Posted originally on Bob James – Author site
This story began with another warning about a web piracy site. One of the advantages to eBooks is that they’re so much cheaper to produce and make available to the public. The disadvantage is that scammers/book pirates can find ways to make money by getting a copy of your book, and then offering it for free on a pirate site. These sites look professionally done and appear to be a great way to get books for free – after all, isn’t EVERYTHING free on the internet somehow? The problem is the authors who have poured their hearts into their books, have spent lots of money on editing their writing and creating covers, and have worked to market their books so they can make a living from the work they’ve done, don’t profit from these sites. The owner of the site steals their work and makes their money through advertising on the site.
I posted in an author site that I belong to about the problem after looking up a couple of books and finding friends in that group had been victimized by the pirate. I almost posted something about no one wanting to steal my books, because, you know – devotional books. Then, on a lark, I went to check my books. I was amazed to discover that four of the six books in the series were listed on the site. I decided that I must have really made it as an author if somebody thought it was worthwhile to steal the hours of labor writing and editing those books to promote their site. I also thought it ironic that people would steal a devotional book, designed to help them grow closer to God.
When I mentioned that I must have “made it” as an author because my work was on a pirate site to my siblings, they responded with sincere sympathy. “Even pirates like to read.” “Way to go, Bob! Nice to expand your reading audience.” “Do they pay in gold?” “Do you get to wear an eye patch?” and finally “Aaaarrrggg!!! Pirate booty gold, but you must find it with my treasure map.” Ok, maybe more joking than sympathy. That’s ok for family, I guess. I don’t depend on writing income to eat – which is a good thing because I probably couldn’t pay for a glass of water, let alone the coffee I drink while I’m writing, from my earnings. But I have friends whose living is based on their writing. Looking at my royalty schedule and the number of times that this site claimed that my book was read/downloaded, this pirate site kept me from about $6000 in earnings based on about $1 profit per sale of each book. (But, see my proviso later.) Imagine if I wasn’t retired and married to an amazing wife who makes good money. What if writing were my sole source of income, and instead of four books, I had ten, or twenty. That could be lost revenue of between $10,000 – 30,000.
The best argument against my financial figures is that we don’t know if people would have seen or bought this work if they couldn’t have stolen, er, gotten it free. I’ll admit that. I also doubt that their figures on read/downloaded are completely accurate, or I would really be a best seller if people actually bought the books. Based on one of the authors whose books I checked to see if they were on the site, it may be a phishing site looking to profit from your info. You have to set up an account. Your account includes credit card info. Something is rotten in Denmark as another writer once said. All I know is that my books were being used in a scam and all joking about “making it” aside, I don’t like it one bit. I’ll be sending a takedown notification, probably tomorrow. But it’s sick that we have to go through all those formal procedures instead of just being able to notify someone with the power to enforce that law.
If you’ve used those sites in the past because you didn’t realize that they were stealing from the authors, then please stop using them. If you continue using them now that you know, shame on you. Most authors tend to run sales or even giveaways on their books at different times of the year. I’m doing one right now until the end of June where you can go to my Bookfunnel link and get a free copy of my July – August devotional eBook. I’ll be upfront with you about it: my goal is that you will find it so helpful to you that you’ll buy the other books in the series. (Every two months.) I think they run $2.99 in eBook format. Is that two expensive? I don’t think so, otherwise I’d price it lower. Seriously, though, if you’re drinking a cup of coffee for a dollar from a chain or buying five buck specialty coffee while you’re reading each day’s devotional, the book part doesn’t seem like the expensive part of the day. Support the authors who give you hours of enjoyment by buying their books. Those authors are trying to earn a living.