Arrrggghhhhh Thar be pirates about maties!

When I was a little girl, I enjoyed a pirate movie almost as much as a western. Those swashbuckling guys swinging across to board another ship with swords in hand and knives in teeth… Needless to say, there was an element of romance and adventure connected to the pirates. Ahhhhh. The good old days.

Fast forward a decade or two or three and… pirates. Not so much fun anymore.

There are folks who pirate books, offer them for free on the internet. But pirates being what they are, it’s a “taker beware” environment. If you think those folks are “helping readers” out of the goodness of their little pirate hearts… Well, no. They’re not.

Does offering free pirated books hurt authors? Yes. A little, it does. Does it hurt the poor unfortunates who are trying to save their loose change for a mocha latte at StarBucks by downloading a free book? Well, yes it does hurt, usually it hurts the folks who download said “free” books.

Often times the free book pirate sites also load up your computer with little nasties like malware and viruses and stuff that can be expensive to get rid of. Not to mention prying into your personal information and then selling it to—whoever.

Some authors offer a free book for an honest review. I think that’s just fine, especially if you’re an author trying to get reviews. My sister enjoys different types of books than I do and she’s actually had an author contact her to read her books before they’re released and give her opinion. If you’re passionate about reading a specific author or type of book, and if you’re willing to provide helpful information to the author, contact them. Ask if you can help them. Many of them will get you a free copy of their book for an honest review.

I doubt the authors who are seeking reviews will load up your computer with spyware and/or sell your information to those folks who call to sell you stuff. I really don’t like scammers. I dislike them about as much as I dislike fake calls from the IRS saying they’re going to sue me unless I send them $2,000 right NOW! The IRS doesn’t call. They will find you, but they don’t call. Then there are the fake Microsoft people who call to tell you something is wrong with your computer and if you’ll just let them in… they’ll fix it for a nominal fee. Microsoft doesn’t do that.

When I first heard about book piracy from some author friends, I went and looked up some sites and… yes! They were offering my book for free! I smiled and thought… well, maybe I’ve arrived. Somebody thinks enough of my story to pirate it!

Have I lost some money in sales because somebody is pirating my book? Probably. But not as much as those folks who downloaded my “free” book and then had to spend money to get their computers “cleaned” from all the malware and spyware. Honestly, if someone is downloading books for free, most likely they wouldn’t have paid for the book anyway. So… money lost to me is probably—not much.

Funny story about pirating. My daughter, the multi-talented child who the hospital said was mine to take home… She paints. Very well. She usually takes a picture and then paints from the photograph. This talented daughter of mine took a picture of her friend with her horse. It’s a beautiful shot. She began to paint it in oil, but then school got in her way. The painting is sitting, unfinished in her room. I see it every time I pass by. But one of the other friends thought the photograph was so great, she sent it to be painted as a gift for the lady with the horse.

The painter who painted it thought it turned out so well he wanted to mass market it off his web site by selling prints of it. My daughter was pleased with the result as was her friend with the horse. Then the painter put this whole deal on his website to explain why he did this painting. Why he took the picture, etc. He lives several states away and knows neither the lady with the horse nor the horse. The painterly fellow “embellished” the story just a bit. I’m sure he wanted a little added drama to help sell the prints he was offering of his painting.

My daughter’s friend with the horse was upset and felt like the painterly fellow was taking credit for something my daughter did. My daughter thought the whole thing was hysterical. She came in and said she thought she’d arrived as a painter when other folks started copying her work or taking credit for the entire inspiration of the subject matter, pose, etc.

As for book pirates, an author told me she had worked hard to get her books off some of those web sites. However, as in the early days of the internet, when they shut one porn site down, a dozen others took its place.

The internet is wild and free. I don’t like that folks are pirating books, but I also realize there is nothing we can do about it.

Bottom line on piracy: There will always be people who want to take advantage of others. And there will always be plenty of people waiting for someone to take advantage of them.

Beware of pirates.


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