Book Pirates Suck

The book pirates have arrived.

What is a book pirate?

Someone who illegally downloads a book. It’s happening to me and lots of other authors. Same thing as the music industry.

NOT COOL, book pirates. NOT COOL AT ALL.

I can hear a few voices in the back of the room shouting, "But I can’t afford books! And it’s the publishers that get all the money anyway. Why do you care if I steal your book on the internet? Don’t you want me to read it?"

Dude. I know where you can read all the books you want – for free. It’s called "a library." Check it out. Free books! Amazing!

I am a full-time writer. All of my bills are paid for by the money I earn from my books. (I earn enough to get by, but am not rich, not by a long shot.) If you steal my book, I can’t buy groceries or take my dog to the vet. If this keeps up, I’ll have to quit writing, because I enjoy eating and my dog is a high-maintenance nutbag who needs to go to the vet constantly.

This is my dog taking a nap. Isn’t she the sweetest thing ever? You wouldn’t do anything to hurt her, right?

Aside from book pirating being lame and possibly forcing your favorite writers to stop writing, it is ILLEGAL. As in, cops and handcuffs and courtrooms and lawsuits that will force you or your family to sell the house. If I got to pick the punishment for book piraters, I would make them pull rocks from my back meadow so I could expand the vegetable garden this year. But I don’t get to choose. The publishers are the ones with the army of scary zombie-lawyers who want your flesh. 

And trust me, they are hungry.

A typical zombie lawyer preparing to ruin a book pirate’s life.

Book pirates beware. They are coming for you. They will sue you up, down, and sideways. Your grandmother will pretend she doesn’t know you because she doesn’t want them coming after her. And she will be ashamed of you because book pirates suck.

You want a free book? Go to the library.

You want your favorite authors to keep writing? Buy their books.

Any questions?

68 Replies to “Book Pirates Suck”

  1. plus, reading books on your computerscreen reaaally sucks.

    I admit, i have downloaded one or two books and a chapter or two of a graphic novel, but only because i could only get those books outside of my own country for a hefty fee, and i wanted to see if i’d actually like it. then it is quite handy.

    but my policy will always be: library first. loved it? buy it.

  2. Bwahahahaha! Nothing like zombie lawyers at six in the morning to start your day off right.

    I love the library! I don’t understand why people don’t use it. Last year I kept a book count. I read almost a hundred new books, most of which came from the library or Christmas and birthday presents. Piracy is unnecessary.

  3. Haha, this is an awesome threat. Errr…reminder.

    Personally, I need the book in hand. Call me old fashioned. Hearing someone read it works for long car rides, but otherwise no. And as for as reading books over my computer? My eyes just can’t take it.

    Plus, I’ve already made life a pain for moving with my book collection, why not keep going?

  4. Totally agreeing! I want author who write great stories for me to benefit from it.

    I’m book-nuts anyway (I buy the same book with different covers just because I like them or the same books in different languages to see how the translation turned out^^), so the probability that I buy books is very high (in fact I think I have never in my life left a bookstore without a book…even when I was totally broke I skipped the occasional coffe and instead bought a cheap paperback from the money ;)). Buying books makes me happy.

    And that zombie lawyer looks really scary, too. o_0

    I wasn’t aware that so many people download books illegaly. I mean music&movies yes, the music/movie industry complains all the time, but I can’t see a point in reading books on the computer (or an eReader for that matter, but that’s another story). I need to feel the actual book, sit on a sofa or lie in the bed with it reading, carry it around in pocket and read it on the train, bus or in doctor’s waiting rooms. Holding the book and turning the pages is half the fun ;).

  5. Book Pirates

    While I agree with you that book pirates suck, I suspect, like music pirates, those who download a book for free, do it because it’s there, not usually because they want to read it.

    I download lots of free books (legally) from the Amazon website but probably at least half of them, I get simply because they’re free and I *might* want to read them someday, when I’m finished with all of the really good books on my Kindle.

    Which brings me to another point about free ebooks; many authors are finding a broad readership by offering a title in their catalog for free to Kindle readers. Readers (like me) are taking advantage of a free book from an unknown and then turning around and buying others from those authors catalog. (Not that I consider you an unknown, but outside of YA circles, you might be!) 😉

    I hope your sweet puppy stays healthy and your books continue to be purchased–I buy them for my library too!

  6. I don’t like e-books because I hate to read on a screen and it’s so much nicer to hold a book in your hands.

    Going to the library is a good argument but what about people from foreign countries? Countries in which lots of books are not translated into the native language, so people can can only read the English version (which they enjoy doinig). But at my library for example they only have very few foreign books and if they have some, they’re not likely to be very recent and/or YA (which is my favourite genre).

  7. ok so im really poor too, but i also live at the library. plus reading the books online thats no fun. it doesn’t feel like im really reading a book. and whenever i do get money i love buying books. thats sadly why all my money is normally gone. lol. but i would never give up actually having books. even in the future i will never give up the actual books when everything will be digital. ms. anderson you are amazing by the way, love your books!

  8. I agree. The sad thing is, when I found my book–free for download, and incorrectly formatted–advertised on a book blog, the 17-year-old blogger claimed she was providing a “service” no different than a library.

  9. Great points! I’d also like to throw in, as a library science student/public library employee, that public libraries have to justify their funding, and part of their numbers can come from circulation and even, in some cases, a count of the people coming through the door. If you like books and want free books to stay an option for everyone in your community, use your library!

  10. Thanks for this post, Laurie. I don’t see any difference between illegally downloading a book and walking into a bookstore, taking a book off the shelves, hiding it under your jacket and sneaking out the door with it. Piracy may seem more innocuous than shoplifting, but it’s really not.

  11. …I keep expecting the zombie lawyer to start foaming at the mouth. XD And yeah, book pirates suck. Besides, libraries are nice places to go.

  12. Hard data on ebook piracy versus sales

    I definitely sympathize with your concerns as a writer who earns her living from book sales. But I think there’s a lot of misinformation out there about the nature of electronic media piracy and its impact on actual sales.

    Very few studies have been done to show that ebook downloads have actually negatively affected book sales. However, one long term study was recently published that showed there was little to no drop in book sales after a book was seeded online. ( It’s a little hard to understand and they haven’t done a great job making the information accessible to the lay person, but the information is there. There’s an option to sign up for the official full report once it’s released if you click on the link entitled “Challenging notions of free”.

    Moreover, if we extrapolate data on the effects of other media piracy (particularly music), we might come to the conclusion that ebook downloaders like the first commenter here are much more common than evil readers who are intent on stealing food out of the mouths of your children. Several well-respected research groups have shown over the years that internet sharing songs and albums has actually increased album sales and direct revenue to the artist through increased ticket sales at concerts and the purchase of independent work. That’s why so many artists are releasing internet versions of their work before releasing the actual album these days. One very famous example is Radiohead’s release of “In Rainbows” online. (I downloaded this myself and chose to donate $9, which was about average when compared to other downloader’s donations).

    There’s a writing-world example like that too–and a very successful one–Neil Gaiman recently released two of his books online and for free. To be fair, the guy can probably afford to lose a little revenue. Still, I think there’s a way to think about the issue that’s a little more fair to consumers. Most of us want to give the artists we appreciate their due, but there are limitations of access (not everyone has access to a decent public library), time, and money. These limitation coupled with the fact that books are in fact over priced to maximize publishers’ profits and a disheartening number of books published are poorly produced money making schemes, make readers more cautious when they consume. I think there’s room to improve the situation for our artists on both sides of the consumer-consumee spectrum.

  13. How could your precious puppy be a high-maintenance nutbag? (Giggling to myself because I know EXACTLY what you mean, I have one as well).

    I always purchase copies of books because I hope to be published someday, and I’m also obsessively addicted to books (ask my dear, patient husband). I work part-time at a local library (and teach high school English) so I typically get to read new releases before they hit the shelves. Many times I end up purchasing a copy of the books I’ve checked out from the library so I can share them with my students.

    Book pirates are definitely not a good thing!

  14. I’m a full time writer as well, and as an Indie I can honestly say every copy pirated hurts. I have to sell a book (often two), to buy a loaf of bread. Imagine how many I have to sell to pay rent? (it’s actually about 200), and I normally sell just enough to survive from month to month.

    I love what I’m doing, and my readers want me to keep doing it full time, but if a tenth of them could get my ebooks for free from some piracy site, then I’d have to go find a full time job in another field. Instead of 2-4 books a year, readers MIGHT get 1 because I’m too busy working for someone else.

    I love what I’m doing, and don’t care making more than I am now, I just don’t want to be forced into leading a double life again; writer by night, customer service representative by day.

    After watching three of my books get posted on Scribd by some prick from India (thankfully Scribd took them down after I filed some legal paperwork), this article resonates.


    Randolph Lalonde

  15. I buy lots of books. Lots and lots and lots of books. In fact, I’m starting to wonder if I don’t have an addiction and might need to be checked out. 😉

    With that said, I don’t think many publishers make good choices when putting books out. Many teens have limited budgets. If a teen (or heck, even an adult) has a $25 limit to spend at a bookstore, s/he is going to be less willing to drop $18 on a hard cover of an author s/he’s never heard of. So what does this person do? Possibly heads to one of the book piracy sites (gah, I wouldn’t even know where to find one), downloads this book to see if she or he would find it worth spending $18 on. Which begs the question from me: Why aren’t more debut authors put out in paperback?

    That’s just one scenario that frustrates me. However, that doesn’t make book piracy justifiable or right. It DOES help me understand why someone would want to do it, though. And it sucks for the author. If the author is not established like you, Laurie, or Sarah Dessen… well, this is one more thing she or he has to contend with to earn out that advance, to get out of midlist hell, to make some sales. And even if the author IS established, you guys are still losing out. 🙁

    I’ll continue to do my part and buy books. I like holding real books. They’re mighty portable, and using something like a Kindle or Nook just does not appeal to me one bit.

  16. Re: Hard data on ebook piracy versus sales

    Sorry, I’m not buying your argument. I won’t steal it either.

    I can see the positive effects of offering a book or a few chapters free for a while to get folks interested. But in that case, the artist and publisher remain in control of the content. They choose what gets offered for free and when and how.

    Book pirating is stealing. The last time I was notified about one of my books being pirated like this, the site showed that 90 copies had been downloaded. That is about $150 I am not going to see. I suspect that if I stole $150 out of your wallet, you would be unhappy.

  17. Most of us want to give the artists we appreciate their due, but there are limitations of access (not everyone has access to a decent public library), time, and money. These limitation coupled with the fact that books are in fact over priced to maximize publishers’ profits and a disheartening number of books published are poorly produced money making schemes, make readers more cautious when they consume.

    This is exactly the thing that leads a friend of mine to engage in what we affectionately call “Try Before You Buy Piracy”.

    The nearest library to her is an hour and a half away — and she’s not able to drive, either (a type of anxiety problem, for which she is actively seeking help, of course). It is poorly equipped and has a depressingly small collection; worse still, the inter-library loan system is so dismal that you may never get your book, because nobody puts in the order or because it was put in and the lender-library never sent it out. With her income as limited as most incomes are in this economy, it’s safe to say that a trip to the bookstore every month for a new book is just out of the question, unless it’s a book she really wants to read.

    So, she does the next best thing: if she finds a book she’s interested in, she’ll find an e-book of it to download. She’ll read a chapter, maybe three, and decide if she really wants to go out, waste the gas, and spend $30.00 on this new book. If the answer is no, she’s not going to want to read the book anyway, so the file is deleted and everyone goes about their lives. If the answer is yes, she makes arrangements to go out to the mall (a little further than the library; she is in fact a country bumpkin) and hope that the book is in stock and what she estimated the cost to be.

    There’s a lot of circumstantial information that people who froth at the mouth over piracy don’t quite factor in. You can go on about how many illegal downloads of a song or book there have been, but nobody is taking into account those downloads that are used for preview purposes only. I’ll openly admit to downloading an album to decide how much of it I like before I buy it — if I only like less than half of the tracks featured, I am likely to pass on the album altogether and delete the file, and go about my business. If I like more than half of it, I will gladly spend the money on an album I will enjoy regularly.

    I’m not going to spend a lot of money on something that I’m not entirely certain I will enjoy, and neither will she. There is not enough financial leeway for a lot of us to spend so frivolously unless it is definitely worth it. I live much closer to a bookstore, and therefore can justify a quick drive or long walk to go, sit, and preview a book before buying. My friend cannot.

    Lumping in people who use “piracy” as a means to preview, not to detract from your way of making a living as others do, is … kind of mean, I think. We can’t all help our circumstances.

  18. Book piracy seems different to me than music piracy. I guess downloading a sample chapter is like downloading one track off an album, in that you might buy the whole thing later…but I think you would be more likely to download a song and then buy that same song later than you would read a book illegally and then buy it later. If I love a song I am going to listen to it a hundred times, but even if I really love a book I’m probably not going to read it a hundred times.

    Also, it seems like there are two issues here: money and ethics. Just because I might not lose money on a pirated book in the long run, that doesn’t make it any more ethical or legal. Right?

    What do you do when you find your book available for illegal download? It hasn’t happened to me yet, but my dad just told me a few days ago he’d found his book available for download on a website.

  19. I am also of the opinion that if it is absolutely impossible for you to legally obtain a copy of a particular book, then you should choose a different book to read.

  20. Re: Hard data on ebook piracy versus sales

    But you have no information on how many of those 90 copies downloaded resulted in sales in the end. More importantly, you have no way of knowing how many of those people would have bought (or even ever read) your book if they had not downloaded it. It’s really not as simple as stealing $150 out of your wallet. I have read maybe one full book online that was from a questionable source. But I guarantee you I would never have gone out and bought that book if I had not read it online first.

    And it’s not really my argument–it’s an argument made by people who really understand the dynamics of this issue, many of whom are published academics themselves.

  21. I’ve asked several of my colleagues and friends about their use of media and the majority seem to take your approach to the whole thing. Your friend’s situation is more common than people imagine. In a lot of places (even very urban ones), the only access kids have to certain media is internet downloads–and even that’s rare considering many low income family’s don’t have personal computers. If they do have personal computers, most kids don’t have credit cards and other mechanisms to purchase things online. If there is a decent library in the area, it’s probably not accessible to someone whose family doesn’t own a car or can’t drive him or herself.

    If someone downloads something online, the chances are they’ve gotten access to something that they would otherwise simply not ever have been exposed to. It’s less common that someone is getting something “for free” that they would have bought otherwise. Equitable and increased access to information should be our goal as young adult authors, shouldn’t it?

  22. I’m sure they have to be patrons of the library. because libraries PAY for all the ebooks. So laurie still gets paid for those books.

  23. Love this post! I fully support you.

    Yeah, how could one do that?! Libraries are your friend! Heck, I’m a broke college student. For gift giving holidays I ask for books. I buy some for myself and others…I just wait it out until I get some cash. It’s not cool to steal books.


  24. Book Pirates

    Wow! This is a lot to think about.

    But I guess book pirating has always been a problem in one way or another. Remember the little message inside many paperbacks – the one that says – “If you received this book without a cover, it’s probably a pirated copy” – or something like that?

  25. Have you considered an approach like Cory Doctorow’s? He offers free downloads of all his books, under a Creative Commons license, and then asks that if you like it, you go out and buy one of his books. It worked for me: I downloaded Little Brother for free, and liked it so much that I bought it, and will also be buying his new YA novel For The Win when it comes out. I suppose this approach might not work for everyone, but I think the author making books available for free makes people think more about supporting authors they like, and thus going out and buying the book.

  26. I agree with this. I work in the kids/YA section of a major bookstore chain, and a LOT of people walk out the door because of the price of new hardcovers. It’s a publisher issue to be sure, but it may be one thing contributing to the problem.

  27. Re: Hard data on ebook piracy versus sales


    I’ve never downloaded a book; I work in a library with a great interlibrary loan system and I get most of my reading material there. (If I LOVE a book, I’ll buy it next time I’m in a bookstore, or, more likely, order it from PaperBackSwap.) Plus, I hate the idea of reading books online. I like to curl up with the physical book.

    But I’m a huge music downloader, and this is why. If someone tells me I would like a particular artist, I download a few songs to see if that’s true, because taking a gamble and buying a $15 CD without knowing if I’m going to like it is simply not something I can afford.

  28. Thank you for posting this. I just posted a link to this on my facebook. I was just discussing something similar with my 8th graders today. A word problem was looking for percent of increase in the cost of CD’s. I commented that they don’t really buy CD’s anymore, the download from iTunes. OMG…a few of them snickered, that they don’t PAY for it! Oh man…I went off on them. One day it will be MY book they’ll be downloading illegally. And yours. And the books of my friends. It’s just so wrong. So again, thanks for posting.

  29. I am trying hard to see your point of view, but failing.

    For my last two novels, I – and my publisher – have offered the opening chapters for free. There is the preview you want (and deserve). You could also take the book out of a library. Or sit in a bookstore and read several chapters.

    You are a good and moral person who draws the line between reading an illegal download for preview purposes and reading an entire novel that way. Bless you for that.

    I believe that there is a way to meet your previewing needs without making the entire book available online.

  30. American publishers have been loathe to give up their hardcover sales even though authors (including me) have begged them to. Maybe this piracy will help them see the light.

  31. If you find your book is available for illegal download, you contact your publishers so they can let the zombie lawyers out of their cages.

  32. I would love it if Cory would publish his royalty statements and other financials. I have been doing publishing math for a decade now, and I just don’t see how he can hope to earn enough money to support a family with that business model.

    But if someone can show me the math, I would be happy to become enlightened.

  33. One more thing. Well, two.

    My goal as a young adult author is to tell a good story.

    My second goal is to try to earn enough money from my storytelling so that I don’t have to have a second job. If I don’t have two jobs, I can write a book a year instead of a book every three or four years.

    Equitable and increased access to information is something that I support through school and community libraries, not through the theft of creative content.

  34. Re: Hard data on ebook piracy versus sales

    I would love to chat with the published academics. I suspect they are making this into a more complex matter than it has to be.

    All you have to think about is “pants.”

    You want to buy a pair of pants? Go to the store. Try them on. Buy them. Take them home. Return them if you don’t like them.

    You do not steal the pants, then wear them for a while, then discard them if you don’t like them.

    The same rule applies to books.

    Readers have many different ways to test-drive a book: reviews, blog comments, read sample chapters posted online. Heck – go to the library and read the whole thing.

    I suspect the underlying issue here is that the generation currently aged 15 – 20ish has grown up with almost totally free content on the Internet. They expect that if its online, they should get it for free.

    One of the reasons I am raising a flag about this is to help educate that generation of readers.

    Illegal downloads are exactly like stealing a book from a bookstore. Please don’t do it.

  35. Well, Cory does also run, which I would imagine also brings in some income for him. I don’t know how much of his income is based on his novels versus the website. Like I said, it probably wouldn’t work for every author, but it can potentially work.

    If it makes you feel any better, I always buy your books, even when I already got the advance reader copy from work! 🙂

  36. After thinking about this some more, I think you’re right about the younger generation (including myself, b. 1983) expecting everything to be online and free. And the thing is, if stuff is available, people are going to be downloading it. I don’t think appealing to their conscience is going to stop too many people who were really set on downloading something. I know it didn’t stop me or my friends the first time around, when Napster had just come on the scene and Metallica was telling everyone not to use it.

    My point is, appealing to morality only goes so far. The world is the way it is. To really stop people from stealing things, you have to make it very inconvenient for them to do so. Maybe that’s where the zombie lawyers come in. But that’s why people have locks, security tags, anti-theft devices and such. The pants analogy only works if the pants are easy to find, easy to steal, and nobody’s watching, in which case I think a lot more pants would be stolen than books, because I think far fewer people feel an obligation to give money to the people who make pants than the people who make books.

  37. Until someone figures out how to make it as hard to steal ebooks as it is to steal pants, we have to “compete with free” — as I put it when I was trying to convince Japanese licensors to allow samples of their manga to be put online because it was showing up online anyway, only with very poor translations that ruined the work.

    Manga has been competing with “scanlations” for years. Early on, it was a boon to the industry because it spread the word about manga. These days, it does serious damage to the bottom line, which was inevitable. We run a website community for manga fans who can buy our books on the website, and I can’t count how many times I’ve seen someone post, “Where can I read these books for free?” on the very site they can buy them at.

    Like it or not, we have to compete with that.

  38. something i don’t understand is what the difference is between someone downloading your book and someone getting it from the library. i probably just don’t understand how libraries work on the inside, but if the library buys your book and 50 people read it, and if someone buys your book and uploads it and 50 people download it and read it, is the library’s way of things better for your bottom line? do libraries pay more for the books, or is it the fact that piracy sites allow more copies of something to exist than should, that hurts things?
    whether you get something out of the library or download something illegally, you still get to have it without paying for it… so i guess i am having trouble seeing what the difference is.

    (and for the record, i am far too fond of everything about having a real book in my hand to ever pirate one!)

  39. The book IS the thing

    I’ve seen people compare this to the music industry, but it’s important to notice one major difference between books and music. When it comes to books, there is no concert tour or related paraphernalia. If you like a particular artist that you downloaded illegally, you’re still probably going to pay to go to a concert.

    There’s no such thing when it comes to books. In fact, it COSTS authors to go on book tours.

    My sister and I are both book-addicts. When we moved, most of our personal belongings were in boxes labeled ‘books’. However, we have fallen on hard economic times recently. I was laid off twice in 2009 and, despite a degree in Mechanical Engineering and proven experience as a copywriter, I haven’t been able to find a job since October. My sister has a degree in Communications but is working as a nanny to make ends meet. Still, we wouldn’t dream of downloading illegal copies of books. Even my sister, who has a prominent fear of germs, will check out books from the library if she isn’t able to buy them.

  40. I bought lots of books when I was a younger teenager, lived at home, and my parents gave me money. Now that I have to pay for my own books, my buying taste has gotten much more discerning, and my judgment stricter. And this is coming from a person who has always loved books and spent whatever allowance I got on them–if I was a teenager who didn’t really read, didn’t have an emotional investment in books, and whose parents didn’t want to pay for books for me–I probably would save my money for Taco Bell and whatever else people my age buy and just click “download.” Particularly when books are getting expensive as all hell–PAPERBACKS are costing like $15 lately! it’s insane! (That is a lot of money to me– it’s a week of gas, food for four days, etc.)

    I will also note that even though I would love to love the public library (and I do indeed love the concept, and I go every once in awhile) the selection kind of sucks at every library I’ve patronized. Even if they have recent books, they buy only one or two copies, and then the waiting list for it is months long.

    Anyway, my point is that my generation really does expect content to be free and immediately available, and harbors no guilt about ‘stealing’ it. I doubt moralizing will make much of a difference if they don’t understand why books are valuable in the first place, especially when the only people really talking about downloading being bad/illegal these days are the people being stolen from–musicians and artists and their respective publishers and lawyers and whatever. Most people’s parents/schools/priests/other authority figures aren’t going “Don’t download! It’s bad!” though they WILL always talk about how stealing is wrong our whole lives, starting in toddlerhood. It’s not ingrained in people yet to think of downloading in those terms, even if that’s what it is. It’ll take a much harder effort, coming from more sides, to actually make a difference to how people approach downloading content illegally.

  41. The library pays for the book when it is purchased. If it proves popular enough, they will buy more copies. In your example, 50 people might read it. Authors are all cool with that.

    When someone uploads a book, it is potentially available to millions of people. Authors get a little upset about that because it makes it impossible to pay their rent and feed their children.

  42. Libraries libraries libraries

    As a recent grad of library school who is still struggling to find a full-time job, THANK YOU for promoting libraries.

  43. Library selection

    Most libraries are open to suggestions/requests from their patrons, so don’t be afraid to ask if them if they can order a particular author’s books or a certain series. They may just not be aware that someone is interested in an author or genre. Typically the books available have been requested or are part of standing orders with publishers.


  44. Re: um…

    I agree. I went into a complete panic about it, and I have never pirated a book!
    The only free ebooks I have are from places like Project Gutenberg, and those texts are public domain.

  45. You said it, sister

    My eyes are hurting just from reading this blog post! And as a librarian, I also have high-maintenance nutbag pets that I can only afford to feed and vaccinate if I continue to have a job, and the only way I’ll continue to have a job is if people keep coming to the library to borrow books instead of downloading them illegally. Great post!

  46. so… is it because of the increase in available copies? i’m still not understanding how we get to “i don’t get to pay my rent or feed my children” only from people not-buying your book and pirating, and not from people not-buying your book and getting it out of the library.
    i am still having trouble understanding what the difference is between people not paying for your book and, well, people not paying for your book!

    (sorry if i’m coming off as argumentative, that’s not my intent… i’m really just trying to understand here… i’m on your side!)

  47. 1. Libraries buy books legally. If a book is popular with its patrons, a library will buy more than one copy. Yes, that copy is read by many people, some of whom could have afforded to buy it themselves. But there is a physical limit to that number of people because there is a physical limit to the number of books. Speaking for myself, the access to free information and books in a library is a foundation stone for a democracy. I would hazard a guess that most of my books have been read by teens in libraries, because most teens don’t have the luxury of enough money to buy books.

    1A.In the UK, authors get a small compensation each time one of their books is loaned out in a public library. It is called the Public Lending Right and you can find more info here: We do not have this system in the United States.

    2. Illegal downloads are limitless. There might be one book sale to the person who does the scanning and uploading (or cracks the computer code on their ereader), but after that, the sky is the limit. Furthermore, the illegal downloads can be corrupt versions of the book. There can be design elements missing, pages missing, all kinds of potential for tampering with the author’s intent exists. And it is done without the authors’ consent.

    Does that help clear up the confusion? Do you have other questions?

  48. piracy

    I’m totally with you, LHA. i think the pants example works with every argument I’ve seen advanced to justify/excuse book piracy.
    I can’t afford designer jeans.
    So I steal them.
    Many designer jeans are poorly made.
    So I steal them.
    The people who make designer jeans make a pittance.
    So I’ll steal them and they’ll be out of a job entirely.
    I wouldn’t have bought them anyway because they are too expensive.
    So I stole them instead. And it’s perfectly okay.
    If I wear the jeans, maybe other people will go out and buy them.
    So it was okay to steal them.
    (of course, in the case of book piracy, often the person that stole the book is unlocking the door for hundreds of other people to steal it, too!

    I was recently on a download site where nearly all of my books were posted for a total of 781 downloads. And that’s just one site.

  49. Re: Hard data on ebook piracy versus sales

    ANY book is available from ANY library which provides inter-library loan services. Free. I have read books that are out of print and available only from a library far from my Kentucky home…many times from across the country…at absolutely no cost to me. I just fill out a form with the pertinent information and the library takes it from there. If an individual wants to read something badly enough, where there’s a will there’s usually a way, without stealing it.

  50. not good

    I dont think it is fair for the people who work so hard to write a book and dont get payed for it. They should get some reward for doing all of this work.

  51. thank you

    I totally agree. In fact, I was just forwarded to your blog by a comment on my blog about piracy. I’m having this problem with one of my books, and “free” downloads are in the hundreds. I’m struggling with bills and have TWO nutbag pets (lovely dogs, actually) and feel totally frustrated. Here’s my post–although I like your zombie lawyer better than what I posted! Thanks for saying it like it is. Joanne Seiff

  52. Pirates SUCK! 😉

    Ya I am with you. I love how people justify stealing other peoples work! My husband and 10 year old son wrote a book together and got it published! YA! Imagine my horror to discover the book is all over the net for free. I have counted the number of downloads and it it is more then 20 percent of the actual book sales. I actually contacted a few of the people that put the book up for free download and lets just say they werent’ very receptive to my comments! I think this idiots think every author is rich so why not steal from the RICH!

    Lets stop calling pirates – pirates as that has some romantic connotations with it. Lets call a thief a THIEF cus that’s what they are – or I supposed we could go with CROOK, CRIMINAL, or just plain old Dumb ASS!

    Can you tell this topic drives me insane?

  53. Re: Hard data on ebook piracy versus sales

    Not true. My library only does ILL from other libraries in the state. You are blessed to have a library that will go farther afield for you, but many (I dare say even most) will not. And even those that do often cannot get a read something that is only in ebook form – my library neither carries nor requests ebooks. Big bestsellers come out in HB and PB, but more obscure genres are often limited to only ebooks.

  54. Follow up –

    I see your book was uploaded to Demoniod 2 weeks ago.

    that one and rapidshare seems to be the hardest ones to get them off.

    Your book is also here – scribd is an easy site to get your book off because it is trying to go legit

    Can you tell I am obsessed by pirated books

    Best not to post this as it is horrible to promote these sites – but feel free to contact me at

  55. Here’s the thing though,
    Business/book release practices have become ridiculously overpriced and even a little dishonest in recent years. Allow me to explain.

    I’ve been a lifelong, incredibly avid reader. Was forced to accept at an early age I simply couldn’t afford 20$+ hardcovers (that was 15yrs ago, WISH they were ONLY 20$ now), so I became accustomed to waiting for the 5.95$ paperback release of my favored authors’ new books. No problem, right?

    Then, about 8-9 years ago I noticed that most books published by the big publishers were staying in Hardcover, and ONLY Hardcover for first 1 and 1/2 times as long, and then finally even twice as long (or more), before the paperback release.

    This bothered me, but I thought something like “Maybe it’s gotten tons more expensive to produce and ship books for some reason. There’s gotta be a good reason for this. Just going to have to be more patient and find something already in paperback to read while waiting for the paperback version”.

    Still no problem, right?

    Then, about 3-5 years ago I noticed the beginnings of a far more disturbing practice, …which at first I didn’t notice at all in point of fact.

    Some books began to go from their long Hardcover appearances (costing by now 25$ or more often enough), to a larger-than-normal “trade paperback” (costing 15-19$) INSTEAD OF going to the regular paperback release.

    At first it wasn’t a big deal, as these “Trade paperbacks” would usually only come out during the natural spacing period between Hardcover and Paperback releases…and this had no effect on me. I couldn’t afford the Trade Paperback either, so it made no practical difference to me, since I was still waiting the same amount of time for the paperback I COULD afford.

    Then however, I noticed that many books by more established authors began appearing in these Trade Paperback forms, and then remained IN PLACE OF the normal paperback release, extensively delaying the time until the normal paperback came out.

    THEN I noticed! A couple more years went by, and this became more and more common, and the interval between Hardcover and Regular paperback continued to increase in many cases.

    I’ll be perfectly honest. I felt betrayed. It was like the 50-60 hard-earned dollars I spent every month, as I’d done so for so many years wasn’t enough anymore. I felt I was being told “If you don’t want to wait so long that you’ve forgotten what happened in the last book before receiving the next book in the series, fork over triple the amount of money.”

    That was when I stopped actively supporting authors, and began buying books many years after their release for 1$/1.50$ from a used bookstore, or getting them dirt-cheap used from Amazon (until Amazon prices skyrocketed a couple years ago concerning used books).

    When at last I couldn’t regularly find anything desirable on the shelves of the local used book stores I’d thoroughly picked clean, and when I couldn’t even afford Amazon used books in a lot of cases anymore…..

    I just stopped buying books. I found other ways to entertain myself, and when I did feel a desire to read something I’d pick through what was available online for free.

    Now though, even many of the published-by-chapter free online books are gone as their authors were able to secure book deals to publish their work in earnest.

    I’m glad for them, but once again it left me out in the cold so to speak.

    There’s a rot of over-commercialization becoming ever more pervasive in the bookselling business. I don’t think it’s a coincidence OR unrelated that as all this has been happening over the last several years, incidents of book piracy have risen in number exponentially.

    No, it DOESN’T make it right, but it’s something that MUST be squarely faced if the industry…if the AUTHORS who suffer for it are ever going to be even largely free of having their work pirated.

    My view, which I make no apologies for. Dismiss it if you like, but if you’re honest, you know some seriously money-grubbing, sleazy practices are becoming more and more common parts of the book-selling process. Not every author, and not every series, but enough to create the resentment that fuels people’s immoral justification(s) of their illegal actions.

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