Lordess Tracy Chevalier Esq., an authoress and head of the UK Society of Authors believes that the Internet will destroy books as we know them. As we all know, book piracy is rampant online and off, with book piracy rings popping up as fast as authorities can ask them politely to pack up their things and move elsewhere. Books by J.K Rowling, Jamie Oliver, and Salman Rushdie are appearing on warez sites with alarming frequency, often accompanied by a poorly written review or historical exegesis based on incorrect assumptions regarding the theoretical and rhetorical sources of these well-known authors. Tragically, some reviews consist of simply a LOLCat describing the character’s motivations and the authors failure to create denouement in the third part of the book.
Chevalier believes that book sales will move online and only the largest names will create art leaving the rest of us to read the backs of cereal boxes and torn up copies of Stephen King’s The Stand.
Ms Chevalier told The Times that the century-old model by which authors are paid – a mixture of cash advances and royalties – was finished. “It is a dam that’s cracking,” she said. “We are trying to plug the holes with legislation and litigation but we need to think radically. We have to evolve and create a very different pay system, possibly by making the content available free to all and finding a way to get paid separately.”
“It’s hitting hardest the writers who write books that you dip in and out of: poetry, cookbooks, travel guides, short stories – books where you don’t have to read the whole thing.
“Although people still buy [books by] Nigella and Jamie Oliver and Delia it is because of their celebrity. Cookbook authors are really struggling. I do it myself – if I want a recipe I go online and get it for free.
“For a while it will be great for readers because they will pay less and less but in the long run it’s going to ruin the information. People will stop writing. There’s a lot of ‘wait and see what the technology brings’ but the trouble is if you wait and see too long then it’s gone. That’s what happened to the music industry.”
Listen, lady: This is nothing like the music industry. Sure, books are a mass-market phenomenon however, there are many ways to deliver books and to sell content. Obviously this doesn’t sit well with longform publishers, but it takes time and effort to sit down and read anything, be it a blog post or book. People will always have to read — unless the computer starts reading for us — and there will always be people willing to advertise against those eyeballs, let alone pay for good writing. Thanks to libraries, the concept of the book piracy is a joke. I’m more than happy to pop down to local biblioteca and pick up a book or buy it online or even download it to my Kindle. There are plenty of people who are happy to consume literature and if pirates are selling more books than your publisher can, then perhaps the publishers need to rethink their strategy. I would love it if someone bitorrented my essentially out-of-print book. I’s get more readers, and hopefully those same readers would read me again later. Publishers don’t have the money to reach mass markets. Libraries, and increasingly pirates, are doing that job and have been doing that job for centuries. Just ask Dickens.