A publication of the Department of English & Philosophy at Drexel University

Stealing books

Last month author John Green wrote a post on his Tumblr about why going to a library and getting a book is different from illegally downloading one although they’re both free. Recently I have seen more and more people ask where they can download books for their reader instead of buying them or legally borrowing them. Of course illegal downloading is nothing new, but the rise of ebooks has brought about a different perspective as to why people illegally download things. In this situation, it seems to mostly just be a result of laziness and an unwillingness to familiarize oneself with the library system. Of course there are certain situations where a book is difficult to find or someone’s local system is lacking, but I’ve witnessed too many people who just don’t want to bother. As Green points out, musicians make money through means other than people buying their records. Authors can only carry on if people buy their books. Libraries will only stay around if people use them and support them.

Ebooks can be great. If they get people to read more, that’s fantastic. Ultimately, I do not believe ebooks will be the downfall of literature and that downloading books will destroy the industry. In ways they have gotten more people to buy books.  However, I do fear for libraries. A lot are already losing funding and they help people out with more than just obtaining books. So, this is a plea to people with electronic readers. Check out your local libraries. Many have ebooks available online for you to rent for free. If you can’t find a book electronically, try a good old-fashioned book for once. Use illegal downloading as a last resort.

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