seem really angry. Seems rather counter-productive to worry about something you can't control.

Jon Renaut said...

@Jude

No one at the Pirate Bay, as far as I know, was charged with "theft" or any other equivalent legal term. They were charged with copyright infringement. That's a different thing entirely.

@Zoe

It is possible that you could charge the first person who made an unauthorized copy of the copyrighted material with theft. I am not a lawyer, so I don't really know. But if someone makes a copy, and then I make a copy of their copy, legally, I have stolen nothing. I may have infringed a copyright, but I have not stolen anything.

And, for the record, I do not download unauthorized copyrighted material. Regardless of the legal classification, it's morally wrong to do that. And content creators have every right to use whatever legal means they have at their disposal to fight those who do download such material. I just think it's a losing battle, and content creators should spend more time on learning how to use these free distribution channels to their advantage.

Jude Hardin said...

I followed F. Paul Wilson's link, and I think he makes a very strong argument.

I doubt if there's much we can do about piracy. I choose not to worry about it, but I don't think we should condone it. And we certainly shouldn't encourage it, as you've done with this post, Joe.

Jude Hardin said...

Jon:

Read F. Paul Wilson's take on the subject. He says it much better than I could.

http://tinyurl.com/28nza6d

Joe Konrath said...

And we certainly shouldn't encourage it, as you've done with this post, Joe.

Please quote me where I've encouraged piracy and back up that statement.

I'm encouraging people to download MY ebook, with the intent to see if sales drop off.

I believe this is an interesting experiment, the point of which is to show that free books either do or don't harm sales.

I agree there is darkness. I'm not cursing it. I'm lighting a candle.

Personally, I believe digital media is terrific. It allows for fast, easy distribution, at low cost. I believe we're moving toward a future where "ownership" in the form of a physical object--book, CD, DVD--no longer exists. This is a good thing.

I know that digital media is easy to pirate, and a certain percentage of people are going to do so.

We can fight that. Or we can accept it.

I choose to accept it, until someone can show me I'm wrong with facts.

F Paul said...

The sample is skewed because a whole different breed of people frequent author websites, compared to those who frequent pirate websites. Those who upload and download pirated material are symptomatic of the increasingly pervasive leech mentality in humankind: "The world OWES me. If I can take it and keep it and no one's going to punish me, well, then, it's mine."

I will never accept that.

And if you do accept it, you're part of the problem.

"Your silence gives consent." (Plato)

And it IS theft. The fact that some lawyer got it designated "copyright infringement" doesn't change the fact of the act.

Jon Renaut said...

@Jude

I don't think F. Paul Wilson's argument is convincing, either.

Let me give you an example. My favorite author is Charlie Stross. I had never heard of him before I downloaded Accelerando (at the urging of someone at BoingBoing.net, I think), which he had shared for free. I read it, loved it, and have since pre-ordered three of his hardbacks.

If Charlie had been running around suing people for downloading his books, he would have lost multiple sales to me. He would have lost the word of mouth - I've loaned his books to friends, and told anyone I thought might be interested that they should check him out.

Even if I had downloaded the first book against his will, he would have come out ahead in the end.

I don't want to imply that downloading unauthorized content is right, because it's not. But I truly believe that fighting it is the wrong approach, and will hurt the content creator in the end.

Take Metallica, for another example. "Enter Sandman", from the black album, was the anthem of my middle school years. I loved Metallica. But then they started suing all their fans, and now I honestly can't remember the last time I heard a Metallica song. If they release the greatest album in the history of music tomorrow, I wouldn't buy it for ten cents.

Jude Hardin said...

The title of the post is "Steal This Ebook." I would say encouragement is at least implicit.

And then you offered a link to one commenter who wanted to steal your audio books. How many pockets is that picking?

You know I love ya, man, but I just can't get behind this experiment at all.

Joe Konrath said...

The sample is skewed because a whole different breed of people frequent author websites, compared to those who frequent pirate websites.

The ebook is now available on at least eight pirate sites, so the pirates will find it, possibly without any realization where it came from.

And if you do accept it, you're part of the problem.

I'm not convinced there is a problem. C'mon, Paul. You're a man of science. Devise an experiment to show me piracy hurts sales. Sure, there is an instinctive, guttural reaction to being stolen. But getting beyond that, how can we prove or disprove that it is actually harmful?

Should we take stances on things we can't prove?

I can prove racism is wrong. I can show the harm it has done.

But piracy statistics aren't as black and white (no pun intended there.)

If you're saying it is important for authors to band together and fight piracy, show me how that is going to change anything. Because I've watched other industries try to do so, and fail miserably.

That silly video you mocked (rightfully so) on your website does have a point. It shows the mentality of pirates. Do you think that mentality will change with education and stricter measures to control piracy? I don't.

I'm not saying "bend over and take it." I am, however, saying there may not be anything to "take" at all. Maybe piracy caters to an entirely different crowd who wouldn't buy books anyway. Maybe it allows people to sample the work first, and then some of them do become buyers. Maybe it does widen our fanbases.

Can we automatically reject the possibility that piracy isn't harmful without actually putting it to the scientific method?

I'm not saying this experiment is scientific. But by the end of it, I will have some actual numbers, and they will be less skewed than those spouted by all of the anti-piracy groups.

Joe Konrath said...

"Steal This Ebook." I would say encouragement is at least implicit.

And then you offered a link to one commenter who wanted to steal your audio books. How many pockets is that picking?


It's picking MY pocket. The blog title isn't "Steal all ebooks" and I'm not linking to a bunch of pirate sites and ordering everyone to download all of my peers. Surely you can see the difference.

Jude Hardin said...

I don't want to imply that downloading unauthorized content is right, because it's not. But I truly believe that fighting it is the wrong approach, and will hurt the content creator in the end.

I agree that fighting it is probably futile, but hats off to entertainers like Metallica and F. Paul Wilson for standing up for what they believe is right. They are obviously passionate about the subject, and we need that as a counter to the "we can't beat 'em so we may as well join 'em" attitude.

Jude Hardin said...

Joe:

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't all your audio books from your Hyperion titles? Isn't the piracy of those affecting the publisher, producer, bookseller, your agent, etc.?

Joe Konrath said...

but hats off to entertainers like Metallica

Metallica lost a lot of loyal fans, and were portrayed in the media as rich, whining babies.

If you're going to stand up for what you believe is right, have proof that you're right. Metallica was making a gazillion dollars a year. Was piracy really costing them sales? Where was the proof?

I don't deny them their outrage. But perhaps they should have reached out to fans, like Phish does, and tried to understand what it is they wanted. And you know what? Metallica did wise up, and ultimately released several box sets full of the bootlegs fans were trading. Kiss did the same thing. So have a lot of other artists.

Again, this isn't about right or wrong. It's about harm, and if the perception of harm actually matches the true damage done.

Joe Konrath said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't all your audio books from your Hyperion titles? Isn't the piracy of those affecting the publisher, producer, bookseller, your agent, etc.?

Yep. And maybe my publisher goes after the bootleggers and the pirates. Maybe they don't. I don't worry about it one way or the other.

My books are still in print. And if they go out of print, I'll release them as low priced ebooks.

And if (big if) I someday get so pirated that everyone on the planet has a copy and I can't sell even one more, I'll write another book and the whole circle can start over again.

Jon Renaut said...

@Jude

Standing up for what you believe in is great - I do it, too. But know that it might be hurting your bottom line.

If your principles are more important than your income, then go ahead and fight piracy. But if you'd rather give fans what they want AND make more money, maybe you should try listening instead of suing.

Zoe Winters said...

@Jon

I'm not talking "laws" with you. I'm talking basic 10 commandments morality. You are stealing when you file share, IMO. Because you are taking something that isn't yours that is for sale that you didn't pay for.

You can justify it all you want to me. Or you don't have to justify it at all. But what you cannot do is redefine what theft/stealing means. That's why we have the dictionary.

I don't really care about the mental gymnastics people are willing to do to redefine words. If you pirate things, just accept you stole it and move on. You SHOULD feel a twinge of guilt if you do it. That's what proves you aren't totally beyond socially redeemable.

And I say this as someone who HAS pirated music before. I STOLE it. I later bought the album. Most people have pirated SOMETHING. That means most people have stolen something. IMO.

You can argue semantics with me all day but my view of what constitutes stealing will not change.

Jude Hardin said...

Yep. And maybe my publisher goes after the bootleggers and the pirates. Maybe they don't. I don't worry about it one way or the other.

So isn't providing a link to where those books can be stolen kind of, I don't know, disrespectful to all the people who made them happen? Even if it doesn't ultimately hurt sales?

Zoe Winters said...

@Jon

I also agree that it's a losing battle and that people should figure out how to make it work for them without giving the impression to readers that they don't want or need their financial support. An impression I never want to give anyone.

But defining what stealing is doesn't mean I think authors need to run around wasting all their time and energy sending cease and desist letters.

Jon Renaut said...

@Zoe

I think we agree on the moral issue - downloading something that was not authorized for free distribution by the copyright holder is morally wrong. Doesn't matter what you call it.

And I think we also agree that people who create content should stop worrying about piracy and start thinking about how fast, simple, almost-no-cost distribution can help them make more money.

I think all we really disagree on is whether or not we can accurately and honestly call it stealing. And if we really do agree on everything else, I don't really care what we call it.

Zoe Winters said...

LOL Jon, fair enough. I guess I feel that by not calling it stealing people are trying to get out of the guilt twinge. If you do something wrong, you should get the guilt twinge.

I'm willing to "man up" so to speak, and say "yes, I've stolen something before." Rather than try to sugarcoat it with a pansy term like "file sharing," which I think is what a lot of people like to do because it stops the guilt twinge if they can think of themselves as revolutionaries rather than thieves.

C. Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

@ Jon R.

Agreed about Metallica. Suing pimple-faced teenagers that idolize you isn't the best way to breed goodwill. That's okay... I always liked AC/DC better.

Metallica could have used some advice from Lady Gaga;

Gaga explained she doesn’t mind about people downloading her music for free, “because you know how much you can earn off touring, right? Big artists can make anywhere from $40 million for one cycle of two years’ touring. Make music – then tour. It’s just the way it is today.”

Maybe everyone could learn something from Gaga and the Grateful Dead. Maybe free actually means more money... somehow.

Aaron Shepard has admitted that he had made thousands of dollars from the CCC (copyright clearance center) from books that are avialable for download on his website.

Things that make you go Hmmmm....

Eric Satchwill said...

Did my part, posted a link to this post on twitter. Should be interesting to see what happens.

Eric Satchwill said...

Actually, this is the second time I've downloaded something of yours for free. Also have The Newbie's Guide to publishing.

Mat said...

Hey Joe -- the Mininova torrent I put up yesterday has now been scraped by many torrent sites. If you google the exact title "Free Downloadable Jack Daniels Stories eBook by JA Konrath" there are 565 results such as:

http://torrents.filesbay.net/torrent/583673-free-downloadable-jack-daniels-stories-ebook-by-ja-konrath.html

http://btjunkie.org/torrent/Free-Downloadable-Jack-Daniels-Stories-eBook-by-JA-Konrath/35356efeca51672866e969369173010bea17d937744e

http://www.monova.org/details-rss/3737261/Free%20Downloadable%20Jack%20Daniels%20Stories%20eBook%20by%20JA%20Konrath.html

http://www.seedpeer.com/more/3128191.html

http://isohunt.com/torrent_details/189467741/6efeca51672866e969369173010bea17d937744e?tab=summary

etc ...

I love this experiment.

Anonymous said...

@ Joe K
"Metallica lost a lot of loyal fans, and were portrayed in the media as rich, whining babies. "

so if it's the media saying metallica were such and such and that is true by your accounts, then everything said about you in media is true?

your logic, man. Where is it.

Anonymous said...

Abbie Hoffman's book, "Steal This Book," way back was the first original titleholder to the "steal this..." phenomenon. Hoffman was an original. Not a derivative. You might like to read what an actual revolutionary had to say, but didnt say it from the comfort of his sofa.

bowerbird said...

even before the results come in,
i see that your little experiment
has proven quite conclusively that
people will believe whatever they
want to believe, no matter what...

oh, and by the way, i'm wondering
if jude hardin ever feels trapped
in the wrong comments section,
and needs us to call a rescue dog.

-bowerbird

Blue Tyson said...

Wilson is pretty amusing: accusing people of a lack of critical thinking, then making a blanket assertion that people who frequent downloading sites are different from author sites - with zero evidence to back it up.

As opposed to mentions of studies earlier which suggest the opposite, i.e. downloaders are often big fans.

It is entirely possible that people that type F. Paul Wilson Series Book 17 into a search engine might just come across an author website.......

Joe Konrath said...

so if it's the media saying metallica were such and such and that is true by your accounts, then everything said about you in media is true?

I'm saying it harmed them. I don't recall being personally harmed by the media.

You might like to read what an actual revolutionary had to say,

I'm not leading a revolution. I'm doing an experiment. My goal is to learn, not to change.

people will believe whatever they want to believe, no matter what...

One of the hardest things to do is changing your mind. Seriously. Wars are fought because people would rather defend their beliefs to the death than consider an opposing point of view. The willingness to inflict your opinion on others is part of the human genome.

I'm proud to say I have changed my mind on issues. I've admitted I was wrong. I've listened, and studied, and learned, and revised my opinions accordingly.

If my sales numbers falter as a result of this experiment, I'll revise my statement that file sharing is harmless.

Jude Hardin said...

I'm starting to agree more and more with F. Paul Wilson, that there's no way ebook piracy does not hurt sales.

Let's just say Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol lost a million dollars to ebook piracy (probably a ridiculously low estimate). That's not only 150K or whatever stolen from Dan, it's money his publisher might have used to acquire several titles from new authors. So there's a trickle-down effect. Everybody loses.

Joe Konrath said...

Let's just say Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol lost a million dollars to ebook piracy

Change the word "say" to "prove."

Oh wait... you can't prove it?

Hmm. Tough to win an argument without being able to prove your main point.

Jude Hardin said...

I don't have access to any stats, but publishers claim they're losing millions annually to piracy. Why would they just make that up?

Jude Hardin said...

I couldn't agree more. There are quite a few excellent pirate sites out there, and they've saved me hundreds of dollars since I bought my kindle last year. I went from buying 40+ books a year to buying 2 or 3 books a year at the most.

I've downloaded close to 200 pirated ebooks since last June including the entire Stephen King library, and it was all free! I also found several out of print titles that would've cost me a fortune to track down through used bookstores.

It's the same with audio books. You can find almost everything you'd want online. It's crazy! I used to spend so much money on audio books because I travel a lot for work and it's nice to have a good book to listen to, but now I've got a backlog of books to listen to, and I didn't have to pay for a single one of them.

Thank God for the internet and for open minded authors like Joe for spearheading the free content movement. You rock, man! I'm going to download every book of yours I can find in the future, hopefully the audio version.


There's some proof, from your commenter Jason. He used to buy 40+ books a year; now he gets them free from file-sharing sites. That's 40 lost sales. I wonder how many millions of similar stories are out there.

Joe Konrath said...

Why would they just make that up?

That's your argument? Blind faith that you aren't being misled?

Man, have I got a bridge I want to sell you. :)

Do you understand how lobbies work? Anti-piracy is big business. People are getting rich. Where there is knee jerk hysteria, there is money.

I'm not saying it isn't a natural assumption that piracy is harmful. That's the obvious conclusion to draw.

But "obvious" doesn't always equate with "true." It was once obvious the flat earth was the center of the universe, and the sun revolved around it.

When piracy studies are conducted, companies pay for the statistics. Lawyers are anxious to litigate for anyone who hires them, especially when a law (copyright) is so willfully and blatantly breached.

But just because the law is broken doesn't mean harm is actually being done.

I want to see an unbiased report on file sharing before I jump to conclusions. Moses linked to two interesting reports earlier in the thread, and I've seen others, that refute reports conducted and paid for by groups like the RIAA and MPAA.

The argument that piracy hurts copyright owners simply hasn't been proven.

Yes, it's illegal. But someone please show me it is harmful. Show me an artist who is suffering and directly link that suffering to piracy. I've based my entire personal philosophy on cause and effect, and there isn't any in this case.

Why do media companies continue to insist that piracy is harmful and they're losing billions of dollars?

1. The law is on their side, and this allows them to sue people.

2. They need to find some sort of blame for dwindled sales, and stockholders demand answers.

3. They'd rather blame pirates than their own incompetence, which includes: charging too much money for digital content and not making it convenient for consumers to get desired content.

As I've said ad nauseum, I don't care if file sharing is illegal or immoral. All I care about is if it hurts my sales.

And I'm betting it doesn't.

Joe Konrath said...

There's some proof, from your commenter Jason.

Methinks Jason isn't really a pirate. I think he's an anti-pirate troll trying to provoke me.

Are you reading this, Jason? What's your Demonoid ID? Or your Mininova handle? I'd love to see your share ratio. Surely someone who pirates that much and is so proud of it is willing to talk shop. What torrent client do you use? Do you have a seed box? How many private trackers have you been invited to?

Max Munro said...

I'm looking forward to the results of this.

With piracy, I think getting the pricing right is key.

You could look at Steam (digital game sales). They'll have a sale where they reduce a game to $10 or less down from $30+ and end up making far more money than selling it at full price.

LurkerMonkey said...

Joe,

I agree with you there isn't any data on file sharing in publishing ... it's still too new a phenomenon and too small. The nearest analog is the music industry, which fought its own battles against digital file sharing earlier this decade. Here is a paper from the University of Illinois Department of Economics on the "Napster effect" on record sales.

Ultimately, the author concludes that Napster and digital file sharing accounted for about 20% of the decline in record sales over the relevant period. That seems pretty significant to me.

My guess is two-fold:

1. E-readers aren't enough of the market yet to affect the overall industry. You're still playing around the margins, with 2% to 3% of the industry. In another recent thread, it was decided that 20 ebook sales a day is enough crack the Kindle ranking boards. These are wonderful numbers for individuals hoping to pick up a few thousand bucks, but not large enough to move an industry (yet).

2. The share of piracy among e-readers is a fraction of the e-reader market. I don't think this data exists yet, but I think we'd agree that piracy is limited to a few people among the relatively few people using e-readers.

My point is this: I think you're premature in your conclusions. At this level—with relatively few e-readers and relatively fewer e-pirates—a little loss here and little loss there is insignificant. In fact, it's outweighed by the free publicity. But my guess is that once e-readers proliferate and e-piracy proliferates, you'll sing a different tune. Once it reaches critical mass, you'll be looking at serious, music-industry type losses.

John said...

Some people are more interested in having their biases confirmed than discovering the truth. You simply can't reason with these people.

The MPAA has even admitted to fudging its statistics: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2008/01/oops-mpaa-admits-college-piracy-numbers-grossly-inflated.ars

The MPAA and RIAA are trade groups. Why anyone would believe a word they said about their own cause is beyond me. Only independent research ought to be considered in these matters.

LurkerMonkey said...

Of course the link would help:

https://netfiles.uiuc.edu/hyunhong/www/napster.pdf

LurkerMonkey said...

@John,

Funny that we posted on this issue at the same time from different sides. But even the article you cited (which itself is blatantly biased) concedes a 15% loss to file-sharing and ends with these words:

"Yes, college students need to rein in the file-sharing. We get it. Artists need to eat."

John said...

What's biased about the article I posted?

The reason I posted it is to point out that the MPAA is not honest, so there is no reason to trust whatever they say. They don't report their methodology, which ought to be a red flag in itself.

I'm quite willing to admit that file-sharing/piracy is harmful to sales. Just show me some evidence for it. There is some anecdotal evidence so far that the opposite is true (Paulo Coelho, Nine Inch Nails, and Cory Doctorow come to mind).

There's a Japanese rock band called Dir en grey that regularly tours the US and Europe now. This is a big deal, as most Japanese bands only tour in Asia. But Dir en grey became popular (relatively speaking, they're still reaching a niche market) even though their music wasn't sold in the US. How did they do that? Through file-sharing. Now, not only do they tour here, but their albums are released here as well.

Again, this is just one anecdote, but it is something.

Can the other side give even that? No. Just blanket statements echoing how the music industry is suffering, but without anything concrete.

If file-sharing is such a catastrophe as so many think it is, then it ought to be easy to come up with many examples of individual artists who have been affected by it, who have lost sales from it, who have been driven out of business from it. Anything.

Can anyone give me just five examples? Metallica, for example, complained about it, but there is no evidence they were harmed by it. (If they have been harmed by anything, it's probably that they haven't released a decent album in over 10 years, but that's another issue).

So, anyone: just five examples. If this is really a problem, an obvious problem, as so many claim it to be, then you should be able to come up with five examples without even thinking about it.

LurkerMonkey said...

@John,

But the article you cited says a 15% loss to file sharing ... and the link I posted came up with a 20% to file sharing. Both are concrete ... you dismiss one as hopelessly biased, but the higher figure comes from an economist at the University of Illinois. Are you refusing to have your biases challenged?

Personally, I think it'd be great if giving away content was a successful business model, but I happen to work in the media and if you want a concrete example of how giving away content, or having it stolen, hurts the creators in the long run, I'll send you the names of all my friends who've lost jobs.

Anyway, that's anecdotal, right? Just like the bands you mentioned. Bands don't count on record sales to make money anymore. They tour. Because music is too easy to steal ... Here are some more informed opinions:

"Music piracy is having a dangerous effect on British music, but some rich and successful artists such as Nick Mason, of Pink Floyd, and Ed O’Brien, of Radiohead, don’t think so. Last week, they told The Times that file sharing is fine. It probably is for them. They do sell-out arena tours and have the biggest Ferrari collections in the world. For new talent, though, file sharing is a disaster — it makes it harder and harder for new acts to emerge." (Lily Allen)

"You know how much you can earn off touring, right? Big artists can make anywhere from $40 million for one cycle of two years’ touring. Giant artists make upwards of $100 million. Make music – then tour. It’s just the way it is today." (Lady Gaga, on why she doesn't care about file sharing because she's happy to make money touring ... since musicians don't make money from record sales because of file sharing).

Anonymous said...

A little bird told me there may be a link to this page on 4chan/lit/

John said...

@LurkerMonkey

I didn't dismiss any article you posted. I didn't read any article you posted. I didn't read your original comment.

My comment about the MPAA and RIAA stemmed from earlier in the thread when Konrath talked about lobbies, and where their interests lied.

My guess is you thought I was responding to something you wrote earlier?

I'm not surprised the numbers are different though, given the difficult nature of collecting the data needed for these calculations. It's also worth noting that the paper you cited deals with Napster during its early days, before it was shut down.

Now, Napster exists again, but they sell music like iTunes does. Back then, you just downloaded it for free. iTunes didn't exist then, and Amazon wasn't selling music online either.

The point being that the environment has changed considerably since the study period of that article, so the effect today might be much different.

The Lady Gaga and Lily Allen quotes are useless as evidence. These are just two people talking, but what are they basing their conclusions on? We don't know, so what use is there in considering these quotes?

"For new talent, though, file sharing is a disaster — it makes it harder and harder for new acts to emerge."

So what is Lily Allen basing that on? Does she have good empirical evidence? Does she have anecdotal evidence? If she has anecdotal evidence, is it clear that file-sharing is the cause? Or is is based on what she believes ought to be true?

Who knows?

Zoe Winters said...

I think it's just common sense if people run around talking about how piracy doesn't hurt anybody, more people will start pirating and NOT buying. Readers already account for a small enough percentage of human beings with a high level of competition to get read by ANYBODY.

Now we want to make this more convoluted by giving the impression that piracy doesn't hurt us so it's therefore A-okay?

I know Joe isn't pro-piracy. I know he's just trying to be pragmatic. But unfortunately, most human beings just aren't that smart. They don't see the nuance of what he's saying and they just want ANY excuse to start "file sharing".

This isn't a problem in isolated cases and when you have people who file share then BUY. But many just file share without buying. And as the cultural view of things shifts, it will get worse.

Also the opinion that piracy can't be stopped on the Internet is silly. It absolutely can be stopped. Lawmakers could follow the spirit of the law instead of letting loopholes get through. Torrent sites could become illegal, and people could lose their Internet privileges for piracy. Is that rather controlling and against my Libertarian views?

Well, yes, and no. Being libertarian means that I'm for freedom that isn't HARMING other people. It's a violation of my rights when people take what I haven't given them without paying for it.

Whether or not piracy is a huge threat right this second isn't the issue. The issue is the cultural mental shift that comes about through increasing digitization of the entertainment world while simultaneously increasing social permissiveness for the behavior.

Google is getting in on ebooks. I'm willing to bet they will change their algorithms so that piracy sites aren't as easy to find for searchers. Because if Google is planning on making an e-reader and selling e-books, they will act to squash their competition, especially when their competition are breaking laws no one seems to want to enforce. It's kind of hard to argue against a company who makes it harder for people to break the law.

The real issue here is that IF it becomes hard for anyone but famous people to make money at this, all we'll have is the same redundant commercial drek over and over with NO other options in entertainment besides self-published crap.

And I say self-pubbed crap, even though I self-publish, because you can bet if there ever comes a day where I can't make money doing this, I am out. I deserve to be paid for the hard work I do to create, package, and produce my work. Period.

File sharing actually "could" be significantly lessened. But people are either alarmist with no action plan or so laissez-faire about it, they're willing to let entire industries crumble and artists to go unpaid before doing anything about it.

John said...

Too many people are jumping to the conclusion that file-sharing ought to be lessened. If it turns out that file-sharing increases sales (and it's too early to say one way or another right now) then authors are shooting themselves in the foot by trying to stop something they know too little about.

The only way to know what impact file-sharing is having is to watch it and see.

Instead, many are assuming that it's a disaster, but without any data to back it up.

Either way, there's little point in obscure authors worrying about piracy, because in order to have your work pirated, people have to know your work exists in the first place.

File-sharing might be a great way to get more readers, but without experimenting, we'll never know.

So maybe we shouldn't pretend we know how all this is going to turn out?

LurkerMonkey said...

@John:

You said: "Back then, you just downloaded it for free."

I say, "Exactly."

That's exactly what we're talking about. The environment is different because the file-sharing sites got shut down (just like you said) and Apple figured out a way to sell DRM-protected music in a wildly popular format. I can only hope the book business is so lucky.

John said...

But it's not that simple. Napster had to shut down and was forced to retool its business model (or I guess, get a business model) in order to open back up, but there are still plenty of places where you can still just download it for free.

The difference is there are also quite popular places now where you can pay for downloads, and the question is, how has that changed the conclusion made in the paper you cited?

The answer is, we don't know, until more studies are done. So it's possible that paper is outdated and not as relevant now (though maybe it is).

LurkerMonkey said...

OK, my last thought then I'll get off this thread ...

If you don't think piracy is hurting publishing, check out what's going on in China, where the government refuses to enforce international copyright protections the rest of us take for granted. According to the China Daily, quoting the General Administration of Press and Publications ministry in the Chinese government, Chinese copyright thieves sell 500 million counterfeit books a year and another 120 million counterfeit videos. The problem was so bad with Harry Potter that a counterfeit fifth book appeared in China before the actual fifth HP book was released.

500 million books. That's a lot of salami we're losing.

Zoe Winters said...

I agree with LurkerMonkey on this.

@John

I think giving SOMETHING away for free is a great strategy. Giving EVERYTHING away for free is just stupid.

You talk about piracy vs obscurity but an author or publisher "choosing" to give something for free is an entirely different emotional landscape and it also prevents everything from being free.


And what I'm talking about is a future in which most people will just file share "instead of" buying. Not "in addition to" and not in some karmic cosmic way where you get all this word of mouth and the "honest people" then go buy you.

I'm not talking about "right now." Right now, and for a few more years, it's probably not totally dire.

I'm talking about a permissive social/cultural attitude that grows by the day especially with the younger generation who thinks it's cool and trendy not to respect other people's IP rights.

In a future world like I'm talking about, there aren't people LEFT to buy. Why would they? They are all assuming "someone else" is paying for their meal.

What you're saying works "right now."

But these kinds of "piracy doesn't hurt sales" discussions cause a mental shift in a lot of people. People figure "Well hell, they don't need MY money" and they stop buying and start "file sharing".

When that reaches critical mass, where is this imaginary money you speak of? Who pays when everybody wants a free ride? You're not thinking far enough into the future here.

People talk about how the money could come from ads, but anybody with any real sense knows that only works for "bigger names" and even then, most people are savvy enough to get rid of ads or just ignore them. We're advertising blind now as a culture. Most traditional advertising isn't all that effective.

Where is the money coming from? Who is paying? People who don't value their entertainment enough to pay for it will soon find the world glutted with a lot of amateur hour crap because no one likes to be used or wants to work for free.

And whether or not Joe is being pragmatic, the truth is... when someone takes my work without my permission, they're asking me to be their slave. They don't respect the work I did and they don't think I should be paid for it.

That's a larger cultural issue and I don't want to contribute to it by saying piracy doesn't hurt anybody.

Anonymous said...

Joe,

I admire you greatly, but what beats me is how you found a way around the terms of the boilerplate Amazon Kindle contract to do this promotion.

For those who might be tempted to emulate your promotional brilliance
did you simply ask permission?

....quoting....

5.2 Marketing and Promotion. We will have sole discretion in determining all marketing and promotions related to the sale of your Digital Books through the Program and may, without limitation, market and promote your Digital Books by making chapters or portions of your Digital Books available to prospective customers without charge, and by permitting prospective customers to see excerpts of your Digital Books in response to search queries. We will not owe you any fees for any marketing or promotional efforts. You acknowledge that we have no obligation to market, distribute, or offer for sale any Digital Book or part thereof, or to continuing marketing, distributing or selling a Digital Book after we have commenced doing so.

5.3 Pricing and Program Terms.

5.3.1 List Price. You will provide a list price for each Digital Book you submit to us in accordance with the then current Program procedures for list price submission ("List Price"). You will adjust the List Price as required to ensure that, at all times that the Digital Book is available for sale through the Program, the List Price does not exceed the lowest of: (a) the lowest suggested retail price or equivalent price for any digital or physical edition of the Digital Book; (b) the lowest price at which you list or offer any digital or physical edition of the Digital Book on any website or other sales channel; and (c) any maximum List Price we provide from time to time in the Program Policies. Any increase in List Price you provide to us will be effective on a date we determine but not later than 5 business days following the date on which you submit it. We may provide other requirements for List Prices in the Program Policies which your Digital Books must meet in order to be accepted in the Program, in addition to the requirements provided above.

5.3.2 Customer Prices. We or our sub-distributors have sole and complete discretion to set the retail price at which your Digital Books are sold through the Program. We or our sub-distributors are solely responsible for processing payments, payment collection, requests for refunds and related customer service, and will have sole ownership and control of all data obtained from customers and prospective customers in connection with the Program.

Joe Konrath said...

500 million books. That's a lot of salami we're losing.

Interesting perspective. My perspective is: what an epic fail on the part of publishers, who are missing out on an audience of 500 million.

Why are they missing out? Because they apparently aren't giving that audience what it wants: fast, easily accessible, inexpensive ebooks.

You might say: But the publisher can't possibly offer fast, easily accessible, inexpensive ebooks!

Really? Obviously the bootleggers can. You're saying bootleggers can somehow print an distribute books cheaper than an established publisher can? What's wrong with that picture? Why aren't publishers reaching those fans?

LurkerMonkey said...

Joe,

The Chinese problem has nothing to do with publishers' ability or inability to provide fast, accessible and cheap ebooks. They would LOVE to get a piece of the Chinese market. The Chinese government permits this wholesale theft of intellectual property by refusing to recognize and enforce international copyright law. These are large Chinese publishers stealing business from Western companies, who face translation and distribution issues in a foreign market. It's not dinky little bootleggers. It's a multibillion dollar business ...

Copyright protection is a fundamental protection.

John said...

Yeah, piracy is big in China. It's part of its "shenzhai" culture. You can look that word up on wikipedia for more information. It's basically the selling of knock-offs. For example, there's a Chinese knock-off of the iPad just released called the iPed:

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2364334,00.asp

The most popular Chinese writer, by far, is Jin Yong. He wrote martial arts (wuxia) novels. His books were constantly ripped off. People even used to use his name to sell their own work. Didn't stop Jin Yong from making millions. With the bestsellers there never is a problem.

Look at Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol. It was available to pirate on Day one. But it didn't have dismal sales. In fact, The Lost Symbol was #1 on the Amazon bestseller list before it was even released. It got there based on pre-order sales alone.

So the bestsellers aren't harmed by piracy. But what about the midlist author?

Well, we don't know yet. Maybe they are harmed, maybe they aren't.

But merely stating how often piracy occurs is not the same thing as stating what effect that piracy is having.

And what happens in China is definitely not what happens in the U.S. There are still Chinese authors in China, as well. And of those stats you gave, how much of that is from domestic books and videos? Or is it mostly foreign? The U.S. wouldn't have the latter problem because we don't generally consume media from other countries. The point being that this is a complex issue that ought to be treated as such.

John said...

@Zoe

Yeah, but you're simply assuming that your future world will take place. That's far from certain.

Vincent Zandri said...

Here's another take on this whole piracy thing...the annoying big blond haired woman who walks up to me in a bar and belts out "Hey, where's my copy of Moonlight Falls?"

http://vincentzandri.blogspot.com/2010/06/book-piracy-and-just-plain-cheap.html

LurkerMonkey said...

OK, so let's agree this is a complex issue and we should treat is as one until we've finished gathering data ... which means your statement should be retracted: "So the bestsellers aren't harmed by piracy."

To use your own logic, you don't know this. For all we know, Brown lost millions to pirates. I don't know either. Perhaps it was negligible. Perhaps it was significant. But you can't make blanket statements like that, then appeal to rationale calm because you disagree with other blanket statements.

I understand the cultural differences between Asian and American approaches to art—but frankly, so what? Is the idea that because knock-offs and intellectual theft are normal in China, we should just say OK to it?

Honestly, I'm having trouble understanding where you're coming from. What protection should authors have from intellectual property theft? Any? Is a 15% loss in revenue (using your own article) acceptable to you? What percentage is enough before you decide we should stop it? Then how do you stop it?

These questions will arise. I guarantee it. And for the record, I personally have been damaged by intellectual property theft. I've had my own work stolen across the Internet and reprinted, sometimes by small sources and sometimes by very large and respected companies. Sure, I'm happy it gets circulated, but guess what? I can't eat circulation. I'd rather get paid my normal reprint fee than watch somebody rip me off.

But apparently that's just me.

Joe Konrath said...

For the curious, so far 377 people have download JDS for free on my website. I haven't tallied up numbers around the internet, but I'd guess it is more than double that.

As for sales, I was averaging 10 sales per day on Amazon prior to this experiment. So far in 2 days I've sold 39 copies. I've also made $14.00 in donations, which adds up to royalties on another twenty copies (70 cents each.)

So that's almost 60 copies in two days, as opposed to the average 10 copies per day.

Now this is far from an exact science, and far from over. We'll see how things shake out over the next 30 days, and the next several months.

I attribute the extra sales to the publicity I'm getting. But the bread and butter sales--those people with Kindles ordering copiers--are probably not going to be impacted by this experiment at all. They probably aren't even aware of it, or of me. My belief is that Kindlers are surfing Amazon, browsing titles, looking for something interesting. Which is why so many newbie authors can sell well without prior name recognition or platforms.

But we'll see...

Zoe Winters said...

@John

I'm not necessarily assuming it will happen, I hope that it doesn't. But I do feel that the more people talk about how "piracy doesn't hurt them" the more we raise the odds that it will as more and more people who offset piracy stop offsetting it with their purchase. It's just common sense and human nature.

Somebody has to pay. When no one does, we are screwed.

I agree in principle with what Joe is saying for "right now," I think where we diverge is in the wisdom of SAYING it. Because too many people don't grasp or understand the nuance.

If most people got nuance, half the debates that happen online would never take place. People hear what they want to hear instead of what's being said. And anything that contributes to the problem isn't part of the solution.

C. Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

Jesus Joe,

Google "The Konrath Effect"

35,000 hits, and counting. I'm in awe.

The Techdirt article is almost at 200 comments and people are re-tweeting, too.

Xan said...

Jack, I just purchased 2 books for the nook, and i haven't read you before (sincerity, no disrespect intended)

Those who spend too much time protecting their "Intellectual Property" and not as much creating, are in the wrong line of work.

You just gained a follower, and i'll be watching your blog with frequency.

Moses Siregar III said...

35,000 hits, and counting.

When people use Google to show how many "hits" something gets, the numbers are misleading. For example, if you google "Konrath Effect," by the time you get to page three of the search results, you're getting results that have nothing at all to do with Joe. "Jill Konrath" and "Sara Konrath" both feature prominently on page 3.

If you put a word into google, and look up the number of "results" it gets, it almost always means very, very little. If a term is *really* obscure, though, then it might tell you something. But in this case, anyone named "Konrath" in conjunction with any web page with the word "effect" on it are potential search results.

Nonetheless, it's cool to have an "effect" named after you (thanks to Jason Pinter, in this case) :-)

Anonymous said...

a lot of us kindlers would like to know how you Joe manage to set your own prices on amazon. The contracts most of us get are not the one you get, apparently. How did you do that? Does amazon have different deals or same deals for all?

I didnt quite understand, is the ebook youre giving away for free also listed for kindle?

Anonymous said...

I'm a pirate. I've downloaded thousands of books over the years. I haven't even opened most of the files, but more than a few times I've read a few of chapters and then picked up a physical copy of the book to finish it. I've also found new authors which I now love and I always buy the books my favourite authors put out.

Before today I'd never heard of Joe Konrath. I may never get around to reading his stuff, but I've got his book downloaded and sitting on my desktop already and so he's got a far greater chance to become of the authors whose books I collect now than he did before today. Good luck on the experiment!

Anonymous said...

Wow there are a lot of doomsday prophets here. Pirates will bankrupt us all! The sky is falling!

There are some basic truths to keep in mind.

Americans (and Canadians) are totally burdened with debt.

Why? Because they seek free items? No. Because they are consumers, which means they spend money and enjoy doing it. When is the last time you scanned the Craigslist Free category?

If piracy ever gets to a point where it threatens the creation of books (or music, etc), technology and good ole' ingenuity will step in and make it all happy again.

With regard to music, why does everyone conveniently ignore the 20,000% increase in electronic sales of music? Sure CD's are down, but at 99 cents per song, 15 songs = $15 = same price as a CD. So how are the musicians suffering?

Take your energy and be creative about making money from your writing rather than worry about piracy.

I saw a documentary on this guy who invented a scookum fishing lure. He patented it and it was promptly copied and sold. He spent untold time and money hunting down the pirates.

He regretted every minute of it and said he should have focused on selling the darn thing. He went bust worrying about pirates who made a mint selling to customers he could have had.

If you can't make money writing don't blame the pirates. The world does not owe you a writing career. If you can't pull it off in the age of digital and file sharing, find something else to do, and leave the market to the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

Seen on the Kindle forums on Amazon

"This is an interesting experiment he's running. I freely admit that I did download the free collection of short stories but also promise that if I like these short stories with the Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels character, I will come back to Amazon and pay for the longer books that are written with the same character. (-:"

ojm said...

I'll give a link to a fancy study here. Some MPAA-whatever study said harm is 15% or so, but this on says, that pirates buy 10x more music than others.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/apr/21/study-finds-pirates-buy-more-music

Another study here in Finland said that there are 16% pirating households, so sales divide to 160:84 when you take into account that pirates buy 10x. That means pirates are the people who keep entertainment sector rolling, and if they would just jail all pirates, 2/3 of sales would go down. Wouldn't they feel stupid!

Now this study is interesting, because it's not made by asking opinions, they needed PROOF that you have bought. That makes this the most important piratism study I've seen, because when a guy says he would have bought or he might buy, it's not worth a squat. The only acceptable meter is the cash register making the KA-CHING sound.

Zoe Winters said...

@Anon

I don't really sit around "worrying about piracy" (I figure some of my posts fit your doomsday category though.)

It's more cultural attitudes and what may be in the future. Though I do agree with you that capitalism will probably come to the rescue somehow if it gets too severe.

One way I think that might happen is I think that Google will penalize pirate sites with different algorithms so they aren't competing so heavily with Google's own interest in selling and making money off of ebooks.

Just for me personally, I never want to contribute in any way to a reader feeling I don't want or need their financial support. I want to encourage "buying".

And I take no issue with the type of pirates who later buy stuff if they consume and enjoy it.

But you're totally right about us living in a society that likes to "buy stuff". Though I wonder if they won't just "buy other stuff" and take ebooks and music and movies for free?

evilphilip said...

"So how are the musicians suffering?"

Musicians are suffering due to the dual edged sword of music piracy and the ability of iTunes to allow consumers to pick only the one good song from an album that they want and ignore the rest.

If a consumer buys only one song from an album with 12 songs that is an 11 song loss in sales. Then, out of the $.99 that Apple charges for that one song you can bet Apple is keeping 50% of that sale.

This is why the music industry is suffering and suffering hard.

I don't think that the lessons learned from the failure of the music industry to adapt their pricing to the digital era can be compared to the budding eBook industry.

You can't split a book into multiple pieces like you can with an album which makes it either a "steal it" or "buy it" situation.

With eBooks being only 5% of all books sold I doubt piracy is an issue at this point in time. However, if the big publishers continue to champion the idea of eBooks being $9.99 and up and eBook sales start to climb into the 25% and higher range then it might become an issue.

I did want to say that while I respect Joe, I have no idea what he thinks he is accomplishig here. You can't put a book up for free on your website and say that if some people still buy it from Amazon that it proves that piracy doesn't hurt sales. The people buying it from Amazon might not even be aware of this website or the fact that JA Konrath is a groundbreaking self-publishing guru. They might just like the cover.

As a marketing ploy, putting a book of short stories up on your website is a great idea. As an experiement in piracy? Not so much.

evilphilip said...

Let me give you a real life example of how Piracy impacts sales...

When the console game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was released it was released on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and for computers.

During the first 30 days it sold 200,000 copies on the PC. During the first 30 days it was pirated an estimated 4.5 Million times.

People don't spend the 4 - 8 hours it takes to download a hot new computer game only to let it sit on their hard drive. Most of those people who downloaded it went and played it. That does represent a real quantifiable loss in revenue to the company. Even if only 10% of those 4.5 Million were people who "would have purchased it" that is a loss of 450,000 sales to the company at $60 per game or a loss in revenue of $27 Million.

Piracy does hurt sales and it does take money away from the content creators.

MD1500 said...

I'd just like to say that I had never heard of Joe or read any of his books until I came across this via the Techdirt article. I downloaded the book and loved it, and sent exactly $4 to his paypal account. (Note to people who think that filesharers don't pay for anything, that's more than double the price the book sells for.)

For the record, I was also one of the tens of thousands of people who purchased the box set of Radiohead's In Rainbows album for £50 even though they offered the music free.

Yes, I admit it, I fileshare a lot but I use filesharing as a discovery engine. I'm also an aspiring author, so I can see this issue from both sides. If I like what I download, I end up buying it and usually the rest of the artist's / author's work. If I don't like it, it goes straight in the trash. Now, some people consider this to be a "lost sale", but if I didn't like the file enough to keep the it on my hard drive even though it was free, why on Earth would I pay good money for it?

The fact is if my ability to fileshare suddenly ended, I'd be buying far less. I just wish more people would have Joe's attitude.

At the moment, the recording industry are trying to criminalise their core audience and lobbying for increasingly draconian laws to punish the infringers in the naive hope that people will go back to the "good old days" of paying £15.99 for a CD with one decent song on it. They don't seem to realise that this "sue-em-all" mentality ultimately harms sales far more than filesharing ever did.

Rowena Cherry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rowena Cherry said...

Joe,

You are blessed to be quite prolific.

When pirates say: "Write Faster, Write Better, Write Cheaper..." that's not a problem for you.

If a pirate shares one of your books, the chances are, there are ten or eleven more of your books that he might buy once he's discovered you.

What about the author who only has one book?

If pirates share that, it's all very well them loving it, and vowing to buy everything else that author writes, but they've read everything he or she has in print, that book's sales is what her editor judges him or her on, and in this economy (for publishing) there may never be a contract for a second or third book from that author.

No amount of admonitions to write faster, better, cheaper will make any difference to that author.

Moreover, some authors cannot write fast and well. Editing takes time. Not everyone types with perfect spelling and grammar.

When one rushes to publish, mistakes are overlooked, shortcuts are taken, there's no time to fix the wobbly bits of a plot.

Moreover, if you've spent any time on Astatalk, for instance, you will see that there are the Releases. And there are the Requests.

Pirates read one book, and they don't buy the next one. They request it.

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