When it comes to the link between piracy and sales, there are thousands of different opinions. This applies to music, movies, software and many other digital products, including ebooks.
Although there is no definite or universal answer we can give, piracy is certainly an easy scapegoat. This is what novelist and “Fight Club” author Chuck Palahniuk found out first hand.
When his income started to dwindle, online piracy was often mentioned as one of the culprits. People were copying books without paying – ‘stealing’ from authors – so that seemed plausible.
“For several years my income has dwindled. Piracy, some people told me. Or the publishers were in crisis and slow to pay royalties, although the publishers insisted they’d sent the money,” Palahniuk wrote this week.
However, the article in question was not another piracy rant. Quite the opposite. It was actually an apology for the previous times he blamed online pirates and his publishers for the significant drop in revenue.
As it turns out someone was stealing ‘for real.’ Not by sharing copies of books, but by messing with royalties, as the New York post explains in detail.
The alleged mastermind is Darin Webb, an accountant who’s accused of embezzling millions of dollars from the prestigious literary agency Donadio & Olson. Webb was indicted by the US Government and confessed his wrongdoings in a video interview, according to the complaint.
One of the secondary victims of the scheme was Palahniuk, who finally found an explanation for his dwindling income. And it was closer to home than he could have imagined.
The main suspect, who now faces 20 years in jail, is the same person who forwarded his mail.
“If you’ve written to me chances are that your letter passed through the hands of the accused. He’d collect the mail and forward it to me. He seemed like a good guy. Like a prince of a guy. Like man-crush material. And then he wasn’t.”
The ‘plus’ side of the revelation is that Palahniuk has his explanation. However, it does come at an expense, as the author is close to going broke. Also, he regrets putting the blame onto others and apologizes for his previous piracy rants.
“So on the minus side, I apologize for cursing my publishers. And I apologize for any rants about piracy. My publishers had paid the royalties. Piracy, when it existed, was small scale.
“I do hereby humbly apologize,” Palahniuk concludes.