Thursday, August 9, 2018

[Link] 'Elitist': angry book pirates hit back after author campaign sinks website

by  Alison Flood

OceanofPDF was shut down last week after publishers issued hundreds of takedown notices – but authors have been left dealing with angry users

Authors have been called elitist by book pirates, after they successfully campaigned to shut down a website that offered free PDFs of thousands of in-copyright books.

OceanofPDF was closed last week after publishers including Penguin Random House and HarperCollins issued hundreds of takedown notices, with several high-profile authors including Philip Pullman and Malorie Blackman raising the issue online. Featuring free downloads of thousands of books, OceanofPDF had stated on its site that it sought to make information “free and accessible to everyone around the globe”, and that it wanted to make books available to people in “many developing countries where … they are literally out of reach to many people”.

Before the site was taken down, one of its founders told the Bookseller that it was run by a team of four who worked based on user requests: “Once we get an email from a user requesting a book that he/she cannot afford/find in the library or if he has lost it, we try to find it on their behalf and upload on our site so that someone in future might also get it.”

Michelle Harrison, who won the Waterstones children’s book prize for her debut novel The Thirteen Treasures, drew attention to OceanofPDF after receiving a Google alert about a free download of her book Unrest. She then downloaded it “in a matter of seconds”.

“I was gobsmacked when I read a statement on the site admitting that reading pirated material wasn’t good because it doesn’t earn authors any money,” Harrison said on Wednesday. “Users of the site were encouraged to ‘leave reviews’ so that the author at least got some benefit!” After she received no reply to an email request to have her books removed, she tried Twitter. “I received a brazen response along the lines of, ‘What if someone already bought the books and lost them, or is travelling and doesn’t want to carry extra weight?’” she said.

After the site was closed down, Harrison shared an email she received from one OceanofPDF user, who called her “unworthy of being an author” and “grossly elitist.”


Read the full article: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/aug/08/elitist-angry-book-pirates-ocean-of-pdf-author-campaign-website