Why You Don’t Need to Worry About Seeing Your Book on Illegal Download Sites

About once a month or so, an author I know writes a panicked post about finding their book on an illegal download site. (Just for clarification, It’s a different author each time. But it would be kind of funny if it was the same author posting every month.)

Generally here’s what happens. They either create a Google Alert for their name, book title, or both, or they do a search for the same. Along with the usual sites, they see something weird. It’s usually a site they don’t recognize, with a strange name. When they open the site, they discover their book, which might not even be out yet, is being downloaded by a band of illegal book pirates going by a name like Literary-ARGH.com. Okay, that’s not really the name of the site, but it would be almost as cool as the same author panicking every month.  In fact, I might buy that domain name.

Anyway, they see their book available for free download by some nefarious overseas outfit. It might even show that this book has been downloaded thousands of times. All illegally.

Of course, the author freaks out. They think they are losing tons of money. They might contact their publisher, or try to contact the site to force them to stop downloading the book. And, worst of all, they lose sleep and stress about it.

Here’s the thing. Yes, downloading anything–be it movies, music, games, or books–without paying for it is bad. It is stealing. The people who produced these products are not getting paid for their work. If you go to these sites and download stuff illegally, stop it! Right now.

Okay, with that said, let me talk to you, the author, who just found your book on one of these sites. Stop worrying. Really. Don’t lose another minute of sleep about it. Here’s why.

  1. In all likelihood, your book isn’t really being downloaded illegally. I know. It looks like your book. It has the title, cover, author name, etc. But the file, if there is any file at all, is probably not your book. It’s a scam the websites do to get people to provide personal information. At best, people fill out the forms and get nothing. At worst,  they end up downloading a virus. (Another good reason to not use these sites.)

    These sites simply download information about new books and list them hoping to trick people into coming to their site. It’s called phishing. 99 times out of 100, your book is not being downloaded at all.

  2. But what if it is? There are definitely sites where you can go to download illegal copies of books, music, movies, etc. The sites where you really can download this stuff are less common than the phishing sites, and unlike the fake sites, they don’t list every book ever published. But they are real. So, what if someone has copied your e-book and uploaded it to one of these sites?

    First, be aware that the kinds of people who tend to download illegal copies of books probably weren’t going to buy your book anyway. Your normal reader, doesn’t go to these sites. They go to legal sources to buy your book. So, while it is illegal, and annoying, you aren’t actually losing enough money to stress about. In fact . . .

  3. It could be a good thing. I was once talking to an author who was complaining about all of the books he didn’t get paid for. Library copies that get checked out over and over, books people loan to their friends and family, used books being resold. He was trying to tell me how much money he was losing. What I pointed out to him though, was that while he might be losing a few dollars in the short run, he was gaining lots of readers in the long run. Readers who might not buy “this” book, but who could buy lots of his future books.

    I told him that if I could get one million people to read my book without paying a cent, I would do it in a heart beat. Heck, I’d pay to have a million people read my book. Think of it. A million new fans of your writing! How valuable would that be?

    Now there is a big difference between checking a book out of the library and downloading an illegal copy. But, in the end, I am still getting a new reader who may become a fan and buy more of my books. In fact, there are many authors who give away free downloads of their books for that very reason. And the crazy thing is that many of the people who download the free copies end up buying print copies of the same book

So, to recap, your books probably aren’t being downloaded, and even if they are, you really aren’t losing much if any money, but you are potentially gaining new readers who will buy more of your books down the road.

So save your stress for things like chocolate chip cookies that end up being raisin cookies, or why Tomorrowland had so many plot holes, or why anyone would ever cancel a TV series like Firefly. But don’t stress about finding your book on a pirate site. In fact, stay away from those sites altogether. Because they might give your a virus, and that IS something to stress about.

12 Comments

  1. Hey Jeff I was wondering if you’ve heard anything from Mark Forman? He’s been quiet recently on his blog and there’s been no word on if he’s doing alright.

  2. Mr. Savage,
    You recently spoke to the students at Metro E School of Design in Corpus Christi, Texas. My granddaughter, Hannah Hundley, was very impressed with your presentation and had hoped to purchase your book, “Mysteries of Cove, FIre of Invention” at your signing at the Barnes and Noble Book Store. I was wondering if I could impose on you to write her at 1563 Lazy Lane, Corpus Christi, Texas 78415. I believe it would be the highlight of her 2015 Christmas to receive a personal letter from you to place in the book she received as a Christmas gift. Thank you for your consideration

  3. Can you tell us anything about Book 2 of “Mysteries of Cove”? Or do we have to wait five years like M.L. Forman is making us do?

  4. I am trying really hard to find mark Forman’s blog, but it seems to have disappeared. Does anyone know how to find it? Please answer ASAP!

  5. Okay, so it’s not just me. I just learned that the entire blog is down. Thank goodness, I though there was something wrong with my computer. But it’s the site that’s not working. My computer is just fine.

  6. I was just having this discussion with my boyfriend last night!

    I’ve been reading some articles that show most ‘pirates’ are the biggest consumer group you can find.

    (https://torrentfreak.com/0-more-on-content-than-honest-consumers-130510/)

    (https://torrentfreak.com/66-of-aussie-downloaders-also-pay-for-netflix-like-services-160203/)

    The second article being just 2 days ago!

    I love books, and I’m not exaggerating in the slightest when I say I have thousands of books. I’m talking in print, physical, I-can-hold-you, books.

    So many that I have a “Library” room in my house. (And it’s beautiful!)

    Buuut, I’m also part of a secret underground booksharing club.

    I’ve proven I am absolutely more than willing to buy a book! (Seriously, thousands) But there are times that I think pirating is the way to go.

    For example, there is this extraordinarily rare book I’ve been wanting to read for YEARS. It’s been out of print for 20+ years, and copies of it are going for over $100. I was able to find a free fileshared version online and skip an OOP pricetag.

    Or audiobooks. I absolutely LOVE reading. Feeling the pages turn beneath your fingertips as you cuddle a book in your arms. But if I know I have a long commute, I’ll find the audiobook of it so I don’t have to waste that driving time that I could be listening.

    And these are just excuses. I know that it’s still considered wrong. But if I find a book, or a series I love through a friend, I will tell everyone I know to read it! And often times, I will then buy the books to show how much I enjoyed that story.

    In the end I think piracy, in a way, should be considered more positively than it is today. There are people out there enjoying your story right now! And maybe in the future when the movie comes out they’ll want to see it because of those fond memories! Or if you leave your book on a fantastic cliff hanger, they’ll HAVE to buy your next book because they are so excited for it!

    Word of mouth is so powerful….

  7. I just finished reading Fires of Invention and I freaking loved it! Do you have an idea of when you might start working on the second book? I need more of Kallista, Trenton, and Ladon!

  8. My son just finished the Fourth Nephite. He is so wanting to read the next book in the series but we don’t seem to be able to find it. Are you still writing it? When will it be out?

  9. I just finished panicking over 3 different sites advertising a free copy of my book, “Sugar Whipped.” I almost pressed “download” and then I decided–perhaps I should look to see if other published authors deal with this sort of thing before clicking on the strange looking page from Romania. I found this and I feel better! 😀

    Thank you!

    -Dez Marie

  10. Jeff,
    It’s me! Carmen! From HHHH in 2004! This is awesome! I knew you could do it! Saw you had 2 of your books recommend on LDS Living Magazine. You deserve all that and more! And to say that I ‘knew you when’! Yesssss!

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