Hello, everyone! I’m starting to feel like I should be starting a column where I write about International Readers/Bloggers and the bullshit they have to deal with in this community. So, to keep up with this trend, today I’m going to talk about piracy and how you should treat it as a complex issue rather than something simple and only related to privilege.
Before I start, I want to tell you that I’m not trying to attack anyone – especially not US readers/authors. I just think we should all be more careful when we’re making hasty claims and stop trying to make a complex issue seem so easy.
Update : Since many people have been commenting on this post and have misinterpreted this post quite a bit, I thought it might be necessary to offer some context. My post is related to this tweet :
I think it’s amazing whenever authors speak out against piracy because it’s their books, their works and they deserve to get paid. They rightfully speak out against this issue. Lindsay’s tweet, too, was great up until that ‘go to a library. it’s free’ comment. That just didn’t go well for me.
The thing is whenever people talk about piracy – some authors and readers (especially from US) aren’t very sensitive to what happens around the globe. Not all people do piracy because they can or because they feel entitled to some books. Sometimes it’s deeper than that. And by not trying to see anything besides this layer, you’re throwing many international readers under the bus – not because you’re calling out piracy, but because you make reading seem like such an accessible thing to do, when in their countries, it’s not as easy as it’s in US.
Firstly, I’m not saying piracy is not wrong. I’m not here to say that I promote piracy or that we should do that. Because I don’t. Authors should definitely be supported and we should try to find other ways to get books besides doing piracy.
BUT, whenever someone discusses this topic – something rather problematic comes up every damn time. You say you don’t understand why people would do such a thing because they’ve got access to libraries, to digital libraries, that there are so many sources from where readers can access books rather than pirate them. But these are your sources, international readers have way smaller libraries (or don’t have any, at all), we don’t have digital libraries. God knows that if I went to my library and requested an ebook, the librarian would give me a ‘where-do-you-think-you-are’ look.
So, when you’re telling people to go to libraries, you’re basically shoving the many available resources you have to get books in our faces. And it’s not cute.
Another thing that I really mind is that nobody talks about poor people who still want to read and get educated. Google ‘piracy and poverty’ and you’ll see that the poorest countries have the biggest rates when it comes to piracy. It’s because they would rather pay for other things that are much more needed (like food or other basic things), but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have the right to education and recreational means. Then there is this other thing – the main audience of YA literature is made of teens – they don’t have their own money and I’m pretty sure it’s hard for them to make their parents understand why those books are important to them when those parents are struggling with their finances. Hell, my family is middle-class and I still get those questions : ‘do you really need those books?’ /// ‘they are kind of expensive’ and so on, just imagine how it must be for readers who come from poorer backgrounds.
THEN, something that is very frustrating is how whenever you’re calling out piracy, you never offer alternatives for international readers (besides the library thing, of course).
What about different prices rates for poor countries? Because sincerely, I think we really need differentiated prices. I’m browsing sometimes Book Depository or Amazon and I’m checking those prices and they probably mean nothing to some of you, but when I convert those prices to my country’s money – the price differences are huge.
Making those digital libraries you keep telling people who do piracy to use available for international readers too? I’m not sure how these work, so I won’t talk a lot about it, but I’m sure it could be done if someone actually tried.
I never saw these matters being discussed, I just saw people complain about piracy, but never seen things actively being done to reduce it.
And now for the grand end, I know what you’re going to say – we’re not talking about international readers when we’re speaking out about piracy. I’ve seen this remark a thousand of times whenever an author or another reader is being called out – the thing is you never mention. You never specify those things. And no matter how many times you’re being called out, you never become more sensitive on international readers or on readers that really don’t have the money.
You’re really hurting readers who try very hard to find other means of getting books besides piracy when you’re being hasty in your tweets or posts. When you’re making it seem like piracy is as easy as ‘you don’t want to support me and that’s why you pirate my book’ or ‘you’re a privileged scum and that’s why you do this thing’ or the ugliest ‘it’s very easy to access books, so why do you do it?’.
So, please next time you’re writing about piracy and you want to make suggestions on what could work besides doing piracy – try to be sensitive to other readers who can’t have those shiny things that you have. Make it clear that your suggestions are only addressed to US readers who do piracy. And just try to be more inclusive because reading is an international thing, but sometimes it really doesn’t seem like that.
What is your perspective on this matter? Let’s talk about this in a critical manner and without being rude to each other.