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My one blog about ebook piracy (I promise)

February 16, 2012

The fact that copyrighted ebooks are available for illegal free download out there on the Internet probably isn’t news to anyone reading this. And it isn’t news to me either. These sites are places where an individual, who has bought one copy of a book, offers unlimited downloadable copies to anyone who wants them. They euphamistically call it “file-sharing.”

I’ve come across almost all of my books out there by now on different sites. I’ve seen on one site “102 downloads” of Life Lessons for which I earned not one cent in royalties. And now I recently came upon a new site full of illegal downloads of M/M books. As I cruised it to see which of mine were up there (none this time…yet) I realized just how disheartening this is.

Then I hit a thread on the site where an author complained, mildly and politely, about people illegally stealing her work. And I started to read the rebuttals she got. And my mind kind of boggled. I think a little steam came out of my ears. And I decided to blog about it here, just this once.

I really, really wanted to come to this author’s defense on the site. But there was clearly no point. It was old news, written months ago. The thread was into its fourth page of comments and no-one was doing anything but justifying themselves and calling her names. Calling her greedy and hostile for asking them to please pay her for her own copyrighted work.

So I’m going to pull out some of the comments ( “in italics”) from there, and write rebuttals. Just to get it off my chest. You don’t have to read on.

“Hypothetically, I could say: if an author doesn’t like the deal – don’t make it, and/or don’t do that for a living. That’s a simple choice too. Again, you and (the author) and others have one perspective, some of us have others. If you don’t like it or this site – feel free to not participate.”

Um… so the solution to not wanting your books stolen is to either ignore it or stop being an author altogether?

“there are some of us who use this site like a library. “

A lot of people compared it to a library. A library does not let you keep a copy of each book you read. A hundred people cannot be reading a library’s one copy of a book at one time. If there is a big demand they buy more copies.

“Here’s how I see it. If 400 people come here and download your book, it’s simple maths to see it as 400 x $5 = $2000 in lost sales. When put like that, it’s pretty painful. But, and it’s a big but, that’s assuming that all of those 400 people would have bought that book. The reality is that perhaps 30 people would have bought your book if given the chance to do so here. Where I’m going with this is perhaps you could talk to the admin of this site and see if there is a unique partnership that you can strike here. Perhaps the admins here could put an affiliate link on here where your book appears that sends sales to your site or to Amazon? That’s just one idea, I’m sure you could think of other ways to make this pay off for you.”

“Once I’ve read something I like, I end up going back and buying other things by that author. This is especially true of series type books, which happen to be my favorite”

This is a popular argument – that it is free advertising. Well, in the first place it’s not free – it costs us the lost royalties. In the second place I would be more optimistic if I didn’t see comments like this: “I loved Lynn Hagen’s Brac Pack #1 – do you have the rest?” “Sure! They’re great, aren’t they? I have numbers 2-7. Here’s the link…” That doesn’t sound like someone getting one taste and then buying from that author. Books 2-7 had almost as many downloads as book 1.

Aleks Voinov posted about a book of his that had less than 1000 copies worth of legal sales, but he has seen over 10,000 illegal downloads. Even if only a tenth of those people might have bought it, he has still lost more royalties on that book than he made. And he’s someone who has a lot of wonderful full-length free books out for readers to sample. Clearly that hasn’t been enough to get them to pay for his other published work.

“Back to the original issue, I’m sure people know uploading/downloading is illegal, but the majority don’t care. I get where you (authors) are coming from, but this is the generation that was raised on computers and downloading everything from music to film (I’m guessing this based on the numerous YA requests), so trying to convince them not to pirate is going to be very difficult. If lawsuit threats from the RIAA and anti-piracy ads from the MPAA before every film won’t stop them, I don’t think guilt trips, pleas, or well-reasoned logic will work. The only ‘solution’ is to work with the public and give them what they want.”

ie. You can’t fight it so give up and let us have it for free.

“I understand the point of veiw (sic)of the author that it is stealing but as a reader I have finite resourses (sic) and heavily use my local library, loaning and borrowing from friends and family, secondhand book store and ebay but I find it difficult to swallow the implication that by using these methods you regard me as a thief”

“I always believed/understood that once I purchased an item it then became my sole property. to put an item up for sale and then tell the buyer that they can not have it or use it is redunant (sic) and hypacritcal (sic). I do not share my library out of malisciousness (sic) or with the intent in offending or harming any one. I share the library that I have purchased with MY hard earned money out the spirit of my love of reading.”

You spent the money for one copy. You then gave copies of it to 143 people and didn’t have to lose your own original. Now 144 people own the book and the author received $3 for that.

“Most young adult books are read by exactly that, young adults. They consist of teenagers and college students, yes I am a grown adult but most of my friends don’t enjoy young adult books unless they are teachers. With that said, this catagory (sic) of people can’t afford to pay $10+ for books. I have no problem going to Amazon and buying a book that cost $5 but $10? That is a little steep when you don’t have a job …So when publishers, not authors, stop being so money hungry maybe people will stop “sharing” books. Are you telling me it is illegal to give my friend a copy of a book that I bought? I didn’t think so.”

There seems to be this misconception that authors are making big bucks and readers are poor. I have yet to earn anything close to poverty level or minimum wage for my writing. For many authors, especially in m/m romance which is a small field, trying to write full time is very difficult. Even Josh Lanyon offered a manuscript evaluation service to make ends meet, and that’s Josh Lanyon! We get no advances. The only payment we receive is from our royalties.

Books are wonderful, and it’s nice to buy the ones we really want, but no one can buy everything they would like to own. There are lots of free books out there already. More than anyone can read. Purchased books are a luxury item. I love Godiva chocolate and it’s very pricey. I would love to have it more often. But just because my funds are limited and it’s expensive, I don’t feel entitled to go out and just steal some. I have to settle for Hershey’s sometimes, or make the effort to find something that is good and not as expensive (and chocolate doesn’t come free anywhere, unfortunately. Special Forces does.)

As for being expensive, compare an ebook to the extra-large cup of fancy coffee you buy and consume in ten minutes. Which is the better value?

“You want to be entitled to your anger and your opinion, but you don’t want to afford the same courtesy to people who simply disagree with you. You get to “have a completely valid right to be angry” because you believe that your books are being stolen from you and that makes you angry. Well, whether you agree or not with their reasons, many of the posters have what are in their opinions valid reasons for feeling the way they do too. Yet, you because you believe (i) there is a violation and (ii) that violation is happening to you – that you are in the right…Have you ever driven a car and done ore then the speed limit? Have you ever worked at a job and taken a pen home from the office by mistake? Have you ever eaten a single grape in the grocery store before you paid for it – or fed your kid a single grape to keep him quiet before you checked out? Have you ever found something that doesn’t belong to you and not turned it in to the police station? The list of small, seemingly inconsequential crimes, could go on for a very long time – the point is, if you haven’t ever done anything like them, then report yourself to the Vatican for sainthood. Otherwise, remember that – and the phrase about people in glass houses throwing stones…”

Um… so if the author has ever had a speeding ticket, they have no right to complain about their work being stolen? I’d love to turn that argument on the writer if her wallet was stolen.

“I am not surprised to see a user say they wouldn’t give this thread another look. Good thing you both are authors and not attorneys because the author posts here are what I would call “non-responsive” in most instances and really only seem to be trying to incite and anger the users further…I would welcome you being at the end of your rope and having you not reply or participate again.”

Go away authors and stop complaining.

“People are starting to care too much about money. rudalve is right. what about the people that cant afford to buy the books but would love to read them. Because they love your words. And shouldn’t that make you just the tiniest bit happy. Because isn’t that why you write, not for the money, but for all those people that want to read what you wrote.”

I put out a lot of free stuff for people to read. I am delighted when people read it and enjoy it. I will undoubtedly publish more. If you are unwilling to pay for my professional work, go find those stories please.

“I am an unrepentant file sharer. I don’t think there is any argument that is going to change my viewpoint on that.
I have over a thousand files on this computer alone and it’s not my only computer…Whiny authors who want to pick at my morals do not entice me to spend five bucks on their product. There are so many other great books out there, I’m sure I can lead a long, happy and productive life without (your book).

Lesson to potential business people out there- do NOT insult your customer base. It is VERY bad customer service.”

How this person considers her/himself a valuable customer is beyond me.

OK, enough. I had to get that off my chest. There was a lot more like that. The sense of entitlement is scary.

There is one group I sympathize with: those who live in countries where some books may not be available legally at all. But if this applies to you, please email publishers, email Amazon, agitate for the work to be available legally. Email authors – they may prefer to send you one copy, rather than have you patronize sites that are downloading their books by the hundreds.

I’m not going to change the opinions of those who download. But I’d ask them to consider this:

For an author to be told not to complain when the number of illegal downloads exceeds the actual sales, to suggest that we should be flattered, is disheartening. If a writer you love brings out one book a year instead of four, remember that the demands of that second job, which he needs because the books don’t pay well enough, may be the reason. And if he throws in the towel, and starts writing just for family and friends, it may be because he’s sick of seeing his books stolen. Yes, as you so complacently say, writers will always write because they love it. But they may not have the time and they may not always publish. So if a favorite writer disappears from view, ask whether you may have played a role in that. And whether $5 really would have been too high a price to pay, to have seen the next book in that beloved series actually appear. And above all don’t kid yourself – it’s not borrowing and it’s not sharing, it’s stealing copies, it is illegal, and it is just plain wrong.

33 Comments leave one →
  1. Riley permalink
    February 16, 2012 11:11 pm

    I must admit my own ignorance of these sites as I only frequent registered ebook outlets – if me haunting these sites and writing about my disapproval of their use of them would serve any purpose then please let me know what their addresses are because I would willingly do it. Personally I am grateful every time I buy a book knowing I will get a great read for a fraction of the paper variety and I don’t want anyone to jeopardize that.

    I totally sympathize with you and understand your need to rage and vent, and can only promise that I will continue to only read what I have paid for, and to continue to support the many truly talented writers out there.

    • February 17, 2012 9:34 am

      Thanks for the offer -you are so kind. But I don’t think (especially judging from the comments I saw) that any kind of rational conversation will change people’s opinions on these sites themselves. It does help if you remind friends (if the topic comes up casually) that because something is out there free doesn’t mean that the author has given permission; encourage them to buy the books if they can. Some people just don’t realize that the downloads are illegal, or that they happen in numbers that actually impact the income of the creative people who wrote them, be it books, music or other copyrighted content. There is so much that is for free I think some well-meaning folks get confused.

  2. rdafan7 permalink
    February 17, 2012 6:44 am

    I agree with you Riley; Stealing is Stealing, no matter how people try to justify it.

    If these same people who steal these books were told that every paycheck of theirs would be $5.00, $7.00, $10.00 etc dollars less they would squeal like stuck pigs. I am not a writer but it makes me angry that these websites are not shut down.

    • February 17, 2012 9:36 am

      It would be nice to see someone go after the websites. Especially the ones making money. (I found one offering a paid subscription and then the members could download for free. Not only am I not getting royalties, but they are making money off all the authors’ books.) There have been a few successes. One big site was shut down about a month ago. But more spring up.

  3. Christie permalink
    February 17, 2012 7:32 am

    Honestly, people can fool themselves into justifying the stupidest behavior and then, of course, putting the blame on someone else. They’re just a bunch of cyber-pick pockets!

    It’s like that group of smug hackers that call themselves ‘anonymous;’ they always have a justification for the things they do no matter how destructive to others.

    These ‘readers’ are thieves and, as you pointed out, if someone stepped up to them on the street and demanded their money they would be outraged at being ‘robbed.’ Their arguments for what they do are so pathetic. And I don’t ever want to hear that they ‘can’t afford’ to buy the e-book. They apparently don’t understand having to wait until they can actually afford what they want to buy–and yes, it should work the same way on the internet as going into a store–instead of all this instant gratification indulgence. What a group of self-absorbed idiots unable to process anyone else’s opinion if it opposes their own.

    I don’t know if ranting helps or just raises the blood pressure. I think I need a treat–which I can pay for.

    • February 17, 2012 9:44 am

      I sympathize with someone wanting a book and not having the money for it (and books do come after breathing and before food for me.) Some of these people are genuinely going to come back when they can, and buy the books. But even they will only buy the authors they sampled and liked, and often not the actual books they downloaded. Definitely not the books they downloaded and disliked. So the rationalization that the author will make the money back in the end is questionable, even for the most well-meaning users of the site. With free excerpts of almost all ebooks available, there is no justification for downloading the whole book illegally “to see if I’ll like it.”

      I do wish there was a way for readers in other countries to have full access to ebooks legally. That would be very frustrating – to be able and willing to pay for a book and to have no legal access. To my readers – If you download illegally for this reason, please make a comparable donation to a local charity, preferably something with a GLBT service or HIV support. That way you don’t feel like a cheat and my royalties are doing some good out there in the world.

  4. February 17, 2012 9:56 am

    This comment was posted earlier and then it was lost – perhaps the writer thought better of it (and if so I apologize for resurrecting it.):

    This may come across as just another rationalization but fwiw I see sites like that as fulfilling a library-like purpose. I’m currently unemployed but even when I was working I got the majority of my books from the library. Then I’d buy copies of the books I loved, usually at secondhand shops. When I first started reading M/M I hadn’t yet discovered file-sharing but my library didn’t carry them so I spent a lot of money on a lot of really bad, barely edited books and resented the hell out of it. So much so I almost stopped buying M/M altogether unless it was written by one of the few authors I’d already discovered I could trust to put out a quality book.

    Then I discovered file-sharing and it gave me a chance to try new authors risk-free on my non-existent income and then pay for the books I like. “When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes” but I want to at least be buying good books with that little money. I knew you had Lies and Consequences available free, but the Life Lessons books were the ones I saw people raving about so those were the ones I wanted to read first. I downloaded Life Lessons and Breaking Cover from one such site and then went on to buy them and every other book you’ve ever published. So those first two downloads turned out not to be lost royalties for you and even led to more sales because they were quality books I was eager to pay for and eager to rave to others about and encourage them to pay for.

    I’m sure that’s not true of everyone but I think I’m representative of a lot of people, so the realities of lost royalties vs. downloads is even more muddied and hard to quantify because how could you even begin to measure which downloads turn into sales. Oh, and I don’t buy extra-large fancy coffees and agree that books – even bad ones – are almost always the better value.

    This is someone who did come back and buy books they had downloaded. And I do appreciate it. And yet, I wonder about how many books from other authors were downloaded, not enjoyed and not purchased. It is a problem, weeding out the stuff you will like from the vast array of books out there. And there is no doubt that a paperback in a bookstore will let you leaf through past the first excerpt chapter before you buy. But I still believe that the majority of illegal downloads do not become sales, even if people like the book. (Look at all those downloads of books 2, 3, 4, etc in series. – by the second book the readers should know if they like them. If they had this writer’s sense of honor they would have bought the rest, not continued to download.)

    I hope others who use the sites are doing this, because I don’t think the sites are going away. But I still wish people would use Goodreads or some other online book site to discuss and read reviews rather than stealing copies to decide whether they like a book enough to buy it.

    • Christie permalink
      February 17, 2012 10:18 am

      I’m sorry but it’s quickly apparent that these sites aren’t fulfilling any ‘library-like purpose.’ I’m a librarian and, believe me, I know the difference. I know many legitimate sites where someone can read an excerpt of the book in question and get a VERY good idea if they’ll like the book and the author’s writing style without reading the whole thing. It’s also not difficult to go to an online site such as “Goodreads” and get other opinions before making an actual purchase. Not being able to afford a book, and I’ve been there too, is also not a justification. The books don’t tend to go ‘out-of-print’ to use a publishing term. If you can’t buy it legally now, make a note of the title and wait until you can, just the way you have to wait to buy a new pair of shoes or something else you can’t afford at the moment. [And please continue to use your library since your tax dollars are paying for it and we need those millage votes.]

      I know some people don’t realize that what they’re doing with file-sharing is actually illegal but, ultimately, ignorance is not a defense.

  5. Riley permalink
    February 17, 2012 8:34 pm

    I didn’t mean to re-post, but seriously, I agree with Christie in regards to the resurrected post – you can ‘soften’ the wording however you like, but you are still taking advantage of a system that is illegal. Also, if you are on the net then you can afford connection. If you are on the internet and reading ebooks then you can afford a computer of some kind. There are so many free reads out there from legitimate providers, plus books starting from .99 cents. Authors have good and not so good books, when you read a lot of material it is inevitable to come across this, but the percentage of poor work is so small it is not even worth using as evidence to justify doing the wrong thing. Of course this reasoning is used by many apparently, but it doesn’t hold water. People need to grow a conscience.

  6. ADM permalink
    February 19, 2012 1:01 am

    It surprises me how many people think this is ok, whether it be books, movies or music. I don’t really think it is so much a matter of money to most people. I know people who have the money to spend and still do this. It drives me nuts. I spend a hefty amount on ebooks and audiobooks. I have a great respect for people with the creativity and talent to write. I discovered your books a few days ago when someone on goodreads posted a link to your free read. I then went and purchased Life Lessons and the sequel.

    I feel for you. Hopefully there will be a solution to this problem someday soon.

    • February 19, 2012 2:35 pm

      Thank you and I’m glad you did that – read the free book and then bought the pro ones. The situation is unfair to those who do buy books and music legitimately.

  7. April 18, 2012 8:27 pm

    I have a question that is sort of related to this topic. I love e-books, and I currently prefer to read them on my Kindle app or my phone and tablet for a variety of reasons. I feel like e-books and the publishers that specialize in them, especially the ones that specialize in m/m books, are doing a great thing for getting authors works out to readers when this might not have been possible in the past with ‘main stream’ publishers and book sellers. My question is about buying books directly from these publishers such as mlrpress versus buying them from Amazon’s Kindle market or another e-book app. I know I want the book, and I am willing to pay for it, but I want my money to have an influence on the market and to benefit those that will do the most to further the causes they write about, or even just to make the books I love more readily available. Is it hurting the authors and publishers when I purchase from Amazon, and if so is it significant enough that I should be conscious to make my purchases from the specific publishers, or is it not a big deal. Since the books are usually the same price I would rather purchase directly from the sites allowing these books to keep happening, but as I stated I love my Kindle apps and prefer using those to read, and pdf is not the best format for these, or for reading on a phone in general. If purchasing from the publisher really counts I would be willing to figure out how to do so and still enjoy my books, but if it really doesn’t matter where I buy the book I would rather stick to convince. I did think that buying these books from Amazon might help in another way, as it might ‘prove’ that good m/m books are something consumers want, but I’m not sure. I might be totally over thinking this, but I would appreciate any input.

    • April 18, 2012 10:00 pm

      As far as royalties go, buying from Amazon or ARe or similar retailers cuts about 25-40% off the author’s share. That’s not a huge factor in my eyes, if it means more sales, although for those who make a living from writing alone it may be more significant. Buying from Fictionwise at high discounts (40-60%) does take a bigger bite out of author royalties (up to 80% with their cut. )

      Most publishers offer either .mobi or .prc files as an option, that are designed to work on the kindle, if .pdf is limiting you. So if you personally want to put as much money in your favorite authors’ and publishers’ pockets as possible, buying direct does that.

      If you like to buy from Amazon, writing and posting reviews for the books you like can offset some of that. Both position on the bestseller lists and reviews on Amazon are drivers of book sales, so you may encourage other people to read your favorite authors that way. Many great M/M books have few or no reviews on Amazon. It is possible that higher volume of sales on Amazon may give a M/M publisher more leverage, but given the size of our genre relative to others and the sheer size of Amazon, I’m not sure how much effect there is. But the fact that they maintain Gay&Lesbian lists does show that the topic is big enough to at least be on their radar.

      And I just want to say thanks for asking and for caring about the issue.

  8. SLAYER permalink
    June 23, 2012 5:44 pm

    One commenter above said: “stealing is stealing”. I mean, really? Remember a time when owning slaves was LEGAL and homosexuality a CRIME? Nowadays, it is the very opposite that is true. What I’m getting at, is simple – there is no such thing as absolute morality. Deal with it. With the Internet revolution, “theft” of digital data might be one such crime that is undergoing the moral zeitgeist.

    • June 23, 2012 5:52 pm

      I hope it’s not a moral zeigeist – I hope it’s just the ease of getting away with it and a sense of entitlement that appeals to a minority, some of whom may not even be giving thought to the morality. It’s my hope that people are so used to free content, they may not be aware they are stealing, but would stop doing so if they were aware.

      A lot of people are downloading term papers and passing them off as their own work, to the point where it is becoming commonplace and professors routinely have to do searches to catch perpetrators. But the fact that college students are becoming inured to this form of dishonesty is not going to make it honest either. The net allows for easy crimes of many sorts (including vast amounts of monetary theft.) People who are not directly affected are often blase about it, until it impacts them. That’s not the same as a changing morality for the majority, I don’t think. If it is, I do feel very pessimistic for our future society, where entitlement becomes “you have a right to anything you can get your hands on.”

      • SLAYER permalink
        June 24, 2012 7:34 am

        Concerning term papers, I am well aware of the plagiarism that is going on. Wholesale copy/pasting and passing off someone else’s work as your own is just… repulsive. However, filesharing is not plagiarism – the downloaders have no intention of passing the work as their own – they just want to consume it.
        Concerning the moral zeitgest, consider this: a whole generation of kids is being raised with a computer on their lap and many become tech-savvy. They end up following the philosophy of open-source/free-software/copyleft movements. Copyright, intellectual property and royalties, to them, just seems to be a selfish endeavour.
        So how is one supposed to earn a living from one’s HARD work in this age? I don’t know. What I do know, is that only products that cannot be digitized (like food and music concerts) will be viable. Everything else – books, movies, music, software will be forced to become free and find different avenues for income (e.g. through adverts).
        Finally, I willl have to repeat myself – when the minority becomes the majority, what is wrong will no longer be so.

        • June 24, 2012 11:11 am

          I do see your point, but if I believe that, then I don’t see it stopping at just sharing. People download pictures and use them without credit, including editing and changing them, they make mixes of music and alter it, I’ve seen written stories offered for sale under other names, and used for college credit.

          In denying the creator rights to the creation you become open not just to sharing but to use of all kinds. That is a future in which respect for property dies, first for intellectual property, but I don’t see a boundary beyond which it will not pass. For that reason, fighting the changing zeitgeist rather than giving in to it makes sense to me. My kids buy their online music, because I’ll give them hell if they don’t. They know that my books being stolen loses me more money than I make from the writing. They want to support the groups they enjoy. Maybe it’s impossible to teach teens this kind of respect for intellectual property if they don’t see it first hand. But I can’t help trying.

  9. Christie permalink
    June 24, 2012 6:00 pm

    We’re all feeling our way through the ever-changing digital revolution and maybe copyrighted material will someday become an anachronism but, until then, if this generation can learn to be tech-savvy than they can also learn to respect other people’s intellectual property just the way we teach them to respect someone’s physical property.
    As for Slayer’s comment about there not being any such thing as ‘absolute morality,’ well, some things are AWAYS wrong if you have any moral boundaries–you don’t rape, you don’t physically or sexually abuse, you don’t commit murder–let alone genocide–on persons or people because they are a different tribe, religion, color, or because of their sexuality. No matter who’s in the minority or majority. Deal with it.

  10. Christie permalink
    June 24, 2012 7:47 pm

    As an aside, while I was perusing the site there is a June 23, 2012 article by Andrew Albanese entitled “Author Rebecca MacKinnon Kicks Off ALA With Talk On Digital Privacy.” (Talk about a change: thanks to online access, just what does ‘privacy’ mean in a digital age?) If you read the article you’ll note the highlighted info on SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act), which leads to the December 2, 2011 Cory Doctorow article on “Copyrights vs. Human Rights.” It makes for some interesting reading since any time politicians get involved in any sort of intellectual issue it seems to be in the most heavy-handed way possible. Sir Walter Scott was writing about deception, still “Oh what a tangled web we weave,” And the World Wide Web is certainly a tangle!

    • June 24, 2012 11:28 pm

      Politicians are definitely not the ones I look to for solutions to this problem. SOPA was a totally implausible approach. I’m hoping that there might be some tech solution, but DRM issues abound. No easy answers, surely, but shrugging and giving up on the idea of intellectual property and copyright seems wrong. Who knows how it will play out – maybe there will be some new paradigm evolve, be it digitally-tagged copies that trace back or not releasing a song until it has enough paid pre-orders to justify it or something else (please not advertising as the primary funder of creative work, though)…

  11. Angela permalink
    July 9, 2013 3:34 pm

    Iets look at the music industry to see how they are handling this. Napster happened awhile ago and the industry is adjusting. They are legally selling songs for $.99. Basically, it is easier to buy for $.99 than to download illegally. The book industry has to figure out where the point is that its easier to pay than download. For me, it’s $3 or maybe $4.

    Home work is $9 on amazon. Thats a lot for an ebook. I’m not going to download it illegally because of your request, but I won’t purchase it either. so I just won’t read it.

    I buy all kristen ashley books because they all come out around that price point. (and she drops them a few days early, which I also love) She also has a whole fan base of “rock chicks” that are potential sources of creative revenue besides book sales.

    unfortunately, the book industry is going to have to change, by adjusting price point and yes, selling advertising and public appearances, teaching. A few banners on your blog, or you tube, etc…its not the end of the world. it’s just the way it’s going to be.

  12. Angela permalink
    July 9, 2013 4:31 pm

    Copyright is enforced by the owner, so you can go to these websites (or ask your publisher to do so) and ask for your work to be removed. Movie and TV production companies are constantly monitoring you tube and flagging material.

    It wouldn’t take too long and would not be too difficult to google yourself and the word “torrent” or “pdf” once a week and send a threatening note to the site.

    Top sites are kickasstorrents, epubbud, tuebl, scribd.

    • July 9, 2013 5:53 pm

      Many torrent sites are based off-shore, in places that do not respect copyright law. They often do not respond to take-down requests, or the books go back up again a few days later. And there are lots of sites, not just a few. If they responded, then yes, it would be simple although time consuming. As it is, it’s depressing and frustrating. No M/M author has the funds to pursue legal action (and neither do most of the small M/M publishers), the way TV and Movie companies do. Median yearly income of authors from M/M books is significantly under $10,000, which would make a lawyer laugh. So when a site simply ignores your DCMA, there is really no recourse. You can try to find their host, or complain to Paypal, if they accept it, but the effort and results are not usually worth it.

      It’s a pity if your cost point for buying books is lower than the price of many of my (and others’) ebooks – but that’s your choice, like saying you’ll only eat chocolate bars that are under $1 and not the expensive imported ones. You decide your price point, you hopefully are happy with what you get for it. Other people may think the good Swiss chocolate is worth paying more, or maybe they agree with you that the difference isn’t noticeable and people are fools to pay $3 for chocolate. But you don’t just go out and steal the expensive stuff, because you don’t like the price. There’s lots of free and low cost work out there (including a fair bit of mine) – there is no excuse for anyone stealing.

      The model may have to change. But the attitude of entitlement that goes with stealing e-books isn’t making lowering the price appealing. These people don’t make it sound like they will happily pay if the book were just a bit cheaper – they want something for nothing (“We should be able to “share” these as much as we like, once we bought one copy”). My book, The Rebuilding Year, came out for $4.45, and was on at least three free download sites within 24 hours of release. Only if most people who now steal will buy, would it be worth drastically cutting e-book prices. Songs are .99, and the amount of illegal downloading is still vast, and music artists are going out of business because they can’t make money off their recorded sales. (Live performance is not a book option.) So if I cut book prices by 75%, and 25% more people become honest about where they get the book, I still lose. Plus the perception of the value of the work goes down, which may in fact encourage stealing. “Oh, it was only a little .99 thing, so the author doesn’t lose much by me just grabbing it off the free site.”

      It bothers me that people will pay $4 for fancy cup of coffee that will take five minutes to drink, but consider $8 too much for a book that will give them hours of reading entertainment. Perhaps one day we will have to stoop to advertising in books, the way movies have; or maybe some kind of individual watermarking will make piracy control possible again, as has been somewhat successful lately in movies. Or maybe we will go on depending on the honesty of a subset of the population to make writing a possible career. Or maybe we’ll all have to go back to the day job, and write occasionally in our spare time. It’s a sad commentary when the only way to expect people to be honest is if honesty is “easier” than dishonesty.

      • angela permalink
        July 9, 2013 6:34 pm

        Thanks for your response. I’m going to think about all youve said.
        Chocolate is serious business. I buy ghiradelhi and dont look at the price. I dont even eat hershey. I read about 10-15 books a month. Maybe one or two of those i consider ghiradelhi quality.
        Its interesting and we’ll see how it all develops.

  13. Johnny permalink
    May 24, 2015 6:24 pm

    Price is an issue for many people when buying books. I wish authors would think about that a little more, rather than trying to maximize profits. Books should be for everyone I believe, although you possibly disagree. Many books aren’t available in libraries, and if the price is too high for some to afford, it’s hardly surprising they will shop around on the internet as I just did. I didn’t discover another, cheaper supplier of the book as I hoped, but I did discover illegal copies, and I can understand how it would be tempting to download one. For many people, the choice will be either to read the illegal version of the book, or not read it at all. So not every illegal copy is a lost sale.

    I decided not to read the book in question, as I thought it was overpriced. I went for a cheaper book on this occasion. You don’t know if you’ll enjoy a book until after you’ve paid for it and read it. So unless I’m fairly certain I’ll enjoy a book, I won’t pay more than £2-3. I read a lot, I can’t afford to pay more.

    I can imagine how frustrating it must be for authors to have their work stolen, but in turn authors and publishers could do more to listen to their readers, to understand why readers go for the illegal copies. You won’t be able to stop all the book thieves, but I’ll bet there are some whose behavior you could influence, if you go about it the right way.

    • May 24, 2015 6:46 pm

      Perhaps there are a few people who would buy rather than steal, were a book cheaper. We all make decisions every day about how much we value a particular purchase. Are those shoes worth $40? Will I spend $8 to go to that movie or wait for Netflicks? Will I pay money to have seven custom ring tones on my phone for my friends rather than just the built-in boring ones? Will I spend $4 on McDonalds or $15 on the better restaurant. But only in electronic creative media do large numbers of people add into the equation “will I buy this or steal it?” For those who steal, I’m not sure price is a big factor.

      I would believe this argument better if price seemed to make a big difference in piracy. But I have seen large numbers of pirated copies of my books priced $7.99 and the ones at $5.00 and even the one that is a full novel for $2.99. How low would I have to go, for people not to steal them? If the thing I spent months and sweat and tears producing is the same price as a stick of gum, will people stop stealing and pay me for it? Apparently not, since even my 99 cent YA book has been pirated.

      At some point, it is soul-killing to bargain price your work in the hope that it will move more people to buy it. And as far as I can tell, it will never stop the theft. There is no doubt a sweet spot for book prices, somewhere between $4 and $7 for this genre, where returns are best. Dropping ever lower, hoping to encourage sales, at some point is a zero-sum game, and self-defeating.

      I am sorry for those whose budgets are tight. But I release many free stories, including whole novels. The M/M group I sometimes write for has released hundreds of free stories. Archive of Our Own has thousands of great free stories for download or reading online, more than anyone could manage to read. There is, in my opinion, no real excuse for stealing those commercial books for which an author has decided to charge, on the grounds of poverty.

  14. tina permalink
    March 22, 2016 2:37 am

    I feel for you and all the other writer who has there books uploaded on illegal site, I for one can’t lie I am among those that download them, I am sorry I no it’s wrong but were I am it’s. a country that don’t favor m/m books I can’t go to a bookstore and get a copy just cost it’s less expensive, I will be killed or hanged if the case maybe and to buy on line it’s like $3:99 =#1500naira in Nigeria currency, you might not no how much it pain but I love reading and not to get the books because am poor is depression in itself, I am a student and I no I can’t get it cheaper but I love ur work and the others, I can’t ask u Guy’s to go cheaper but I love to read, I no it might not help but when I graduate which is very soon I promise to sponsor and pay back or the money for the books I download, please don’t be angry. I am a female of 19years and a Nigerian, if you can search about my country u and all other writers will understand.

    • March 22, 2016 9:14 am

      Tina, the one group I said I wasn’t angry with are those who have no way to get the books legally and safely. I do hope that you will try to mostly read books that are already free – there are lots and lots of good freebies. But yes, in some places and times, I understand the temptation. Do be careful with your computer security too, okay?

      You know what I would like? – I don’t need to be paid back for the books later. Pay it forward. As much as you safely can, be a quiet gentle voice for acceptance in your country. If you get the chance to help someone else, do that. Whatever you got from downloading the books, pass that on to people who need it. The world is full of injustice and poverty, and there will be a thousand chances for you to make a difference. When you do, once or twice, say silently to yourself “this is for Life Lessons” or “this is in the name of my favorite authors.” Okay? Be safe, take care, and pay it forward.

  15. June 19, 2016 10:57 pm

    You know what, thank you for posting this. In the past I had been a big user of sites such as those. Mostly, I just got books that I had already bought in real life, and no longer had access too for one reason or another. I didn’t think it was bad, because I already bought it.

    But then, I’d get bored, and want to mass download a bunch of books. Just random books, like the lot of mm books you were speaking of. I have truly found authors I love through that. Such as G.A. Hauser. I then went on to buy tons of her books. But only because I couldn’t find them online anymore.

    When I illegally download a book. I don’t let myself consider it as mine. However, when I get a free book from amazon through legal means, I do consider it mine.

    When I bought my new computer, I said I wouldn’t torrent anymore. And for all intents and purposes, I haven’t. But then I found the first War of the Fae by Elle Casey. The first book was free on Amazon, and it intrigued me. It was well written, funny and exciting, and ended on a cliff hanger. I had to have more. Right then and there. But the next book wasn’t free. And it wasn’t on Kindle Unlimited. But I just had to have it. So I searched the internet. And I found the first four online illegally. I’ve downloaded two of the. I didn’t feel bad about it. Until just now.

    In 2011 I was arrested for shoplifting from Wal-Mart. It was a slap on the hand and a 600 dollar fine. I shoplifted about 25 dollars worth of make up that day. Not because I didn’t have the money, but just because I thought I could. I was young and stupid, and I learned the hard way that I’m not entitled to anything. But I did learn. Or so I thought. I never shoplifted again. I learned that my actions do hurt real people.

    But today you’ve taught me that all the excuses I’ve been making for why it’s okay to download books illegally are just that, excuses. If I’m not sure whether I’ll like a book or an author, I can download a sample for free on amazon. That isn’t illegal and I generally know within the first few sentences whether a book is worth my time or not. Between kindle unlimited and buying books for real, and rereading what I already own, I should never find myself bored enough to steal.

    I found your Life Lessons series on Goodreads. And it sounded very good I wanted to read it. But I saw it wasn’t on kindle unlimited. So I did the first thing I usually do when I’m faced with that situation, and looked to see if I could find them online. I’m glad that I found this instead.

    I would like you to know that your post reached at least one person. I don’t want to say I will never illegally download anything ever again, because that’s the first way to fail. But you’ve changed my heart. I love books, and I care about my authors. I respect that they work hard to make good entertainment. I would hate to be part of the reason that someone is no longer able to create.

    I can’t say that I will buy your Life Lessons books. There’s a good chance, but I don’t know yet. I know that I will download a sample, and add you to my Want To Read list.

    • Kaje permalink
      June 20, 2016 12:16 am

      ❤ Thanks for posting, and how lovely to hear that you read this, and saw what I meant to say. I have a bunch of free novels, including several on Amazon, that you can download. And really, for making my day, let me know if you want a free copy of the first of the Life Lessons books, and I'll email one to you legitimately, for a bonus. Just as a thank you for taking seriously the concerns I and other authors have about piracy.

      • June 20, 2016 12:39 am

        I’ve been reading the sample of the first Life Lessons book, and I must say that I’m already in love with it. Your writing is fantastic, which is more rare than you know. I’ve been looking for something to get excited about and I know this is just what I’ve been needing. I’ve made a pact with myself a while back to never turn down a gift (which for me is very difficult, because gifts make me uncomfortable.) So I will say yes. I would love to have the first book, and after sampling your writing, I know I won’t be able to stop at just one. You just made yourself a new fan for life. my email is nickey.g2011 at gmail

        I also vow to try to remember to rate and review everything I read from now on. That’s another valuable lesson you taught me today.

  16. Lino permalink
    December 26, 2016 9:35 am

    Now that i’ve read this i’m a little embarrassed… I do it too (a lot) downloading booka i mean. I do it because I live in the Netherlands and not al the books are available here (or I have to wait a week and than I don’t have the time anymore). Also i read a lot of mm romances (because it is totally hot!) But i am seventeen and still live with my parents soo its a little embarrassing if they find out… They don’t even like gay people very much, but i love books about them. I will think twice before i download again (if i even do it..)
    Ps: it’s the covers btw… i dont want to read a physical book with to half naked man on it… its jyst like reading fifty shades of grey. Everybody knows!
    Pps: how do you feel about reading things online? Because most of the time i just do that… it is easier than downloading and after i’ve read it i dont niet it anymore…
    Ppps: i’m sorry if my spelling is not very good…

    • December 26, 2016 10:19 am

      The lack of covers is definitely a plus for ebooks about controversial topics, including M/M. I totally understand that appeal. And the instant availability is great.

      There are a lot of M/M books that are intended to be free. If you are reading online on AO3 (Archive of Our Own) or Wattpad, or another site that usually uploads legitimately free work, that’s great. There are many excellent stories there, particularly M/M fanfic, but also original work.

      There are also hundreds of real freebies for download on book sales sites (including 6 full novels of mine) – check out All Romance Ebooks, Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes&Noble for their $0 books. Books that are free there are legitimate.

      If a book is sold for a price in your country, and you read the whole thing without buying it, whether online or with a pirate download, you just stole it from the author. That simple. There are pirate read-online sites as well as downloads.

      If it is not available at all in your country, I do sympathize. As an author, I would far rather have someone email me and ask for a copy of a book they cannot legitimately buy, than support a pirate site. (With the one exception that anyone I know is under 18 years old cannot be sent erotic material – that’s a federal offense here.) Most countries do have access to Smashwords or All Romance Ebooks though, and between them they carry all of my books and much other M/M (unless it is Amazon exclusive). So only a few countries are genuinely impossible to access much M/M.

      Writing M/M and publishing it is a precarious business. We have seen several publishers go under and close in the last few years, because they were not making enough money to stay in business. I know authors who have gone back to their day job this year, and given up on writing, because they cannot make enough to live on. People who pirate books think their one $4 book doesn’t matter, but author and publisher income is made up of those $4 sales. They matter.

      Thanks so much for reading my article, and commenting. Thanks for caring about authors who write the books you enjoy. Only you can decide how honest you are going to be, how careful to support us, but do know that it is important. That people are living and paying food and rent and heat, out of those $4 book sales. And that every honest reader who buys the stories they enjoy helps more stories be written. They keep the world of M/M a place where we come together to celebrate love of all kinds, and integrity and honesty and a fair return for creative work.

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