Thursday, April 12, 2012

LATE Breakfast with the Bookie - E-Book Piracy: A Felony

Breakfast with the Bookie is a semi-weekly feature here @ Badass Bookie which is making a reappearance in 2012. Every other Wednesday morning, let's all grab our teas and coffees to gather and discuss and share our opinions! Everyone is welcome to join and make sure you leave a comment to state your opinion. Don't be shy! 

This Week's Topic - E-Book Piracy: A Felony

I could rant for three days straight about this but unfortunately I don't think anyone would read that so I'm giving you the "shortish" version. It's a fairly long post but I hope you would all read it because E-Book Piracy is affecting everyone. If you could tweet, Facebook, blog a link to this post it would be great! Let's fight E-Book Piracy together!

Firstly, piracy is just a fancy word for stealing. E-Book Piracy in theory is the same as going into your local bookshop, pulling a book off the shelf and walking out. The only difference is that you're doing it anonymously behind the safety of your desktop.

Respectively speaking, piracy of any kind is bad but I honestly think E-Book Piracy is the worst. Authors under no circumstances have a fan base as large as members of the music industry or the film industry (of course for every circumstance, there are few exceptions but let's face it not everyone can be J.K. Rowlings or Stephanie Meyers) this means that they aren't paid as much.

Your run-on-the-mill author's annual salary probably matches the salary of an everyday accountant. Add that to the fact that they get a pay check twice a year and mere 3% ( or less) in royalties for every book they sell. They can't afford to lose money. They have families to support, children to feed, bills to pay and every time you click download without paying, you're making that harder for them.

Here the bottom-line, authors want to do what they love most but if they couldn't support themselves with a measly pay check - they would give up writing and take up a steady job in a heartbeat. Every book that's not being bought but pirated is making it harder for them to continue doing what they love. Think budgeting fortnightly is hard? Try getting a pay check every six months. If you wouldn't steal from someone you meet on the street, then don't pirate books because you're stealing from these authors.

Also keep in mind that Piracy is a felony. If you're caught distributing or downloading works of fiction under copyright laws then you're looking at 5/6 digit fines and maybe even jail time. If this isn't making an impression maybe these statistics will -

- Twenty-nine percent (29%) of all e-readers surveyed, admitted to piracy. That's almost 3 out of every 10 adults!
- In the U.S., it is estimated that e-book piracy costs the industry $3 billion dollars every year
- One in eight women over 35 who own an e-reader, admitted to downloading illegal copies of e-books.
- At the end of 2011, an estimated 20% of all ebooks downloaded on to e-readers were believed to have been pirated.
- In the United Kingdom, the Publishers Associated issued 115,000 legal notices to websites who were offering free pirated copies of books, an increase of 130 percent from the number of notices sent out in 2010.

( Statistics Courtesy of Havoscope and All on Writing)

  What Authors Have to Say? - 
I understand the urge to take advantage of "free" books when you can't afford them or they're not available in your area, or even not yet released. And in the short run, that may be very satisfying. Free books! (Sometimes with viruses attached.) But if the ethics of pirating books doesn't bother someone, the long-term consequences should. Authors can write all they want, but if a publisher looks at their sales numbers and sees there aren't enough SALES (this is a business), then they're not going to buy and publish more books from that author. They won't be able to afford to do it. Of course, this is about people who download and read the books, not the people who just want to have them and wouldn't buy them anyway. The best way to get free/cheap books is in the library, from a friend, or wait for a used bookstore. Waiting sucks, but it's less harmful to an author's career. And people who want more books in the future should consider that. Jodi Meadows ( Incarnate)
Special place in Hell for people who pirate books. There is a building that gives you them for free. It's call a LIBRARY. Pirating books hurts EVERYONE. But especially authors. It can actively prevent them from being able to publish more. Victoria Schwab ( The Near Witch )
Creativity comes from a love of the work, of the art, and piracy belittles that. Katherine Longshore ( Gilt)
If someone cares about my words enough to steal them, I consider that a compliment. Caring enough to pay for them is a bonus. Jay Kristoff ( Stormdancer) 
Authors want to be paid for work and piracy's illegal. But it also seems inevitable—wish there was a way to harness it for good, not evil. - Elisa Ludwig ( Pretty Crooked) 

Alternatives to E-Book Piracy -

The Library: In some countries like Australia and Canada under the Public Lending Right - authors get compensation for the potential loss of sales from their works being available in public libraries. It's not as much as royalties but authors still get something out. Therefore every time you borrow a book from the library, authors are getting a little back.

Giveaways: The Blogosphere is filled with generous bloggers who giveaway books and ARCs! On any given day - you will find literally hundreds of book giveaways open internationally! You might not win but it's definitely better than e-book piracy.

Netgalley/ E-Galley Grabs: In exchange of a review, there are many sites that allow you to read e-books without charge. A good one is Netgalley but publishers also have their own e-galley programs - I know Simon and Schuster does! Edelweiss is another one, there are LEGAL ways to read e-books FOR FREE.

What's your opinion of E-Book Piracy? Are you fighting it? Do you encourage it? Let's discuss!

Badass Bookie xx


  1. I'm not gonna lie. I did commit E-Book piracy like a year ago with a 2 Alyson Noel books but after seeing how many authors, publishers, and bloggers are against it . . well, I'm now against it too.

  2. Oh goodness... this is kind of scary... and intense... and for authors, I mean... the number of authors who can afford to write full time is TINY. Most of these people have day jobs, and sacrifice huge chunks of time with the friends and family and loved ones,--not to mention their hobbies--to bring us the stories we love. And Jodi Meadows has a great point. The "urge to take advantage of "free" books when you can't afford them"... Yes, I get. Especially when you really want to read something and can't afford it. BUT COME ON! USE A LIBRARY PEOPLE. My best friend works in a library and sent me a LONG email last night about the simple fact that if people don't use libraries, they'll cease to exist. They'll go the way of Borders and Angus & Robertson and how many other amazing bookstores that we've now lost forever? And if a book isn't available in your area? BUY IT. Most eBooks can be bought from Booktopia,, Google Books, Amazon, and dozens of other places, and anything you can't get there, you can get from Book Depository! I mean, honestly... if we got more books from the library, and only sourced the ones we couldn't get online? Prob solved. You're still not paying, piraters :/

    Ha! I just read further down: VICTORIA SCHWAB! YES!

    It's just... I mean, once you get to know the authors your hurting, a well? And SERIOUSLY. Brodie was talking last week about seeing someone trying to find an illegal copy of a 0.99c eBook. NINETY NINE CENTS!! *head-desk*

    GREAT post, Lisa... and it's a really great conversation to start. And SERIOUSLY well researched! THank you! *mwah*!

    1. Oooh, you know another thing that sucks about it? Some people defend music piracy by saying if they like a song, they'll buy the album, or they'll go see the band live, so the band still gets ticket sales... you steal a book? The author gets NOTHING. Wrong.

  3. I've had people arrive at my reviews by Google searching for pirated copies of books. I'm sure they're none too happy when all they find are links to where they can buy the books. ;) And it's often of indie books that are already cheap! People are never satisfied.

    The idea of people pirating books kind of horrifies me. Ignoring the fact that it's illegal and cruel to authors- how do they even know they're getting the right book?! I'd be paranoid that there were chapters left out or chapters written in etc... so much easier to use a library, giveaways, galley programs or the thousands of legally free books on Kindle!

    1. This too! And I mean... Yeah. I BUY my books, or feel very VERY grateful when I get review copies. I love supporting the authors I love. In some cases, if I love a book enough, I'll buy the eBook and physical copy. I do the same if I read a library book I loved. I loved the Mortal Instruments books so much I bought the books part way through reading my library borrowed copies.

  4. I still remember "someone" offering me obviously pirated books as a RAK (Random Acts of Kindness) last year - just HOW stupid ARE people!? Bad enough to STEAL for yourself but to SHARE???

    I'm happy to say that I've never illegally downloaded anything in my life, no movies or music or books and I'm certainly keeping it this way. If I can't afford something than I just save money, wait for a Sale, buy it used - you get the idea!

  5. I honestly had no thought of doing this. I don't even know how to obtain some lol. I've always thought that supporting authors will get me more books to read :) and I really feel bad for their salary but they are making people happy :) And I had no idea that authors get comp. for borrowed books! I felt bad for not buying them but now I feel better about saving money AND supporting authors lol :)

    Thanks for this post!

  6. like music piracy this e-book piracy can't be stopped. It's simply horrible for authors who are also artist. Thank u for this informative blog!

  7. I was emailed this morning about 3 e-books for RAK and was super excited only to find out that the person sending them was just emailing me copies. She didn't even try to hide the fact that she copied her own books saying, "I will look on your wishlist and see if there are anymore ebooks that I have that you want." The email, along with the books, has been deleted!

    Honestly, I would rather save my money and wait to read the book then obtain it illegally.

    Great post!!

  8. I now totally agree in NOT pirating books. I just guess that... piracy is inevitable.

    I guess also, some eBooks have a great price and you actually save on them, but when the eBook and physical book are almost the same price, I think that's just stealing. I mean, just deduce how much it takes to produce the physicality of the book out of the price, and then it'll cost less, and therefore, I think that people will buy more eBooks.

  9. In all honesty, I have pirated a couple. However, I don't necessarily worry about it. Here's why: for me, I don't think of having an ebook as owning the book. If I like the book, I will buy myself a physical copy. As soon as I've read the e-book I delete it. It's definitely not something I do often. It's a last ditch effort for something that I can't find in my library or in a friend's collection. Which is why we should all make the government give more money to libraries so they will have all the books I want!

    I really do think there should be some sort of lending library for e-books. My library's collection is pathetic, and always checked out. I mostly buy rereads/favorite authors or books from used book stores. I would get a lot out of an e-book lending library online. I might even pay a few bucks a month to use it. I just want access to the book, and if piracy's my only way to do it, I consider it, even if I don't like it. Basically, I don't feel like piracy affects my likelihood of buying the book. At all.

    1. I do acknowledge that it is an issue and that the scale is frightening. Books get posted like a day after they come out. I do more looking around than downloading. I'm a librarian and I'm curious.

      Support your libraries. And pirate as little as possible.

  10. Great Post!!!

    I think at the end of the day the majority of people have illegally downloaded something, if it's a book, a film or music. It's all about avaliability and how many people would really turn down a free item???

    I've been tempted plenty of times by illegally downloading e-books. I started reading at 12, and have spent hundreds of pounds every year on books, and well buying lots of books definately isn't cheap.
    I , like many of people, don't have the benefit of having friends who read, or having a decent library.

    I'm never going to 100% blame the people who download the books, at the end of the day it's the publishers who decide to make the books avaliable in E-book format knowing that many people commit book piracy.

  11. It's scary how many people admit to ebook piracy. I, for one, think that it is 1. illegal and 2. immoral. Authors spend so much time and effort writing books and editing them. They spend weeks and weeks of their lives slaving over them. Readers are able to get these books for FREE at the library, so why don't we do this? Authors work so hard to write books that we enjoy reading and we should respect them by not pirating! Great post :)

  12. I understand why it can be tempting to readers to illegally download a book. It's so easy (well they say anyway) I won't ever do it, but a lot of people don't like paying. That they hurt other people isn't their problem, just wait until they're ripped off. If someone steals from them they are the ones that scream the loudest.
    What almost made me cry was that on Goodreads people are discussing books they want to read and they know "a guy" who scans the books for them. WHAT?! Seriously they say they love books, well in my opinion you're just a destroyer. You do not love books if you're not even willing to pay for them. Books can be pretty expensive (especially in the Netherlands where we have a set book price), but hey there's always a place where you can buy your books cheaper: second hand, ebooks, buy the book in a country where they're cheaper. I don't care, go to a library, borrow it, start a group for something like this. There are thousands ways to get your books for free or less money.
    Sorry for the rambling, it just pisses me off to no end.

    Thank you for posting this! I'm a new follower :)

  13. Well done Lisa! FOUR FOR YOU. Honestly, where do people get off buying illegal downloads? Okay, so we all joke about that ad that comes before the DVD about how you wouldn't steal a car, but the bottom line is that it's still WRONG. I mean, sure, we all love free stuff, especially in this day and age, but look at the legal ways of doing it. Most libraries these days have a pretty good YA section - I went into the library round the corner from me and was ASTOUNDED at the YA section. So much better than it was in my day. Have bookish friends? Get together and Book Swap. Do a reading circle where you all pitch in and buy a book, and take turns with it.

    Book piracy is as real as anything. Just don't do it. Hell, I feel bad enough about asking for review copies of books, but I know in my mind that the amount that I do actually spend on books every year - hundreds of dollars worth - make up for it.

    Plus, this is the industry I want in at. Don't let others suffer - don't let my future career suffer because you're too much of a tight arse to go about it the right way.

    SAVE AN AUTHOR. BUY A BOOK (or at least go to the library)

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