Rethinking the eReader as Savior of the Author

For a while it seemed as if books were on their last legs. The prices certainly kept me out of the bookstore, resolving to wait for the latest James Patterson novel to show up in the public library.

But then came Kindle, and the other eReaders, with their discount prices and the many conveniences of carrying your entire reading list around on one device, even if that were several hundred books or more.

On top of that, anyone could self-publish, and take a nice cut of the sale price. No longer did a writer have to sumit to dozens of publishers hoping to get picked up, and waiting for years to actually see the book in print. Publish one day and Amazon can be selling the next. Or Barnes * Noble, or Apple, or Google, or Sony etc., etc. Maybe not so good for the old publishing houses, but pretty good for the new booksellers and authors!

But then came the pirates…

Yes, it isn’t just movies and music, eBooks are now being traded on the internet. Many are in the ePub format, but easily translated and sent to readers using software such as Calibre (excellent free and LEGAL software). Best sellers, new AND old are easily found on popular torrent sites such as thepiratebay.org and isohunt.com. And since the size of an ebook is usually only a few hundred kilobytes, much smaller than the hundreds of megabytes of an album or movie, these literary steals usually download in seconds!

Maybe these won’t hurt the small writers trying to break in as much as the established authors, and I have no idea the extent to which the piracy takes place. The argument has long been that if people can try something for free then they’ll pay for the media that they like. Sounds very similar to the theory of trickle-down economics, but in this case it’s writers and publishers who are being trickled on.

Still, I believe that eBooks are still good for the new writer, or those writing for limited audiences.