Sunday, February 07, 2010

Polka Dots Rock--Illegal downloads don't.

I promised you a photo of my latest knitting--and here it is! My polka dot socks needed a little updating. The "new colors" for the green sock are Knit Picks Palette in Edamame, Green Tea Heather, and black. The pink and purple sock uses Blossom Heather, Hyacinth, and Black. The pattern is available now on my website and will soon also be available via Knit Picks website as well. I'm excited to market another pattern this way!

In other news, weaving is going along well and I've completed my first 2 foot by 3 foot rug. I'm definitely still learning but am glad the professor helped me set up the warp before leaving town. I'll likely always need another person for that step. While I've made some friends here, it's still a little weird to ask a relatively new friend to come over while I bumble my way through learning to warp. It's getting easier though..and it's much less embarrassing to impose on one's partner for such things!

In the last post's comments, Alison asked me how I knew that people were illegally downloading copies of Knit Green. Every so often, I do searches of my name and the names of my books on Google. It allows me to read new reviews, see who is selling the book, and even see new knitting projects posted on blogs. (I love seeing those new creations!) Sadly, now it allows me to see that people are illegally posting my book to the web so that others can download it for free.

The thing is, this "sharing" denies me of my fair earnings as a result of writing my book. While I don't earn much (see what I said in that last post regarding what I probably earn per book), this movement online that makes books illegally available for free means I earn even less.

Now, there are entirely legal ways of paying for and downloading an ebook if one wants to avoid the environmental impact of printing a book or shipping it. I'm very glad that's an option available for readers, don't get me wrong! Also, if someone can't afford a book, I am also very glad that both my books are available in many libraries. There have been times I've depended on the library, and I'm thrilled libraries are choosing to buy my books.

However, as things stand, many people who write books these days (and publish them via traditional routes) don't do it because they will earn much or any income from it. It would be nice if I did, but so far, it doesn't look like my books will be bestsellers. In fact, I'll be lucky if I earn anything other than what I was offered at the beginning, as an advance on royalties. I did these books for a variety of reasons, but chief among them? I cared about these issues and wanted to write something for the knitting and fiber arts community.

I'm posting about this here because I believe we, as knitters (and upright people) can avoid illegal downloads of books, just the way we avoid illegal downloads of music. We can choose to do the right thing. In the meanwhile, I'm relieved that traditional publishers have legal support.

Care to weigh in on polka dot socks or "free" books online? Please comment...and if you discover any links to "free" ebooks, consider letting the author or the publisher know so they can follow up. It's like finding someone's wallet on the street. (Some people think that's "free" money. Others try to return it to its owner.)

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Blogger Wollgut said...

I agree with your post's title entirely!

February 8, 2010 at 7:44 AM  
Blogger Nina said...

I agree with you also. This topic really gets me upset. As a librarian I really strive to get the books to my students that they need and want to read. I follow a lot of my favorite author blogs as well and just recently read Laurie Halse Anderson's two posts on book pirating. They are both really good discussions of this. I also like your recommendation, Joanne, that we as the public should let publishers know when we see this downloading going on. Of course, I am not sure I would know where to look for the illegal stuff!

February 8, 2010 at 8:14 AM  
Blogger AdrieneJ said...

That's terrible! I'm so sorry this happened to you. Have you had any luck getting your book un-posted?

February 8, 2010 at 9:35 AM  
Blogger evergreenknits said...

That's horrible news about the book piracy! It's an amazing book, and I hope it gets read and loved widely, but not in that way.

Who are these people? And what are you doing to them? Would love to keep updated, as I've never heard of this before (blockbuster movies, yes, but not niche-oriented books like knitting)

February 8, 2010 at 9:39 AM  
Blogger Joanne said...

Thanks for all this support--I'm going to try to respond to things in the comments here...

Nina...Laurie Halse Anderson has much better posts than mine! Thanks for referring me to it. As for reporting what you find, sometimes it happens upon you as a do a search. If so, leave a comment if you can to say it is illegal. Consider tracking down the author or publisher (via a search on google or wherever) to alert us as most of us have a web presence, too.

Adriene and Wollgut, thank you for being so sympathetic! Adriene, to answer your question, well, the legal folks at Wiley basically send scary Cease and Desist letters to these upload sites, and they should take down the book when threatened with legal action. I'm not holding my breath, but at least I'm not completely left doing this on my own, either.

Evergreenknits, thank you for your kind words! To answer the "who are these people?" you might want to check out those links Nina posted...there are some interesting explanations in that second link. I've hopefully never met the people who upload books to the web, but they are out there. Luckily, there are legal types to do stuff to them like send Cease and Desist letters because if it were up to me, my reaction might not be, umm, rational, calm or nonviolent. :) --I have certain strengths, but hiding my frustration and anger isn't one of them!

February 8, 2010 at 1:47 PM  
Blogger Romi said...

Oy. That sucks!

Love the green color combo on the socks!

February 9, 2010 at 3:04 AM  
Blogger Donna D said...

I have mixed feelings about this, as from my research I've determined that giving away your books for free often leads to increased sales. It's something I'm thinking about doing intentionally.

But my books were also found on Picassa/Google and I sent in the appropriate paperwork to report that and they were promptly removed.


February 10, 2010 at 1:18 PM  
Blogger Joanne said...

Donna, as far as I can tell, giving away a pattern or a song or even one chapter of a book may be a way to attract additional buyers. Giving away the whole book for free (without my permission) is isn't then my choice to make and why should anyone buy the book if it's easy to download in its entirety for free?

February 10, 2010 at 2:35 PM  
Blogger Alison said...

Joanne, when I was a kid, my dad once bought a book he'd been wanting to buy that he found at a really good price mail order--but when it arrived, it came with the covers torn off. Meaning it had been discarded by the publisher and no royalties had been paid.

Dad made a point to his children of contacting the publisher and mailing them a check to forward to the author to pay that author's royalty on that copy. (He wrote "The Fabulous Frauds;" he knew what it was like to be an author.)

As for my own knitting book, I find that a lot of people assume that I got handed free yarn and that my book cost me only a little time, the whole thing being really no big deal. I even had someone contact me via Ravelry saying she heard it was a really great book, so, basically, since she'd taken the time to compliment me I now owed her the pattern she wanted out of it. Um, hello?

I thanked her for the compliment and explained I'd spent thousands of dollars on yarn and many hundreds of hours knitting, writing, and proofing the thing--putting it together was a full-time job. (With tech-edit help from you, Donna, thank you!)

I may have gotten about 78 cents a copy, but by golly I never worked so hard for 78 cents in my life.

--Alison Hyde at

February 10, 2010 at 3:26 PM  
Blogger Willow said...

Having been in Snowland attending a wedding this weekend, I missed reading your posts. Now I'm catching up and want to respond that I too get a little steamed about book piracy. If I ever see your books offered as free downloads, I'll contact you right away! I suspect that people download my photos from my blog. For a while I put my name in the corner of the photos but since I changed computers (and programs) I haven't taken the time to learn how to do that in the new programs. Maybe I should make that a priority...

February 10, 2010 at 8:56 PM  

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