angelstationOne of the downsides of piracy can also turn out to be one of its benefits in the right situation. The fact that it’s easy to scan paper books into e-books means that DRM or even refusing to release e-books can be bypassed by a suitably determined pirate. But to an author who would like to put his backlist into electronic distribution, it can be very helpful.

SF/cyberpunk author Walter Jon Williams is such an author, and he reports on his blog that he was able to find scanned copies of most of his books. “So I downloaded my own work from thence with the intention of saving the work of scanning my books— I figured I’d let the pirates do the work, and steal from them.” Though he did find that the scans were full of errors, the editing process didn’t really bother him because he would have had to do it anyway.

But he did find that a few of his works were apparently too obscure to merit preservation, and has decided to try crowdsourcing scanned versions of those books.

So I’m willing to trade.  Should any of you volunteer to provide scans of Days of Atonement, Angel Station, and Knight Moves, that lucky individual will get a signed, personalized copy of the WJW book of his or her choice (assuming I actually have a copy, of course). Plus, whatever book you scan will spend digital eternity with your name in it, along with my eternal thanks.  Sound good?

Trust a cyberpunk author to know how to reach out on the Internet.

(Found via BoingBoing.)


  1. Norman Spinrad also did that. Apparently well-known ebook enthusiast Bowerbird has suggested it to several authors, including Spinrad. Amusingly, Bowerbird got into an argument with Spinrad over Spinrad’s pricing on Spinrad’s blog.

  2. This isn’t new; didn’t Elizabeth Moon do something like this? Or someone; anyway, I recall authors saying that they didn’t even HAVE digital versions of some work until they found pirate scans of it…

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