Flexible Morals

If I went to a grocery story, picked up a gallon of milk and attempted to walk out without paying, I’d be arrested for shoplifting.

So why is it people think it’s okay to illegally download ebooks? Last night, I was cornered by a woman who spent an hour (no exaggeration) trying to explain to me why pirating ebooks was acceptable.

She started by blaming the publishing industry for failing to make the purchase of ebooks easier. “If I buy a book, I should be able to read it whether I’m on my PC or my husband’s MAC but right now, they don’t move across platforms. So the publishers are encouraging people to find other ways to get the ebooks”

I conceded that there are still some issues with being able to access books across platforms. But, I can read my Kindle books on my Kindle, my PC and my iPhone, so that technology is getting better. And my friends who own Kobos and Nooks can as well.

Then she blamed writer for not being good enough. “Most writers suck. So why should I pay $8.00 for a book when I get it for free?”

Hmm…When I pointed out that people cannot just eat a meal at a restaurant and then refuse to pay for it, she said it wasn’t the same thing because, “Ebooks aren’t real.”

I considered debating this but I wasn’t given an opportunity because she went on. “If writers wrote stuff worth reading, everybody would pay.”

Okay, that ticked me off. I pointed out, that people are ALREADY stealing, buying and selling pirated books on the internet. And this isn’t happening to just small presses. I know a NYTimes bestseller who’s had her books pirated too!

She dismissed my comment by putting the blame of piracy back on the authors and the publishers. “Authors need to do their homework. Since they pay publishers to put their work out there. They should know if the publishers are making it hard for the reader to buy their books.”

Did she think all ebook publishers were vanity presses? I tried to clarify that respectable publishing houses do not expect authors to pay them. Vanity Presses not withstanding.

She laughed and explained, “Publishers of ebooks don’t provide goods, they provide a service. There’s nothing tangible, so it cannot be a good. Therefore, it cannot actually be stolen. And the authors essentially pay the publishers because the publishers take a cut of the money the author receives from the sale of an ebook. Thus, the authors pay the publishers to sell the books.”

At that moment, I heard that quote Cary Elwes said to Wallace Shawn in The Princess Bride, “Truly, you have a dizzying intellect!”

Today, I’m still fuming…

Has our society really become so entitled that we have forsaken our morals? Growing up, I was taught if you took something that didn’t belong to you whether it was a car or a piece of gum, it was stealing.

If last night’s conversation was indication of where our society is heading then stealing is stealing unless an it’s an ebook.

Hmmm…I don’t think so.

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4 Responses to Flexible Morals

  1. Arlene Hittle says:

    Yikes. Where do these people come from? I just don’t understand that mindset, but maybe it’s because I’m an old-fashioned Midwestern girl.

    A shopping experience at the grocery store prompted me to write a post about the possibility of being “too honest” on my weight-loss blog a while back. http://kyree90.wordpress.com/2012/03/07/too-honest/

  2. Mary says:

    Hi Arlene,
    I’m an East Coast girl at heart but like you, I’m old-fashioned. Stealing is stealing.

    Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  3. Kim says:

    I’m SO sorry I didn’t realize I needed to rescue you. Please forgive me!

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