As a very long time member of #bookwarez, I was very pleased to see a discussion log pick this up -- the channel has meant a lot to me over the past year+, and it's a shame to see it go so quickly and abruptly. For those of you interested, I figured I should share our story -- the side that doesn't get posted in Wired, which is, of course, very different.
#bookwarez was a channel of book/knowledge lovers. We are not pirates, however, we do not necessarily discourage it. Our primary members sought to *collect* books from the web, and store them in a centralized channel so they are easier to come upon. Try doing a search for a sepcific book on the web -- you may be surprised to find that quite a few books, with the author's knowledge or not, are available out there. Many people don't know this, so we collect them. We do also OCR some books, however, as someone pointed out above, this is a very time consuming process and isn't something that's done every day.
On Wednesday night, we received an email at email@example.com from ParisPoet@aol.com:
Hi... my name is M.J. Rose and I write for wired.com. I am doing an article
on people who like to read books on line and who download books and sites
that offer free ebooks. I'd like to interview the person who runs bookwarez.
Who might that be? And could I have a phone number? I'd like to set up the
interview for either Thursday afternoon or Friday morning.
At first we were excited -- hey, some free publicity, and a chance to get our message out. The more we looked at it, however (and the rather loud voicings of a particular op), the more we remembered that Wired is probably not the vehicle that we want to use to communicate to the world. So, we tabled the offer...we decided that we'd like to respond however, because to not do so would have just plain been rude. So we drafted a response declining the interview.
However, before we can send it, we wake up Friday morning, and there it is -- the top news story for the whole day...(well, you saw the link up at the top)... Needless to say, most of us were stunned. How dare they get things so *wrong*?? But, as always...consider the source... The #bookwarez homepage began to get hundred and thousands of hits, and the person who runs it asked me to do something, even though he knew I really couldn't. At first, I just put up a denial (such as the one that's mentioned in the article). It pointed out the obvious stupidities of it, but, those obviously weren't added to the article. The hits kept coming so I deferred and made the URL bounce to this one:
(sorry, my HTML skills are lacking this morning -- it's early :>)
By this time, several of our ops and servers had already vanished. The core of the group met in a channel to talk about what to do. In the meantime, I fashioned this response to M.J. Rose:
Kudos on a fantastic article...that must have taken
you all of, what, a week to research? And thanks for
giving us a grand total of a day to respond to your
email...we do have other things to do than monitor a
rarely used mailbox for invitations to participate in
Honestly though, we don't take that much offense to
your article. Sure, it would've been nice if you had
checked your facts a little more closely, but who are
you to be saddled with such responsibility? For
In your send paragraph, you link to two different
sites that both contain the name "bookwarez". One
might think that these two sites are related, after
all, same name (an uncommon one, at that). However,
if you'd looked a little closer, you'd realize that
the "message board" has absolutely nothing to do with
the "#bookwarez" group, and in fact, I personally had
never even heard of it until your article. We have
since taken down our own homepage due to the number of
hits, but if you had looked it over a little bit,
you'd see that there are no links to illegal
materials, no copies of Harry Potter (which I might
add that I own, in hardcover), no Stephen King (who
I'm not a fan of, so I don't have any of his work) or
Sorry for the long, rambling paragraph, but you've
really misinterpreted us, all in the interests of a
few extra banner ad views.
For the record, and perhaps you should keep this in
mind, #bookwarez is a loosely knit group of volunteers
who enjoy knowledge and books in general. We are not
pirates. An accurate description of us would be
"collectors". We keep track of *free* books on the
web, collect them into one place, and let people
download them without having to scour the internet
looking for them. We obtain our materials from places
like Project Gutenberg (http://www.promo.net/pg) and
free sections on itknowledge.com and what used to be
In closing, if I may be idealistic about things. I
admire what you may be trying to do... as more and
more authors release works to the web, there is a
great chance that they may be pirated. We are deeply
opposed to this. The Internet is such a great method
of distributing information. PDAs are handy devices
which make it nice and easy to carry hundreds of books
in one's back pocket. It's great that authors are
finally catching on to these things, and they need to
be aware that there are hazards to this medium. But
calling the members of #bookwarez pirates is wildly
inaccurate and wrong.
-The members of #bookwarez
P.S. It should be noted that a better method to stop
piracy than going after pirates would be to use
stronger software methods and encryption. It would
have been more accurate if this were mentioned more
prominently in your story rather than just as a side
note at the end.
Suffice it to say, that none of this made it into her article either.
So, anyway, #bookwarez is no longer. It's truly sad that a trashy 'zine like Wired can cause so much bad for people who are generally good and generally trying to help. But, hey...that's how it goes...
Feel free to email me with comments, etc at firstname.lastname@example.org -- but don't ask for an interview :P