Book Piracy: Why It’s Never OK

January 16, 2016     erinthebooknut     Discussion, Feature, Rant

Few things affect authors more than piracy.  It’s something they’ve had to deal with more and more as ebooks have become more popular. Let me let you in on a little secret: they don’t get mad about it over pure vanity. They have a whole host of reasons to be concerned about piracy, let me tell you.

How many of you actually know how an author’s profit works? I’m going to bet that it’s not what you think. Not every author makes the kind of money as JK Rowling or Stephen King, they are the exception to the rule. Many even have day jobs because the money they get from writing books is neither consistent nor enough for them to really live on. For an author, they get an advance from the publisher before the book is published. In many cases once that advance is paid, the author won’t get any royalties from their book until that advance is recouped by the publisher. This means that not paying for a book is not just taking a little out of a rich person’a pocket, it’s affecting an author’s livelihood.

Authors don’t make a huge amount on each copy sold in the first place. Much of a book’s price goes to the bookseller, and the rest will cover the costs of printing, cover designers, editors, marketing, and anything else that goes into publishing a book. Then the author gets their cut. Piracy takes that tiny piece they get away. Do you really think that’s fair?

Now imagine you were a painter or a sculptor, and you’ve been working on a piece of art for a very long time. Or you’re a photographer, waiting for the perfect lighting and for nature to give you one beautiful moment. You wait for the the exact right instant to grab on film and suddenly you capture it in all of its glory. You’ve put your heart and soul into it, you’ve sweat and bled for it. Then someone else comes along and copies your gorgeous photo or your beautiful piece of art, putting in no effort at all and just giving it away. Now, how would you feel?

Well, Jodi Meadows can tell you how it feels!

Piracy is illegal. That should be enough. But people are unlikely to get caught. Some think they’re entitled to free books, or that they’re the only ones doing it, while others believe they’re actually doing the author a favor by giving them “exposure.” Ultimately, they don’t think it affects them whether or not the author gets paid for their work.
Yes it does.
Piracy is harmful in all sorts of ways — devaluing art, preventing authors from paying bills, and it just really hurts our feelings — but it is also bad for readers . . . including those who pirate.
Publishing is a business. If an author isn’t making the publisher money, the publisher will stop publishing the author’s books.
When people download books for free, well, obviously they’re not paying for it; they downloaded it for free. The book didn’t make money, so the publisher thinks that no one liked it and they shouldn’t bother buying another from the author. It doesn’t matter how many people read and loved the book if the majority downloaded the book illegally. There won’t be more.
Piracy is not helpful exposure: it’s actively destroying the possibility of more books; it devalues art; and it is illegal.


This is what piracy feels like.

Do you want to make a person, another human being, particularly an author you love feel like that? Do you want them to spend all day sending out legal notices to get their books taken off free sites? It makes them feel so disrespected, so down. Why would people who say they love author treat them like that?

There are plenty of legal ways to get free books that won’t hurt the author.

  • Enter a giveaway! You can find them through the publisher, from the author themselves, on goodreads, and plenty of other places. This way, someone is paying for the book. Just not you.
  • Go to a library. Yeah, the building with thousands of books just waiting to be read for free. You just need a library card. These books are purchased by the library, so people still get paid. No one has stolen anything to give you this service. Many libraries even lend ebooks now!
  • Borrow from a friend. Again, you’re reading a book that someone has bought.

And once you read the book and you want a copy of your own, just buy it! Trust me, it’s a cheaper habit than, say, collecting hundred dollar shoes. There are plenty of places to get books on sale, but that’s another post.

Authors do this for a living, it may not always be their only job but it IS their job. It’s really important that we remember this. They cannot afford to just give us their hard work for free. I guarantee you that most would do so happily if they could. But they really can’t. Now think of all the extra things they do for us that they don’t get paid for. They feature on blogs (just like Jodi Meadows did here for me), they give us amazing extras and deleted goodies, they spend time chatting with us on twitter when they should probably be doing something else.

Having internet does not give people the right to just take something, be it a TV show, a book, music, or a movie.  It’s not yours just because you want it, because you can, or because it’s there. Respect the creators, pay for the things you love. It’s the right thing to do, you’re supporting a group of lovely people with every dollar and that is worth every penny in the end.

So let’s talk piracy. Comment below and let’s open some discussion!

Many thanks to Jodi Meadows for giving us her thoughts on this topic. We love you Jodi!

From my shelf to yours,


8 responses to “Book Piracy: Why It’s Never OK

  1. Piracy is something I really don’t understand in supposed “book lovers.” If you love to read, then you should love to support the book industry and the authors and publishers that are behind it all! If everyone pirated books, then no new books would be able to be published. This is a great post!

  2. I hate piracy with a fiery passion! It’s just so unfair to the authors who devoted countless hours to their book, but it’s also unfair to the whole literary team behind that book. I get so fired up when I think about it. I don’t even know why people think it’s okay to just steal a book, especially when there are libraries and digital libraries! Ugh.

    I know a thing blew up on Twitter the other day because some blogger had links to pirated books on her blog. I didn’t like how everything went down because it was dramatic, and I hate drama, but I couldn’t bring myself to feel bad for the girl who was outed for having those illegal links on her blog. It’s not just wrong; it’s a crime. I also know that there was an infamous blogger who was taking eARCs and converting them for others to read. I warn people about that all the time.

    I did report a case of book piracy a while back. I was looking for a high quality book cover for Sarah Ockler’s The Summer of Chasing Mermaids when I came across a link to download an illegal eARC of it on YouTube! I looked around, and that same user had links for so many pirated books from last year. I reported it to my contact at S&S, and I think they got the video and link removed. I think that’s the best thing we can do, though. Just report it if we see it. That’s the only way to really get the publishers involved and stop this sort of behavior.

    I’m sorry I left such a long comment, Erin! I didn’t realize how much I had to say on it.

    • erinthebooknut

      I am a million times with you. I can’t believe a blogger would pirate, let alone be dumb enough to put the links on her blog. Like she wouldn’t get caught? Please. It shows a profound lack of respect, and that’s why it bugs me so much. When I see authors so upset on Twitter it reminds me why I’m so vehemently against that kind of behavior.

      • Right? Like obviously that person wasn’t thinking that publicists were going to her blog to see if she was reputable! It’s just so outrageous.

        It’s so sad to see an author find out that their book has been pirated! I feel like it’s becoming more and more common, and it just makes me want to give them all the hugs.

        • erinthebooknut

          Apparently some didn’t know they had to be worried about that happening until they saw the most recent round and went looking. Imagine that feeling! My heart breaks.

  3. Piracy is something I’ll never quite understand. There are so many resources these days for people to get free/inexpensive books-the library, used book stores, thrift stores, friends, etc. I feel like many people (not necessarily bloggers) feel entitled and that they don’t need to pay for things because they have this misconception that ‘one copy won’t hurt.’ But when it’s a lot of one copies… it adds up! It’s nice to see so many people rallying around this issue and helping to get the author’s POV out on this topic.

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