To Some, Access to Books is a Luxury.

Hello guys,

If you’re on Book Twitter– or what I like to call the Online Soap Opera for all the drama it holds, you’re probably aware of the talk and debate that was going around a few days back about Piracy and how not all people have access to books. I have a lot of feeling about this topic, because even though I CAN get the books I want now, this is relatable to me to some extent, and  while I wanted to make a thread about it on Twitter and be done with it, I was too exhausted at the time to make my brains work and by the next morning when I actually wanted to talk about it, the Internet had moved on. And that, kids, is the time we live in. For an old soul like myself, things are moving too fast.

access-to-books

For those of you who, by some blessing, missed it, here’s a little backstory from what I gathered and what some blogger friends told me (because I didn’t witness it firsthand). Some international reader tweeted asking for a pdf/epub version of a book which got to the author who attacked her (I believe the reader’s a girl?) and sent her to Amazon US. THEN, some other people attacked the author because they attacked the reader. Let me tell ya, it’s a vicious circle and every part of it is right and wrong at the same time. Let me explain myself, point by point.

n1

PIRACY. There’s no getting around, it’s simple and it’s illegal no matter how you look at it or how your motives for it are. But I understand, believe me I do. Don’t attack me just yet and let me explain, I won’t go far, I’ll just use my own experience to try and bring you as close to the issue as I can.

I live in Morocco. Which is an underdeveloped country that DOESN’T have English as first language, not even second, third or forth. In fact, for someone to talk fluent English is considered a rare thing (eventhough it is more spoken with each and every generation). So there is simply little to NO English literature  in my country. I won’t even try getting into procuring physical book because they’re like the holy grail in here and they ARE expensive, so I consider myself privileged that I’m able to get them from time to time. Getting them online is even worse because no matter how I go about it, the shipping always costs MORE than the book itself and before you talk about Book Depository or Book Outlet, they don’t ship here. And don’t mention libraries please, they don’t exist. For leisure, I mean, all books there are academic and/or for research. Onto e-books now, that’s mainly what I get now because they’re the most practical way for me to read without ruining myself. BUT, they are still expensive  (for reference: A 1$ is 10 MAD), and my family and I are thankfully well off, so my case isn’t the general rule around here.

So, imagine a poor person, who has an infinite love for books, can you tell them no? You don’t have enough money to be able to read. So, here’s the real issue: In our society, today, reading is for those who can afford it. It is sad, yes, but it is true. I know it is not the Publishers’ fault, it’s not EVEN the reader’s. Yes I dare say it. Excuse me, if I understand how someone would HAVE TO resort to Piracy to read. Don’t blame them, blame society. I don’t when or how but there should be a time coming in the future when people, who don’t have the money for it, CAN access the books they like to read without it being illegal and without ruining themselves because they just CAN’T AFFORED IT when they struggle to even eat or put clothes on their bodies. And believe me when I say this, sometimes reading is the only escape they have, the last thread they hold on to.

n2

I think I said most of what I needed to get across in the section above but I want to acknowledge the author’s rights too. I know how they can feel disrespected. Imagine putting countless hours, weeks, even years of work, sweat and tears for it to be stolen once finished. Because that’s really what piracy is: Theft. I know and understand how angred and frustrated said author can be, because at the end of the day, they make a living out of it, as well as the publishers, cover designers and everyone who participated in bringing that book to life. BUT attacking the person is no way to go out it. ESPECIALLY without knowing where she comes from or what her background is. All I’m saying is that there are better ways to go about this. If they actually engaged with the reader and found that she was disrespectful and did it just for the heck of it, by all means, go even for a legal pursuit if that’s what you want.

n3

Did the people who attacked either the author or the reader think they were doing the issue any good? They only fueled the problem, and I’m sure some of them knew it.

  1. Attacking the author, I’m sure, only made them angrier because none of it was constructive or educational, they just feel attacked when they ARE the victim to begin with.
  2. Attacking the reader only makes her feel even worse than she already does, because believe me, if she has no other choice, she will STILL resort to piracy to get the book she wants. It doesn’t solve the problem and doesn’t do anyone any good.

At the end of the day, the best way to solve this -as any conflicts really- is proper education and communication. Talk it out for God’s sake. I saw some really amazing threads about the issue that were neither attacking the author, nor making what the reader did rightful. They just explained things and tried to educate people, especially privileged ones, on a point of view that isn’t theirs, simply because they -thankfully- never had to experience money shortage, or an issue or another that prevented them from getting the books they love.

I hope no one gets my words the wrong way, and I hope they don’t get twisted to make me say things I didn’t say.

I’m not encouraging piracy, I’m only explaining a perspective that not many people have or know.


That’s it until next time.

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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45 thoughts on “To Some, Access to Books is a Luxury.

  1. I felt like applauding when I read this. I’m not on Twitter, so I was not aware of this drama until today morning when I read someone else’s post about the same. Now that I have some insight into what actually happened, and the fact that your post has made me think (quite a lot) I think I might have to make a post on this topic sometime around!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well said. I’ve missed out on the entire thing (reading your post makes me happy that I did). I think it’s really amazing how you’ve been able to give a view from all sides, and personally I think it’s great that you’re able to say these kind of things. You’re awesome 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with you. I’m from Pakistan and while we have bookstores and libraries here, not all of them sell the latest books or sell books too expensive for a middle class Pakistani (like me) to afford. I honestly have to save every single penny to buy a SINGLE book. Even the libraries don’t have the latest books. The mostly consist of Classics. I can’t order books from Amazon because of shipping and Book Depository doesn’t ship here. It’s unfair to all of us. It’s natural that many of the readers will download/buy the pirated version just to quentch their thirst for reading. I’m not saying that they should but I can see where it is coming from.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing this wonderful post, my twinnie ❤ I already shared a bit of my thoughts about this with you on Twitter, and I agree with you. It's important for people to know that not everyone, everywhere, has the same access to books, in librairies, in bookshops, as ebooks, and it's just different everywhere and we really should be aware and aknowledge that. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thoughtful as always, Fadwa 😊
    I’m so glad you showed both perspectives. I truly understand the viewpoints of both. I really don’t believe there’s a right or wrong here, it’s really one of those morally grey areas. Because 1. Everyone should have access to books, no matter what but 2. Authors put thousands of hours of work and sweat and effort into their work, so i can see how it wouldn’t be fair to them if books are free. It’s a difficult subject.
    But two things are for sure: Never resort to piracy if you don’t have to. And when you’re fortunate enough to have books readily available and rich enough to buy them: pay it forward. Donate books to needy children, to needy anybody! I’d actually really love to start some activism of this sort up in the bookish community
    Thanks, Fadwa!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I saw the whole drama ensue on Twitter, even though I also didn’t see the inciting incident, but it was abysmal. People were just attacking one another and even though I saw a couple of threads calling for empathy, those same people were accusing people who spend a lot of money on books to be assholes because they were rubbing it in. If someone is lucky and in the position to spend tons of money on books, by all means, let them! But I hate how some just act conceited and suggest libraries or American online retailers – it’s not an option for everyone in the world!
    I can see both sides too! As you said in the beginning, there were right and wrong reactions happening at the same time. Did you by any chance see Cristina’s post about the same topic yesterday? She even compared prices of the same book and I hope that such an explicit example might also help people understand.
    Great post!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve seen a lot of that too, which is ridiculous because:
      A- people didn’t choose to be rich or poor, in most cases they were born into and spending money on books is way better than doing so on harmful things.
      And B- Some of those people should avoid looking down at people who are less fortunate.
      I actually just read it a couple of hours ago and it was on point, I really loved it and she got the message across really nicely with proof too.
      Thank you 😙

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I love this post! I missed most of the drama happening on Twitter but I’ve seen people talk about it afterwards, so it was good to get a better idea of what happened.

    I live in Australia now, but I used to live in Indonesia, where public libraries are a rarity and books just aren’t always that easily accessible. I’ve seen and experienced very clearly that in some countries, reading is a luxury only some people can afford, but on the other hand, I also understand the whole dilemma of not wanting to steal from the author. What’s most disheartening for me I think is how some people reacted on Twitter – the issue is often not as black and white as it sounds, and if people only care to listen a bit more, engage a bit more, I think the whole fiasco could’ve been avoided. :\

    Liked by 1 person

    • Same thing stands for me ! I was there just for the aftermath.
      Yes, that’s my whole point! It’s not all good or all bad, there are some factors to take into count before starting to judge people and look down on them. 😞

      Like

  8. This post is brilliant, Fadwa. I love it. I wish more people could understand this. I’ve seen people do posts promoting libraries where they exclusively talk like every library that exists is like US ones or fail to acknowledge that for some people they don’t even exist at all. Or they’ll talk about giveaways and mention Book Depository and fail to recognise that there are so many countries they don’t ship to. Then there’s things to consider how in certain countries books about particular topics like LGBT+ themes ect. are outrighted banned and it’s not safe for the person to even ask. Obviously, piracy isn’t the best answer and neither is attacking the authors, but I really wish some of the bookish community could be more open minded!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Lauren, it really means a great deal to me 💖
      That’s the most annoying thing to me to be honest, when people take things for granted andthink others have as easy as them.
      My country is one of those !! You can’t find a single LGBT+ book selling here.
      Exactly! And I feel like the community is getting less and less tolerent

      Like

  9. I missed the drama on twitter (surprisingly, I’m there all the time) but you’re words struck a chord for me. I was raised very poor, but at least had libraries, and yes, sometimes reading is the only thread you have to hang on to. Thank you for bringing that reality to light with you’re words.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. YES YES YES TO ALL OF THESE! I totally feel you Fadwa! I’m lucky enough to be able to afford imported books and live near the capital where the majority of books are sold but even my situation still has A LOT of drawbacks. And yes the price is so insane in our currency I have to literally compare prices between 2-3 stores before buying a single book. Shipping cost is even MORE ridiculous, I once want to buy a book from Amazon but shipping costs 4 times more expensive than the book itself </3 So yes, I totally get where all the arguments come from.

    But to be fair, people really shouldn't get what they couldn't afford. I mean, it's not fair for people to get free books while other people have to pay for them. But the difference is, in US/UK/every other major countries, those who can't afford books still have libraries to resort to. WE DON'T. Which is why I was so annoyed when people say 'libraries exist' as a solution to this problem, it doesn't. Just like the libraries in your country, libraries in Indonesia are also more educational than recreational. They do provide recreational readings but most are old releases/for children, they don't keep up with latest release. But pffftt even the academic sources are limited here, I had to pay for a lot of journals because my university AND government don't subscribe to them 😦

    Anyway, I think the proper and legal solution is to provide libraries all over the world. Maybe more like an electronic library? Where they provide ebook that would only be accessible for 2 weeks or something. I don't know if this system already exists or it's even possible hahaha but there's also the problem with underdeveloped societies who don't have access to technology… hmm I really can't solve this problem and I don't know who would hahaha great discussions Fadwa ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This post is everything I wanted to say about that issue really. These kinds of things always remind me of a quote from a Sarah Dessen book: “Don’t think or judge, just listen.” Communication is never affective if the other person is just trying to say that what the other is doing is wrong. You really don’t know what someone’s life is like

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I really liked how you articulated yourself on this topic Fadwa! I admit I have been a little MIA lately on twitter, so I missed this drama.

    I have never really thought about the lack of access to books to people of developing countries. Being the privileged white American that I am, books have always been easily and affordably available to me. I am ashamed to admit that I have taken this for granted. Thank you so much for this post. It has definitely opened my eyes to this issue.

    I definitely see both sides of the argument on this one. Frankly, I don’t blame people without access to books to resort to piracy. If I am being completely honest, I would probably do the same thing if I were in their shoes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah thank you so much 😊 English not being my first language, this means the world to me!
      I’m really happy to have helped opening your eyes to the issues that international readers can have to get books.
      I really don’t either because I have been there and know how difficult things can be.

      Liked by 1 person

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  16. I think we can all understand why someone might feel they need to pirate books, but I’m not sure that means that we should condone stealing, as some in the blogosphere have suggested. I am also concerned that this seems to be an issue of many not considering an e-book a “real” product or item. I have yet to see anyone argue that readers should be allowed to walk into bookstores and steal hard copies off the shelves, but for some reason when it comes to e-books it seems like people are arguing that theft is permissible. I think that, instead of encouraging piracy, we need to look at the root issues of access and try to find ways to get people books legally so they don’t feel they need to steal.

    I also think there are many American readers who are perfectly capable of paying for their own books or accessing them legally through a library, who are co-opting the argument that some people in other countries don’t have books, in order to make it seem like their own piracy is permissible.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Condoning stealing is never a thing that should be done but we can still undestand where people come from and empathize.
      I think it’s all an accessibility matter, I’m sure if bookstores were like the internet that would be an issue too haha.
      That is a very optimistic -if not utopic- thing that I hope will end up happening, but it is just impossible for people to have free legal access to books when they struggle to put food on the table and close on their backs, those are the bigger issues that need solving first.
      Oh I’m fully aware of that and it is just stupid if you ask me. Why the hell do these people steal when they can have their own damn physical copies? I can’t wrap my head around this !! And their argument is even more ridiculous.
      Thanks for stopping by 😊

      Like

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  18. Great Post, I love how you incorporate both sides of the debate. I see the Authors side but also as you say having access to books is a great luxury that not everyone has. Whilst I know stealing is wrong I think their should be like an ebook library out there where readers can borrow the book online? I couldn’t imagine being unable to read, something I enjoy so much, something that so many of us take for granted.

    Liked by 1 person

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