Thursday, February 12, 2015


Did you know that people are still pirating books? Sorry for the intensely shocking news there, folks. I hope I didn't give any of you heart attacks.

But yes...there are some folks out there who try to get things for free instead of paying! I KNOW, RIGHT? WHO'DA THUNK?

So what do we, as authors, artists, musicians etc. do about this? Well, to my knowledge, I've barely been targeted. After all, I'm much more known for cover art than writing at the moment, though I've been a published author since 2006. If someone pirates a book with my cover art it has no direct effect on me at all. I've already been paid.

I used to get supremely indignant at the thought of people pirating my work. "That's food they're taking out of my kids' mouths!" kind of indignant. But the longer I go on in publishing, the less I feel that way.

Firstly - the people who steal books are almost certainly the kind of people who would never have bought it anyway. So it's not lost income in that respect. It's money you weren't going to get, that you didn't get.

Secondly - you can do everything in your power, individually and collectively, to bring down any and all websites where your books are being distributed illegally. And then tomorrow you'll do the same thing again with all the NEW sites doing the same thing. Sending out notices to pirates can easily become your ONLY job.

So is it worth fighting? Morally and ethically, absolutely. Practically, though? Hmm...

I've seen lots of theories, and based on what I've read from much bigger authors like Selena Kitt, I've come up with my own half-baked analogy. It almost involves Patrick Swayze.

It’s like in the movie “Roadhouse”. Bodhi signs on to do his job as head bouncer. This puts him in a situation where people can, and do, choose to abuse him. For just doing his job and trying to regulate their bad behaviour.

Every night he goes to the parking lot and finds all his car’s tyres slashed. But he has four spares in his trunk and inside the car. He shakes his head wryly and gets on with the job of changing the tyres.
He goes into his work KNOWING this crap is going to happen, and preparing for it.

Sure, he could stand outside and watch his car, making sure nobody slashes the tyres. But then, he wouldn’t be doing his job as head bouncer. Which in turn gives nobody any reason to slash his tyres. All he will achieve is stopping the tyre-slashing. And he'd lose his job.

We can try to fight the pirates, but it’s much bigger than even the biggest author.

I understand this would come across as a defeatist attitude. But I can’t afford to spend all my time protecting my tyres. I have bouncing to do.


  1. Confession time... I have pirated myself. But now I understand,I am wiser; more compassionate, less selfish and like to think I have more integrity. I still get annoyed at buying a book twice - once in hard copy once as an ebook; oh and then again as an audio book, especially when it's by a top selling author. It is not they who are getting the money but the publisher. I tell myself that then that publisher can take risks on new authors, but it still stings. With self-published authors the trailer is clearer and cleaner; my relationship is directly with the author and I am pleased and proud to enter into a commercial transaction with her/him. The writer produces a product which I wish to buy rather than a faceless publisher producing it. There is honour and pride on both sides. Both sides can hold their head up. When I pay for a big publishing title (three times over) I feel that only I can take pride. Although I really like Amazon's new approach; to offer the audio version of the title at an affordable price when you buy the e-book. My kind of business.

    1. Yes, technically, so have I. Back in the wild and heady days of the early 80s, when I used to tape songs off the radio. I guess even taping shows off the TV to watch them later could arguably be piracy.

  2. The most interesting is that some fellow authors think nothing of pirating other stuff, like TV series because it's not like indies--they rationalize--they got their money back from the commercials already, no?
    Yet, stealing is stealing no matter who you steal from and you're right, we can't spend our lives fighting it. My answer is to put a note in asking the pirates to have the decency to leave a review!

    1. Also a good point. I have in the past seen authors bemoaning their own work being stolen, yet being quite open about the TV shows and movies they've watched online from illegal links. I've argued that point before - in my case using Youtube music videos uploaded by amateur users as an example. There ARE legally viewable parts of Youtube (affiliated with the artists and their representation), but there are so many un-sanctioned clips as well.