Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Stripped-Cover Paperbacks and Pirated e-books.

When a bookstore or grocery store fails to sell as many copies of a paperback book as they intended, they strip the covers off and send them back to the publisher for a refund. The stripped book is then to be thrown away or recycled.

But that doesn't always happen. When I was little, many of the books I read were missing covers and depicted the statement on the front that sales of the book without its cover was unauthorized because the author or publisher were not getting paid for it since it was stripped. I felt terrible about that, but confused. It never said why the cover was ripped off.. And I know that it wasn't bought that way. It was free.

For a little extra money, my mom and aunt would go "do magazines." What they meant was that grocery stores hired them every month or so to take down old issues of magazines from the shelves and stock them with new ones. The same thing went for the stripped paperback books. The store allowed them to keep what they wanted. Mom had a little bookworm at home, so she would save books just for me. The first few Harry Potter books I read were missing covers.

Now that we have e-books, just like anything in a digital format, piracy is an issue. As with the stripped paperbacks, the authors and publishers lose money on pirated e-books. However, I believe that reading a pirated book is much worse than reading a stripped book because it is deliberate stealing, whereas one obtains stripped books because the seller threw them away.

One cannot ignore the fact that both are bad for authors. As an author myself, the thought of my book being stripped of its cover and thrown in the trash, or some yahoo downloading it for free makes me cringe. I think the return policy needs to change drastically. Piracy needs to stop but I have no idea how it will. Any thoughts?


  1. You're right, piracy sucks. It's crazy how much it goes on. I'm not sure how to stop it, either, besides turning in the person if we see it. . . It's in every venue, too. Music, movies, you name it.

    Always gotta be a few bad apples out there ruining things, you know?

  2. Whether it's a stripped book, illegally downloaded book, or pirated music file, it all amounts to the same thing - it's breaking the law.

    I agree that the return policy for print books needs to change, but I have no idea to what. As far as illegal download sites, all we can do is report them whenever we come across one (which is what I do). There are plenty of sites out there that offer legitimately free downloads - people could be taking advantage of these instead.

  3. I think the improvements in printing technology will eventually cause a phasing out of the return policy for print books.
    As for the piracy issue, I think that the only way to stop it would be to raise awareness so much that it becomes a social stigma.

  4. Piracy of music, books, and movies doesn't fall in the same category as stealing for the people who do it. They think it's like going a few miles over the speed limit-no big deal. I think this perception needs to change. Secondly, I think the return policy on books should change. I think when a store purchases books the sales should be final. If they have left over inventory, sell it to the consumer at a discounted price.