So, BookTwitter is talking about pirating books again (a conversation I’m sure we will continue to have for many years to come). But, instead of it being a conversation solely focused on the discussion of ebook theft, it’s also about Cassandra Clare.
As far as the first part goes, there’s a lot to the subject of ebook pirating that I don’t personally feel well-versed enough on to firmly take a stance. There’s a lot involved in this particular area of the book world that I know I’m not informed enough on. A lot of this stems from the discussion wherein other countries are involved (I live in the U.S. and I know it’s vastly different here than other places), the realities of book pricing, accessibility, library embargoes, and so much more.
I can firmly say that theft is wrong. Most authors don’t make vast amounts of money and therefore suffer from the loss (Cassandra Clare does not, but I’ll speak more to that later). Publishing costs of the book can ultimately increase the book’s price significantly. With that, though, I am aware that there are many out there who cannot afford those high prices. Ultimately, the fact that reading is a privilege as a result is a problem. Class differences and income inequalities should not be the determiner for whether someone can read a book. Unfortunately, it often is.
I cannot imagine what it would be like to be unable to pay for books I want to read. I’ve been fortunate enough in my life to have enough that I can still purchase books. I’m fortunate enough that I can borrow from a library. Not everyone is that fortunate.
Were I an author with Clare’s net worth, I probably wouldn’t care much if a book I’d written were pirated. I’m firmly of the belief that anyone who wants to read, should have the ability to do so. Thus, if someone does not have money to purchase said books, I wouldn’t want to decrease their ability to read it. That said, I get where this can be unrealistic. And sure, it feels crummy to give away a free book only to have it spread across the internet.
I have a difficult time empathizing with Cassandra Clare. Many of my reasons for this are detailed in a review I wrote for City of Bones. If you’re a fan of hers, I honestly suggest you look into her rather disturbing past of bullying and plagiarizing.
In regards to her book and the fact that this ARC was uploaded without her permission, I am sorry. It was a violation for a book that has not yet been released. Had this not been an ARC, but rather a finished copy of an epub file, I’d feel less sorry. Theft is wrong, sure, but I do genuinely feel that gate-keeping reading is worse. And when someone cannot afford to buy all of these books, that is a form of gate-keeping.
Cassandra Clare and Bullying
I won’t say Cassandra Clare’s hurt is unjustified. That’s not really the problem here. She can feel hurt and angry. That’s fine. She can, reasonably, express that anger which she has and likely will continue to do. What I will say, however, is that she should only express that anger and frustration in a way that is not in-line with the regular dumpster-fire of bullying that she has encouraged from her fans over the years.
Let me make this point crystal clear; Cassandra Clare can express her upset all she wants. She should never go about doxxing minors (or anyone, really, but especially minors) who have made comments that upset her on their personal accounts. This goes way back into her HP fandom days when she used to find out personal information about people (many who were minors) whenever they made a comment she didn’t like and would harass them for revenge. She’s done this forever. I believe there were multiple instances in which she even called the person’s parents to harass them, got her lawyer friend involved, and I know for sure that she even tried to get someone kicked out of her university.
Cassandra Clare has tried to distance herself from this, certainly, and over the years I’ll admit that she has decreased the amount of assery that she partakes in or at least I haven’t heard as much about it. But the fact of the matter is that she has built up a fanbase that she has called to arms whenever she feels even the smallest slight. She has partaken in and encouraged the cyber-bullying of so many people. There are currently minors receiving death threats because she quote-tweeted them with their personal information available.
If Cassandra Clare did not have a long history of encouraging bullying and partaking in it herself, I don’t think I’d have really ever commented on any of this. But she does and since she does, as an adult, she has a responsibility to do better. She has a responsibility to express her frustration and hurt in ways that do not lead to instances where this is something that happens.
the way you caused a 14 year old to get death threats 😍 this is what someone dmed one of the minors you quote tweeted! pic.twitter.com/KIptBcDry8— layla📚✨🖤 (@layreads) August 26, 2020
To Wesley Chu who, as an author, will be negatively affected by the loss of sales that will happen because of the release of this ARC, I am deeply sorry. I am glad that his response, while still expressing his hurt, was entirely positive and did not result in any bullying.
I will likely continue to have conflicting thoughts on the topic of book piracy, but I will leave with this: if you have the means to purchase a book, do not steal it. If you have the ability to borrow from the library, do not steal the book.
I would implore that authors who have the means to do so, consider providing copies of their books to those who have limited access. I don’t think having the ability to read good books should ever be something only the privileged can do.
And finally, please do not send death threats to people. I don’t care how much you disagree with their opinions. Disagree with them if you wish, but keep the death wishes to yourself.