How I Stopped Worrying And Learned to Love Ebook Piracy

career indie author

career indie author introduction

It’s bound to happen: You get a Google Alert email for your name or your book title, click on it, and see the Jolly Roger appearing over the horizon. Your ebook is being offered as a free download. Ebook piracy!

First bit of advice: Don’t. Panic. Chances are it may not be as bad as you think.

Here are a few reasons why:

Rather than show a book with a pirate patch on it, here’s Johnny Depp instead.

1. Ebook piracy is not popular: Not compared to movies, TV shows and books. Nearly a third of adult Americans did not read a book at all in the past year. Another quarter read between one and five books. Only eight percent read more than 50 books.

Think of how many people have seen a movie, either in the theatres, online, or on TV, or hear music.

2. Ebooks are cheap: The more expensive an object, the greater the piracy That’s why the guy at the bazaar is selling “Gucci” or “Coach” handbags and not J.C. Penney’s. When “Star Wars” appeared on videotape, its price was north of $100. This made it more economical for someone to buy one and make copies.

Ebooks, particularly the indie versions, can cost a reader a cup of Starbucks coffee. The economic incentive is not as strong.

3. You are not that popular: When Stephen King released “Joyland,” he specified that no ebook version be provided. This caused a twofold effect. The author of another book titled “Joyland” saw a sudden spike in her sales from people who bought her book too quickly. And pirate sites suddenly sprouted offers of a pirated version of King’s book.

4. It may not even be your book: Sites that offer pirated material are frequently very sketchy. One scheme is to offer a popular book but send a file containing a virus or malware. Sites like these may be scraping book titles and authors from sites like Amazon and use the information to create their sites. That’s how your name and books could appear on their sites.

5. Pirating ebooks is difficult. It takes knowledge and GoogleFu to identify a website that offers free ebooks, not to mention knowing how to sideload the file into one’s reading device. Given the amount of trouble it takes, wouldn’t it be easier for most of your potential audience to simply visit an online bookstore and buy it that way, just like they’ve bought all their other books.

6. They may not be your audience. Unless you write science-fiction or thrillers involving hackers, your audience will be unlikely to pirate books.

7. Your book may be lost in the chaff. Think of all the entertainment options out there. The movies in the public domain, episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000, alternative tracks from The Beatles, movies on DVDs that can be ripped with software such as DVDFab and music on CDs that iTunes will copy without a frown. In order for someone to want a copy of your ebook, they have to know about you first, and know that your book is worth copying!

So until you become as popular as Stephen King, concentrate on the problems in front of you that you can solve. And keep writing.