So who is Astatalk? Until yesterday, I actually had no idea who or what Astatalk was, but I’ve since learned its an underground community of pirates. In other words, they steal anything and everything they can–books, movies, audio, whatever, and claim that it is their right. Yeah, right. So why did I become aware of them? Apparently, I’m #1 on Astatalk’s banned author list, because I’m part of a group who hired a lawyer to stop Astatalk’s stealing. Which is interesting given that, as I’ve already said, I’d never heard of them until yesterday & the only lawyer I’ve ever hired was for my divorce. But I guess people willing to steal the livelihood of others don’t really care about the truth. What pirates don’t–or won’t–understand is that they are costing the livelihoods of the very people they love to read (and steal) from. Stealing from authors is far different from Hollywood studios (not saying I approve of this either, btw), but Hollywood studios are vastly more able to withstand the effect of such theft. An author has no outside investors, they don’t have vast merchandising franchises to feed their incomes, they just have their books. And they very much depend on sales (be it print or audio or ebook) to keep their career going. You see, publishing isn’t a benevolent employer–if an author doesn’t make what a publisher considers a decent sell-through (that is, sells enough books to make the publisher a decent profit) then that author is kicked to the curb. No ifs, buts or maybes. And even for the authors that do sell through, it can be a year or more before you see any money (because publishing accountancy is always 6 months behind, meaning they pay for the jan–june half of the year in dec). As I’ve said before, publishing can be tough, especially in bad economic times, and pirating isn’t helping. Not that the pirates care I guess–they’ll just keep happily stealing until there’s no decent authors left, and then they’ll probably scream about the injustice of that!