The Author Delusion: Your Book is FREE!

Piracy-150x150I am pounding away at my WIP. I would like to put another book out there at some point.

As an independent author, I am reminded of garage bands in the sixties through the eighties, strumming and banging away…hoping to be that next great band.

That was all before internet.

That was before you could download any song out there on your computer.

Musicians went through an angry phase, where they seriously resented the pirating and file sharing of music. There were lawsuits all over the place. Napster, developed by John and Shawn Fanning, released initially in 1999, in particular, became the target of a serious lawsuit.  The downloading of MP3s was credited for ushering in the downfall of the album era. The bottom line is: NO royalties were ever paid the artists.

Along with the accusations that Napster was hurting the sales of the record industry, there were those who felt just the opposite that file trading on Napster actually stimulated, rather than hurt, sales.

I won’t get into the long and sordid legal complications of that suit or the finances of how Napster still made off with a small fortune despite bankruptcy, I only brought it up to speak about book pirating.

Though there are many law suits that have come and gone concerning copyright infringement since that time, most musicians will agree that they now make their money off of tours and venues where they perform live. Movies and games, as well, are pirated on the web daily by many.

And so are books.

Problem is: we can’t have book concerts or fill box office theaters with what we are producing.

Are we producing Art for Art’s Sake?

I am not trying to make a living writing, but I know many career authors who are.

When I first put my book out there, I had it on a free site for two weeks. It got thousands of downloads and I felt special…only to discover twenty, or more, sites selling my book. I asked them all to take it down and they all did, with the exception of one, a torrents site. It took threat of legal action to get it down. At that time, there was contact info on the site, but that has been removed.

Today, I revisited that site, and guess what? My book is right back up there. Also, it has been contributed on the site by several different sources that you can pick from. These torrents sites don’t have any contact info on them…you simply put the title that you want in the search bar, and download the book, voila! That simple. There is no membership required, no fees, and no money changing hands.

Through one site I found five more that offer my book for free.

There is NO way to contact them. They are elusive.

They are put up by a bunch of geeks and nerds who do it for the joy of being able to prove that they can. They are hackers and they are running rampant.

About.com actually has a page teaching people how to use the torrents sites. It posts the following disclaimer:

Disclaimer and legal warning for new torrent users: About.com does not condone illegal sharing of copyrighted material. While P2P file sharing technology is completely legal, many of the files traded through P2P are indeed copyrighted. Uploading these copyrighted files puts you at risk of a civil lawsuit in the USA, Canada, Australia, and the UK. While these lawsuits are often class-action suits, filed against groups of users who blatantly copy and distribute copyrighted materials, some lawsuits are harshly targeted at making examples of individual downloaders. These P2P civil lawsuits are very real, and whether or not they are successful, they are extreme financial and emotional burdens on the defendant.

ISP warning: your ISP may choose to release logs of your downloading/uploading activity to potential copyright plaintiffs. The more megabytes you download, the more you risk being sued by copyright protection groups.

•Piracy IS going on — and it’s much bigger than you.

Music. Movies. Television shows. Newspapers. Magazines. Games. And books. All are pirated, content being aggregated and sold or given away without the content creators and producers receiving a dime. One source says media piracy is costing the US economy $58 billion in losses every year.

Is it to much to expect the big retailers like Amazon, B&N, smashwords, Kobo and others, companies with a lot more money than me, to come crashing down on their heads? Not a lucid dream, huh?

Think you are immune? You are not.

I put in over thirty titles of author friend’s books, traditionally published, self-published. You are all there for me at the push of a key. All in .pdf format, but a slightly computer savvy person could convert to .mobi or .epub in minutes. Apparently, if you are published on Amazon in digital, you are published on this torrents site.

The only books I could not find were those of an author friend who only publishes in paperback or hard copy, no digital.

This is particularly disheartening since I have sold one (1) copy of my paperback to hundreds of my digital…but could it have been more? There must be a huge audience for these torrents sites to go through so much effort…if it is any effort. Seems they have it down to a master science.

Should I care?

I mean, what can we do?…Besides relax and hope we have established a reader audience willing to pay for our work. I have acquaintances and family (many who are wealthy) who boast that they don’t pay for  fiction books. Rather than pay what they would tip the valet or the pizza delivery guy, they choose to, “Beat the system.”

Do you think there will come a time when NOBODY pays for fiction?

72 thoughts on “The Author Delusion: Your Book is FREE!

  1. This is a disturbing trend and as you say, it is not just books that are affected. I think the trouble is that we are so technologically advanced that we are always going to struggle to completely protect anything once we put it on the internet. The way forward would appear to be to restrict ourselves to hardback/paperback copies only, however they are not selling in the same numbers nor do they have the reach of the e-books. It truly is a difficult thing to deal with and I don’t know if anyone will ever be able to outlaw it completely.

    • I get on my high horse about this, and then I think of the multitude of books that I have borrowed in my lifetime, paperbacks mostly…that someone else purchased. Is it really any different…besides the fact that these people did not have permission?

      • I suppose when you think about it, it is kind of the same thing. We get lent paperbacks from friends but that is only on the permission of the friend and not the author. It is the same as picking up books for free from car boot sales and the like I suppose. The author did not agree that they could be given away. Maybe we just need to adjust our thought process? Good debate though. 🙂

        • The answer eludes me…but won’t stop me from writing. I just seriously feel bad for the very young, at the beginning of a writing career and hoping to make a living out of it.

        • My problem with this argument is that it’s not like having one copy of a paperback that you can lend to one friend at a time, and you don’t have it when they do. Other friends have to wait in line or buy their own copy– and your copy is probably getting worn out and coffee-stained in the process, so there is some cost to you. Pirating and file-sharing are more like setting up a cost-free printing press in your garage and giving free, perfectly-produced copies to anyone who wants one. Likewise, buying second-hand requires that someone did pay for the book once, and there’s still just that one copy being sold on (and probably in poor condition). Not quite the same thing.

          That said, I’m done worrying about piracy. Most of the people who download free books wouldn’t have paid for them anyway (and probably won’t read them), and there is evidence that pirating doesn’t hurt sales (see Joe Konrath and Chuck Wendig’s blog posts on this– they explain it well enough to calm my own, personal rage-beast). I mean, I still hope that anyone who tries to download my book illegally will get a nasty virus out of it, and I still get pissed off at the facebook “e-pub sharing” group that accidentally invited me and I’m keeping an eye on. But all in all, I don’t think it’s worth getting bent out of shape over.

          I say this now… we’ll see how I feel by next year. 😉

          • Great point Kate and it is a really tricky area. I love that you got invited to a facebook epub sharing group – wow! Honestly. I agree with the posts that you mentioned above and in some ways it doesn’t harm your sales or your exposure, but it is a fine line because at the end of the day, it is illegal. Good luck with your book and I am sure we will all be talking about this for many days, weeks, months and years to come. 🙂

  2. There will always be unscrupulous people. I don’t know what the answer is. I like a free book as much as the next person. But legitimately free. And I have no problem paying for books. It isn’t right but I’m not sure what the answer is. Other than, take the responsibility on ourselves to rise above pirating and not participate even though it is tempting. Artists, musicians, and authors should not be devalued by our temptation to participate.

    • You are right about scruples…some have them, and obviously some don’t. My own cousin, a millionaire, told me he would get my book from his free site when I told him my $3.99 price. I would have given it to him free, but that took a lot of nerve.

      I got really angry when I discovered my youngest son pirating movies on my computer during a visit. He stopped and apologized, but probably went right back home to continue doing what he was doing. It is a shame.

  3. Well, that’s scary. I found my book on torrents (which I’d never heard of), but I didn’t dare download it because it was giving me a virus warning. Not sure if they actually have it or not, but I don’t want to corrupt my computer to find out.

    • I am terrified of them for viruses and malware. They are notorious for those, but apparently the geek squads aren’t bothered. I would never run a file from them on my machine.

    • There are hundreds of these torrents sites and sometimes I wonder if they get more downloads than the legitimate sites, or are they just trying to strengthen their own personal torrents libraries.

  4. Thought provoking article. I suppose I should be flattered at my point to have anyone read my stuff at all. This is a legitimate concern though, thanks for pointing it out.

    And aren’t you supposed to be taking a break, young lady? (Shakes finger)

    • I was flattered with all the downloads until I found sites reselling. That appalled me. It’s disgusting.

      I would like to think it is flattery…like the musicians in the eighties and nineties that had to bite the bullet and bear it. But I can’t have a book reading concert.

  5. I have found my books on bit torrent sites, but it doesn’t particularly bother me. I don’t think I’m losing any sales, people who download stuff because it’s free generally aren’t looking for anything in particular, they just like the thrill of getting something for nothing. If all of my work was removed from those sites the pirates wouldn’t go and pay for my book, they’d just download something else.

    • That’s one way to look at it. They would. I doubt if those sites have even passed my book along. I can’t see anyone in my reader audience looking on a torrents site for my title. I think they just bulk up their sites to make their libraries appear more impressive. Nerd warfare.

      I also would not trust those sites for anything.

  6. This is a great post. I checked out my books after reading Carrie Rubin’s post this morning (she told me about your post and I’ve come over to weigh in on the conversation). My books are all there, but I also found audio books of mine on another ‘share’ site. The interesting this is I have never produced an audio for any of my books so I’m sure this is a scam. I checked out the share site to find it’s only been there for 37 days and has a warning on Scamadviser.com (that’s a good site to check out these things).

    It’s amazing that very wealthy people pirate copies of books and movies, but I guess that why they’re wealthy – they don’t like paying for things. One of my parents’ friends was a multi-millionaire and used to hang his dental floss in the bathroom to be re-used and would also put ‘return to sender’ on mail he replied to through the post because he didn’t want to pay the price for a postage stamp.

    In the end I guess we are just ‘producing art for art’s sake’ because there’s no way we can stop the piracy. It makes me fume at times because I know how much blood and guts goes into writing a novel. I just remind myself that I write because I love writing and to get my message across and if people get it for free than so-be-it.

    • That’s crazy! So they have NO audio book but profess to. You have to wonder what their potential gain is on the sites that don’t charge membership fees for scamming like this. I mean, are they so bored that they have nothing to do but pass around files to increase their libraries?

      I am like you. I write for the pleasure of writing to be read. To share a message. But I feel for people who ARE trying to make a living at it. I’m also concerned about the future. Twenty or thirty years from now, I’ll be dead and it won’t matter to me. But for the newcomer…what are the expectations/ramifications?

  7. Pingback: Free books, piracy and scams | Dianne Gray author

  8. Hmmm … how did you find these sites. I google my name the names of my books regularly — it’s how I’ve found reviews I never knew I had — but have never seen these sites.

    • When I googled my author name. I saw the usual stuff on pages 1-3 of a google search, but I kept going through to about page 7 or 8 and I saw my name listed at a site called torrentz pro. When I went there, there was another site that directed me to another that listed several sites that had my book. I can send you the links in an email if you want to check them out. The rocket scientist has installed a few monster firewalls on my computer, so they didn’t set off any alarms and even Norton said the first site was okay. I sent them to Charles and he says, “Wow. My pop-up blocker and other computer defenses went wild with those. Looks like they have a lot of spyware/shareware/adware or whatever it’s called.” So I say, “Enter at your own risk,” but i’ll send you the links in an email if you want to check for your books.

  9. Sorry to hear about the Sony/Amazon pricing fiasco. It’s an odd science how some sites do things sometimes, and a sad society with schemers thinking it’s all right to weaken a writer’s base just for fun/whatever warped reason goes through their mind.

    Wow! Decided to search my author name and found two sites that proffer a PDF version of my book, an Australian seller on ebay who has ten copies, and a site called BookRenter? And to think I’ve only a physical copy of this book in existence at this time.

    • That is something! Another blogger/author says her book was offered as an audio version and she doesn’t even have it out in audio version.

      A scam site checker says that the site is new and therefore NOT to be trusted.

      The confusing thing to me is this…if the sites are not scamming for money, which none that offered my book seem to be doing…what is the point? Just to prove they can do it?

  10. Wow! I never knew sites like that existed! I don’t want to go anywhere near those sites. Not after the mess I’ve had with my email for two weeks! I’ve decided some people have nothing more to do with their time than try to put a kink in the lives of hardworking honest people.

  11. I try not to think about this kind of thing, I haven’t self-published yet, but I know when I do it’s likely to end up somewhere for free. I do want to make a living out of self-publishing my book, and things like this make me really tense, but I have to push past it. As the other commenters said, most of the people who download it only do it for the thrill, they don’t really care about the books. I still have hope and faith in the honest people out there who buy books and support the writers 🙂

    Great post 😀

    • Thanks Haliqueen! I do have faith in the honest people and I will take a legitimate free book. I caution people against these torrents sites because I know they carry malware and viruses. I just hope, like Napster, they are not setting a precedent.

  12. Pingback: Two for Tuesday | Tommia's Tablet

  13. This is blatant stealing and it beats my mind. What you’ve described is actually frightening. Is there no thing as conscience and truth anymore? How can one just ry to beat the system through someone else toils? I’m so sorry, S K to know that your book has been pirated in this shameless manner.

    • It bugs me, but I am trying to look at it like another opportunity for exposure….which is hard to come by. I do worry, that at some point in the future it will become commonplace to file share books.

  14. That sucks! I don’t agree with torrent websites. Especially when so many eBooks are so cheap! A book or a chocolate bar? I think book. It lasts longer and is much better for me!

  15. S.K.,

    Thanks for stopping by my place and the “like.”

    While I am sympathetic to authors whose work as been pirated, and do not condone such action, I agree with the premise that pirates would never have bought the book had there been a way to prevent piracy in the first place. While wrong, there is no (or little) real loss of revenue, and there may be a counter benefit in that piracy may act as a form of below-the-radar-horizon marketing for a good / popular book.

    I am, perhaps, in a different position, in that I want to effect positive social change with my forth coming book, so piracy might actually help me in this regard. Still, it would be nice to make a dollar or two of off each of those potentially pirated e-books.

    Perhaps it would help to think of it in terms of high flattery. Thieves who would never pay for a book are so attracted to your writing that they would actually steal it.

    Cheers.

    • If I felt the people pirating my work just wanted to read it for themselves it would not be such a raw deal for me. When I find it FOR SALE on other sites all over this country and in other countries…often for a price much higher than I set it at. I get angry.

      There are free sites that authors can put their work on for promotions. Amazon also has their perma free. I think it should be an authors choice to do that.

      Perhaps someone passing noticing and downloading my book off a free site would not have opted to read the book, or even found it, had it not been there. There are promotions authors can do at Amazon, Bookbub, and Ereader news Today offering their book for free, There are tons of “free” sites that are legitimate.

      If I had never given any thought to owning a garden gnome but saw one in my neighbor’s yard. I could go to Wallmart and pick me one up for five bucks. It would be wrong for me to STEAL it from my neighbor’s yard.

      • True, and in honesty I failed to grasp that these sites were illegally selling your book v. offering a free but illegal download. Again, I do not condone such behaviour. Perhaps it is just fortunate that, in my case, there would be benefits that came with the disadvantage of stolen royalties / sales.

        Hope I didn’t offend, as this was not my intent.

        • Oh NEVER offended, I appreciate the debate. I am curious to know what you are writing.

          The other thing is that these torrents sites have an ulterior motive and are using your free book as bait. They are created by hackers who prey on the ignorant to put malware and phishing software onto computers in an effort to collect your personal data and I don’t like my book associated with those schemes.

          • I wasn’t aware of this nefarious aspect to torrent sites. In fact, I’ll have to go and look up “torrent sites” to address my ignorance. Part of the Dark Web, perhaps?

            This post will give you a quick run down on my book and how it is being received by its test readers: http://navigator1965.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/how-to-write-the-book-that-malcolm-gladwell-wished-he-had-written/

            I’ve just approved the corrected / revised galley proof. If the book and test reader feedback interest you, please email me at themirrorbooks@gmail.com, and I’ll be happy to send you the galley IN CONFIDENCE. No obligations, no expectations, no time frame, etc. Perfectly okay if it proves not to be your cup of tea.

            Having said this, the nonfiction book is reported to be a gripping and, at times, humorous read that competes with high quality intrigue fiction. This includes the feedback from a local university professor of English who has read the manuscript.

            • I actually cringe at divorce/custody stories because my own was so complicated, laughable and painful at the same time. My gay husband ended up with custody of my kids in GA (ultimately, particularly alienating me from my youngest) primarily d/t the fact that i had to move to FL to be near supportive family and did not want my daughter moved from her high school at that time. Since my gay husband got custody of the kids, I probably qualify as the husband in my case.

              I have about forty books on my reader that I owe book reviews for. I will most likely buy yours and offer a review at some future point. I am writing more now than reading. It sounds very interesting.

              • My sympathies, believe me. I had to deal with rabid, severe, and de facto court-ordered alienation. It took years and at least tens of thousands of dollars, but I managed to salvage relationships with two out of my three children, all of whom are now young adults.

                I, too, am writing more than reading these days. Looking forward to future discussions.

                Cheers.

                • One final note. I have a BIL who went through over a dozen years of hell and tens of thousands in a case that sounds like yours. His wife was given custody and then moved across the country with them. So sad.

                  • This is the sort of case that I am trying to expose and thus prevent from happening in the future. I’ve analyzed the feminism influence upon the system and am guardedly confidence that I have correctly identified WHY things like this consistently happen. It can be intuitively explained in Harry Potter-simple English, but is intellectually rigorous enough that I’ve hand some university professors express interest or even support for the underlying thesis.

                    My offer for the read is open to your BIL, too, if he’s ever interested. I have friends here dealing with this. It’s too often the case for kids and fathers, although mothers have suffered, too.

                    • Unfortunately, there is rarely divorce without some degree of suffering, especially when children are involved. The connection between narcissism and feminism not withstanding.

                    • True, but with a concerted effort on the part of both parents to put the genuine best interests of the kids first, it is possible that the kids come out of it without major emotional or psychological trauma. Canada has just introduced a proposed amendment to federal divorce legislation to make joint and shared custody the default norm for divorce, instead of our current “one winner” policy.

                      I have some thoughts on the narcissism – feminism topic of gender narcissism and your ex, but these would have to be in a private email. It’s part of the logical development of the unified construct of gender narcissism thesis that is going to be in my sequel. Highly controversial. Only if you’re ever interested.

                    • sknicholls1@gmail.com is my email that I use in correspondence with other authors.

                      In GA, anyone getting a divorce is required to go through six weeks of classes if children are involved. I learned a lot and tried to put into practice what I learned; for example, Not saying anything negative about the other parent in front of the child. (the child grows up thinking I am like my mom or like my dad so if the other parent is bad I am already half bad.) My ex did not apply what he should have learned. Two of my grown children tell me now that they have enormous respect for me over their dad because of such things.

                    • GA is far ahead of Ontario, Canada, in this regard. Good for you, and it’s nice to see that your two grown kids have seen through things. As I argue in my book, feminine narcissism centres around manipulating for attention in the form of sympathy. In other words, a self-made victim. My narcissistic ex twisted her egregious, marriage-destroying behaviour into my having “abandoned” the family, and my trying to protect the children form her alienation into “my trying to take them away from her.”

                      It was a far more insidious form of manipulation, in that she portrayed herself as the victim, and the kids rushed to defend her and the family.

                      Hard core feminists have a similar gender narcissistic victim dimension, except it requires all women to be victims of men and society. Thus, I (and possibly your BIL) faced a double-whammy: an ex who was expert at manipulating to be perceived as the victim, and a feminist system that can pathologically only ever accept that the woman is the victim.

                      The book explains this rather well, judging by the reader feedback. It actually all makes sense. A feminine form of gender narcissism, for example, provides a completely rational explanation for Munchausen by proxy, for example.

                    • I don’t doubt this for a moment, for a couple of reasons. I get into this in my current book, but there is staunch opposition amongst feminists to the very concept that alienation even exists. I argue that, as gender narcissists, the very concept of parental alienation constitutes a serious narcissistic injury to feminists. The research evidence to date, as I understand it, suggests that more mothers do this than fathers. To a feminist, this can’t be true if women always being victims of men and society, especially in divorce, must be “true.”

                      So, in much the same way as Holocaust deniers, feminists are generally alienation deniers. Yet we know with certainty that fathers can be alienators, too. Sadly, this powerful and covert feminist pathological influence on family justice systems is such that it tends to also ignore cases where the father is the alienator, thus harming the kids and the mother as the targeted parent. It’s almost as if mothers in your case constitute acceptable collateral damage to feminists, as they just ignore the truth that such situations exist in general.

                      Since feminists have the classic narcissist lack of genuine empathy, they could care less that children and women in your situation are also harmed by alienation. If they recognized cases like yours, then they’d have to recognize that alienation actually exists, and then women always being victims of men and society (i.e., patriarchy) wouldn’t be “true.”

                      In terms of your ex, suffice it to say that the unified construct of gender narcissism logically extends to offer a plausible theoretical explanation for homosexuality. Your ex may have powerful but unconscious shame associated with this masculinity or sexual biology, and anything to do with you threatens to expose him to this unconscious shame, to which narcissists are excruciatingly sensitive. Your child’s relationship would possibly be a connection to you and thus would threaten to expose this shame. He thus “projects” this shame onto you (a known narcissistic defence), but he also needs the reinforcing feedback of your child (narcissistic mirroring, another known phenomenon) also “believing” this, to make it “true.”

                      Your ex would also envy your potential relationship with your child, as he could never have a true loving relationship. He would need to be the better parent (narcissistic grandiosity), and especially needs the reinforcing feedback of your child’s stated beliefs and attitudes (narcissistic mirroring, again)–another narcissistic impetus to alienate your child from you.

                      I’m hardly an expert, but I’ve used my 19 years of living with the expert-confirmed narcissistic personality traits of my ex-wife to interpret existing elements of narcissism theory. Hope this isn’t uncomfortable or anything.

                      BTW, I’ve had a few women tell me they’ve had near epiphanies with my book, as it explained narcissistic people in their lives (and their behaviour) that they could otherwise not have understood. I get into every dirty trick that I witnessed, and how it can be explained as a narcissistic act.

                      Apology for the minor thesis. Hope you enjoy reading. };-)>

  16. That’s quite alright. I would be hard pressed to go backwards and try to analyse the situation after having put so very much anguish behind me. My best coping mechanism has been forgiveness.

  17. Don’t get your hopes up about the inviolability of paper books and their immunity from pirating. People scan them and upload them, too, as .pdf files. You can’t convert those pdfs to epub or mobi because they are not digital words but each page is actually a jpg, but you can still read them on a computer and on any android device using any number of gread pdf readers.

      • Depends on where you live. Not everything is available in every country, and you have to keep in mind that a $20 book is nothing by American standards, but a Mexican, for example, would have to work about 3/4 of a day to afford that. The disparity is even greater in Indonesian countries and India, etc. Also, for out of print books, and academic texts that can cost hundreds of dollars, it makes it worthwhile to do this.

        • I saw many sites after that first “free” run that had posted my book for the equivalent of five times or more in American dollars on the foreign sites. Or they charged someone $200. a year for membership where they could download all the books they wanted for a year. Either way…the author gets no royalties.

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