Author Walter Jon Williams Asks For Fans To Help Him 'Pirate' His Own Works Better

from the piratesourcing?-crowdpirating? dept

Consumerist points us to a blog post from author Walter Jon Williams, where he discusses his disgust with pirate copies of his books -- but not for the reasons you might expect. It seems he's upset about the quality of the scanned copies and is asking his fans to help by creating better scans:
I embarked upon a Cunning Plan. I discovered that my work had been pirated, and was available for free on BitTorrent sites located in the many outlaw server dens of former Marxist countries. So I downloaded my own work from thence with the intention of saving the work of scanning my books-- I figured I'd let the pirates do the work, and steal from them. While this seemed karmically sound, there proved a couple problems.

First, the scans were truly dreadful and full of errors. (Even if you're desperate for my work, I can't really recommend them.) A lot of time has been spent copy-editing, both by me and by Kathy-- which isn't really so bad, because this would have to be d0ne anyway.

But second, apparently a few of my books were so obscure that they flew under the radar of even the pirates! You can't imagine how astounded I was when I discovered this.

I could really use some decent scans of some of my books, and I figure some among you must have better scanners and OCR than the piece of crap that's currently sitting on my shelf.
Not only that, but he's offering rewards to those who help him, saying he'll send them signed (physical) copies of certain books, and also put their name on the scan.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), May 24th, 2011 @ 4:11pm

    Heh?

    A lot of time has been spent copy-editing, both by me and by Kathy-- which isn't really so bad, because this would have to be d0ne anyway.

    Intentional? If so, nicely done.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Meee, May 24th, 2011 @ 4:27pm

    Someone please tell me this is not a trap.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Rekrul, May 24th, 2011 @ 6:36pm

    Most OCR'ed text is chock full of typos. The problem is that most people don't even bother to run a spell checker on it, let alone manually check it to see if it scanned properly.

    I tried an OCR program once that claimed it could get the text out of any image. I imported a pure B/W image with perfectly clear block text and it only managed to recognize about 25% of the characters.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    JustMe (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 4:56am

    Why not just post electronic versions?

    (anonymously, of course, so he doesn't get in to trouble with his publisher)

    The author understands that some people are willing to read pirated copies of his books. There is some (probably large) percentage of those people would not normally purchase his books. Why not provide high quality electronic versions out to the pirating masses? The experience of reading without typos, formatting errors, wonky page rotations, etc. has got to make for a more enjoyable reading experience; one which might turn some of the pirates in to customers.

    I'm not trolling, just proposing an a variation on the original Cunning Plan.


    As a gift to the author I have added a new copy of The Praxis to my Amazon cart. I might also pick up "This is Not a Game:"


    FYI to the author:

    - The hardcover link for Amazon.co.uk for "The Praxis" on your website says "Currently unavailable".

    - It is too bad the 3-fer book is unavailable (Dread Empire's Fall, 1-3). I checked both .co.uk and .com with no luck.

    - Finally, why is the Kindle version of The Praxis the same price as the paperback at Amazon.com? There are no printing, shipping or carrying costs.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Vanye (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 7:39am

      Re: Why not just post electronic versions?

      Not an author, but I am friends/acquaintances with several. The price of an e-book is very rarely left up to the author. Most of the time it is decided by the publisher. Hence, the stupidity with most prices.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Robert P (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 7:49am

    Hah! How soon before he's sued for pirating content? Good thing he's not trying to do this with a movie or USCG would be all over him, filthy pirate.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 8:47am

    At Last!

    At last, an author who has a clue! I'm tempted to go out and purchase his (hard copy) book, simply because he isn't clueless! :-)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Frost, May 25th, 2011 @ 8:57am

    Loss of revenue is never the problem that loss of exposure is

    Many authors or musicians just don't get that their biggest problem isn't that people copy their work without paying, thus leading to loss of revenue - their biggest problem is getting exposure towards the greatest amount of prospective readers/listeners possible. "Illicit" copying can really help there and true fans of any artist will usually wind up paying for their stuff at one point or another.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    vastrightwing, May 25th, 2011 @ 9:03am

    It won't be long

    Soon, big publishing will sue Williams for giving other authors the idea they can do it themselves without the old industry titans. This will not end well.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Mike Raffety (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 12:29pm

    Author scanning his own work?

    Umm, if he wrote the book, doesn't he still have the text on his own computer? Why scan anything? Or did he write it all out long-hand on paper?

    Plus, then search engines will be able to index the text cleanly (e.g., someone's trying to find the origin of a quote that came from his book).

    But yes, assuming this was not self-published, his publisher may well have a vested interest in blocking this, it's likely his contract explicitly prohibits him from circulating copies by any other channel.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Pete, May 27th, 2011 @ 8:30pm

      Re: Author scanning his own work?

      Walter Jon Williams did not start writing books 3 weeks ago. He was one of the pillars of the cyberpunk movement in the eighties. So ummm... no. He is unlikely to have them all on computer.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This