Friday, April 26, 2013

Dear Author, I'm Not That Into You

It seems like everywhere I got these days people are saying that ebook retailers (primarily Amazon) should give publishers and self-publishing authors more data on their sales.  I have heard specific mention of things like "ways to contact customers" and "email addresses". Having real time sales figures seems harmless enough.  That would be cool.  However even anonymized data can be an invasion of privacy if it breaks down sales by demographics categories to the point where some people could guess who the buyer was with some level of accuracy.

But beyond that I have serious issues with this whole whine-fest.  Because reviews are not the only things that belong to readers. Emails belong to readers.  Even the fact that I personally bought your book belongs to me as a reader unless I choose to disclose it.  And if I want to communicate with an author or find out more about her/him, I will do that on my own initiative. Otherwise, leave me the heck alone. 

Photo credit: moriza / Foter.com / CC BY
In many ways the digital world has a lot less privacy.  The internet, email, texts, shopping algorithms, aggressive cookie use and so forth are increasingly invasive and pervasive.  But there are forces that work in the other direction, forces that make even the most effortless kind of connection "opt in" rather than "opt out" or even "just shut up and take it". I do not want to be poked, stalked, subscribed, followed, profiled, targeted or even "engaged with" just because a pretty cover caught my eye one day on Amazon.

I wanted a book, not a relationship, thank you very much.

There is a difference between wanting to know more about your readers, and having the right to that knowledge. And if I want my use of literature to be in the form of a series of promiscuous and fleeting flings with anonymous books where I sneak out in the middle of the night and don't leave my number, that is just what I will do.  (Don't judge me).

1 comment:

Seeley deBorn said...

I am always extremely reluctant to buy self-pubbed books. If doing so means some total stranger will end up with my email address, I am guaranteed never to buy one again.

Authors don't need to personally contact readers. That's called spam.

Though, if authors start publishing emails from readers telling them to piss off and stop emailing just because they bought the book, it could make for all kinds of "authors behaving badly" fun...