Tag Archives: public libraries


Slide1Piracy and plagiarism have always been with us: one of the earliest cases is said to have been adjudicated by the 6th-century Irish High King Diarmait mac Cearbhaill, who pronounced, “To every cow its calf, and to every book its copy.” This started a war that resulted in the exile of the culprit, who repented for causing so many deaths, turned over a new leaf, and became Saint Columba.

There are writers out there who are on the record dismissing the importance of book piracy, and likening it to “free publicity.” But why encourage criminals? Others have compared piracy to borrowing books from a public library. This opinion is mistaken. Libraries purchase their inventory from reputable sources, so authors have been paid for each book libraries acquire. Libraries then lend their own property to their registered patrons. This is fair use. Readers may later purchase books that they borrowed from a library. I have often done so.

Piracy undoubtedly is exacerbated by the reluctance of many Indie Authors to obtain copyright registration. What should thieves fear, when their victims will have difficulty proving ownership without legal documentation of copyright? In the USA, copyright registration is easy, inexpensive, and should not be omitted.

The distribution of free e-books also has made it simple and cost-effective for criminals to steal intellectual property. I believe that the pirates who advertise new paper books “in stock” are lying about their inventory. If they do get an order, they can easily download a cheap or free e-book and print from that copy. It’s not hard to reverse-engineer most digital documents, especially those which lack DRM.

A retailer giveaway may boost an author’s “sales ranking,” but such figures are deceptive: something that is given for free has not been sold. Assertions of popularity which are based on such misrepresentations destroy the credibility of all authors. Such promotionals benefit only retailers, who use them to make claims of having “best-selling” authors in their stables. Participating authors have reported disappointment when free-book promos neither improved nor maintained their incomes.

Irish Firebrands has moved its readers to amazement, reflection, anger, laughter, and tears, but it’s not a best-seller. It’s too bad that so few people have read it, but sometimes it helps to have published a sleeper, because I can account for every known legal copy:

  • Only three e-books were sold (at full retail price) after I put the book on Smashwords in 2013. I do not know who bought them, although I suppose it’s possible that one could have been an investment made by a pirate who then made back the cost by selling copies to two of the three persons who left star-ratings (but not written reviews) at Goodreads (the third person to leave a Goodreads rating owns a paperback).
  • Only once did I do an e-book promotion for $1.99 USD, but none were sold.
  • I have never done a promotional giveaway.
  • I’ve given one ARC to a reviewer, and it was a PDF of a special edition that’s easily identifiable if it shows up elsewhere. The POD sold one print copy before I took it off the market, and I know who bought it.
  • I have exchanged paperbacks with two authors.
  • I have given two paperbacks as charitable donations.
  • The POD has sold very few paperbacks. Two were purchased via library distribution, and I know who all of the other buyers were. No paperback sales were made outside the USA.
  • I sent an e-copy of the manuscript to a small publisher in the UK, who declined publication.
  • I sent one paperback to a self-published author competition, so that one may now be in circulation as a used book.
  • About half of the chapters of the audiobook Beta edition are in the hands of a half-dozen identified listeners. Beta listener feedback resulted in changes to the recording, so any recordings made from the Beta chapters would be pirate copies, and I’d know who did it. The audiobook text is also different to any of the others, so any e-book or paper copy that turns up and matches the audiobook text would be a stolen copy, taken from audiobook “dictation.”

My copyright was officially registered from the beginning of my book’s publication. I’ve seen my book’s cover on one of those dodgy “free e-book” distribution sites, but it’s accompanied by a copyright warning. If people are downloading or buying and reading pirate copies, nobody is reviewing the book anywhere (not even trolls).

I commend Indie Authors who register their copyrights. In addition, I encourage all to end free e-book distribution, and to set prices for their works that are commensurate with their value. Feel free to add the CAP IT! Badge to your blog’s sidebar or footer.



To show your support for
the right of Arts laborers to be paid for their work,

Visit and join this Facebook group:




Filed under Uncategorized

Trouble in Reader City?

With a capital T, and that rhymes with B, and that stands for Books! Books that could be exercising and growing imaginations, but are being upstaged by virtual reality TV shows and video games – passive entertainment that is bombarding and blinding brains with high decibel, eye straining special effects – spoon feeding pre-visualized adventures! (And I call that sloth!)

Books with beautiful blurbs and eye-catching covers, but that can’t be shifted – no matter how they’re formatted – nor how authors use social media or blogs or 99-cent sales! But in our efforts to promote our magnum opus, have we neglected a large market segment? One that offers potential exposure to not dozens, nor hundreds, nor thousands, nor millions – but BILLIONS of pairs of eyes:

The humble public library. 

Now there may be some who are thinking: That stodgy old place where folks borrow books to read for free? 

Well, let me tell you, my friends, if you give away freebies at A Major Online Retailer, you may have given away lots of books – to folks who may never read them – and even if they do, they won’t willingly pay for another copy. But you sell a book to a public library – a book which can be read by lots of people, who may like it so well, that they want to have their own copy, to keep – and they’ll pay for it.

And if we think libraries are lackluster settings for our works, we need to check the expiration date on our library cards: They may need renewing, and while we’re doing it, we may learn something new about the place that so many words call “home.”


On the other side of The Hundred Acre Wood that separates it from my neighborhood, there lurks my town’s public library. It’s the most user-friendly library I’ve ever patronized.

  • They hold Jeopardy! tournaments.
  • They celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day, complete with costumes, Calypso music, all-day pirate movies, and food.
  • They stage theatrical presentations in their auditorium.
  • I’ve lectured there about genealogy (to a standing-room-only crowd).
  • They host cooking demonstrations by my son, the Chef.
  • It was my attendance at their book discussion club which tipped off the Muses that I was ready to write Irish Firebrands.
  • I held a book signing there (catered by the Chef, of course).
  • My poem collection garnered 2nd place in their First Annual Poetry Competition, this year.
  • The Old Farts On Guitars teach music lessons there.
  • Downstairs, the Friends of the Library screen weekly free film showings, with free pop and popcorn.

These are just a few of their Adult patron programs. They have a full slate of offerings in their YA and Children’s departments, too.

According to the US Census Bureau, in 2008 there were 9,221 public libraries in the United States, to which patrons made 1,504,861,000 visits. The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) says that by 2011 the number of libraries had decreased to 8,956, but visits had increased to 1.53 billion: more than 4.2 million visits per day. This is an increase of 23.0% over 10 years ago, although in-person visits have decreased by 3.9% since FY 2008, and per-capita visits averaged 5.1 times per person, a decrease of 3.6% from FY 2010. Slide6However, the IMLS doesn’t count virtual visits, and public libraries circulated 2.44 billion materials, including a rapidly increasing number of e-books.

Slide1How might we go about targeting the library market? This IMLS graphic from their FY 2011 Survey shows a higher density of libraries in the eastern half of the country. That could be our focus, although there are significant metropolitan concentrations in the west – and might not isolated rural library patrons also enjoy having increased access to Indie books?

Alternately, the FY 2011 distribution of per capita visits and circulation show a northerly concentration, which is supported by the distribution of total program attendance per 1,000 people. Are they attending Talk Like A Pirate Day, too? Are they borrowing books about pirates?






Program Attendance

The numbers indicate a lot of potential exposure for our works, and for US writers, whatever the trends may be in your state for library expenses and revenues, I’d be willing to bet that library acquisitions committees statewide are still interested in showcasing homegrown talent. This could mean the sale of a bound copy, an e-book, an audiobook, or even all three. For all writers worldwide, if you sold a copy of your book to each of only 1/3 of the libraries across the United States, that would make a tidy year’s income, after which any subsequent sales to library patrons would be gravy.

And wouldn’t that be swell?

1 Comment

Filed under books, Uncategorized