Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: state of NY publishing

From: James Michael Rogers (
Date: 18 Nov 2009

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    Life in general used to make me feel as though I was in a Philip Dick novel until I realized the truth was much worse. I am in a J.G. Ballard novel.


      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Sean Shapiro
      Sent: Wednesday, November 18, 2009 10:00
      Subject: Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: state of NY publishing

      All this talk of counterfits makes me feel like I've stumbled into a Phillip K Dick novel.

      Sean Shapiro

      From: JIM DOHERTY <>
      Sent: Wed, November 18, 2009 3:33:06 PM
      Subject: RARA-AVIS: Re: state of NY publishing


      Re your question below (presuming that it's actually a serious question, which, all things considered, is one hell of presumption) :

      "Really? So, why does it seem '1984' when a counterfeit book is discovered, confiscated and the money returned to the people who bought it? That seems rather a better deal than one gets most places."

      I'm assuming that, by "counterfeit book," you mean a book that was purchased for Kindle, then revoked from Kindle after it was discovered that the seller hadn't actually obtained the right to sell electronic versions.

      First, it's not analagous because there is a law, and has been since the end of the Civil War, against being in possession of or passing counterfeit money. If you are found to have been in possession of counterfeit money, or to have passed it, you have to show you obtained it in good faith and didn't know it was counterfeit so that law enforcement can trace it back to its source.

      In the case of a book being un-downloaded from you Kindle, the good faith in which you bought it is presumed, and there is no parallel crucial necessity of tracing the book back to its source .

      Second, because a book sold in these circumstances is not "counterfeit" in the same a way a phony hundred dollar bill is. All the words of the book are there, in the order in which the writer wrote them. It's not a fake version of the book. It's the same book. It's just something the seller didn't have a right to sell. It's more analagous to buying a stolen item in good faith, then having to give it back after finding out it was stolen.
      By contrast, passing a counterfeit bank note makes you, however unwittingly, a part of the fraud, rather than just a victim of the fraud.

      Third, because counterfeit money represents a clear and present danger to the economy that selling a book without having the legal right to sell it does not. That's why the investigation into reports of countefeit currency is so rigorous and immediate, and that's why penalties for counterfeiting are so high.

      Finally, getting a book downloaded into, then unloaded out of, a device that didn't even exist a short time ago, and that you clearly don't have ultimate control over even though you've bought it, evokes the "fear of the future and of technology" that Orwell's book evoked and, consequently, is "1984" in a way that an old-school crime like counterfeiting simply can't be, since counterfeiting money is as old as money itself.


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