I was at the hairdresser’s this last weekend getting a badly needed haircut. I always wait too long to go to the salon and wind up looking like a sheepdog before I get there. This time was no different.
While I was there the owner of the salon came rushing over to my hairdresser and me and said that her client, who was there when I got there but had left, had gone into her cabinets in the wash station and stolen two tubes of her “number” of color. Apparently, it wasn’t the first time. Yet the salon owner didn’t feel she could do anything about it, other than to move the preferred hair color whenever this woman was scheduled for an appointment. I can only surmise that the woman’s business, and the potential damage she could do to the salon’s reputation, was more important than a few tubes of hair dye number 6. I know for a fact that this salon is struggling, and it’s sad that this woman is taking advantage of that.
When I was a kid I did my share of petty shoplifting. Books, candy, cheap jewelry, that sort of thing. I grew out of it, as hopefully most people do—but not everyone. The last time I “stole” something was when I accidentally left the eggs in the top part of my grocery basket and went through the line without ringing them up. I read in some of those Facebook posts about brazen thieves at big box stores and other retailers and how there is little the stores can do to prevent it. I suppose people can justify in their minds that thieving from a giant store isn’t a big deal, since they have deep pockets. The same does not apply to my hairdressing salon. Theft is theft, big or small. I feel bad for the small business owner, who felt helpless to prevent this petty crime.
The natural segue here is to discuss online piracy and the theft of books, mine included. The first time I saw that my books were on a pirate site I was amazed. I’m not Nora Roberts, or Lee Child, or any of the big-name authors where people were eager to get their books. I’m just an author trying to make a name for herself in this crowded world of romance fiction. I have no idea how many downloads people are taking off these pirate sites that might otherwise come to me, but I am sure it’s a few. I know the argument is that these people wouldn’t buy my books anyway, and perhaps that is true, but it’s a little like the owner of the salon. I’m helpless to prevent pirates from putting up my books, and equally as hamstrung from having people download them rather than purchase them. I can send take down notices but the sites pop back up again. If people weren’t supporting them by downloading “free” books then they wouldn’t exist. There’s little I can do, but like the salon owner, it doesn’t mean I have to like it.
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