Saturday, August 13, 2011

It has to be said

Piracy is a romanticized term for illegal book sharing. Not only are hackers stealing ebooks to distribute on their own sites, but “book clubs” also offer the chance to read an ebook and pass it on.

Is it any wonder no indie author can catch a break? Or has to work full time at writing, but also a day job just to be able to do what they love?

Not only do ebook authors not get an advance, and receive only a percentage of royalties, but sales are lowered by thieves who siphon off profits with illegal sharing.

And make no mistake about it: it is illegal.

Margaret West cited some disheartening statistics in her recent post. But disheartening doesn’t begin to cover what I felt when I read Tracy L. Darity’s post about CreateSpace allowing resellers to print POD books and sell them at an insanely high price, and when the author fought back by selling at a lower price, snap! the other seller instantly lowered their price to outsell her. Oh, and there’s much more. Read her post, though it may turn your stomach to learn resellers can use POD to sell your book as used, so you the author will never see a profit and John Kremer’s post about how Amazon rips off authors.

So now I have to limit distribution of my Kindle books because resellers will pilfer it. I wondered how some copies of my books were being sold at ridiculously high prices. That’s the reason.

Amazon already forces authors to opt into their lending program, which cuts into profits. Why this media giant needs to rip off small-time authors, I’ll never understand. But I highly discourage readers from using this feature. Like many others, I priced my work below its fair value to encourage readers to buy. I know the economy’s tough. I like free stories too, when authors (and sometimes publishers) make them available as such. Not when others decide they should be free and help themselves.

Worse, some authors are finding their work resold under a different name. Apparently some peole are creative in the worst ways: converting ebooks to text, then putting a new cover on it and slapping their name on the product. Also covered under Mr. Kremer’s post.

I can’t wrap my head around how someone can put so much effort into stealing another person’s hard work. It just boggles my mind. Authors put so much heart and soul into their stories, sometimes years of their lives. And just like that, someone steals it?

Fighting illegal sharing – and Amazon, it seems – is impossible. So my best defense is to educate readers. If you love the books authors write, then please please please never download a book from any sharing site. Please please please give the authors their due by purchasing directly from the publisher, or if the author’s self-pubbed, then use the links they provide. Don’t buy from a reseller. Don’t download a free copy. You’re hurting them more than you know. You may justify it by saying, “it’s only one copy, it won’t impact them” but that’s wrong. Everyone thinks the same thing, and illegally shared copies quickly add up to many many copies. Please thank the author who writes stories you love by legally purchasing their work. And if you want to share their work, recommend your friends buy copies too. But don’t give it away. This business is tough enough. Authors need your support.


Marva Dasef said...

Good article, Cate. Anytime somebody can steal, somebody will. Sad, but true.

Another case in point is that I can see my books being sold by Amazon (print books) through the Author Central. These are books printed by Lulu. Since January 50-60 prints books were sold according to Bookscan. None of them were reported on Lulu. That means I have no been paid for any of the books sold since January. I can't figure any other answer than Lulu being the pirate. They sure don't answer my pleas.

Cate Masters said...

So sorry to hear, Marva! These stories just kill me. I wish there were a way to pressure them into doing the right thing.

Beverly said...

I am devastated! I love shopping on amazon. I had no idea that there was a chance that the author was not getting credit(and payment) for everything I purchase! How can I be sure that the author is getting their due when I buy?

Cate Masters said...

I love shopping there too, Beverly! Especially now that I have my Kindle.
The key is to not buy from resellers - only from the links the author provides, or their publisher.
Thanks for your support!

Mara said...

Hi, Cate:
I'm glad you wrote about how some people are stealing books altogether and putting their names on it and selling it as their own. I have to check which book it is, but I think I have one.
After I check, I'll get in touch with the author and let him or her know that this is happening.
It is truly a horrible thing to do.
I didn;t realize that Amazon makes that lending thing a requirement. Barnes and Noble also has a lending program, so it's probably the same with them, too. I agree, why would Amazon need to hurt authors by allowing this?
I think it's crucial that authors and readers talk about this issue as much as possible.
Take care,

Cate Masters said...

Thanks, Mara, that author will be grateful if you do, believe me.
Amazon claims lending is optional, but then it doesn't let me proceed with publishing if I uncheck it. So I guess the option is whether to publish on Kindle at all or not.
I hope more authors will get the word out so readers understand.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I remember the difference I first saw in my royalties when my early books started appearing on pirate sites. Shame on Amazon for not doing more to protect the authors.

Cate Masters said...

I agree, Susan. In the long run, it's like shooting themselves in the foot.