Thursday, June 14, 2012

More on eBook Piracy - What Can You Do?

Because my kids decided they both needed to sleep in my bed tonight, I've barely slept for more than two hours. That's given me a lot of time to think about last night's post about piracy. Instead of spending last night  writing Jazz's story, like I was going to, I started the night off by googling "Erica Pike" and "Absolutely Eric" to see if there'd been any new review-site reviews. I forgot to write "Review" in that search string and got up all these pirate sites that had my books. Some even had In His Pocket, which is a free read, but okay.

Some believe that online piracy helps boosts sales. They say that the author gets word of mouth and free promo. I say that it doesn't happen unless people actually leave positive reviews, and most of the people who download illegally don't leave reviews.

Look, I get it. Some people don't have the money to buy these books. I don't like it, but I get it. However, take a look at this:

I was scrolling through sites about eBook piracy and came upon a very good one written by The Intern. I had things I was going to quote from that post, but after reading the comments, I'm going to quote a couple of those instead.

Comment by Josh C:
I spoke with a young lady who suggested we (people in general) should not have to pay for food or water because we need it to live. She went as far as comparing it to charging for air. I asked who got the air for her. A blank stare was her reply. No, she doesn't need to pay for food or water if she can learn to get it for herself. Otherwise, she owes for what she consumes.

Very valid point. I was impressed. However...

Comment by Soubriquet:

Well, I'm all for kindle piracy.
Why? Because real books have a significant physical cost in manufacture, shipping, packaging, and inventory control. 
Within that, there's the cost to the publisher, of fees to the author and his/her literary agents.

When a publisher offers an ebook, the cost in reproduction for each customer is minimal. There's no printer, no paper, no ink, no warehouse, no truck fleet, no cardboard cartons, no parcel tape. And no unsold product costing money as it gathers dust on the warehouse shelves, awaiting its eventual sale to a remainders store, or a pulp recycling mill.

There's still an author's fee, but why, tell me, why is the ebook price as high or higher than the physical book's?

I like real books. I have thousands of them. I could probably build a house out of them. There are notes scribbled, telephone numbers and addresses of long lost acquaintances, chance strangers met at 30000 feet over greenland. My real books are old friends. They're worn, stained, torn, and read and re-read.
They're real. 
Ebooks? a few meg of code.
Can't hold it in your hand, drop it in the bath, prop up a table.
A largely imaginary product. Retail at maybe 20% real book price might be fair. No DRM.
But of course, a big undercut in price would outrage sellers of real books. 

So they're overpriced. Unfairly overpriced.

Pirate on, Mateys.

Woah! At first I just stared, re-read it, and stared some more. Then I realized that it's not the "I don't have money" that really pisses me off, it's attitude like this.

This guy has thousands of "real books" (of print and paper). He has money to buy them. But because ebooks aren't "real books", he's not going to pay for them.

I just had to leave him a reply, and here it is (slightly modified):

Oh my God. This just made me go O.o Srsly?

If you had any idea about the amount of time that goes into writing and editing a book, you would hopefully be thinking differently. It takes me two months to write a full-length book and another two months to edit the hell out of it. That's four months of my time that I'd like to be paid for. 

Then there's content editing, once your signed, proofreading, formatting and promotion/advertising (all these are preformed by different people) and agent if you have one. These people need to be paid and they won't be if everything gets pirated. Then the publisher needs to stay in business and get their share (which isn't large after everyone else has been paid, by the way). But that's not all. The books go to retailers who take the biggest cut. So why are the ebooks "expensive"? Because people need to get paid for their jobs! It's not greed, it's everyone getting a little bit of the cake so everyone gets paid. The problem is that people want those books NOW instead of having to wait for them to reach discount sites, like Fictionwise who regularly has 45-65% discounts of all titles (that hurts my wallet too, but not as much as not getting anything at all).

It's not just "a few meg of code" - come on. It takes hard work on all sides to produce a good book. You might as well say that politicians, teachers or lawyers shouldn't be paid because they don't produce anything physical. 

Please consider this the next time you're downloading illegal megs of code: Most authors are barely scraping by. Not all of us are Neil Gaiman who is well established and made his bucks before the age of ebooks [there was a link to Neil Gaiman who said that pirating has helped boost sales of his physical books]. Pirating may very well help his sales, but for the rest of us who aren't rich and famous? Pirating prevents us from getting money we need to to buy food! Those who hurt the most by pirates are authors who aren't signed by the big houses and don't get advances. They rely upon each sale to make money for their work.

As for free stuff? Most authors have free-reads on their websites so people can get a taste of their writing. Maybe not the big authors, but those small ones who really take a beating when people start pirating them. You can also visit sales pages like Amazon and read the first three chapters in most books if you're afraid to buy before you try. There's no need to steal.

If you claim that you're doing the author a favor promo-vise by pirating, you really aren't unless you leave them a good review. That's the least you can do for the struggling author if you don't intend to pay him/her for their work. 

Attitude like yours just pisses me off. Yes, I'm in a bad mood. I just discovered that the number of illegally downloaded copies of my books is bigger than the number of sold books. It sucks. And my books are even overpriced, they're $6.99 and $7.99 - that's not an arm and a leg for most people. The paperbacks are more expensive, because I'm writing for a niche market and they're printed in less quantities - $12.99 and $14.99. I agree that the big houses can afford to cut their ebook prices, and they should, but people don't just pirate from the big houses, they pirate from everyone because of this way of thinking.

That was a lengthy reply, I was angry, but really, he had it coming. He has money to buy the books, he's just not going to because it's just a "few meg of code" and not real products. I don't like to judge people who do things like downloading illegal copies of products, but people like this...

Here's the thing, if you don't have the money to buy books, there are other - legal - ways to get them:
- Take part in giveaways. It won't get you the books right away and it might not get you the books you really, really want, but you eventually do win some books and can save up for the ones you really want.
- Go to your local library. Okay, so M/M is hard to find in a library, but there are online libraries! Lendle is one and there are even ebook rentals. Just google "ebook library" or "ebook rental" to get a free/cheap option to get the books you really want.
- Join review sites as a reviewer. They get loads of review requests every month and there's a good chance that the authors you know will send in requests. There are loads and loads of m/m review sites out there. Not all may be hiring, but some are. To see a few, visit Manic Readers and see the review sites that are associated with them.
- Launch your own review site and open it for reviews. It's free, if you use Blogspot or Wordpress (I personally recommend Blogspot). They're also easy to set up and maintain. Authors want to have their books reviewed, so you're almost guaranteed a couple to begin with and then it'll probably grow so fast you'll have trouble keeping up (and can "hire" (for free) assistance for other reviewers). You could even contact authors and ask if you may have a book of theirs to review on your site - most will jump at the chance and send you a copy (just make sure you send them the link to your site so they'll see it's legit).
- Join Netgalley. There are a few M/M publishers who load their books there and people can request them for free in exchange for a review. Some publishers are picky about who gets to review their books, but some aren't as picky. Just make sure you write in your profile where you'll post your reviews (review site, Amazon, B&N and/or Goodreads, for example) and you're almost guaranteed a lot of books to read. Maybe not the specific ones you really, really want to read, but free books all the same (and then you can save up for the ones you really need).
- Wait for the books you really, really need to hit Fictionwise and buy with a large discount. They have big sales almost every month and you can google their discount codes or join the M/M Romance group on Goodreads and check out Jace's monthly list of discounts (updated daily).

These are just some ideas. Most of them take a little bit of work on your part, but since the author had to work hard to write the story and deserves to get paid for it, that little bit of work doesn't sound unreasonable, does it? I'm sure there are many more options, but these should get you started. 

If you need easy-step help of setting up a Goodreads account (I swear it's easy), then I'll be glad to help. Email me at eripike at gmail dot com and I'll either take you through it or post that guide on my blog.

The thing is that authors are very appreciative of every book sold, but they're also appreciative of good reviews. If you're not going to pay for their books, then please, at least leave them good reviews. Here are some of the location you can find my books to review (you know, in case you did download illegal copies and now feel kinda bad about it): Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. Reviews/ratings help, silence after reading doesn't. Kindly also do this for other authors you've read illegally and help them promote their books.

Again, thanks so much to those who have spent their hard earned money on my books. The more prospects I have of making this into a career, the more motivated I am to write more books! :)

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  1. *stands up and claps*

    I haven't looked to see how many books of mine that's been pirated. Honestly, I'm almost scared to look. Like you, my husband and I live check by check and every sale I make goes to bills and keeps us from being homeless.

    Thank you for posting this information for everyone. I also understand that we are all going through tough economic times, but as you said there are ways to get free books in a legal way. I've even been known to give away more books than I should BECAUSE I understand this. That is one of the main reasons why I throw so many contests to win books by me.

    I wish there was some way to close these places down and change peoples attitudes about it. Let's hope you bringing up this subject will help.



  2. I just don't understand it when people say e-books are not 'real' books, the same effort went into writing it whether it ends up on paper or not!! In a lot of cases e-books are cheaper then their paper counter parts (if only a few pence) so you are seeing a difference for not having the manufacturing cost.

    Why would you mind paying to take a peek into a world someone has put their heart and soul into painting for you!!

    If you don't want to pay for it then tell your self your own bloomin story and I bet its not anywhere near as good as the one's you think you should have for free, try it... its not easy to tell a good story..

    OK rant over :0


  3. My ebooks are very real! Fictionwise is awesome and I get more books for my bucks. As a reviewer I have it a bit easier but I love going off to buy books in support of the authors I love. Kindle is very affordable sometimes with the book being a little less than elsewhere.

  4. @subrequet... "There's still an author's fee, but why, tell me, why is the ebook price as high or higher than the physical book's?

    If you take the cost of printing a physical book, let's say £1.00 per book. Then distribution of the physical book - let's say £1.00 per book. The retailers then take 50% or more (but on average, 50%) so a book that costs £9.99 you've taken £7 of the total cost already without then giving any cash to the publisher, and the AUTHOR - who's work it is!

    With eBooks, yes - there's no printing cost, and there's no distribution costs per se (you don't need logistics companies) so that's £2.00 off the cost. The retailers are still going to take 50%, and then the author / publisher pays VAT on an eBook - of 20%. You take a book that's £9.99 minus the £2.00 of printing and distribution costs, then add the 20% VAT... you get the drift.

    For piracy needs, you should check out companies like - they remove over a million illegal files per month now and are really pushing into the publishing world to make sure it doesn't end up in the same s*it that music did through piracy...!

    1. Spot on. I actually DO think that ebooks should be a bit cheaper than print books and I can't understand why they insist on keeping the same price. In our genre, GLBT, which isn't mainstream, the ebooks are way cheaper than the print books (say $6.99 vs. $12.99). Despite that, we're still being pirated.

      Thanks for the muso link. I'll definitely check that out.