Like most authors, I’ve signed up for “Google Alerts,” which tell me when my name and/or the title of one of my books appears somewhere on the interwebs.
Over the past week, I’ve been getting a bunch of these alerts, all with links to books I’ve written now being offered, usually for free or some greatly reduced price, on various websites.
Note to readers: I don’t get a penny of royalties from those sales. Those are what are called pirate sites in the book business, websites where someone has downloaded authors’ books digitally, then uploaded them again on the new site in order to profit from them without giving anything at all to the creator of the material.
Please, book lovers, don’t read books from those sites. You are stealing if you do.
In fact, there have been some court cases where those who’ve downloaded material from those sites have been held liable. My plea is as much for my benefit as it is for yours. If you use pirate book websites, you are stealing, and the law won’t make a distinction between you and the middleman who enticed you to steal.
Most authors don’t make their living from writing. Only a small percentage of best selling authors do that. The rest of us work day jobs — mine is as a freelance editor for a major publishing house — and cobble a living together as best we can.
I know of one best-selling author, in fact, who for years depended on her advances and royalties to keep her aging mother in a retirement home. Taking money from her was taking money from her mother’s care.
Okay, you might ask, but what about buying books second hand or borrowing them from a library?
Well, authors have issues with those, too, but to a lesser degree. If you can afford to buy a book when it first goes to market, do it. If you can’t, if you want to explore an author’s oeuvres, borrow from the library. The library, at least, did pay for the book, and the author just might get some royalty from that sale.
Same is true with second-hand bookstores. At least the first sale of the book resulted in a royalty for the author (or a portion of the author’s advance).
But pirate sites are selling books to people for the first time, without having paid for the tome in the first place. The author got nothing from the pirate site’s original upload.
I do want to make clear, though, that getting free books from legitimate etailers like Amazon is fine. Usually those free offerings are part of a promotional blitz with a limited time span.
The same is true of downloading free books from a site like Project Gutenberg. That website has been careful to curate only books now in the public domain — meaning that no royalties are due to any authors or their heirs. Have fun exploring their offerings.
Don’t be tempted by websites, though, with odd names, off the beaten track, offering books for free or for greatly reduced prices. They might be pirate sites where authors receive no money from the sale. The price you pay goes into the pirate’s pocket alone.
If you get my books on that site, you’re stealing. From me.