My lady has abandoned me for a week of dayjobbery in a slightly different country. A fine opportunity, but it leaves me with responsibilities such as ‘make sure Eva actually gets to school and back’ and ‘don’t inadvertently set fire to stuff’. I tell you, I’m feeling the pressure.
To counter my glum, this review of Wildthyme in Purple was pointed out to me by Obverse Books. The penultimate paragraph made me particularly happy, for entirely obvious reasons. As of now, in my writer’s psyche, one reader has enjoyed ‘The Many Lives of Zorro’ in exactly the way I hoped. You can all slag it off now, if you want, because somebody got out of it what I attempted to put in. That’s all it really takes to make a writer happy to carry on to the next thing.
There’s still no sign of the book here in India, but I shouldn’t feign surprise. There are many, many drinking holes between Delhi and Edinburgh (where Obverse Books are based), and Iris has a track record of becoming distracted by such amenities. She’ll get here eventually, small Panda in tow, and on the basis of this review I’m looking forward to it even more than I already was.
Fans of Iris, or people who think they might want to find out if they’re fans, should rush immediately to the Obverse Books website, and check out the Lady Stardust competition. That’s the title of the 2012 Iris title Obverse are preparing – a paperback, as part of their terrific Obverse Quarterly subscription (four genre titles, of wildly different flavours, delivered to you across the year). Lady Stardust is David Bowie inspired, and there’s already a fantastic cover by Paul Hanley (who did the equally fabulous cover for last year’s Iris: Abroad, which I was in, and which I hope to soon have a small poster of hanging on my wall). The image is absolutely loaded with Bowie references, both overt and tenuous. Your job is to list as many as you can in an email to the publisher. Whoever gets the most hits wins a copy of the book, and if you pre-order the book anyway, or subscribe to the whole year’s Quarterly, but win the competition, you’ll pick up a refund for the price of the book. Go and play, especially if you’re a Bowie fan (and, frankly, who isn’t?). It’s much fun.
That was the weekend’s good news. The bad news was discovering that Cuckoo has started to appear on various illegal download sites. I suppose it was inevitable, but that doesn’t make it less annoying. There are people who are probably cleverer than me claiming that ebook piracy actually helps an author’s career, creating a broader base of readers who might buy my work in future (though, having successfully stolen a copy entirely without consequence, I struggle to understand why they’d bother). There are other very clever people who think this is the end of authors actually being able to derive a living from their work, for exactly that reason.
I’m not sure how to respond to this. Whatever the market-based arguments, I still have difficulty accepting the core principle behind the act of illegally downloading a copy of a book. It’s just… well… theft, isn’t it? Somebody stealing something from me. How do I convince people who prefer to steal things from me that, actually, I’d rather they didn’t. Why do I even need to make that case?
I’m fairly certain that 99% of people downloading from sites like these would not usually consider themselves to be thieves, and would generally be able to understand what theft actually is. When it comes to digital piracy though, that awareness seems to fly right out of the window. I hope I’m preaching to the converted. I hope you agree that if you have the entirely worthy urge to read a book, it’s not an unspeakable suggestion that you should probably buy one instead of nicking one. If you’d like a digital copy of Cuckoo, you can get one pretty much everywhere that sells ebooks, for less than you’d pay for a meal at McDonalds, and with a far smaller risk of ensuing obesity.
If you’d rather steal a copy, it’s now very easy to do so. Google is your friend, but I won’t necessarily be.