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October 15, 2013

Essay on Piracy


             The controversies that continue over the sharing of files online lead me to present some thoughts on this subject, as a writer and as a publisher. Of course, I write and publish only books, not movies or music. But I think some of the lessons from my experience are also valid for these areas. 
              Let us start by publishing books. Over 100,000 books are published each year with several million books available from publishers. However, fewer than 10,000 of these new books reach significant sales, and even in larger bookstores, less than 100,000 books are available on the shelf. Most books only stay a few months on the shelves of major chains, and then wait in warehouses ... currently being sent to the pestle. The authors think that being published will be the realization of their dream, but for both of them, this is only the beginning of a long disappointment. 

               Sites like Amazon are creating a virtual store for all available books and planning and a little light in the darkness of warehouses. Books that would otherwise remain invisible can be found and purchased. The web industry has been a boon for readers, because it makes it easier to disseminate recommendations read and buy books when they hear about it.But despite this, few books survive their first or first two years of availability. Empty warehouses and you will not find a buyer for many of them, even giving them away. Many books lying around in a dark-deserved, but much more simply suffer the large gap between supply and demand.
         Tens of thousands of musicians publish their own CDs. But rare have a recording contract. Of these, only an even smaller number have their discs achieve significant sales. The background music publishers' stock is inaccessible to consumers because they never reached the stores. 

         There are fewer films, of course, because of their cost of production, but even here, the darkness is a permanent enemy. Thousands of independent filmmakers are desperately seeking distribution channels.  But for most, their visibility is limited to occasional screenings at local film festivals. The development of digital video offers the promise of making filmmaking activity as affordable as the creation of a rock band in a garage, or writing the great American novel in an attic. 

        I watched my 19 year old friend and her friends listen to countless groups on Napster or Kazaa, and enthusiastic about their music. My friends now own more CDs that I have ever acquired. Moreover, she introduced me to his favorite music, and I too have bought CDs as a result. And, no, it is not downloading Britney Spears, but groups [rock] forgotten of the 60, 70, 80 and 90, and their equivalents in other musical genres. It is music that is hard to find - except online - but found that once led to a targeted search of CDs, LPs, and other artifacts. Piracy is gift for the listeners and readers but a death for musicians and authors.

Goorangai,(2006) Piracy:Out of Sight, Out of Mind?, RANR Occasional Papers, August


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