I love books

I love books!

I read books, I borrow books, I buy books, I share books, I give away books. I love books. I even have a lot of books I actually haven't had time to read yet, or not being in the mood for that particular book. It's always been like that. I probably have books I bought ten years ago that I haven't read yet. I think e-books are not very readable, unless for reference works and such, maybe. I do not own a reading tablet. If I read on screen it is on my computer, but not novels, if there is alternative. The paper book is, for me, a superior product, unless one needs hyperlinks or animated graphics or some such. Paperbacks are cheap and convient, hardbacks are of course nicer to own and hold and read, but I do not bring them in a bag or on the beach, for example. They are more like treasure for me. The cheap paperback is more a very practical holder of the text. Many years ago I bought some "soft hardback" (for lack of better words) books in Japan. The quality of hardback combined with portability of paperback. Really nice. I have not seen them here in Sweden, but on the other hand haven't looked for them either. Today, electronic publication makes possible dissemination of vast ammounts of public domain work (see links to the right) and also publication by anyone, e.g. a blog. The flowing non-hyperlinked text of a novel is also made possible of course, without the usual middlemen of publishing. I prefer paper, but on the other hand, I never tried a tablet, so maybe I am just an old fashioned Ignoramus 😉

When I buy a book, I pay the author (I hope), the publishing house, the printer, the paper maker, the shop and the distribution/the transport and maybe even some tax. With an e-book, most of those costs are practically null. Digital copying is practically cost-free, that is a fact (one reason Microsoft has made such absurd amounts of money: charge a lot for cost-free or very cheap copies). So an e-book should be a lot cheaper. I own a paper book, i only bought the right to download an e-book, unless it is in the public domain. It's a huge difference. See Electronic Frontier Foundation's video about digital books and EULA).

Furthermore, if the author does only get a small share of the money, self-publication in digital format should also be possible. The old publishers and printing presses of course say no, and probably have a few lobbyists to tell politicians to do as they want, even if their resources are very limited compared to movie or music industry.

I do not mean that authors should not get paid, or not have moral rights over their works, but frankly, the whole system is built for corporations, not for consumers (yeah, those that pay, which politicians, companies and even creators usually never mention), and not that much for creators either. The music industry is probably much worse in this regard, musicians probably are more often mistreated than authors, though I have no statistics to back it up.

I stopped buying music from the usual sources. The ordinary record companies despise the consumers. I am done with their products. I do still buy books. When writing this, I think I'll stop buying books that are long copyrighted, and the author is dead (more of this in a coming post).

Frankly, putting people in jail for having (not selling) electronic copies of music or books? It is impossible to prove there has been a loss to anyone from a specific case. It is not morally justified to punish individuals for general problems an industry has, or claim to have. Hollywood isn't exactly in ruins, is it? If one extrapolates the damage Pirate Bay has to pay for a small number of torrent files (not media files), there is not enough dollars in the world to pay for the downloaded not payed for files in total. This mafia like behaviour from media industry isn't really what authors want to associate themselves with, is it? From this consumer's point of view, there are few creators who actually criticize the system. Interesting, the leader of the Swedish Pirate Party, Anna Troberg, is an author and also used to work in publishing. Most of her blog is in Swedish, but there are some posts in English, too. I recommend it 🙂

How many creators hasn't been convinced to sign lousy contracts or even losing their rights to their work? But that isn't a crime, that will be a civil case. The assymetry is big: Consumers can be stealing criminals, corporations can not, as for example in what is called Hollywood Accounting.

I love books.