It’s our firm conviction here at Tsunami Ridge that information does not want to be free. It does, however, want to be reasonably priced and available.
That’s why we’ve chosen to keep out prices as low as possible, and make our products available in a wide variety of ebook formats, many of which easily lend themselves to copying and piracy.
It’s not that we want people to take our authors’ books without paying for them. It’s just that we recognize that copy-protection and digital-rights management (DRM) is doomed to failure. At best, such systems may slightly slow piracy. But if someone is really determined to make and distribute unauthorized copies of our books, they will, and there’s nothing we can do to stop them.
Our response to this is not to hire lawyers, bribe congress to enact more draconian laws, or otherwise take it out on our readers (hello, we’re talking about you, music industry!), but rather to appeal to their better natures.
Look, we love you folks, each and every one of you! Without you, we are nothing, and we appreciate the way you love books in return. All we ask is that you not love us to death.
We think we’re doing our part here, striving to bring you a quality book and many hours of reading enjoyment for less than a cup of fast-food cappuccino, and we hope you’ll agree that this is a true bargain in this day and age. We don’t think it’s asking too much that you reward, on the very minimal scale we’re asking, the people who created that book for you!
And keep this in mind: Libraries don’t create books. Used bookstores don’t create books. Pirate sites don’t create books. Torrent sites don’t create books. Your sister who hands you all her old paperbacks doesn’t create books. Publishers, editors, and ultimately writers create books! If you want quality books to keep coming, you need to actively support the people who create them, not the middle-(wo)men who give nothing and profit from our creations.
So here’s what I’m saying: First, buy our books. Support us, and we’ll keep them cheap even as we strive to make them better.
Second, if you’ve somehow gotten and read a book we published without paying for it, be it from a friend, a pirate site, a library, or whatever, no hard feelings! We don’t hate you. Thanks for reading it!
We’ve spent a lot of time (and in some cases money) ourselves in libraries, used bookstores, thrift-stores, garage sales, and other places getting cheap or free books. We’ve been starving students, starving artists, and just plain starving. We feel your pain.
But still, you’ve taken some enjoyment and given nothing in return. You’ve been done a large, and I think you should acknowledge a debt here. Unless you’re choosing between food, rent, keeping the lights on, and your next literary fix, there’s got to be something there for a starving writer.
So, what I think you should do is break the piggy bank, watch the sidewalk for change, return some bottles for a deposit, or whatever it takes, and send a little something the author’s way. If you can, buy a copy of the book you’ve already read. That’s the fairest thing, even if it seems to run against logic. It ensures that everyone involved is rewarded in full measure.
But if you can’t do that for some reason (and only you in your heart can decide when something goes from annoying to difficult to impossible) then we’ve given you another way. There’s a PayPal donate button down the page. Take out your debit or credit card or use your own PayPal account to send some money to the author. As you submit your payment, there will be a “message” field. Put in the name of the Tsunami Ridge author (and if you want, the title of the book or books, and any words of appreciation you may have). Pay what you can, pay what you want. (And if you’re feeling flush, you don’t have to stop at the retail price of the book! Keep in mind, even if you’re paying your fair-share to the author, many other people won’t!)
We’ll pass along your message and pass along 100% of what you send us (less the small transaction fee that PayPal itself takes out) along to the author! We don’t even care if it’s for a book by one of our authors we didn’t publish. We still think it’s a good idea, and we’ll still pass along the money.
But I’m going to go a step further here. We here at Tsunami Ridge think these are words to live by in general. I’m going to suggest to all of you that if you’ve somehow read a book without paying for it, make an effort to find a way to reward the author at least what they’d have gotten if you had bought the book new.
Keep in mind that we here at Tsunami Ridge Publishing are a new-technology company. We strive to keep our overhead low, and the great majority of what you pay for one of our books goes to writers, creators, artists, and the people who actually created the book.
That’s not so for a book from one of the major New York publishers. Authors rarely get a royalty of more than 10% of retail price, and usually far less. That means, to compensate the author for your “free” book often requires a very modest sum, often little more than pocket change. (Don’t get me wrong. I think publishers are due compensation too, but if you are limited in what you can to, always start with the author. At least it’s something.)
How do you pay them? Well, start with the author’s web-site. It’s getting increasingly common for authors to have “donate” buttons on their site. Failing that, see if they have a snail-mail address where you can send a check (or cash, though certainly I don’t recommend sending cash through the mail). Failing that, maybe they at least have some ads on the site you can click through (which won’t generate much revenue for them, but it’s something).
And failing that, buy their next book! If you can’t pay them back, then start paying forward!
If you can’t do that for every author you’re reading, then pick one (I recommend starting with the obscure and under-appreciated author that only-you-know-about, not the New York Times best-sellers). Doing something, anything, is better than doing nothing. Especially since nothing is exactly what most people in your position are going to do.
And if you can’t do that, either because they don’t have a next book to buy, or because its down to books or insulin for you, then consider yourself in the author’s debt. They have done you a favor. Do what you can in return!
What do I mean by that? Talk their work up to your friends. Post links to their books (places where people can buy them, please!) or author websites on your social networking sites. Post positive reviews for their books on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or other bookseller sites. Write reviews on your blog, or link to their author sites. Be, in what small way you can, a cheerleader and booster for the authors you’ve enjoyed.
And one day, when things are better for you, remember them! Hit that donate button and send them a nice lump sum for lifetime services rendered. Buy ten copies (or a hundred, or more) of that favorite young-adult book in hardcover and give them as Christmas presents to every niece, nephew, friend’s child, and grandkid you’ve got access to. Walk up to them at a signing and hand them a Benjamin for “all those years worth of library books.” Be Santa, and enjoy the feeling!
That’s it. That’s all I’ve got to say. Authors give us so much. They toil alone, often against great adversity. Most of them don’t get rich. Many don’t even get a living wage for all their work. They rarely hear applause, or even “thank-you.” How could it not be a better world if we went just a little bit out of the way to give back?
Thanks for reading!