I just got a Google alert. Apparently Rocking the Boat has just appeared on a pirate site. I knew it would only be a matter of time as many of my fellow authors have experienced this same dubious honor. In fact, not long after I joined Dreamspinner Press’s authors’ group piracy was a one of the topics that people discussed in depth.
Can open, worms everywhere.
Piracy constitutes a real concern with digital publishing. For one thing, it’s easy. Just upload a file. For another thing, it’s apparently victimless. I mean, it’s just digital signals, right? No one’s really hurt by. I imagine that’s what these brave new digital cowboys tell themselves as they trample all over my intellectual property rights. I mean, they took down the recording industry, right?
Except that they didn’t.
Or maybe they think they’re striking a blow against the Man. Yep, an author’s sure the Man. I’ve made a whopping $106 off Rocking the Boat as of the last royalties statement. That’ll sure keep me in…lattes, maybe? Well, at around $5 a pop that kept me in 21 lattes. My publisher is a small outfit with a similarly small profit margin. Writing and selling these books makes no one rich.
Piracy is the only real con to e-publishing I see. People are free to duplicate their copy of my book as much as they want to. Technically—and I hope it’s that people don’t realize this and not that they don’t care—when they download a book, it’s more like it’s being licensed to them, rather than if they went down to their local independent book seller and bought a book. Read the fine print before you download.
If they went to a book store, or bought a copy off Amazon, they’d have a physical copy of the book to do with as they pleased, like loan it, give it away, or re-sell it at a used bookstore. People think that’s what an e-copy is, but from the standpoint of intellectual property, it’s not.
As a writer, I’m interested to see how this develops. I don’t know if we’ll evolve towards some kind of common license, or how copyrights will change, if change they will. The legal foundation for patents and copyrights and things like that is in the Constitution, and that’s hard to change and deliberately so.
Don’t like the fact that you can’t share my book infinitely? Too bad. Lobby Congress to take up a Constitutional amendment. In the mean time, pirates are nothing but petty thieves.
For remedy, I think we can look to the music industry, since it’s so much further along with digital-rights management, even prosecuting people who’ve downloaded pirated music. I don’t know if that’s the right approach or not, to be honest, but I don’t have a better suggestion, either. And right now, I’d love to see a few book pirates strung up by their short-and-curlies.
As a reader, I buy books and I read them on my iPhone. It’s fantastic. I’ve got a whole library in my pocket, and as a…I’m not a soccer dad, a karate dad? Anyway, I’m away from the house a lot, and it’s very convenient to have a choice of books on my phone. My husband’s similarly enamored of his Kindle. While there’ll always be a warm place in my heart for the aesthetic of a book in my hands, and the peace of a library, I live by the convenience of digital media. This isn’t some neo-Luddite rant about new-fangled technology and get the hell off my lawn, you damn brats.
This is about someone’s flagrant disregard for the law and what is morally right.
So what did I do? As soon as I got the Google alert, I complained the host under the DCMA link, and since it was the Kindle edition of my book, I let Amazon’s copyright infringement office know, too. There’s a not a lot more I can do, I guess, although if I get any pushback, I just might hire an attorney.
People ask me why I row. This video, shot my by one of my teammates, describes it very well. It really is that magical out on the water.
The Port is sometimes not much to look at, and I’m convinced that the tugboat operators are the minions of Satan, but the water is usually fantastic.
But it’s more than that.
At it’s best, rowing reminds me to stay focused on the moment, not the past, not the future. It’s the stroke right now that matters. The last stroke is history. I can’t change it. I can’t do anything about it. If it sucked, I can do this stroke differently. If it was good, I can try to duplicate it. The next stroke hasn’t happened yet. If I worry about it, I’m not focused on the present stroke.
Pain is temporary, but the pride of accomplishment lasts a long time. There’s also a difference between pain (your body’s way of telling you, Knock it off, fool!) and discomfort, which can and should be tolerated on the road to growth. No one every promised us an entirely comfortable life, and learning to tolerate discomfort comes with maturity.
So I signed up for Twitter the other day. Everyone keeps telling me how useful it is, but no one really seems to be able to tell me how, in fact, it will prove its utility. No matter. I signed up anyway. Maybe it will strike me as more relevant once Rocking the Boat’s published. You can follow me and my 140 characters of nada or dada @christopherink.
I’ve already discovered one use for it, and that’s sending out mass communiqués. In particular, something about the federal appeals court punting the prop h8 case to the state supreme court and whether or not some of the parties suing to preserve that despicable measure have standing to do so. I know it’s an important, if not crucial, point, but given that the state supreme court allowed the damned thing to stand, I don’t really trust its hierophants to rule justly or wisely.
Anyway, getting back to our sheep, or in this case, birds. So much of what shows up in my feed strikes me as irrelevant trivia. For one thing, Slate apparently must tweet each and everything that’s ever published there. Then, too, The Economist manages to fill up a great deal of space. I guess I don’t mind that much. At least things like that point me in the right direction, or would if I had the time to keep up. I don’t always.
I just find the whole bird metaphor perilous. Twitter has reduced us to little chirping birds, tweet tweet tweet. I’ve taken enough behavioral ecology to know more or less what birds chirp about, and it can pretty much be reduced to “That’s my tree! That’s my tree! That’s my tree!” and “Fuck me! Fuck me! Fuck me!” Is this really where we, as a people, as a society, as thinking beings, want to go?
And then there are the misuses of language, which only make the presence of Grammar Girl ironic at best and a tragic capitulation at worst. Tweet has become a verb, as in, “I tweeted a bunch of random crap to people who probably don’t care.” That might be workable, but one can also “retweet” other people’s tweets (read: shamelessly rip off), and is that a noun, a verb, or some barbarous neologism that exists for no other reason to give people like me vile headaches?
Then, too, I find the fact that one has followers, and is a follower of others, reminiscent of the language of cults and gurus. This does not prevent, however, the feverish clicking of the “follow” button or the anguished checking of the number of one’s followers. Frankly, the whole thing’s a hot epistemological mess.
I usually maintain a good relationship with technology. While I don’t tend to be among the earliest of early adopters, I usually manage to catch the back end of that first wave, at least for things that interest me. Not this time. Where Twitter’s concerned, despite now being a Twit with my own little nest, I’m no nearer to making sense of this. I still don’t “get” Twitter. It’s the first time I’ve felt “old” when confronted by a new technology or innovation, and I don’t much care for that. People are chirp chirp chirping their little nuggets throughout the aether, and I’m loitering back near the looms with a handful of other suspicious characters, an axe in my hands and a nasty gleam in my eyes.
Or am I overthinking this?
Last night, I bought (leased?) the domain name christopherkoehler.net and moved my blog over to that address, so the blog is now christopherkoehler.net/bog. Naturally I lost the WordPress theme I’d been using and had to find another one. I think I’ve gotten that all set up. But then it occurred to me…I needed to have something on the front page, christopherkoehler.net. I did that this morning using Apple’s iWeb application. Naturally when I tried to publish it, it sent it off to Mobile Me, so God knows where it ended up. But thanks to the semi-intelligible instructions of my hosting company, I managed to get everything uploaded. Now, if someone goes to christopherkoehler.net, they’ll get a placeholder webpage and a link to my blog. That means I have remember what I did with Filezilla, so I can do it again when Rocking the Boat is published and I update the front page.
Next stop: Twitter!