The conventional "minds-eye" image of the life of an author could be that of someone sitting on the porch of their Malibu beachfront cottage, jotting down words as they come to mind, avoiding calls from the late night talk shows, without a care about anything but the plot of their book and the daily glance at the New York Times ratings of the last book... ...the life-threatening intrusion of "writer's block"... ...the miraculous insight that leads to a night of furious typing to create a 400 page novel that immediately hits #1!... ...movie rights!... ...Broadway!...
Over the years, I've known a number of authors; some in my family, who've been "up there", so to speak. I can now say, with great pride, that I am an author, too. With that pride also comes a certain humility that I am among many, many, whose works are far more important in people's lives than mine. Still, I know that I worked honestly, carefully, and very hard to make something that I hope lasts longer than I do, understanding that once I let it go I have very little control over its future.
It hasn't taken long to learn that we live in a time that threatens the existence of authors and other artist's, especially musicians, because our technology is growing at a rate far greater than our ability to control, or even understand, what the effects of it can be. It's already been decades since musicians and music writers started losing livelihoods due to cassette and then CD reproductions of materials that were sold openly on the street.
More recently, almost every household has scanning and/or digital photography equipment. While it may not seem like the same thing as counterfeiting currency, the ease of which anything on paper can be copied has resulted in a world-wide market of pirated books. In an era of unprecedented material acqusition, as well as personal debt, the idea that you could acquire a book that you've always wanted to read for a very low price or even for free, is very compelling. It's sadly amazing to see what is offered.
That concept should be balanced with an understanding of what would never have been, if authors didn't get paid to do their jobs and if publishers tried to print books strictly out of their own pockets. I can't imagine and I am not sure if anyone else could.
You can counter this with the rationale that we are living in a new world. There are certainly benefits to the new technologies. I'm sure that I have a lot of advantages over my grandfather, who typed on manual typerwriters, due to word processing programs and spread-sheets. This new world type of thinking has also led to a new way of doing business that has been developing in recent years...
In more recent times, extremely large, multi-faceted corporations have developed with goal of marketing virtually anything that exists. This means that they have, within their corporations, companies that make product A, companies that make product B, companie that make product C, etc., etc.. This gives these large corporations unimaginable resources and leverage.
If such a corporation wants dominance in product B, for example, they can give product B away to customers for free, Company B operating at what, for other companies, would be a severe loss, the other various companies within the large corporation providing the capital to keep Company B going indefinitely. Other companies that make product B, starting with the smallest, go out of business until the large corporation largely, if not totally, dominates the market for product B and then can raise prices to whatever they want, now being "the only game in town". That "town" just happens to be known as the planet "Earth".
This same leverage can be used to force other companies, whose function they may not be so interested in replacing, to operate under unfair terms.
As an author, who relies on the fair selling of the books that I write, I would simply like to be paid for the years of research required, the writing that kept me up late many nights and as a token of the enjoyment that I hope that you are getting from the book that you reading. As someone with a small, but developing sense of what is involved in bringing a book to fruition after the author has submitted their manuscript, I would like to believe that my editors, book designers, marketing staff, warehouse workers and everyone else, that I've seen work very hard, get fairly treated for what they do.
It is not acceptable to simply copy someone else's work for free. Please look carefully at the "bargain" that is in front of you to be sure that it is a legitimate copy. If it's a good deal, I'm all for it. I want you to ready my book, after all. If it's not legitimate, please think about what's behind that "bargain".
I'd like to commend Peter Schiffer for his work in trying to help authors.
See this link: http://www.schifferbooks.com/newschiffer/press_release.php?id=48
I hope that others will follow suit...