Amber Skye Forbes

Writing Words With the Tips of My Toes

The Solution to E-book Piracy?

Thus far, there is no solution for piracy, other than for authors to actively seek out the website pirating their work and requesting for it to be removed. I don’t know if my book has yet been pirated, but if it has and you have knowledge of this, please, please, please let me know.

A Tumblr follower whose handle is slurpeemoney made me aware of a service where those who pirate books can be given the option of paying what they think the book is worth after they’ve read it. And if they don’t pay, they can at least spread word of the book. mattfractionblog uses this service for his P.I. graphic novel series and seems to be successful with it. My follower admits it may have something to do with name recognition, but it is an interesting service to be made aware of.

Slurpeemoney then goes to admit that his or her work is probably going to be pirated anyway, so this person might as well link to his/her site with an option to pay for what you think the book is worth. In my opinion, this would be an effective guilt tactic, although I have no idea how you’d know who stole your work, unless you’re internet savvy.

But this is a similar tactic to what video gamer makers do. Game makers fight piracy by releasing cracked versions of their game, games that will make you aware that you’ve pirated that game so you cannot fully enjoy the game you’ve stolen. Some games, like Spyro, will make you aware that you stole the game through character dialogue. Others will threaten you with bodily harm if you don’t buy the game, even though we know this threat is not real. It is still enough to make you feel guilty, especially if you enjoyed that game. And it’s just plain creepy. For example, in Gave Dev Tycoon, the pirated version gamers download will at first seem like the one they could buy. However, as the game progresses, they will constantly receive a pop-up reminding them that they stole that game.

Pirating e-books, however, isn’t necessarily like pirating games or music. For one thing, those who enjoyed the game are probably likely to eventually buy it–or so is my assumption. People who pirate music, too, don’t want to buy the entire album for fear of hating all the songs on that album. There is no CD store in my area anymore, so no one can sample the songs on that album. What’s left? Piracy. But many who love the music they’ve pirated inevitably go on to buy that CD. Am I saying it’s right? Of course not, but it would be nice if music lovers could receive a better glimpse into the album they’re buying. Musicians, in any case, make more money from tours than CD sales, unless they are independent and don’t have a record label to pay. But they still do deserve to make money from those CD sales.

But what if cracked versions of our books could be created? It would require more time and money, but the ultimate goal is to make more money than what was spent to create the original and cracked versions of the book. Or is the pay-what-you-want a better service to guilt those who committed piracy into buying the book? What do you think? I would love to know in the comments below.

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9 comments on “The Solution to E-book Piracy?

  1. Author Unpublished
    April 7, 2014

    I don’t know that there will ever be a way to stop piracy completely (that just seems impossible) people have tried before with movies and games, and I think after years of this a lot of people have come to the conclusion that the people who pirate these things… were either never going to buy it in the first place, so no money is truly lost, or they’ve pirated to try it out ahead of time… but it does have a positive side effect of spreading the word that the pirated thing exists, and those that really do enjoy it will probably go on to buy a legitimate copy eventually. Now I don’t know if that’s true, but my thought is this: you can’t really stop piracy… it’s going to happen. The best thing you can do is A) make sure your book is as accessible as possible so that less people are inclined to pirate it… B) Make sure to include a notice that makes it clear that pirating is illegal and has consequences to guilt them into paying for it, and C) Include information on places the book can be bought legally, or provide a PayPal account people can donate to if they really like the book and obtained it in an illegal manner. Hopefully some people will enjoy your book and buy a legal copy, or at least donate a small sum to ease their guilty conscience. I don’t know that there’s much else you can do other than try to make the best of the situation.

    • amberskyef
      April 7, 2014

      Oh, that is such a great idea to include a disclaimer on piracy within one’s book. I LOVE it!

  2. Author Unpublished
    April 7, 2014

    Reblogged this on Author Unpublished and commented:
    A great article about thoughts on e-book piracy.

  3. Michelle Proulx
    April 7, 2014

    What I’ve seen a lot of self-published ebooks do is leave a little note at the start or end of the book that’s basically along the lines of “Thanks for purchasing this book? Didn’t buy it? Please consider supporting the author by … [etc.]”. If people care enough about the book, they’ll hopefully go and either download it legally, or support the author in some other way. And if they don’t care about the book … well, you weren’t going to get their money anyway!

    • Kate Sparkes
      April 26, 2014

      I like that way of phrasing it. I’ve been trying to figure out a way of saying that that won’t just piss people off who either did pay for the book, or who get all huffy because “file-sharing is just like borrowing a paperback from a friend.”

      All in all, I tend to agree with people who say piracy’s not worth getting upset about. Most people who steal an e-book will likely never read it and only took it because it was free– they pirate because they can, and not because they would have paid for a copy otherwise. If they do read and love it, maybe they’ll tell a friend (and hopefully not mention where they got it illegally). I mean, I won’t exactly be excited if my work shows up somewhere, but I think that as long as a book is available in all formats (epub and mobi, multiple sellers), most readers will support the author by buying. The donation thing’s not a terrible idea, but I think if people are pirating, they feel like they’re not doing anything wrong and won’t bother to donate.

      We can hope, though…

  4. drewdog2060drewdog2060
    April 7, 2014

    Thanks for this interesting post. I agree with the suggestion in the comments above about including a note encouraging those who have not purchased a legal copy to consider doing so. Perhaps, also a couple of sentences explaining that if everyone pirated books authors would have little (if any) incentive to continue writing. As regards your music analogy, many artists provide much of their music on Youtube in the hope that this will encourage music lovers to go on and purchase it. I, personally have bought music after having first listened to it on Youtube. Itunes also allows the potential purchaser to hear parts of songs prior to buying.

  5. drewdog2060drewdog2060
    April 7, 2014

    Reblogged this on newauthoronline and commented:
    An interesting post with some novel answers regarding how to combat book piracy. I personally suggest making the blighters walk the plank in shark infested waters but, funnily enough one or two people have told me that my solution is, perhaps a little extreme. Maybe making them walk the plank in non shark infested waters …!

  6. mrschmoe
    April 7, 2014

    There’s no way in stopping piracy. As for me, I would buy an ebook, in order to support the indie author, why pirate. One, the self-pubbed author in question is not rich. It would be headache for him/her, debating whether or not to continue writing. And finally self pubbed platforms have a way of screwing indie authors

    • amberskyef
      April 7, 2014

      I just recently discovered my book had been pirated. But one advantage to being a publisher is that publisher can take legal action against the perpetrator. Plus, I think the site it was loaded on doesn’t allow pirated material. At the same time, the site naively believes that the work uploaded is yours.

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