Publishers like to tell us they only have their author’s best interest in mind, but we know at the end of the day, they are a company, and have to make decisions to make sure they stay in business. We saw the same thing during the Napster era.
The RIAA likes to remind us that piracy only hurts the artists. If we download an mp3, we’re stealing food right out of the mouths of artists. But this isn’t entirely true. When you buy a CD most of the money goes to the ‘suits’, not the artists.
The same is true for authors. Authors average 5-25% for every book sold, so when you pirate a book, you’re doing more harm to the publishers, editors, bookstores, etc., than you are to the authors.
A little tiff over at Random House demonstrates a publisher making a decision that harms authors. Random House claims that all of their authors who signed contracts with them before e-books were around, still signed away their e-book rights. The digital rights were implied.
They’ve already lost one court case, but they’re still trying to keep this dangerous (for them) precedent from being set.
If you really want to support the artists, buy an e-book. Then the author is seeing up to 70% of the royalties. Chances are, they’ve also paid a good editor and cover artist so you’re indirectly supporting other people on the ‘front lines’ of the book publishing process.