High Tech Dishonesty

I hate to suggest it, but there’s more and more evidence out there that either high technology users are more dishonest than the rest of the population or high technology has a greater attraction for the dishonest… if not both. The June  20th edition of Scientific American reports on the results of a study on movie piracy, and it turns out that the movies with the highest percentage of piracy are science fiction and high-tech thrillers, and that the annual cost of such piracy in just those genres exceeds a quarter of a billion dollars.

There are literally scores of bit-torrent sites advertising my books for free, at times even before the first hardcover release, so many sites that it would take almost all my time just to even contact them to demand they stop making the books available.  And frankly, I don’t care what a handful of authors say about the wide-spread dissemination of their work resulting in greater sales of their newer works.  In point of fact, most authors have suffered significant losses from internet piracy.  An admittedly random survey of such sites also indicates, as with movies, that a significantly disproportionate number of titles fall into the F&SF area.

Part of this, I’m convinced, is that high-tech oriented people are, in general, less patient.  They want it NOW.  Many of them have little patience for the quirks and foibles of marketing and for the reality that some people in any field, including bookselling, are not as competent as they could be, nor are these individuals particularly understanding of what goes into producing information.  I’ve even seen gripes that ebooks are being priced higher than bargain or remaindered versions of hardcovers.  Alas, I also know authors, some of long-standing in the field, who fail to understand this and go around spouting the wonders of the internet, without comprehending the costs to themselves and to the field.

Then, there’s the “information wants to be free” group, who, as I’ve discussed before, all too often really just mean, “I don’t want to pay for any information.”  Sometimes, this is disguised under the idea, such as with ebooks, that because the marginal cost of transmitting and disseminating the information is so low, the prices charged for information [books] are too high. In this regard, I’d like to point out one small matter.  I manage to write a little over two books a year, and it takes me roughly five months to write a fantasy novel. How would any of you who “justify” using torrents or other illegal sources to get my work for nothing like to feel that users of five months of your labor shouldn’t have to pay anything?  That doesn’t count the services of cover artists, proof-readers or editors.

Now, again, I must stress, I am NOT against technology. I am against its abuse. As part of this same trend, internet scams and other high-tech enabled crimes have skyrocketed over the past decade so much so that no enforcement authority really has any idea just how prevalent this is.  There are only estimates, some possibly accurate. I must get 20-30 of these daily, most but not all trapped by my spam filters.  And the behavior and business ethics, or lack of same, by internet and tech entrepreneurs such as Bezos and Zuckerburg doesn’t do much for presenting a case for high-minded behavior in the tech arena, either.

Much of this, I realize, is simply that high-tech offers greater opportunities for everything, and dishonesty is part of those opportunities. The second part is that, because of the impersonality of high-tech, particularly the internet, it becomes easier for those inclined to cut corners or be dishonest to rationalize their behavior, i.e., authors make lots; they won’t miss the sale of a few books; anyone who’s stupid enough to fall for the phishing scheme deserves to lose their money; the entertainment moguls charge too much for movies – and so it goes. It’s still rationalizing dishonesty, and it’s anything but a healthy direction for society, and it particularly distresses me to learn that a disproportionate amount of it comes from the F&SF –oriented sector.

 

28 thoughts on “High Tech Dishonesty”

  1. Rural Defender says:

    Another reason might also be that F&SF, especially movies, appeal to a younger demographic, which are more technically savvy, and unfortunately, more prone to piracy-like activities using that technical skill-set.

    My dear 64-year old mother reads your books, is quite computer literate, but lacks the inclination to acquire them through piracy. She’s patient enough to wait for the municipal library to get a copy to borrow.

  2. Joe says:

    I believe both sides of this argument share in dishonesty.

    “Information is free” only means that if you tell me something, you don’t forget it, but if you give me your house, you lose it. This is an essential feature of information.

    Copyright is a means to pay you for your work. You need to be paid to continue working. The problem is that now that we can copy information much more cheaply, the previous barriers to disseminating information have crumbled (no need to own a printing press), so the essential nature of information is becoming more apparent.

    I too have published books, which appear on torrent sites. The sites claim my (technical) books have been downloaded many more times than they have sold. It’s hard to know whether that’s true, or a lie. Either way, I have concluded I cannot live from writing books.

    But copyright is becoming a problem, not a solution. Say I use Google’s Glass project to record my entire life. Eidetic memory! Is that a copyright violation? If so, are my memories of your book also a copyright violation? What about my robot’s memories of a movie? The nature of the transformation called “interpretation” and the transformation called “compression” are not that different. Indeed one can reconstruct what people see in minds from brain activity — sure it’s crude, but it’s a beginning.

    http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2011-09/mind-reading-tech-reconstructs-videos-brain-images

    Finally, do we really want a situation where we can only visit approved websites for fear of reading or watching something that is a violation of someone’s copyright? Gatekeepers to knowledge conflicts with open society, yet it is often far from obvious what is public domain and what is not.

    IP laws will need sort of reform. They no longer solve the problems they were built to solve. It seems some judges also see this.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/breaking/chi-judge-posner-us-patent-system-out-of-sync-20120705,0,4814825.story

    Nevertheless the problems remain. The solutions must change. The interesting question is what those solutions will be so that the creative act itself is economically viable.

  3. Reader says:

    Let me start by saying that I agree totally with you that content producers should be compensated competitively for their work. I agree stealing is bad, even stealing when no convenient avenue exists for obtaining that which is desired.

    But (and I also will agree I am nitpicking a bit here) stealing is not the same as dishonesty. I would even go so far as to argue that stealing and dishonesty have little, if any connection to one another, aside from both being ethically wrong. The misappropriation of items/content/stuff without proper compensation is a very different entity than misrepresentation or lying.

    One could argue that there is an implicit agreement to pay for items and breaking that agreement is tantamount to asserting that you did not take anything, but that’s like saying that you don’t need to lock your doors at night because it’s wrong for a person to enter unbidden. Of course we would all prefer that to be the case, but it just isn’t. The world is the way it is, and people are not wonderful. Some will steal whether because they can justify it within their own morals/ethics or whether they don’t care one way or the other and are just greedy. But if sellers don’t protect their assets in some fashion, stealing will occur.

    That doesn’t mean that the people who steal are liars, though. It just means they steal.

  4. Wine Guy says:

    There’s a reason that the Decalogue (10 Commandments) has “Thou shalt not steal” in there. Theft is a pervasive problem with all societies everywhere.

    And for those who nitpick about dishonesty and stealing… honesty means honoring implied social contracts: “You do the work I want and I’ll pay you for it.” For example… books, movies, and music.

    I believe that the relative ease with which theft is possible via the Internet just proves that people are honest when they’re being watched and try to get away with what they can whenever they can.

    I pay for my books via Amazon/BN/RPGNow/etc. I pay for my music via Itunes and Amazon. It’s not hard. Whether the price is fair or not is up for me to decide. If I don’t want to pay 7.99 for ‘Colors of Chaos’ Kindle edition, I don’t have to. Frankly, I find the price ridiculous. So I’m nursing my paperback copy along until the prices come down or the book actually falls apart (thank goodness for scotch tape).

    My big question about e-books: once something is out in paperback for a year or two – why NOT drop the e-book price if printing and shipping are the major costs?

  5. Tim says:

    I have to agree with Wine Guy. I have recently downloaded two acaedemic ebooks to my iPad which we’re surprisingly expensive ($20 for one). These were 1-2 years old but I was surprised that after the early adopters had bought the book as it was published, I still had to buy at a premium price. I suppose it is all about marketing.a

    To LEMs statement about rogue sites, I will admit that after I failed to find an ebook on Amazon for one of his novels, I searched wider. The resulting free download (the only one available) was, to put it mildly, appalling in quality.. It was badly formatted and was difficult to read, so I bought the paperback from amazon. So all is not lost.

  6. cyan says:

    I tend to think about this problem from another direction: techies are more likely to be S/SF fans, therefore techies who steal are more likely to steal S/SF stuff. Maybe there is a component of impatience or immaturity or (I think more likely) a lack of respect/understanding for the artist/creator as a working human being. But people who steal (or otherwise justify to themselves it’s okay to TAKE) will do so in the manner that they’re most likely and/or capable of getting away with it.

  7. cyan says:

    SF/F <– that's what I meant! (no edit option, bummer)

  8. Steve says:

    I think another issue is that we are just making the transition now from paper books to ebooks, so we have different users… people like myself that have rooms full of already purchased books that would like to “move” them to the ereader at a reasonable cost, vs. new buyers that have never read the novel. Sure it would be more effort to have a promotion like “send us a photo of you with your recluse book collection and you can buy the complete set of ebooks from the Tor website for $40 instead of $12*16”.

    Even better, do like Disney did when Blu-Ray came out at first to deal with the transition… you could buy just the Blu-Ray for say $30, or buy the Blu-Ray+DVD for $35, or the Blu-Ray+DVD+Digital Download for $40. I would DEFINATELY pay $5 more for a copy of Mr. Modesitt’s upcoming hardcovers that included a free e-reader download from the Tor website, and this should be more feasible because now there should be less work involved… you’re not scanning or retyping old works to bring them digital, you’re just keeping a copy of the file that goes to the digital press. And now there are programs that automatically convert the generic format (epub) to ipad or kindle formats, so you don’t have extra staff time doing that.

    Two things I can guarantee you I won’t do… actually three. One, I won’t stop reading Mr. Modesitt’s work, it’s excellent 🙂 Two, I won’t pirate it. But Three, I won’t pay double, so without some kind of break on having both the paper and electronic versions, Mr. Modesitt and his publisher will lose out on some additional revenue they could have had by offering a discount for buying both.

  9. Steve says:

    Oops, somehow a bit got cut off my first paragraph, it should have ended with:

    Sure it would be more effort to have a promotion like “send us a photo of you with your recluse book collection and you can buy the complete set of ebooks from the Tor website for $40 instead of $12*16″. But for people with the books who aren’t willing to pay another $192 for books they didn’t even pay that much to buy in paperback 20 years ago, we just won’t buy them, but if you think of hundreds, or even thousands of people who wouldn’t pay that paying $40 each, that could be a lot of incremental revenue (most of it profit) AND a lot of happy fans.

  10. Max says:

    I don’t get it why people are upset at $7.99 for e-book. Its a price of two Subway sandwiches, but is with you forever, and you enjoy it much longer then you do sandwiches, and it has zero calories.

    As for “Get it NOW!”, I have to admit at being somewhat guilty of that, and have actually ordered a book from amazon.co.uk because I could not waitp (For the record that was Judas Unchained, sequel to Pandora’s Star by Peter Hamilton, which had one of the most evil cliffhanger endings in history).

    Perhaps more book publishers can adopt Baen’s “ADR (advanced reader copy)” methodology, which would help those super-impatient readers, that would pay extra just to get the book early, offsetting the “Hardcopy” revenues.

  11. MingoV says:

    “… the annual cost of such piracy in just those genres exceeds a quarter of a billion dollars…”

    That statement is dishonest. It incorrectly assumes that no one who pirates a movie attends a theater showing or purchases a retail copy.* The statement also incorrectly assumes that everyone who pirated a movie would have paid full retail price for it. If piracy was made impossible, former pirates would not always purchase movies. They would borrow movie DVDs from a public library, rent DVDs, record movies from broadcasts or cable TV; or just do without if the movie is of marginal worth them them.

    *Example: I moved last summer, and the moving company had an unexpected delay–my stuff sat in a semi trailer in the hot sun for five days. A few dozen of my DVD movies were damaged by the heat. Some vendors will replace damaged DVDs for a fee, but the total cost (including postage, mailer, and your time) typically exceeds the cost of buying a replacement. I’m unemployed, so I have the time but not the money. I downloaded pirated movies to replace some of the ones I lost. Am I now a dishonest thief?

  12. Tim says:

    I would truly like to convert all my hardbacks and paperbacks to ebooks. However many will never be ebooks and even LEM’s portfolio is not fully available as legitimate ebooks. Proving ownership for a cheaper conversion will never work unless the purchase was from the same provider, in my view. Therefore I tend to buy again, much as buy 24 bit digital downloads to replace the CDs which in turn replaced my cassettes and in their turn replaced the mediocre vinyl (even with hi-priced hifi kit).

    Nowadays I generally only buy ebooks as most of what I want is available immediately in iBook or kindle. The great thing is that it is normally available at the same time as the hardback, so there is no waiting (as some friends did when wanting to buy the cheaper paperback). The price is generally less than the hardback.

    The downside is that I cannot throw an abysmal book onto my fire! (ref. Tiffany H, assuming the cellphone and Mammoth have burned away to make room).

  13. Joe says:

    Some more fuel for the fire: are high technology users richer than others?

    http://nymag.com/print/?/news/features/money-brain-2012-7/

    1. Most likely. The best high-tech gadgets are expensive.

  14. Kathryn says:

    I don’t think piracy is this big money loss that companies say it is (and have you noticed how the majority of those companies who do things to combat piracy are, well, major earners regardless of how ‘bad’ the piracy rates are?), and whilst I don’t participate in it, it’s certainly tempting.

    You can look at this from many, many perspectives. Mr Modesitt, you’re an economist, right? Or, at least, you have a very good grasp of it. So, I’ll put it this way – when wages don’t increase in line with inflation, when corporations bombard you daily with products YOU MUST HAVE(!) and publishers put out dozens of books a month, how can you expect a consumer to, well, consume it all? You can’t, and piracy for some people fills that gap. They’ll buy and pirate at the same time.

    There are those who pirate a copy to try it, and then buy it after. This happens quite a lot in the computer games market as you’re often talking large sums of money – $50/$60 for a major release on the consoles – so people are beginning to move to piracy in order to save money, yet at the same time it does increase sales in some regards. People who pirate a game they otherwise wouldn’t like then try it and like it may go out and buy it. It’s naive to believe all of them will, but some of those pirates will. I think there was a study done at some point that showed that the people who pirate the most content are those who spend the most on multimedia products – DVDs, books, games, etc.

    Equating piracy with theft is maybe not dishonest, but misses the mark. Theft implies I’m taking a physical or limited good, leaving a store with less of a product to sell. With piracy, you’re using a copy of a copy, and one that can be replicated an infinite number of times.

    I see piracy as more of a response to decreasing standards of products than a desire to steal. When publishers are putting out dozens of books (not all of them of a high quality), when studios are putting out film after film after film, when musicians are constantly releasing albums with three good songs out of 10-15 tracks, when game studios are putting out rushed and badly-made games, you begin to see why people are not wasting their hard-earned money on inferior products.

    Are some people or companies falling because of piracy? Yes, totally, but to blame piracy itself doesn’t answer the question. You have to ask *why* the product was pirated. Is it a quality issue, did it not appeal, or is it something else?

    1. I won’t speak to the companies, but I can tell you it’s a significant loss to me. At a time when my hardcover/initial on-release ebook sales are holding steady or increasing slightly, over the past ten years I’ve seen at least a fifty percent drop in paperback book sales, and ebook sales have only made up about a third of that. And, on the initial ebook sales [those priced higher and released at the same time as the hardcover] I make about 20-25% less than I would have if readers had purchased the hardcover.

      1. Kathryn says:

        But you’re falling into the trap of assuming pirated copies = lost sales, which is partially false.

        I love your books, Mr Modesitt, but maybe people just aren’t buying yours now? As you noticed on your forum, you’ve not got any true UK sales now beyond ebooks due to your lack of UK publisher. That would affect your sales now, and would have accounted for some of the drop in the past 10 years as you fall off the shelves of most book stores in that situation. Obviously you’d have a better knowledge of that than myself, but it is a factor. On top of that, you’re writing longer series which means – by extrapolating things like series losing more readers as they progress – that your subsequent books are appealing to a smaller and smaller market. Again, mostly speculation based on publishing trends and sales figures.

        Some pirated copies are lost sales, or should I say potential sales that weren’t made – that much I will agree with, but I do not think those two-thirds of missing sales are due to piracy. Some, yes. All? No. The number of pirated books may very well fit that gap, but it doesn’t account for it.

        But I’ll spin it this way – why are people pirating books? Greed? Lack of money? It could be that some people are not prepared to wait a year (or longer!) for a paperback release, so they’ll pirate the ebook and purchase the MMPB when it releases. I’ll admit that strikes me as a fairly plausible reason. Some of those pirated copies will be people acquiring a back up copy of a book they own in print. You get the idea – it’s very easy to find plausible, and above all else, logical reasons as to why people are pirating books.

        To summarise; piracy is an issue, but it’s not the sole issue and to scapegoat it as the one major reason why sales are declining is to not address the whole issue. If you got rid of piracy (impossible), you might not necessarily recoup those ‘lost’ sales.

        1. I hate to disabuse you, Kathryn, but according to my my publisher, in terms of percentage drop-off of paperback sales,I’m doing far better than the majority of authors at Tor, and, as I’ve pointed out, a range of authors of all different styles in the field have been dropped for lack of sales. Given that my UK sales never totaled even five percent of my annual sales, loss of a UK publisher doesn’t come close to accounting for the paperback drop-off, either. The drop-off is industry-wide, and the loss of paperback sales for the true mega-sellers in the industry [not that I feel that they’re hurting financially] is staggering. You’re right, I’m sure, about there being other factors, but piracy/copying is anything but insignificant.

          1. Mayhem says:

            I’ve always been Australasia/UK based, so can only speak to that side of the market. But one thing I’ve really noticed is the decline in availability of F/SF paperbacks in the UK market in the bookshops over the last 10-15 years. It really is no wonder that the publishers are seeing a decline when you have to go out of your way to find their books. And that is reflected in the corresponding crash in F/SF works available in the second hand book shops. Fifteen years ago, the F/SF section in one local second hand shop was the same size as the popular fiction. Today, there is usually only two columns.

            As someone who refused to buy hardcovers on the grounds that they’re too big and don’t fit in my bookshelves, I can’t really speak to initial sales, though I would suspect that libraries have significantly cut back on book purchases in recent years as well. But I can definitely state that buying paperbacks is much harder than it used to be, particularly back catalogue, and especially if you don’t want to use Amazon in order to support physical stores. And for midlist and niche authors, that has to hurt.

  15. Tim says:

    Assuming that your readership is constant or growing, then I assume that the decreased in sales of paperbacks are equated to illicit downloads.

    As this affects the profits of your publisher, why have they not taken legal action against these sites, since they must be losing money for publications of other authors contracted to them as well? Or are these sites outside the jurisdiction of the US legislature?

    1. Tor and most publishers do. The number of sites, and the fact that many change servers, makes eliminating such sites virtually impossible. I suspect that the kind of effort required would be cost-prohibitive, and that may be another reason why Tor recently went to DRM-free ebooks, hoping the effort would gain more goodwill and encourage readers to move away from copied and pirated versions.

  16. Brian says:

    I have a practical reason for avoiding ebooks. My eyes get tired fast when I’m reading from a screen than from a printed page. Perhaps it’s age. I also like the feel of a book in my hand when I read. Furthermore, just thinking about downloading a book is making me feel guilty that I would be stealing. I will not be downloading any books (LEM’s and others). Period.

    Music presents a greater moral dilemma for me. The genre of music I generally listen is Metal and a favourite sub-genre is power metal/symphonic power metal. This sub-genre is performed primarily by European bands and, with an exception or two, are not very popular in North America. That sometimes means imports. They can be costly and a wait time is usual. Do I consider pirating? Yes. You bet. Do I pirate? No! Like a book, I like having the liner notes and words in hand so I can learn the lyrics. Some of the ‘vocalists’ in Metal sound like they are gurgling nails.

    If enough people pirate the books of my favourite authors and the music of my favourite artists, what incentive do they have to continue to write or record? Everyone loses in the long run with that scenario. When I find an author or artist that I like, I am willing to support them by buying their work. If I don’t like the price, I’ll wait or shop around. Hopefully my small investment means that they will entertain me with something new in the future.

  17. Tim says:

    To Brian… I also listen to Metal, as well as 16th century unaccompanied choral music. However you will be interested to know that the genre you like still costs a lot even within Europe. It is all about volume sales. So the CDs are still expensive. However if you buy a streaming device for your Hi-Fi you can listen to up to 30,000 radio stations at varying qualities, and there is more than enough metal/gothic to satisfy. They only transmit up to 320kb but can be OK depending on your set up. You may find this costs in.

  18. Therman Campbell says:

    I grew up reading SF/F and through my late 20’s I probably purchased a fairly large percentage of all SF/F published in a given year. Since the mid-90s though, the demands on my time have become such that I simply don’t have the time to read as much or as widely as I did before so my book purchases have definitely declined except among a number of favorite authors (you can certainly count yourself in that group Mr. Modessit:)) , and I am still what I consider a hard-core reader compared to most of my generation.

    For most people today, when you consider the sheer breadth of entertainment choices, particularly gaming and film, it isn’t surprising that many in the younger generations, who would have been reading in earlier years, are spending more of their time watching movies, playing games, etc. than reading. Just the way it is.

    That said, I agree that illegally downloading (I hate the term piracy as it is completely misappropriate IMO) a book, game, or film is wrong and probably has some impact the decline of the MMPB market. However, I agree with other posters that it doesn’t explain the majority of that decline.

  19. Mayhem says:

    Hmm, just did a quick bit of research.
    A new paperback book in NZ costs $23, and a second hand in good condition around $12. By comparison a movie ticket is around $11.
    In the UK the cinema is £11, the book £7 and the second hand maybe £4.
    A quick scan for the US gave me Cinema $11, book $8, no idea of second hand.
    (Pratchett’s Light Fantastic & Spiderman 2D for reference)
    Given an exchange rate of roughly $2NZ:£1 atm, you can see that the books are disproportionately expensive, while movies are significantly cheaper.
    Not really a surprise then that in NZ the youth dollar is moving away from books, and that the secondary market fades.

    The UK and the US are fairly similar pricewise, so I would expect to see a similar proportion of sales figures in both markets, scaled down appropriately for population.
    I’m really surprised your UK numbers were so small – I’d have thought the fantasy would have sold well here.
    That being said, I do mostly only see a handful of your SF titles around these days in what is left of the waterstones selections which would relate to the publisher issues you mentioned.

  20. Arin says:

    For what it’s worth:

    I’m a collector. I buy your books in first edition hardcovers whenever they are available and in first edition trade or mass market paperback when they are not (rarely, these days.) If you did first edition limiteds, I’d buy those too.

    After that, I’ll pick up anything that offers me something different than the primary edition. I’ll occasionally pick up audiobooks for the reader’s performance (as well as the 1rst edition HC.)

    If new editions come out with significant new text, art, etc, then I’ll pick those up as well.

    I just wish (and I know there are reasons why this isn’t economically viable) that once I’ve purchased my books, I could get an ebook as well. I’d even be willing to pay an uptick in HC costs to cover a “free” ebook as well.

    Again, just a wish. I know I’m not likely to see that model. Plus, F. Paul Wilson had a good discussion over formats and and how buying a book in a given format doesn’t = a license for the intellectual property over on his forum, and I completely understand that. …but I can still wish 🙂

    The other model that would be nice is one where ebooks offer additional content in some capacity (new added short stories, hyperlinks back to character glossaries, essays, etc) and taking true advantage of the electronic format. Then that would be “new”, and then I’d be purchasing ebook versions too 🙂

    All of that to say that I’m unlikely to pick you up on ebook now…not while I still have HCs that I can acquire first. (…that I can get inscribed when I have the opportunity.)

  21. MingoV says:

    Here’s another reason for the decline of paperback sales over the past ten years: the ease of purchasing used books. Mr. Modesitt, I have a copy of nearly every book you’ve written. I prefer hardcover books (especially well-printed ones using good paper and good typography), but they are too expensive when first released. After the mass market paperback version is released one usually can acquire (via online bookstores or brick-and-mortar used book stores) a very good quality used hardcover book for less than the price of the new paperback.

    Book piracy is due in part to the ridiculously high prices of e-books. Since there are no printing or shipping costs, ebooks could be priced less than paperbacks and still provide the same profits to publishers and authors. Instead of $5 or $6, e-books are initially priced at $15 (~80% higher than paperbacks and only slightly lower than the discounted price of hardcovers). Kindle version prices typically remained above the paperback version prices. Only recently has Amazon.com reduced the Kindle version price to match that of the paperback version. I won’t buy an e-book until it is priced at least $2 less than the paperback.

    (This situation resembles that of the music CD market. CDs, when the technology was new, cost more than phonograph albums. But, after media and reproduction costs declined dramatically, the music industry increased prices instead of reducing them. Hour-long music albums are priced higher than movie DVDs with more than two hours of content–content that cost much more to generate. Even worse for the music industry, many people wanted only a few songs from those overpriced albums. It was no surprise that music piracy became rampant.)

  22. Jeff says:

    I have to agree with MingoV. You once said that paper makes up 15% of the cost of the book. True, but the costs of transporting it in, printing the book on it, boxing the books, shipping them, these are all eliminated in publishing an eBook. I suspect they even copy/paste the text from whatever format they use to typeset the book when making an eBook.

    I’m not inclined to purchase an e-copy of your books simply because I find $7.99 for something that in all honesty costs the publisher a few pennies to store and transmit to me (not counting your royalties and profit to the publisher) ridiculous. I don’t know what you receive per copy, but if you’re not making at least $2 off an e-book, they are taking you to the cleaners, in my outside-the-wall view.

    You’d do better to write the works, publish it in epub form and host it here on your site yourself. I’d gladly pay *you* $7.99 for a self-hosted new work in the Tristan/Van tale or a Haze sequel, just to see you buck the system and actually get paid something. Surely I’m not the only one.

    Last but not least, I enjoy your work. Thank you for creating it.

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