There was an interesting article in one of the weekend papers about pirating ebooks - something I've never given any thought to before but I keep coming back to it now, not least because it chimed with an earlier piece, and my own experience, of shop lifting in bookshops. The gist of the article was that an author had seen somewhere on line somebody offering a reward to anyone who would pirate his new (and I think début) novel. He wasn't best pleased but attempted to engage in conversation with the would be thief.
The initial explanation boiled down to this: I want the book, I don't want to pay for it, I don't have to, and what can you do about it? Other justifications include 'I've already bought the book in another format why should I pay again', 'it's not available as a paid for ebook in my region', 'it's more expensive than a paper book (which I don't want) and that's not fair', 'I don't know if I'll like it and don't want to spend my money until I know I will', and the one that makes me want to slap whoever says it - 'knowledge should be free'. This is the sort of reasoning that makes me yell at the screen/radio/paper -"What about a LIBRARY you cretin".
The dishonesty involved in pinching something is one thing, but it's also something I imagine we've all done in some form - stationary from work, the thing you borrowed... The souvenir peat from Laphroaig distillery (that might just be me). What I struggle with is how people will try and justify stealing an authors work - there's really no argument against the 'I can and I will' attitude but if you're going so far as to make an excuse you know you're wrong - don't you?
Frankly if you can afford an e-reader (and all the free stuff out there isn't enough for you) you can sure as dammit afford to pay for the books of living authors trying to make ends meet - and if you don't want to do that do without - or go to a library, show there's a need for them and help keep them open.
I know the genie is out the bottle on this one, there's no going back to a more civilised way of doing business - you know, when we bought actual things with actual cash money (and probably spent time balancing cheque books too) but as someone who works in retail the way people steal things bothers me - it's frightening if people don't admit they're doing it. There's no such thing as a victimless crime, we all pay one way or another, and the more things taken without payment the more those who do pay have to cough up - and that's not fair either. In my own little world, where books are still strictly the paper sort, most of my purchases are second hand - which isn't great for authors incomes either, but then most the writers I favour are dead so I don't suppose they mind so much (it could be better news for the publishers though) but if this rant had a purpose (and I admit it might not) it's that this has been another reminder to think about how I spend my money.