Friday, March 9, 2012

The Best Books in Life Aren't Free

It’s time I take a running head start and leap onto my soapbox. File sharing has become a destabilizing force in the publishing industry. Millions of people are doing it and I’m going to be completely upfront and honest by admitting I use to be one of them. Guilty as charged! And since I’ve ridden the bandwagon before; I may very well be viewed a hypocrite. I believed the rationalizations and justifications, anything to make it okay. I never allowed myself time to think, “Is this right or wrong?” I chose to live in the grey area, but at the end of the day there is no grey area. It’s simply black or white. Before you continue reading, I challenge you to keep an open mind a really consider what it means to “share” books and how your decision to do so affects others.

First, let me address a few of the rationalizations the average reader may make to justify theft. Yes I said it, theft. I know I may sound harsh especially since I use to do “the bad” myself, but I wish someone had shown me this kind of tough love in the beginning before I had to come to the realization on my own that this was wrong! Way wrong!! One of my favorites is, “Books are too expensive and I can’t afford to buy them.”  You know what else is too expensive? Gas. So next time your pumping gas and it’s about $4.00 a gallon, I want you to fill your car up and then I want you to drive off without paying. Now when the po po pulls you over, I want you to snap a picture of the officer’s face when you tell him that you didn’t pay because it was too expensive. You know what else is expensive, getting bailed out of jail.

I love this one, “I just download it to read and if I like it then I buy the book” (insert bullshit sneeze here). Do I even really need to comment on this one? I mean come on people; does anyone believe that?  I also hate to tell you that it’s not the same as borrowing from the library. Borrowing implies giving back. After you illegally download a book, do you email it back to the author? I didn’t think so.

The next time you’re in Barnes & Noble I want you to pick up a book and walk out of the store with it; see how far you get. How is that any different than downloading an ebook without paying? Yes I know it’s available on the internet for free. It’s out there for anyone to download, but so is child pornography. Does being available make it right? If you are participating in this, then go ahead and slap on your eye patch because it is piracy.

Lastly and most importantly, you are hurting others when you do this. You’re hurting the authors. It takes time, money, time, and money to write a book. They might as well just go ahead and post their checking account numbers directly to the interweb because you’re directly taking money from them every time you illegally download a book.

Now think of a few of your favorite series….

Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, #1)  Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades #1) Obsidian (Lux, #1) Providence (Providence, #1) Thoughtless That Boy The Body Finder (The Body Finder, #1) Significance (Significance, #1) Reason to Breathe (The Breathing Series, #1) The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)

Got it? Now think about how you’d feel if half way through the series the author stopped writing; you’re left completely hanging. That’s what will eventually happen if authors can’t make money off their stories. They work way too hard to provide countless hours of entertainment; time taken away from their families and friends. They do not deserve to be ripped off. Even if you’re not a writer, just put yourself in their shoes. You can’t honestly tell me you wouldn’t be angry, frustrated, and heart-broken if people were stealing your hard work. Because I’ll say it again; IT’S STEALING!!!

Here's a few examples:

I searched a well known file sharing website for a few of my favorite books. I took note of the amount of downloads for each book over the past month. Now let's say that the author will make at least $1.00 profit for each book (most likely more).

Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James: 1,764 downloads= $1,764
Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally: 2006 downloads= $2,006
Cross My Heart by Katie Klein: 1,333 downloads= $1,333
Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire 586 downloads = $586

So you can see who's losing out. I could go on, but you get the idea.

I really love books, but because of this blasé attitude and disregard for right and wrong, the publishing world is in trouble. This has got to stop and I challenge everyone to make a commitment to no longer support the file sharing of books. They are not free; someone is paying. There are many free and legal ways to obtain ebooks. Thousands and thousands of amazon authors allow their books to be available for kindle loan. Right now, I have three kindle books on loan to people I met on goodreads. There is also the library. Most libraries have ebooks and hardcopies available for borrowing.

I appreciate you taking time to read my rant and if I offended anyone I’m not sorry. The only person who’d be offended by this is someone illegally downloading ebooks and that’s wrong. Not an opinion, but a fact. That may be a bold statement, but I support it one-hundred percent. It’s never too late to change; to start with a clean slate. I challenge you to be a person who steps away from what everyone else does and be the person who does what’s right. 



  1. This is an excellent post. I think people share files, especially, e ARCs with the best intentions, but you know what they say about the road paved to hell....

  2. Awesome post, Mollie! And great analogies!

    I think because it's "easy" and "convenient," people don't think about how piracy hurts writers. We're people with day jobs and bills. We love to write, but we have real lives to deal with, too.

    Rest assured that every dollar made off my ebooks goes directly to my mortgage, my car payment, and my student loans from grad school. :D

  3. Fantastic post!!!! I love how you call out all the BS lines/excuses and how you used analogies. Awesome.
    ~ Jen @ A Book and a Latte

  4. Thank you, Mollie. Thank you.

  5. Bless your heart for posting this, Molly. The books we write are filled with our blood, sweat, and tears. Every illegal download is like stealing my hard-earned paycheck. We all suffer.

  6. Well said, Mollie!! We love our readers! We want to write more! But we need to make money...or we need to get day jobs and put our writing on hold! Thank you so much for your amazing post ;)!

  7. Mollie what an excellent post!!!!! Thank you so much for taking the time to write it.

  8. Superb, superb, superb article! This has been sticking in my craw for a while but I could never have articulated as well as you have.

    1. Thanks Dean! And as far as articulating, I am so stealing "sticking in my craw"!

  9. I'm just now seeing this post and it's very well written and very much appreciated. I hear people say, "It's an ebook, it didn't take much money to make." But writing a book, whether it's an ebook or a printed version, take the same amount of time for an author to write. There are also costs to get it professionally edited and proofread. It costs money to have it formatted to work on all the ereaders. It costs money for a nice cover.
    If readers want their favorite authors to keep writing, they have to earn money for it, or they can't afford to keep doing it. I actually have a person that works 10 hours a week for me, doing nothing but sending copyright infringement notices to sharing websites to get my books taken off them.
    Thanks for speaking out on this subject!
    (I'm also adding a link to this article on my website!!)

  10. I am an author and love every minute of writing, but readers may sometimes forget that it's also a lot of hard work. This is how we make a living. Would these same people who pirate a book go to work every day without getting a pay check? I doubt it. They would quit their job. Let's face it, a job with no pay is just volunteer work. I do volunteer free copies for reviews but I wouldn't give away all copies for free. No, I haven't been pirated and I hope I don't. Like everyone who works, authors can't live off hopes and dreams and positive reviews unless these books are purchased. Very good post, Mollie. It's stealing, plain and simple.

  11. Hi Molly

    A good post. Its a sad state. Music went through the same things. Movie companies fight the problem. The underlying problem to protecting anything that can be replicated electronically is that no matter what protect scheme is used, at the final stage all the protection has to be removed for the human being to read/view/listen to it. This means that it can always be obtained without any protection. Add to this the fact that there's a constant struggle between anonymity and identity on the internet and the outcome isn't going to be good. One of the most sickening things was the people who pushed Napster as cool. There were thousands of similar sites, but Napster and its bunch of &^%$#@! backers forged a whole generation's mindset, and with no answer from technology, mindset is the only defense against the problem.


  12. As a fan of many great Authors, enjoying countless hours of reading. Having purchased 1,000's of books, I have never one time thought to myself to check to see if I could download a book that I couldn't afford to buy that day or week. I always wait for pay day. Hell instead of sharing my books off of my kindle I just send purchased gifts of the books to my friends. Thank you for writing this Mollie. I just received the link on facebook and I am going to pass it along for sure. I have one book in mind in particular that was shared via the internet and the author said you know what, I am not going to finish it. What a shame that was. Stephanie Myer had a great story telling it from Edwards pov. Think of the amazing story we all missed out on because someone that she trusted shared it with the wrong person.

    So again thank you Mollie!!!!

  13. Thanks for all the kind words and support!! Authors deserve better!

  14. Very few authors ever make any money from their writing, but sales tell the author people like her work so without sales the author could just give up.

  15. Well said, I was recently offered 30 ebooks from a friend who had bought them for herself, granted most of them she had bought when they were on free promotion but some she had to physically buy. The promotions on the majority of these books had ended. Even though the offer was made with all good intentions I turned my friend down. I explained that the authors would not be able to write more books if friends kept sharing them between themselves and that I would buy them when I could afford to. She sent me one ebook which is on permanent free for me to try the author out and I checked amazon and downloaded all her other free books. I will go back and buy some more of this particular authors work when I need some more books but I will not be accepting book shares.

    Thank you for highlighting this issue. I am not an author yet, but I hope to be someday.

  16. I am an author and although I don't make much money on my writing, I have made some. I like Eric Flint's attitude where he said he would not put DRM on any of his books because he is more afraid of anonymity than piracy. I do not DRM my writing either. My introduction to e-books, which I read on my Palm Pilot, was one of Eric Flint's books that was obtained in Baen's Free Library. I have not purchased very many books just because of the plethora of free books that come out daily. On the other hand I have sent errata of the errors I have found in the free books as my method of payment for a free book and so far the authors have mostly been appreciative. Some have even given me more free books for my effort. Some have written reviews of my stuff on Amazon and others have purchased my articles. I have had one purchased article of mine read and returned for a refund, which I found humorous that someone would do that to save 99 cents. I have heard of others doing that, buying the book then reading it and returning it for a refund. To me, that is also piracy. I have only one objection to the article that started this thread. Pirated copies are not lost sales. Of the hundreds of books downloaded from piracy sites, not many of the pirates would have bought the book if it had not been available free. I know of one person that just collects music that he never listens to. The supposed value of the music he has pirated exceeds his total net worth. The best way to avoid piracy of one's works is to make it readily available and inexpensive. In the meantime, keep writing and keep reading.