Pirates to Literature: "Stand and Deliver"
The creator of "The Pirate Bay" has called for a Kindle from across the waters, and is speculating already on how to undermine, subvert, and destroy this new media market before it rises from "fledgling" to "promising."

Books are gonna go fast. Books are gonna go so much faster than movies or music, because they are so damn small. You can fit a hundred thousand ebooks in one five gig torrent file, which is about thirty years worth of reading if you can read a book a day. This thirty years worth of reading will take you twenty minutes to download.

And that's RIGHT NOW...

Why hasn't the publishing world already crumbled from the inside out?

1). Until very recently, no one was turning modern novels into ebooks. Now Amazon is DEMANDING that this be done, and will even publish your book for you. So, now people have to choose between something that is free and something that is the price of four meals. Until very recently, there was no choice.

2). In order for piracy to reach a crisis point, the format used to steal has to be available to minors. People under the age of eighteen that have no other freedoms are the sexually-repressed shock troops of digital sociopathology. Kindles for XMAS for troubled teens means whole libraries pillaged, gutted, and pinioned for the rest of us.

3). Theft starts with porn and moves to culture, as thieves become bored, and as the "accidentally cultured" turn to theft as a result of the consolidation of power in the hands of the elite. It is no surprise that books -- the prime symbolic token of education and refinement -- are the last cultural products to be ripped off and replicated. ICE BALLET: YOU ARE NEXT.

4). With the exception of The Pirate Bay, most torrent sites are designed by fifty-three-year-old marketing executives who spend their free time reading about real estate in books that have glossy purple covers with raised goldenrod font. These ponderous ladies and gents got into torrents to hedge their spam empires. They do not read; they do not understand readers; they do not understand how to organize a searchable database that will help readers find what they are looking for. The Pirate Bay, however, is too vast and too bulky. It is intimidating for your garden variety literate. Virgin book thieves need to be sweet talked. They need to have the soft veins in their hands stroked before you teach them to strip, present, and sing a soft, sad song.

5). You get the same torrents everywhere you look. The information is the same. The death blow will come from a pirate who is able to package stolen books like a virtual library -- a library where you never have to take the books back and where you can talk all you want.

6). A pirate would need to create a torrent database that encourages uploaders to upload single books, to upload the covers of these books as separate .jpg files, and to use ISBN numbers to organize the books based on the Dewey Decimal System. A really professional database would allow patrons to steal by buffet. This means that there would be one GIANT torrent library for ebooks -- broken up into authors and genres -- and you could download the whole libraries if so inclined, or download whole genres, or whole subgenres. But you could also go through and select the ten titles you are really looking for and exclusively download those (for now). This would be easier to do than shorting Amazon stock.

7). Social networking has been a huge distraction that has made people focus on the wrong thieves in the wrong places. People don't steal music a song at a time from MySpace, Napster, or iTunes. They steal hundreds of CDs in one glug from torrent clearinghouses. Social networking just makes people feel less alone. Social networking is just another extension of society. Good thieves hate society.

We can all sit around and plead with pirates for amnesty, safe passage, and mercy. Or we can meditate on the fundamental market issue here: is there any way to make books not worth stealing while still profiting from their production?

It is impossible to protect information, and a book is pure information, undiluted by ciphers, images, or noise. But perhaps books can become their own defense: purity is poison.

You do not pirate the ship full of lepers. You do not pirate the ship with smallpox. You do not pirate the ship of fools.

Posted by miracle on Mon, 06 Oct 2008 13:49:06 -0400 -- permanent link

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