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Piracy: Do you know who is selling your book?

Writing.ie | Guest Bloggers | Carry on Writing

Hazel Gaynor

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It’s an old problem. One we skip past on DVDs, warning us of illegal copies of films. One we may not even be aware of when we download an album from a website our friend told us about. Piracy is, unfortunately, everywhere – and now it has a grip on books. My books, very famous books, and most probably your books too.

In a recent blog post, author Heidi Cullinan shares her own thoughts on this very real and very awful issue where websites are illegally selling PDF copies of ebooks without any rights or any permission. They lure readers to their page with the offer of a cheap download ($1.90 seems to be the going rate) when often there isn’t even any book or content to sell, and all the site is doing is mining the individual’s credit card for details for other sinister purposes. While much of this activity seems to have largely focused on Romance genre titles, other sites are offering a far wider range of titles. I checked one site for my book, The Girl Who Came Home and there it was. All my hard work – stolen – and being sold with no gain to me or my publisher, or even the reader. My heart sank.

Heidi’s very detailed (and very angry) post offers some tips on how to approach a website which you think may be illegally selling your books. It probably makes more sense to contact your publisher about this in the first instance as they will be able to verify if it is an illegal site and will be able to put in place the necessary actions to get your title/s removed from the site – and hopefully get the site taken down permanently.

What seems most incredible to me about all of this is that many publishers now offer ebooks – at some point in their existence – for not much more than $1.90 anyway, so there really isn’t any bargain to be had here from a readers point of view. As an author it is so frustrating to think that someone can take a piece of your work and feel that they have some right to flog that to anyone who stops by and that neither the author or publisher benefit from that. Something that has taken years of hard work and dedication and sacrifice and someone think’s it is OK to come along and steal that for their own gain. It’s disgusting, quite frankly.

Author Celine Kiernan expresses how she feels about this, having found her own titles on one of these rip-off ebook sites.

“In 2010 and 2011 I said pretty much all I felt I could say on the subject of piracy. Since then I’ve not bothered chasing pirate sites nor reporting them to my publishers. It’s an unending, soul wearying time-suck, and I’d much rather spend my energies writing new books. When my attention was brought to this particular piracy site, however, something popped loudly in my head, and I saw red. The thing that gets me about this particular site is the fact that these feckers are charging for the stolen books. This means the site is ripping off those who were willing to pay for authors’ work. Whatever anyone has to say about the effects of piracy or the intentions of those who use/make freely available pirated copies, to sell pirated copies of anyone’s work is the lowest of the low. These pirates are ripping off writer, publisher and customer alike. They’re thieves, they’re frauds and they’re beneath contempt as far as any decent book-lover should be concerned. I ask you to please not tolerate them. Report them if you can and spread the word so others aren’t fooled into thinking they’re a legitimate source of ‘cheap’ books.”

Sites such as this one are the offending party. A quick search for your name or your books and I bet you’ll find them listed. And who knows how far this problem reaches. As writers, I think we have to make our readers aware of this issue and encourage them NOT to buy from these bogus sites.

Other than that, I guess we can only hope that the publishers find a way to stop this happening through their dedicated anti-piracy departments. For now, be aware, be vigilant and be very, very angry.


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