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Sparring with Tech, Spare Me!

Yesterday Prince Harry's book Spare went on sale.

Yesterday evening a high-quality pirated copy landed in my in-box, sent by a friend who thought I might be interested. (I'm not.)

Still. It does rather make me pause. That's some impressive. Slow clap to the techie who invented that technology. It pre-dates ChatGPT by a good decade and has done far more damage to the publishing industry than computer-generated blogs will ever do.

It reminds me of one of the first books I published, a cheesy fantasy adventure with a kick-ass heroine. It got pirated and despite my best efforts I could not get various websites to take it down. Or rather, they took it down for a day and then up it popped again. The author was apoplectic and I was at a loss.

I had a long conversation with a techie. It seems there's a very good reason why websites have free pirated books. Cookies, embedded in the pirated book, get put on your computer to collect your data, which is then sold on to a third party to use for marketing purposes. Because the cookies are embedded in the

book itself, you can't clear them when you clear your cookies. Occasionally, these cookies interact badly with your own operating system, glitching it up. You can buy the book or you can the software to clean your computer out. And the book is cheaper. Just desserts as far as I am concerned.

But could Prince Harry's memoir different? Could it be a political stance, a statement about refusing to be financially complicit in this increasingly sordid drama? By reading a pirated copy, you could be part of the conversation without lining pocketbooks, a kind of implicit criticism on the whole fandango from Prince Harry to publishing to royalty itself.

If so, any number of people seemed to have missed the memo. In its first day alone, it sold 400,000 copies. It's the fastest selling non-fiction book ever. That has got to offset the cost of it being pirated so quickly and spread so widely, and put a smile on the faces of PenguinRandomHouse (the publisher).

So what am I do with my copy of Spare? I'm a little cranky about being sent it. It's inherently illegal. Likely it's gumming up my computer as I type this. And it has put me in the awkward position of NOT reading something, when perhaps I might just take a peek. I'm sparring with myself over Spare. Gee, thanks technology.


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