Monday, September 24, 2012

Why Ebook Piracy is Killing Indie Authors

I just found out one of my books was pirated and available for a free download on a site without my permission. Not only that but they list a counter on top that says it was downloaded illegally 4000 times.

Like many people, I didn't really care when Napster was hurting the sales of millionaire bands and many may have the same opinion with ebooks. With the recent lawsuit of big publishers trying to jack up the prices of ebooks, many may feel they deserve it. So why should anyone care if people download a few free books?

The simple answer is because it's hurting indie authors. We don't have a big publisher to back us up with marketing dollars, give us money up front and protect us with lawyers. While we may give our books away for free a couple days, it's really mostly to get visibility through the "people who bought this, also bought this" lists on Amazon. Downloading a free illegal copy gains an indie author nothing and generally hurts sales. After all, why pay for something you can get for free?

Popular books with a big publisher get thousands of paid downloads a month. The average indie book is lucky to get 100. When it's available for free elsewhere, that number drops until it's no longer worth it for them to make more books. Taking legal action can cost a lot more than an indie makes on a book and many piracy sites are from countries without copyright laws.

Indie authors do not in any way deserve getting stolen from. The average price of an indie is between .99 and $3.99 making the royalty only between .35-2.50 a book. The price already has to be low for someone to take a chance on a new author. Stealing from a rich publisher may make you feel like Robin Hood but stealing from a poor indie author is just mean.

So what does that mean for me? It could mean I'm working on my last Mia book. I'll just have to see how much sales go down from here. Being out for only a couple months, my two books combined haven't sold half as many as the indie-killer site has given away. Luckily, I believe one of them hasn't been pirated yet but, it may be just a matter of time.

Mary Lee


  1. This is sad to hear. Have you thought about pursuing legal action? I'm a fellow indie author and I certainly would prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.

    1. I would love to sue them but I think the legal fees would be more than I make on the books. Also, since the site is run out of a country with questionable copyright laws, I don't think there is much that can be done. If anyone can take them down it'll probably be a big publishing house with lots of lawyers and support from the government. That will only happen if they quit picking on the indie's and steal "fifty shades" or something...

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