Book Piracy: Should Indie Authors Be Concerned?

Long before I became involved with publishing, I've been a book collector. Before eBooks, I collected paperbacks, and when the age of eBooks arrived, I hoarded the eBooks of my favorite authors. The difference between then and now is that I had to buy the paperbacks. But the eBooks? All I needed was a torrent and I could download the whole collection of an author. For Free.

Why wouldn't I? It was there. And unlike pirated movies that are badly recorded, the quality of an eBook is THE SAME even when it's a pirated copy.

Am I a bad girl? That's a matter of perspective. I'm an insatiable reader, and if the book is free, I'll take it. This is exactly the reason why book piracy exists.

Now that I'm an Indie Author, when I check my online presence by searching for myself on Google, I see sites that offer my books, without my permission.
  • There are sites that supposedly have PDFs of my books, but you have to sign-up to see the actual download page. 
  • Some of them only show my cover and blurb, but when you click on the link, it will direct you somewhere else. A bogey. 
  • Some only have a few pages, taken from my book's preview. 
Whatever. I check them out not because I'm concerned that I'm losing money, I was just curious. It amuses me to know my work is being pirated. Why? Don't I care that I'm losing sales? Don't I want to raise hell and email the webmasters and ask for my books to be taken down? Don't I want to show my indignation on social media by shouting that I've been pirated?

Let's do a reality check. 

Our books are DIGITAL. It's out there on the Internet, where millions of stuff gets shared and downloaded and copied every minute. All anyone has to do is buy a copy and resell it on their sites, or use it for whatever purpose. And how much do our books cost? $0.99 to $3.99. Indie Authors even give it away for free... often. Pirating our books is as easy as taking candy from a baby... even with Digital Rights Management. 

Whenever I have a free promo and I'm notified that someone purchased my book, I pray it's a reader enjoying my freebie. Not some pirate planning to resell my book for their own profit. Yes, I care that I might not be getting some of the sales of some of my books. But, no, I'm not that bothered by it. It's all part of the game. I know for a fact that it would be a waste of my time to send a DMCA notice to every piracy site. You could have all the sites shut down and a new one will just take its place. It'd be a pointless exercise.

To make you feel better, think of it this way....

It's additional promotion and advertising for you when your books are pirated. 


Well, yeah, think about it. If you hired someone to promote your book and get your name out there, how much would you pay? These people may or may not be earning from your book - but they sure are promoting your work for free. And if by some chance they are marketing geniuses and sold thousands of copies, well, they would have made you famous. You should thank them.

That doesn't make piracy right. But, no matter how unethical it is, these sites ADD to our online presence. In a twisted way, they validate our work. Because of these unwanted promoters, our books are exposed to more readers. And it costs us NOTHING.

Don't feel bad about it anymore. It will happen and it will continue to happen. That's the reality of having a digital product. It would be like banging your head on a wall, trying to go after these people. It's like a hydra - cut off one head and a new one will sprout. Why waste time?

One piracy site I visited had this notice on its page:

Cheeky and arrogant, huh? It just grates at you, the wrongness of it. But, it's a fact of life. And we, authors, should learn how to live with it.

Until human nature changes, until we stop wanting good things without spending for it, digital piracy is an evil that's here to stay. It happens in the music and movie industry, and it happens in the publishing industry. People are changing their business models to accommodate this evil. Authors too must adjust their mindset to adapt and survive with this reality.

Piracy is NOT right, but it is what it is. Yes, we want to STOP book piracy. We also want to stop hunger and poverty. But, can we? We enable DRM on our books, lock our PDFs, but words are easy to steal.

Just keep writing, and accept these people as UNWELCOME but USEFUL contributors to your marketing and advertising campaigns. We give our books away for free anyway. If a reader discovers our work through them, that would be a GOOD THING. No harm, no foul.

Now, we're talking about piracy. People selling our books, with our name, without our permission.

Plagiarism is another story. People who take our words, slap their names on the book cover, and claim it as their own without even bothering to change a single word? - these lazy pretenders should be annihilated.



Here's a free site I use to check if my content is being plagiarized: smallseotools/plagiarism checker

For these modern day pirates, my message is: Thank you. It takes a huge amount of time and effort to get our work noticed. Thanks for lending a hand, and for thinking that my book is good enough to pirate. Now, go make me famous.

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