The story of an ebook thief

Dear eBook Publisher,

I read 'Book 1' of a great series from a great author and thought… 'Wonderful! I want to read the next book! 

I wanted to read these digitally on my ereader, as I'm heading on holidays and don't want to lug around bulky books. I went online, found the books in my favourite ebook store and clicked "add to cart":

"Warning: The eBook you just added to your cart has geographic rights restrictions. The billing country indicates that you do not have the right to purchase this eBook due to restrictions by the Publisher of the eBook." 

I really WANTED TO PAY for, and read this book… I really did. So I tried another online ereader seller and guess what? I can't buy it there either. 

I shared this frustration with a friend and he was on his computer, typing as we spoke. Moments later in the discussion he asked me, "Do you want all 4 books in the series?"

"I just need the last 3."

"Done! Do you have a zip drive?"

"Yes, here it is."

And so, dear ebook publisher, your restrictions lost you a sale, not on one, not on two, but on 3 books that I would have been very happy to pay for. Instead, my friend 'found' a copy online.

Why does it matter where I live… take my money… please.

Kind regards,
An avid reader. 

ps. I notice that the author provided an address at the end of the first book. I think I'll send him some money as thanks, thus just leaving you out of the equation, but giving the author, the artist, his well-deserved payment.

5 thoughts on “The story of an ebook thief

  1. Dan

    what a terrible comment to make. that’s like saying, they have no kindles in PC world (sold out) but i see one on the back seat of that car, in the carpark, think ill take that.imo if you can not have it, then thats that. To use this as an excuse to steal it is beyond me.

  2. David Truss

    Well Dan, while I understand your point, I’m not sure of your analogy. Yet if I were to defend the point of this letter here, I’d lose. You are correct… even says so in the title. I guess you are one of the maybe 3 people I know who has never:• Downloaded a song• Watched a movie or TV show not syndicated online• photocopied a full chapter of a textbook in university • printed a copyrighted photo • forwarded a copyrighted cartoon in an emailEtc.None of this defends what was done here, but the lines are much greyer than stealing out of someone’s car.

  3. dan

    with the greatest of respect.tell that to the author, theft is theft, whichever way it is wrapped up. Imo the analogy is sound, he knew what he was doing was wrong, and was theft, but did it anyway.The problem is that people do not think, that stealing an ebook,dvd,cd etc is the same as stealing something physical.

  4. David Truss

    It is also with great respect that I thank you to take the time to comment… especially as it is easier to agree than to disagree and thus I appreciate both your time and your effort. Thank you Dan!So, in following your train of thought, if we were friends and I told you that I was going to buy a book, and your response was, “I have it in my library, I’ll lend it to you…”Are we then accomplices in theft? I do not know where these books were retrieved, but I’ll bet it was a file ‘sharing’ site. Again, this sort of sharing is in a gray area and not one I necessarily think is fair in the way it ‘shares’, but different than theft described in your first comment… and still not necessarily ‘right’ in many respects. But can a digital file not be ‘lent’ just as a paper file/book can be?I can not pretend to say it as well as him, so please read Stephen Downes, ‘Paying for Art’: think we are caught in a copyright struggle where publishers, not artists, are the ones that will truly suffer and they are the ones battling a losing battle to keep things as they were, in an era that it is now impossible to maintain. An artist today is more likely to be able to share his/her art as digital book stores do not have limited shelf space like paper book stores do. No longer can a publisher/record company decide if an artist’s work is worthy, now fans can… I believe that in the near future the word ‘thief’ will not apply to what this letter speaks of… for now you have every right to think it does.Again, thanks for your responses!Respectfully,Dave

  5. Anne De Manser

    The whole question of electronic copyright is such an ethical dilemma and one of those problems that I think has been caused by the pace of technology. The internet is such a smorgasbord of ‘free’ stuff with so few moral precedents or legal rules to guide us. I know I have become very used to everything being free on the Web and often feel a bit put upon when I have to pay for an upgrade or an iPhone or iPad app and yet I don’t think twice about buying a game or a teaching resource in a shop and would never, ever consider taking from a store without paying.I think this instance is a good example of the personal ethical line where we all stand in different spots. From my point on the ethical line, I like the analogy between the paper book and the e book rather than the ‘open the car door and steal a laptop’ analogy. I do believe there is a difference in morality, if not in legality. I never ask friends who lend me paper books for the receipt of their original purchase. I borrow cds all the time and I have made my own compilations. I always pay for iTunes songs for my iPod but I admit to watching pirated dvds (my point being with these that I wouldn’t have watched the movie if I’d had to pay for it. I would have waited for the tv release). I pay site licenses and I don’t share software. I teach my kids about CC and I try very hard to acknowledge the source of any resource I use but if I can’t find the source it doesn’t stop me from using it. I’ts confusing and as I learn more I am constantly re evaluating my spot on the ethical line and I guess publishers and artists are also constantly changing their procedures to try and keep up too. As you say, it’s just not possible for copyright laws to stay the way they were.I’m glad you shared this story because it’s provided a great example for me to use in class next week. If we have this sort of dilemma as adults, no wonder our kids are struggling.

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