Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dealing with mixed emotions...

I've been using the library since I was old enough to sign my name on the card (back when you still had to do that). And in my circle of girlfriends, swapping books is the norm. If I read a great book that resonates in me, of course I want to share it. In today's economy, we can't all afford to rush out and buy every book we want to read and there are tons of people who cannot afford to buy even one book. Without libraries and friends, some people, including children, would not be able to read at all.

But now I'm stuck.

These practices are found to be completely acceptable........but not in the ebook world.

I am soon to be published as an ebook author and I fully support digital media. I bought a Sony Reader and I buy more books now than I have in years. But I hear so much about how wrong it is to share ebooks.

We ran into this years ago with digital music sharing (remember that lil' site called Napster??). Geez...when we were kids, I can't even tell you how many mixed tapes I had that were songs other people taped off their tapes for me or taped off the radio. We all did one was making money off it...we were just friends sharing what we had.

I am 100% behind authors, and all artists, getting the money that they are due...always have been. And of course I want to reap the benefits of all my hard work. This is my career...I want to be successful. But I find myself stuck in the middle here.... If feels hypocritical of me to say "Sharing ebooks is evil!" when I myself have borrowed treebooks (paper books) from the library and from friends for as long as I can remember.

Does anyone else feel as conflicted as I do???


  1. That's a really GREAT question! I'm not overly familiar with ebooks though my crit-partner is trying to break me into them :) But is there a "lock" on the ebooks like there is on a lot of downloadable music where if its transferred to another individual it doesn't work? Just curious. It's an ethical question of what is "stealing" and what is the world of digital media? Where are the boundaries? YIKES!?!? I'm not helping am I?

  2. It depends on where you buy the books from. As far as I know, and I don't know much cause I have very little experience with Amazon, but I believe their ebooks can only be read on a Kindle or on your computer using software you must download from Amazon. I assume the Nook is the same. I recently bought books from the Sony Ereader store and those I had to download directly into a Sony program I had to install on my computer and it synched directly with my Reader. I don't think there is a file on my computer that I can physically email to someone. I am not real great with computers, so I truly do not know.

    BUT I do know here are sites like and even my own publisher's site, and when you buy a book, you download a pdf and an epub file to your computer, to pretty much do what you will.

  3. Ps...just tried and and successfully emailed two books from one of my email addresses to was my own book that I bought through Amazon and have on my computer with Kindle for PC and the other is a book I bought from the Sony store and have on my computer in my Reader Library.

  4. Stephanie, some ebooks are secure and have DRM (digital rights media) attached, so they can't be copied (LPI books are not DRMd)-- unless the person doing it is tech-wise, like the ones who upload them to giant file sharing sites similar to Napster, where members pay a fee, essentially to get in there and steal (download) copies of ebooks. THIS IS NOT COOL. Sharing your Reader with someone would be the equivalent of sharing a treebook, because you aren't making a copy. Otherwise, any time an ebook is emailed to somebody else, it's making a copy, which is the illegal equivalent of photocopying an entire treebook and giving it to someone to read. Nobody would dream of doing that!

    Take heart though. Most libraries are onboard with ebooks, and are at least beginning to build their digital library. My county library adds about 30 titles per month. You "check out" the ebook online, download it to your computer, and the DRM gives you a certain lending period -- 2 or 3 weeks. After that time, the file won't open anymore. If your library has an ebooks at all, I'd recommend checking some out all the time -- as libraries see the usage and demand, they'll devote more $$ to their digital libraries. And don't be shy about requesting your own ebook once it's released!

  5. I know I will never do it (just checked to see if it was actually doable). But it is very easy to see how others can and probably do do it.

    And I don't think I will ever lend my Reader out...wouldn't be able to be without it for days!! LOL!!!

    My library does have ebooks! I have to check into it more extensively.

    Thanks Piper for the info!

  6. What a fantastic post and subsequent discussion. If I had a Reader, I'm not sure I'd lend it out, either.

    Good news about libraries beginning to build their digital volumes though. Since I'm not Reader-equipped yet, it's not something I really knew about until now.

  7. The selection is quite slim, for BECL anyway. I have a few books I want to read that I already have on my Reader before I start borrowing from the ebook library.

  8. I understand your conflict, especially considering that ebooks cost the same as paperbacks. The rule I have with myself is this... I share ebooks with people I would share paperbacks with... people I know face-to-face in real life. I never share with internet friends and never ever upload to file sharing sites or my own sites.

  9. Yes, India, I agree with that! If I did share an ebook, I would never ever share with strangers!!

  10. I don't use an e-reader myself, but you bring up a very interesting question! I do have print books that I've shared with friends, both giving and receiving, and no one thinks twice about it.

    Sometimes you can go to an author's or a publisher's site and they're offering free stories or books for download, and I see nothing wrong with passing these on to friends. Likewise if I paid for an e-book I would probably share it, but only with friends I would normally share books with. However, there are many sites out there that that have books for download illegally, and whenever I come across one I report it.

  11. Great discussion. I'm excited to hear libraries are starting to get on board with ebooks. I think there are a lot of sticky issues with the sharing thing. Hopefully, as ebooks become more and more mainstream, they can work out logical ways to handle the DRM and sharing issue.