Thus far, there is no solution for piracy, other than for authors to actively seek out the website pirating their work and requesting for it to be removed. I don’t know if my book has yet been pirated, but if it has and you have knowledge of this, please, please, please let me know.
A Tumblr follower whose handle is slurpeemoney made me aware of a service where those who pirate books can be given the option of paying what they think the book is worth after they’ve read it. And if they don’t pay, they can at least spread word of the book. mattfractionblog uses this service for his P.I. graphic novel series and seems to be successful with it. My follower admits it may have something to do with name recognition, but it is an interesting service to be made aware of.
Slurpeemoney then goes to admit that his or her work is probably going to be pirated anyway, so this person might as well link to his/her site with an option to pay for what you think the book is worth. In my opinion, this would be an effective guilt tactic, although I have no idea how you’d know who stole your work, unless you’re internet savvy.
But this is a similar tactic to what video gamer makers do. Game makers fight piracy by releasing cracked versions of their game, games that will make you aware that you’ve pirated that game so you cannot fully enjoy the game you’ve stolen. Some games, like Spyro, will make you aware that you stole the game through character dialogue. Others will threaten you with bodily harm if you don’t buy the game, even though we know this threat is not real. It is still enough to make you feel guilty, especially if you enjoyed that game. And it’s just plain creepy. For example, in Gave Dev Tycoon, the pirated version gamers download will at first seem like the one they could buy. However, as the game progresses, they will constantly receive a pop-up reminding them that they stole that game.
Pirating e-books, however, isn’t necessarily like pirating games or music. For one thing, those who enjoyed the game are probably likely to eventually buy it–or so is my assumption. People who pirate music, too, don’t want to buy the entire album for fear of hating all the songs on that album. There is no CD store in my area anymore, so no one can sample the songs on that album. What’s left? Piracy. But many who love the music they’ve pirated inevitably go on to buy that CD. Am I saying it’s right? Of course not, but it would be nice if music lovers could receive a better glimpse into the album they’re buying. Musicians, in any case, make more money from tours than CD sales, unless they are independent and don’t have a record label to pay. But they still do deserve to make money from those CD sales.
But what if cracked versions of our books could be created? It would require more time and money, but the ultimate goal is to make more money than what was spent to create the original and cracked versions of the book. Or is the pay-what-you-want a better service to guilt those who committed piracy into buying the book? What do you think? I would love to know in the comments below.