Books

Andrei Desnitsky on what to do with e-book rights – Gazeta.Ru

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The new school year has come. Pupils went to libraries… electronic, and what did you think? Download literature on the program (well, if not in a nutshell). And so they go, for example, to the site “LitRes” and see that one volume of “War and Peace” in the series “School Library” is sold there for 160 rubles. Inexpensive, the whole epic will cost half a thousand. Parents, prepare a card for payment!

“Stop,” his parents resent, “Tolstoy’s novel is a world treasure, and in legal parlance, copyright has long ceased to spread (under Russian law, it happens 50 years after the author’s death).” LitRes lawyers will probably tell us about related rights: registration, digitization, etc. – but it still looks ugly.

This is one example, but here’s the opposite. Recently I published a wonderful book on my main specialty, biblical studies. I was happy and asked the editor what they had in mind next. “And nothing,” he replied, “these books do not bring profit to the publishing house.” I sympathized and decided to advertise the book on my blog, it costs more than a thousand rubles, which are asking for more than a thousand pages. And received comments that it is too expensive, that not everyone can afford and… “we will wait until the book can be downloaded for free.”

Here she is, the problem. What happens when we buy a paper version, everyone can imagine: you can read the book to family and friends, no one is bothered, and the publisher, editor and, most importantly, the author and translator will receive their fees, and if the book is successful, they have will be a powerful incentive to write another of the same.

And what happens when we buy the electronic version? It can be shared with relatives or with the whole world, for the benefit of mankind. There are many free pirate libraries online, and although the most famous of them are blocked in Russia, the clever one will easily get around the block. “So what,” he argues, “if I downloaded a copy, no one lost anything.” This is not theft! ”

No, unfortunately, it has decreased. The people who created the book lost the opportunity to receive their fees. This means that the publishing house will switch to sudoku collections and all sorts of nonsense for reading on trains, good books will remain unclaimed and even simply unwritten. Today in our country only a venerable writer with millions of copies can earn a living by literary work, but you will not become one at once. So, who could become Tolstoy or Pushkin in the new century, will do something else, for example, sell sudoku collections at the station.

But, on the other hand, the total dictate of the right to distribution is also disastrous. I will tell only about one area about which I know firsthand – about scientific articles and monographs. To get serious about science, you need to read the latest literature on the subject. It is usually distributed for money, and a lot: if your institute or university does not have a subscription to this magazine, pay ten dollars for an article and a hundred for a monograph. And this money does not go to foreign colleagues, authors of these works, and publishers and often just intermediaries. The gap between the level of research in poor and rich countries is widening simply because scientists from the poor are reliably cut off from new literature (which side of this gap our country is on, think for yourself).

Admittedly, some Western scholars consider this state of affairs extremely unfair and organize пи secret pirate libraries to circumvent the right of distribution and break the law! But this is the same case, I believe, when mercy is above the law. And for us – do not pay for Tolstoy just because someone sells him!

And it turns out so bad, and so on. Is there a way out?

As a writer and translator, I found this: I posted my texts on my own website for free download, next to it is a donation button. A little, but dripping, in any case, comes out much more than from the sales of my old books on the same “LitRese” (there is a couple of hundred rubles a year). The most difficult thing was to agree on this with the publishers of paper versions, thank them for their understanding: we agreed that a paper book is not just a way to get acquainted with the text, but an artifact, something that the reader wants to buy precisely because the text he is already familiar and wants to put it on his shelf. Well, at least I didn’t go down without explaining myself first. And the circle of readers has definitely expanded.

But I never planned to make serious money writing, for me it’s more a way to share my feelings and thoughts. And for legal reasons, it is much more difficult for me to do so with my scientific and popular science works, which I would also like to introduce to as many people as possible. The main thing is my personal initiative, it does not apply to others.

But there is also news on a public scale. Recently, the project “All Science” appeared, he formulates his mission as follows: “Create a system of reliable landmarks in the sea of ​​popular science and educational information.” And what is being done for this? And here’s what: the project attracted a number of experts in various fields of science (I was also among them) to select the best and most useful popular science books. At the same time, he began to raise funds to buy the rights to this literature from the right holders. And now you can download dozens of selected books for free and legally on their website, and publishers, editors and, most importantly, authors and translators have received a decent share of this deal and can continue to work.

There are two main sentiments in our society: to forbid everything, to follow everything relentlessly and to punish everyone even more severely – and, on the contrary, to abolish all prohibitions, to take everything from those who have it and to divide it among the poor. The extremes, as usual, converge, first of all, in that they are destructive.

I really like what All-Science is doing, because it is an example of constructive self-organization: not to wait for society, country, state to become ideal (I suspect this will not happen in our lives), but to do something to solve pressing problems on their own, and within the framework of current legislation. Maybe it’s not as exciting as the struggle for the world happiness of the working people or their own imperial greatness. But if we want to see our children with good books in their hands, it will be much more effective.

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