This is an update of a post that originally appeared on March 28, 2016.
Authors get tired of hearing from the Information Wants To Be Free (IWTBF) crowd who thinks it’s terrible that they charge for their books. Somehow, authors and other creative people are supposed to exist by taking sustenance from the air. There is an interesting discussion of the topic at Should Information Be Free? in which the author says the information should be free from the perspective of everyone getting to use it, but that the people who write and print books should still get paid. Obviously, if I didn’t want to freely share information with others, I wouldn’t have created this blog and not charged for it. The point is, when someone steals Intellectual Property (IP), the person who created it isn’t being supported.
I work really hard to support my readers and so do many other authors. In fact, most creative people are in creative trades because they like to communicate with others using a variety of methods. The simplest goal is to provide something of intangible value to others—be it a painting, sculpture, dance, music, or writing. It’s well known that creative people are often underpaid (hence the cliché, starving artist). Because the starving artist (and most of them truly are starving) makes little money, it’s important that people do support them whenever possible. That’s why the piracy of IP is such a problem. IP theft has become a serious enough problem that we’re beginning to lose many good creative people simply because they no longer have enough money coming in to make a living.
The problem is that many people would support the creative people whose IP they use, but they don’t really understand that they need to pay for this material. For example, there are many sites online now that offer my books free of charge. Just viewing the site doesn’t provide a clue that anyone is stealing anything. These sites have a clean appearance and simply offer IP in the form of downloadable music, books, and so on. In fact, many of these sites are fully searchable. The reasons that someone would do something like this varies, but it pays to employ some critical thinking when you see something free that possibly looks a bit too good to be true. Many people download viruses, spyware, and other sorts of malware along with their free download. In the long run, it’s actually less expensive to buy the IP, than to have a computer compromised by some of the crud that comes with these free downloads.
For the record, my books are never free. You need to pay for your copy of my book in order to support the various things of value that I provide to you as a reader, including this free blog. It isn’t my goal to become rich—if that were my goal, I’d be in some other line of work (believe me when I say authors aren’t paid particularly well), but I do need to make enough to pay my expenses, just as you do. Even though I know many people do download my books free, I still support everyone that I can with good advice on how to get the most from the books I write. To me, coming in each day and working with all of you is one of the benefits of being an author. I truly do want people to use my books to get ahead in life. If you’d like to discuss the effects of piracy on you as a consumer of IP, please write me at [email protected]JohnMuellerBooks.com.