BookMusings: (Re)Discovering Pagan Literature

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On Pagan Piracy

A few days ago, I learned that one of the devotional anthologies published by Bibliotheca Alexandrina had been pirated. Digital copies of Guardian of the Road: A Devotional Anthology in Honor Hermes were being offered -- without BA's consent or knowledge -- through an occult website in exchange for a "donation." The proprietor of the site boasted that he legally purchased the books from Amazon, then converted them into .pdfs to give to anyone who wanted them. And he was open to suggestions as to other books which should be made available through his "catalog."

I immediately emailed the proprietor, identified myself as the editor-in-chief of BA, and ordered him to cease and desist, and remove Guardian of the Road from his site. He responded relatively quickly with a note that the book had been taken down. He then followed that up with a rude demand that I prove that I was, in fact, who I said I was. I put on my Snark Hat, asked if he would prefer my birth certificate or my social security card, and then advised him to take down the entire site immediately, as word of his illegal actions were spreading quickly through the Pagan community. (Us Pagan and polytheist and magickal authors? Yeah, we talk to each other.)

By the following day, the site was gone. In it's place was a pathetic, childish "screw you" image. Now, even that is gone.

I am under no illusion that this is the end of the matter. Piracy of digital books is rampant. I have no doubt that there are other, illegally-obtained copies of BA's devotional and fiction anthologies floating around out there. I am sure that I will have to send out more cease and desist orders in the future.

What I do not understand, though, is why piracy is rampant. Why? Is it simple greed? Envy? A sense of entitlement? Why do these pirates, these thieves, believe that they have the right to take someone else's work and make money off of it for themselves? Why do people who knowingly buy stolen works feel that they have the right to do so? Do they feel they "deserve" the book and should not have to pay for it? Do they believe that everything digital should be free, no matter the amount of time and energy and imagination that went into its creation? Do the thieves and their clientele believe that piracy is a "victimless" crime?

Newsflash: it is not.

Piracy hurts writers. It hurts artists and poets and editors and distributors and publishers and bookstores. I do not know of a single Pagan author who survives solely on his/her/hir writing. We write out of love and devotion. We write because we feel a calling to do so, to share our knowledge and experience with the world. We write because to do otherwise is to go mad. And, yes, we write to supplement the income we make at our "real" jobs -- and that little bit of extra money can sometimes mean the difference between buying food and paying the rent, or only paying the rent.

Piracy hurts. It causes real harm. It is not victimless.  

So, to those who steal and those who support the thieves: you do not have the right to my work. You are not entitled to my poems, my short stories, my novellas and novels. They are mine. I choose when and where and why to share them with the world -- or not. I agonize over every word, every comma, every paragraph break. I pull characters from the depths of my brain, give them names and a purpose. I carve disparate sentences into coherent scenes, build whole worlds out of adjectives and nouns, decide who lives and who dies and who gets a happily ever after -- or not. These are my creations. And just because they exist as ones and zeroes does not make them any less real, any less valuable, or any less important than the physical book you can touch at a store or library.

Do you enjoy my poems and short stories, or those any author, Pagan or otherwise? Terrific. Spend your hard-earned money and support that hard-working author by actually paying for the book. Can't pay for it? You have options. Check the digital catalog at your local library, sign up for book giveaways at LibraryThing or Shelfari or GoodReads, or contact the publisher or the author directly about getting a complimentary review copy. Many digital books are lendable; check with your friends who have Kindle and nook and GooglePlay accounts to see if anyone can loan you his/her/hir copy.

One last thing: stealing any book is wrong, but why the heck would anyone be so stupid as to steal a Pagan book? In the case of a devotional such as Guardian of the Road, the thief is showing disrespect for the Deity in whose honor the book was written. Now, maybe Hermes doesn't care or He thinks it's funny. But are you sure you want to risk it? And, in the case of a magickal or occult text, why would anyone want to tick off an author (or a whole bunch of authors) with such a ... useful ... set of skills?

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Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine Eternal Haunted Summer. She is also the editor-in-chief of Bibliotheca Alexandrina. She thinks it is incredibly unfair that she must work for a living rather than being able to read all day. In her next life, she would like to be a library cat.


  • Soli
    Soli Saturday, 18 April 2015

    I suspect there may be a certain type of gallows humor for someone stealing something created in honor of a patron of thieves.

  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega Saturday, 18 April 2015

    Well done.

  • Jön Upsal's Gardener
    Jön Upsal's Gardener Monday, 20 April 2015

    For once, Gus and I agree wholeheartedly on something. Well done indeed.

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