Recently I’ve heard a few people justifying illegal downloads of books because they thought the author had already made enough money. Quite aside from the troubling idea that others can deem that you have made enough money (I’m sure no-one is doing that to them in their jobs, and I’m pretty sure authors are not making as much as people think they are) it struck me as ridiculously naive to think that the only one who loses out on the sale is the author.
Of the average book sale in Australia, the author receives between $1 and $3, depending on how good their agent is. As we all know, books don’t cost $4, so you can see that there are a lot of other people taking a cut for work they do along the way. Those people are not millionaires, they are normal people struggling to pay their rent/mortgage like everybody else. That is who you are stealing from when you illegally download a book.
But also upsetting is the impact this theft has on first time authors. A lot of debut novels do not make back their production costs. Publishers keep publishing first time authors despite this in the hope that they can find the next big thing, and it is the established authors, the ones people are illegally downloading, that bankroll publishers to be able to take the risk on first time authors.
So please stick up for any artist who you hear being ripped off. Profits from movies do not just go to the big name stars, a lot of people are involved in the release of an album, not just the singers, and an author very rarely edits, prints, distributes and markets their book themselves. A lot of people get hurt from this theft, and I want to see new music, movies and novels coming onto the market. That can only happen if the people involved with making this art get paid.