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Oatmeal, McGuire, and Entitlement

I like The Oatmeal, and I’ve seen a lot of people pointing to this comic, often with a comment like, “This is why people pirate!”

I see two things in this comic. The first is an excellent point: people want to be able to buy and download things when they come out. More and more people watch and read things online, and it’s incredibly frustrating when that option isn’t available. In this example, I think HBO is probably making a mistake by not selling Game of Thrones to people who want to watch it.

The second thing in this comic, however, feels like pure entitlement. HBO has made a business decision to only offer the show for download to HBO subscribers. I think that’s a bad business decision, but does the fact that the show is not available RIGHT THIS SECOND mean people have the right to say, “Oh well, I tried. Time to go swipe it off a torrent site!”

My next book is going to be released as a hardcover, which means it will cost about $25. I totally understand that not everyone will want to pay $25 for a book, and I’m happy that a year later, you should be able to buy it for $8 as a paperback. But if you want a copy of that book for $8, you have to wait. You don’t get to say, “I want it now!” and just swipe it off a bookstore shelf.

DRM is annoying. Businesses that don’t make their products available to users who want to buy them is frustrating as hell. But the entitlement thing is a problem too.

Case in point: Seanan McGuire’s latest book went on sale early at Amazon … in print format. The e-book edition won’t be available until the on-sale date. As a result, readers and so-called fans have been heaping abuse on her because … well, because they might have to wait a whole two weeks to buy the e-book:

People who have to wait for their electronic books are not being denied anything; they’re doing what was supposed to happen in the first place. This has not stopped the exciting emails from rolling in. They mostly stopped after the first day, but on that first day, I was called…

…a bitch.
…a whore.
…a cunt.

Because that sense of entitlement, the idea that I WANT IT RIGHT NOW!!!, is so powerful that these people felt justified in attacking and threatening the author, then running out to pirate all of her books. The author who, incidentally, has no control over this situation!

Naturally, since Seanan is female, the abuse is even harsher and significantly sexualized. Because women, like books and TV shows, are possessions, right? And we’re entitled to say or do whatever we like to them.

What the f*** is wrong with people?

I get being frustrated when you really want to watch/read something and you can’t. It frustrates the hell out of me when publishers limit availability or cripple a file’s usability. And I know perfectly well that people will choose to pirate files when they can’t easily buy them.

But for God’s sake, get a spine and own that choice. Don’t pretend the evil publisher made you do it. Take responsibility for the fact that you couldn’t bother to wait two weeks for Seanan’s book to be available legally, or that you didn’t want to subscribe to HBO and didn’t want to wait for them to make the show available through other outlets.

I don’t really get worked up about piracy these days. I have more important (to me) things to care about. And I get that it’s a more complicated issue than a lot of people want to admit.

But the entitlement thing pisses me off, especially when that attitude leads to such vicious attacks on my friends.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


( 110 comments — Leave a comment )
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Feb. 23rd, 2012 10:19 pm (UTC)
I probably don't need to add this
Since I have lots on my to-read pile and, obviously, I can wait to get to something, I totally don't get the want it now thing. Go read a book by a different author! Maybe one written by jimhines even! There are plenty of good ones out there so there is no need to wait on just one book by one author.
Feb. 23rd, 2012 10:28 pm (UTC)
You know, if I don't want to shell out $25 for your new book, and don't want to wait a year to read it, I can get it from the library. For free, and you get royalties. Then I can buy the paperback when it comes out, for re-reading. Easy peasy.
Feb. 23rd, 2012 11:28 pm (UTC)
At least until we defund and eliminate the libraries...

Sorry. I should limit myself to one rant/day.
(no subject) - foi_nefaste - Feb. 24th, 2012 12:16 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 23rd, 2012 10:43 pm (UTC)
I also agree with some commenters on Seanan's blog who expressed wishes that these vicious attackers could be somehow outed or punished legally for their abuse.

The internet is amazing in many ways, but for too long we have let it be a place for spammers and other terrible people get away with being truly nasty human beings. I'm not sure exactly what can be done to reverse that trend, but as a society I'd like to see us try.
Feb. 23rd, 2012 11:21 pm (UTC)
I had similar thoughts...
(no subject) - barbarienne - Feb. 24th, 2012 04:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jennielf - Feb. 24th, 2012 06:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - netmouse - Feb. 24th, 2012 06:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 23rd, 2012 10:44 pm (UTC)
Right on Jim. Entitlement attitudes like both those instances piss me off as well. Um, sorry, but just because something is not available to you RIGHT NOW, doesn't give you the right to do illegal things, or treat people like they've done to Seanan.

What, there aren't any other books you could read in the interim? Or other TV shows to watch while you wait for the DVD release date? These are behaviors my mother wouldn't have tolerated out of me by the time I was in Kindergarten. Why would I respect "adults" who display these poor behaviors.
Feb. 23rd, 2012 10:48 pm (UTC)
I think that comic is a pretty good description of what really does happen. Far too many people just plain don't want to pay for anything, but plenty of people are willing to pay and have no way to do so. I think there is a little more than pure entitlement going on where the decision to steal it now rather than waiting is concerned though. I think at least some of the reason they really want TV episodes right away is that they want to participate in various online fandom activities. The discussion about TV episodes normally takes place when they're first shown, not however many months or years later when DVDs become available, if they do. If you miss seeing an episode right away, you're left out of the discussion. For some people that really matters. When HBO is involved, I find it particularly easy to understand people's frustration. Cable packages that include HBO are expensive. If I felt inclined to watch an HBO show, it would probably cost me somewhere in the $60-80 per month range to be able to do so. (Or maybe more. I haven't checked on cable prices lately.) Luckily, I don't care about HBO's shows. I have no trouble finding plenty of shows that are available without forking over that kind of money to Comcast.

If the MPAA and its members would work on making their products available legally when people want them instead of directing so much of their attention towards trying to stop piracy, I think they'd come out ahead. Making people wait doesn't cause them to buy more as far as I can tell. Making them wait sometimes causes them not to purchase at all, either because they've chosen piracy to get what they want or because it no longer seems important by the time it becomes available.

What is going on with Seanan's book I just plain don't understand. How can anyone possibly think that saying the things that have been said to her is appropriate? Even if she did have control over what is happening, it still wouldn't be appropriate.
Feb. 23rd, 2012 11:09 pm (UTC)
I agree with you that the comic is fairly on-target in terms of describing at least some of what's happening, and (as usual) doing so in a very entertaining way. And I wish more publishers/providers would take the piracy-fighting tactic of making their products more easily available at reasonable prices.

As for Seanan ... yeah. My mind breaks just trying to understand that mindset.
Feb. 23rd, 2012 11:04 pm (UTC)
There's a great deal of piracy that goes on in the musical theatre community, precisely because of the limited-availability issue. Great recordings of shows exist, but whoever owns the rights doesn't see the profit in releasing them, so researchers and collectors trade copies instead.

However, there's a very strong code of ethics, which every researcher and collector is expected to adhere to, which says that if a legal version of something you've bootlegged becomes available, you will purchase it. Whether you still have a burning desire to have it in your collection or not.

To me, if you're willing to live by that rule, and you think it's fair and reasonable, then you're not pirating out of entitlement. If you think it's ridiculous to pay money for something you already own, then, yes, get over yourself.
Feb. 23rd, 2012 11:56 pm (UTC)
Holy crap. Entitlement much? that really sucks :( I'm actually almost glad I haven't been published yet right about now.
Feb. 24th, 2012 01:11 am (UTC)
Oh, for the most part, I think the Published Author thing is rather sweet. But there is an aspect where, especially if you're active and accessible online, you start to lose that ability to just be a person and you become, at least in the minds of some fans, a possession in much the same way as their books.

Not most fans. The majority are amazing, wonderful people. But there are always the exceptions...
(no subject) - pantryslut - Feb. 24th, 2012 01:46 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 24th, 2012 12:03 am (UTC)
Also, I read the comic. Shat also tends to happen with piracy is sometimes you can get taken, too. a friend of mine wanted to see The Divide, but it wasn't released in his town for the theatrical run, and he didn't want to wait until they got around to a DVD release. so he searched some sites and Usenet claimed to have it. So he signed up, got charged, did a search for it...and it wasn't there. Not even a little bit. He cancelled the trial, got his money back, and said he'd never try that crap again.

Mind, not because he was depriving the creators, but because he himself had been ripped off. Sigh.
Feb. 24th, 2012 12:09 am (UTC)
...Okay, while I fully admit to pirating a decent number of things (mostly because the developers aren't making money off of it anymore or my original copy has stopped working because of save battery problems, like with most NES and a few Gameboy Color games or I can't find a way to buy it in the States (most of the music I listen to)), spewing vitrol at someone because they're converting something to the various ebook formats and it takes time to do? I... I don't understand how someone could think that that's okay. At all.
Feb. 24th, 2012 01:08 am (UTC)
I can't wrap my brain around what makes people think that's okay either. I mentally short out trying to understand that mindset.
Feb. 24th, 2012 12:18 am (UTC)
I guess Seanan has gone public. My mini-rant of a day or so back, I kept specifics out.

I will repeat: Some people's children . . .
Feb. 24th, 2012 01:08 am (UTC)
Yep. I was kind of waiting for this to go public before rantifying all over it.
Feb. 24th, 2012 12:20 am (UTC)
I just checked her book DISCOUNT ARMAGEDDON on Amazon. There's a big notice in a highlighted box that says....

"Item Under Review
While this item is available from other marketplace sellers on this page, it is not currently offered by Amazon.com because customers have told us there may be something wrong with our inventory of the item, the way we are shipping it, or the way it's described here. (Thanks for the tip!)

We're working to fix the problem as quickly as possible."

So it looks as if the situation has changed! I wonder if it was the author, the publisher, fans, or all of the above that made Amazon stop shipping?

Looks like BN is still shipping, though. :-(
Feb. 24th, 2012 01:07 am (UTC)
That's potentially promising, though with B&N having followed suit and so little time between now and the official release date, I don't know if there's any real chance of getting the horses back into the barn.

Wait, that's a silly metaphor.

I don't know that there's any real chance of getting the Diet Coke and Mentos back into the bottle...
(no subject) - wendyzski - Feb. 24th, 2012 01:10 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - vixyish - Feb. 24th, 2012 06:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 24th, 2012 01:00 am (UTC)
Whoah, the hell? Some of my beloved authors had to push back their publication dates too, but well, all you can do is wait.

Patience is a virtue, remember?
Feb. 24th, 2012 03:53 am (UTC)
And this isn't even pushing back a pub-date -- this is Amazon jumping the gun on the actual pub-date, B&N following suit for obvious reasons, and Amazon not jumping the gun on the Kindle version. Whereupon people think that they should harass the author of the book they want to get "her" to release the e-book immediately???

The idiocy.

1: Even if Amazon were not jumping the gun on the pub-date, a non-self-published author would not be the one who determines when the e-book comes out. The publisher would do that. The author would have no control at all except to maybe make a nice phone call to the agent or editor and ask if something slipped through the cracks.

2: Even if the author were the one holding back... What backwards universe says that you should make scary, hateful threats to get more of the great writing you want to read? At the ultimate bare minimum of self-interest, you catch more interesting bugs with honey than vinegar, y'know?
Feb. 24th, 2012 01:16 am (UTC)
I will be buying an ebook copy of Libromancer and it will be on a Kindle but I'm going to do my best to find a way not to buy it thru Amazon. I HATE what they do to my favorite authors (I only have a kindle because my brother gave it to me for Christmas).
Feb. 24th, 2012 01:25 am (UTC)
What's happened to Ms McGuire is just vile.
Feb. 24th, 2012 01:34 am (UTC)
...she's a selfish, greedy, narcissistic jerk for not selling someone something? OK then.
Feb. 24th, 2012 01:37 am (UTC)
Because another company chose to release one product early, but not another. She has zero control over Amazon's decision to release the print edition early...

(no subject) - pantryslut - Feb. 24th, 2012 01:48 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Feb. 24th, 2012 01:51 am (UTC) - Expand
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Jim C. Hines


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