It’s not just management who make false assumptions about emerging trends (see previous post: Web Naivety). The latest gem comes from the Chair of the Society of Authors – Internet book piracy will drive authors to stop writing (source: The Times, London)

Book piracy on the internet will ultimately drive authors to stop writing unless radical methods are devised to compensate them for lost sales

There is at least one fair point made. Authors of cookery books are suffering because people now get recipes over the Internet and don’t buy cookery books unless promoted by celebrities (Gordon Ramsey, Nigella and co are doing fine with their book sales). It’s a fair point but tough. We don’t have as many farriers working today since the car replaced the horse. We do have car mechanics…

Will authors stop writing? I don’t think so. Thanks to blogs, wikis and self-publishing web sites, more books are being published and purchased than ever. Including books where the entire content is available online for free. Some books start out life on the Internet, such as The Long Tail by Chris Anderson. There is plenty of opportunity for good authors who write original content. Back to the article in The Times:

“It’s hitting hardest the writers who write books that you dip in and out of: poetry, cookbooks, travel guides, short stories – books where you don’t have to read the whole thing.¨

That’s because that content is being created (often better) and published for free online. I’d disagree about the travel guides. Having one in your pocket still comes more in handy than relying on the battery life of your mobile phone or PDA. If your work involves doing something that is either no longer needed or can easily be done better and cheaper somewhere else, find a new job. Farriers don’t get compensated because there are fewer horses to shoe.

Reading through the comments on TechCrunch, somebody made a far more relevant point:

¨the only concern i have is true intellectual theft…that is, someone stealing my script or novels and calling it their own then selling it for their own gain.¨

Now that’s a valid concern. There are a bunch of web sites that duplicate content from blogs and not all of them include links or even references to the original source. The sooner you make your content available with your name stamped all over it, the harder it is for someone else to copy it and claim it as their own. My only blogging regret so far is not watermarking the image I created for an early post – What does Web 2.0 mean? That image has since been re-used all over the Internet, and even published in print magazines, rarely with any mention of its source. I love the fact that it is being copied, I just wish I’d got my web site URL embedded in it.

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