I met Joe Haldeman yesterday.
If you don't know, Mr. Haldeman is a science fiction writer. Winner of the Grand Master lifetime achievement award, a few Nebulas, a Hugo, and some others including a Locust Award for his 1976 novel The Forever War.
Mr. Haldeman was on a panel with me and a number of other distinguished writers where we discussed the old ways writers used to do things and how times have change. One topic discussed how much time is saved now by using computers rather than typewriters, but also how publishers and fans expect writers to churn out multiple novels a year. Another discussed the availability of authors to their fans through blogs, email, and Twitter. And we also discussed ebooks and their effect on reading and writing.
After this panel I spoke briefly with Gay Haldeman, Joe's wife. She's a wonderful woman and friendly person who complimented me on my performance, which was very kind as I did nothing to be complimented for. She invited me to lunch with her and Joe, but I was already committed to having lunch with Robin, writers Jamie Rubin and Andrew Fox. Afterwards however, Robin and I ran into Joe and Gay again and we fell into talking.
In the course of the discussion, the Haldemans let it slip that they recently discovered Joe's book The Forever War (presently being made into a movie) is not available in ebook. They discovered this when a fan wrote to ask why he could not find it. They in turn spoke to their publisher and discovered the publisher did not have the ebook rights--Joe did. It was then that Gay began Talking with Robin about what it took to convert a book into ebook format. Robin, being Robin, offered to do it for her. We even volunteered my services as cover artist.
The only caveat was that they did not have an electronic copy of the book, they only had the hard copy. So now they faced scanning the entire work. But then a novel idea (pun intended) came to them, and I was so amused by this that I decided to write this post.
Rather than going to all the trouble of scanning the novel, there is a much easier way. All they have to do is steal Joe's novel from a pirated torrent site. They have already done the work for them. The irony of thieving from those who stole from them, and making use of the pirating to help them make money was wonderful.
So it would seem that book thieves are good for something. All authors looking to put their books into ebook form should pull their digitized works from the torrent sites and ePub them. Just don't forget to proof the text as I doubt they take the same care in transferring as an author would.
It is also good to see that readers will write and ask an author about a missing ebook rather than steal a copy. Maybe that's why the world didn't end on Saturday--there were just too many people to Rapture.