Thursday, September 29, 2011

Occult Authorship and Publishing in The Digital Millenium

An ongoing discussion (perhaps better termed debacle) with regard to electronic piracy of books and the impact it has on the authors and publishers thereof has provoked significant and emotional debate among the online occultism community this past week. 

While I am not going to move that discussion into the blogosphere or open that can of worms here at The Lions Den, I'll give a very brief summary of the viewpoints expressed, only because it pertains to the subject of today's blog post. 

First, we have those who are vehemently opposed to the sharing of books online on torrent sites etc... on the grounds that it does irreparable damage to the author and publisher both, by significantly hurting their sales. Next, we have some, chief of which is RO, who believe that while unpleasant, any loss in sales due to piracy is negligible and in fact the widespread distribution of their books in such a way can be good for business, being tantamount to free advertising and generating a ton of word of mouth, resulting in increased sales of larger ticket items such as courses, services, etc...

My own opinion was that if my own work were to be uploaded somewhere I would definitely be, for lack of a better term, pissed off. Not because of lost sales or revenue, but because to upload my work without the courtesy of an email to me saying "Hey, we'd really like to share some of your work, do you have anything you wouldnt mind contributing?" is pretty fucking rude. 

From there the conversation evolved into a discussion on the fact that authors in our field dont make a living off their writing, and indeed profits are pretty small. RO mentioned that DMK only sees about .25 cents per copy of Modern Magick sold, which is just a goddamned shame. Self published authors, such as those who use lulu, create a less expensive product and see more profit from each copy sold, but they have to market their work on their own or, literally, sell none. Also, the target audience already knows that any book published with, say, Scarlet Imprint or Hadean is going to be of excellent content and contain wisdom from one of the brightest minds in the field, simply because they know that Peter & Alkistis at SI or Erze and Dis at Hadean know their stuff and live the life, and thus only publish what they believe in, whereas self published books can and frequently do contain horseshit

On the other side of the coin, true occult publishers like the aforementioned Scarlet Imprint and Hadean Press put out only quality material from those who, for lack of a better term, know their shit, and they make both beautiful talismanic books and inexpensive paperbacks, and they have an automatic, well deserved credibility so any author whose work is published by them benefits from their good names before the work is even released. (As opposed to, say, a llewellyn author whose book is automatically suspected of major suckage until proven otherwise just because it is being released by a publisher who is about as occult as Pokemon)

The intent of today's post, then, is to take this portion of the debate "to the streets". I'd like to see what YOU, the readers and buyers of our works prefer. Do you prefer for authors to release their material in eBooks for Kindl*/PDF, for Talismanic Hardcover & Inexpensive Paperback combo, Lulu self published & less expensive but also mass-market no visual appeal, or do you prefer courses and lessons such as RO's Red Work Series or Jason Miller's Strategic Sorcery Course? 

During all this debate on what mode of release is most favorable and desired by the readership, I thought it most prudent to, you know, ASK the readership. So, Im creating a poll for you all to vote and share your opinion, and you can also comment to share other options and/or ideas. Check them out, get your vote in and let an author know how you prefer books.


  1. The option I most desire isn't there brother. Hard-cover/digital copy. Why SI and Hadean don't release digi copies is literally beyond me.

  2. I second that. Hardcover for beauty and talismanic awesomeness, digital copy so I can use the thing, bookmarking it and making it searchable.

  3. Added that option to the poll at the top right

  4. Physical copies all the way. I want hardcover and softcover.

    Ebooks are great as a supplement, but digital is an unreliable medium to preserve knowledge. Technology is great as means of transmission, not as a means of preservation.

    I cannot stand the thought of someone fiddling with a text just because they find it funny to change the code--just look at wikipedia.

    So while I am not against ebooks as a supplement, they should not replace physical books.

  5. We are seriously looking at the digital options.

  6. @the Scarlets, great news!

    @Ali I came up through the late 90's and was heavily influenced by the Discordian movements and in particular the phenomenon of the Principia, the ever-changing text. Which I have always felt perfectly captured the spirit of the old grimoires. Work books handed off and perpetually altered by each student over hundreds of years.

    Also, you can make it awfully hard to alter a digi copy.

  7. @the Valentines, I am not against digital copies. I am against the replacing of books in favor of digital compliments. Giving people an option sounds great, replacing books in favor of digital copies, I have an issue with.

    A PDF is one step easier to rip and pirate than a book, in the first place. Second, no matter how hard you make it to alter a digi copy it lacks the sturdiness of books that have be disseminated.

    Again, digi copies are great. I for one however see them as a compliment to the book, not a replacement.

  8. I think I'd welcome digital copies for searchability, especially as I am constantly researching, cross-referencing, fact checking etc... In fact, after rethinking all of this I might go so far as to say I'd be equally happy with either a digital or paperback. BUT, a beautifully designed hardcover like those I received today (Pomba Gira, Palo Mayombe and Visions & Voices) beats everything else hands down in my opinion.

  9. @Ali @ Mike .. don't get me wrong, as I said in the first comment I love me some sexy hardcovers but then I am also over 30.

    The truth is though that nothing is as easy to pirate as a physical book. You just have to lay it face down on a scanner. Done. A properly encypted and watermarked e-text requires some actual know-how to take apart. I think, in this day and age that the e-text is more viable than cheap paperbacks (though I am nonetheless grateful for them) because the combo of expensive hardcover and properly compiled and protected e-text will take the longest to reach the pirates. For entirely practical reasons.

  10. Hardcover/Softcover favorite with kudos to ebook, but for me not necessary

  11. While I'd definitely rather have physical copies of books to read (I find my mind running blank while reading ebooks; they're just not immersive to me for some reason), I'd like to also have a digital copy for the sole feature of searchability. Nothing irritates me more than remembering a specific quote from a text and being completely unable to find it again.