where the writers are
Avast! E-book piracy, part four - Just lookin'.

One of the more common reasons I've heard for downloading a copy is the "just looking" one. On the one hand, I get this. One of the things you can do in a brick and mortar store is wander over to a chair, sit down, open the book, and start reading. Read the blurb, the critical praise, find out about the author and take a gander through a chapter or two - and then make up your mind. I see wanting a parallel here.

But, here's the thing: I'd say most of the time, there already is one.

Let me try to do this with a few books in which I have a story.

  • FOOL FOR LOVE, edited by R.D. Cochrane and Timothy J. Lambert. Here's the link to the book on Amazon. It has the "look inside" option, which gives you the introduction by Timothy J. Lambert, most of the first story by David Puterbaugh, "Thai Angel," and the afterword by R.D. Cochrane. There's a free sample offered at Barnes and Noble as well, but you need to hook up with an account first. Also, on Google Play you can get a preview as well, which gives you a peek at both David Puterbaugh's story, and the Mark G. Harris offering of "Love Taps."
  • I DO TWO, edited by Kris Jacen. Again, Amazon offers a peek inside, letting you see the Ruth Sims and Alex Beecroft stories. The publisher, MLR Press, also has an excerpt available (a brief piece of Nigel Puerasch's "Stripes").
  • TENTED, edited by Jerry L. Wheeler. Once again, Amazon has a sneak peak that includes Jerry L. Wheeler's introduction and a teaser for Dale Chase's wonderful "Roustabout." Again, though you'd need to make an account, you can get a glimpse via Barnes and Noble.
  • MEN OF THE MEAN STREETS, edited by J.M. Redmann and Greg Herren. Just to mix it up, let's check Kobo for this one and - oh, yep - there's a preview option (which, admittedly, adds it to your Kobo library, but that's a free app and/or just a read away on your computer screen, just like Barnes and Noble's system). There's a preview available at Amazon as well, of course - and in fact, the preview for that one lets you read my entire story (and the introduction to the fabulous "Patience, Colorado" by Rob Byrnes).

    So. Finding those took me all of a few seconds each - that wasn't work. Granted, I knew what title I was looking for. It's not quite the same as a general browse, but neither would the file-sharing sites be (though most of the websites listed there have the "people who liked this/browsed this/bought this also liked/browsed/bought..." links on the page, too). Big publishers make it even easier (take a peek at Random House, or Tor to see two great examples of easy-to-browse peeks inside books).

    I'm not sure I've ever needed more than the first dozen to twenty pages or so of a book to figure out if I want to read it - maybe that makes me odd. But I will say that when a free glimpse is available, I really don't see the validity in "I just want to look at it" as an excuse to copy and download the whole book.