No one can.
I thought the Authors Guild were a pack of eejits. It turns out some of my fellow unaffiliated writers are too.
There is a shitstorm still flying over writers learning that — gasp! — more than one person can read an eBook. OMFGZ!!!!111one1
From the New York Times yesterday:
Shayna Englin, a political consultant in Washington who purchased a Kindle this year, also says she reads more than ever: a book a week, about three times her old pace.
But she has actually never paid for an e-book. Exploiting a loophole in Amazon’s system, Ms. Englin has linked her Kindle to the Amazon account of some nearby friends, allowing all of them to read books like “The Lost Symbol” at the same time — while paying for them only once.
This is news only to those who have no idea … well, about anything, it seems.
I knew such sharing was permitted well before I mentioned it last year:
And for those publishers — of any thing, be it game or eBook or music — check your contract with the eStore selling your goods. You are likely to find that you are not making money on every copy to begin with. The iTunes Store and Sony’s eBook Store allow one copy to be installed on more than one device. This means, for instance, that one copy can be shared by up to five people in the real world. So get those dreams of every copy equaling full retail price out of your head. That’s not happening in your contract! Your retail price is already being divided by up to a fifth — legally, and you agreed to that!
Italic emphasis in original
A book is not a movie or a play or a concert, where every single person has to pay what’s basically an entry fee in order to experience it.
Stop being stupid.
I’ve gone to the Strand Bookstore in New York City and wound up buying copies that book reviewers sold unread. I know they were unread because the damned press release was still stuffed inside them!
You can argue those are promotional copies covered in the marketing budget — but hey, I’m reading the book and you’re not making money. And if I sell or give away that book — you’re not making money again. Over and over and over again.
This is how the real world works.
I buy a DVD. I invite friends over and they watch it for — gasp! — free!
Am I supposed to feel like a crook for doing that?
At the launch of the Sony Reader PRS-700, Steve Haber made a point of mentioning how a mother and daughter share one account while living in different states. One book is bought and both of them can read it. Imagine that!
Here he is repeating the sharing aspect in an official Sony podcast (download link at that page; UPDATE: Sony has not archived it, link now 404s). Let me transcribe some of it for you:
You could pick four friends [to share books with] as long as they’re on the same account and you’re comfortable that one of those folks in that [group has] the credit card on that account.
Go listen with your own ears. This is said within the first five minutes.
Has Steve Haber been encouraging piracy? He has not.
Allowing people to share one copy on up to five or even six devices is an acknowledgment of the major shortcomings of eBooks:
1) They cannot be resold
2) You can’t give them away
3) They use copy protection (Digital Rights Management)
And really, writers, stop it. I’m one of you. We’ve all done the same damned things:
1) Made Xerox copies of articles — even entire books
2) Shared music with friends on cassettes
3) Bought used books
4) Picked up a newspaper just thrown in the trash
5) Massaged the tax system for a bigger write-off
Some of you might have even snuck into movies and maybe even shoplifted.
And I’m not even going to mention what the hell we all download from the Internet, OK?
We’re no angels.
But those who are abiding by the Terms of Service for the iTunes Store, Kindle Store, Sony eBookstore, and other such places are blameless. They are the angels — because they have paid for your work.
Alienating your customers — your readers — is not going to prolong your career.
So stop this crap.
You’re sounding like amateurs.
You’re sounding like this moron.
Are we all on the same page now? I hope so.
Other wise words:
Previously here and elsewhere: