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Avast, Ye Scurvy Etc.!
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Ah, The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (of which I am a member) are up to their old piracy-fearing tricks again, this time with a bias-poisoned push poll about's Look Inside the Book function. I, of course, said I wanted Amazon to display the complete contents of my books -- because why wouldn't I? If someone walks into the local Borders, they can stand there and read the complete contents of my books. They probably wouldn't, because that's not all that comfortable, and you know what? It's even less comfortable to read a whole book with Amazon's interface, even if every page is available. At least Borders has comfy chairs and lattes on site. More likely they'd read enough to see if they liked my book, and buy it, or not. Anyway, John Scalzi has a nice breakdown of what's dumb about the thinking behind this poll. (You should go read it, really, as his views align neatly with mine.)

I'll just add this note, for the vast majority of SF writers who worry about their books being pirated: Yeah, you wish. You wish there was such a demand for your work that people were pirating it in sufficient numbers to affect your sales. You wish there were hordes of unscrupulous people ready to cash in on the vast crowds clamoring hungrily for your book, and that there was sufficient demand for your works for pirates to turn a profit on it. I know I wish reading weren't a marginal activity in mainstream America. Maybe in the literature-obsessed world of Jasper Fforde's "Thursday Next" novels book pirating would be a real problem, but in our world? No, not really.

Of course, there are also those extra-nefarious pirates that give your work away for free: they're called librarians. Ooh, how I hates them.

Anyway. Don't treat your readers like criminals. It's degrading for all of us.

Update: A comment from a friend leads me to clarify that I'm not saying authors should be forced to have any of their work made freely available online. It's their work, and if they're uncomfortable with that for whatever reason, they should have the right to refuse. Heck, that just makes readers browsing around online more likely to buy my books instead of theirs, so I'm all for it! I'm mostly objecting to what I saw as the unnecessarily scaremongering tone of the survey.

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