December 14, 2010

Pirate vs — well, Pirate


Anne B. Ragde

It seemed like a smart move, calling in prominent Norwegian children’s book author Anne B. Ragde to respond to claims made by a brash young book pirate in a leading Norwegian newspaper. According to, which helpfully translates the report from Dagens Næringsliv in its own story,  the 19-year-old pirate said he wanted to be “one of the big boys” of the book pirating biz, that he felt invulnerable because he was “running servers in Lithuania which he believes are safe due to their location,” and that he felt justified in doing it because “Books are priced too high.”

Ragde’s response was dramatic: “Piracy scares the hell out of me,” she told the paper. “I do not know what to say. I lose sleep at night over it. I have figured out that I’ve lost half a million kronor ($72,500) on piracy of my books, maybe more.”

What’s more, reports Torrentfreak, Ragde is so terrified of piracy that “she refused to allow her latest novel to be released as an audiobook since the format is popular with file-sharers and also denied the publication of Russian and Chinese versions.

“I can not stand the thought of someone stealing something,” she says. I look at Norwegian musicians who have to do live concerts. We have nothing to live on other than the physical product.”

Except then the Dagens Næringsliv reporter apparently asked Ragde about her other shopping habits — like, say, did she ever buy pirated handbags? “Pirated handbags?” she asked. “Yes, I do buy them. I feel that the genuine Prada bags have such an inflated price.”

Then her teenaged son — apparently sitting in on the interview — piped up. “You have a pirated MP3 collection. We copied the first 1500 songs from one place and 300 from another.”

Ragde has subsequently issued a statement saying her remarks were taken out of context, and “went on to blame the music piracy on her son ….”

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him at @mobylives