Writing is my passion, but as I learn more and more about the dishonest practices involving book publishing, the more disgusted I feel every day. Book pirates who steal books and offer it for free in order to increase their website rating and lure you in to steal your credit card info. Or “wannabe” authors who copy published books, change some names and scenes and published the book under their names. Also the freeloaders who take advantage of authors who are trying to promote their books. Disgusting!
Those who take advantage of authors:
I see a lot of posts on social sites from authors who are looking for beta readers. The author offers a PDF copy of the unpublished book. Some of the posts have 20 or even more comments requesting it and the author is happy to email it to them hoping for honest opinions and critique. I asked a few authors why they are giving their yet unpublished books to strangers.
Their answers were:
I can’t afford to pay for professional manuscript critique and editor
I get free editing, and the beta readers help to find inconsistencies in the story
I give the “read-only” PDF copies; they can’t steal the book
Is your PDF file secure?
Do you think the read-only PDF files are secure just because you click (Read Only), and it is written out in the file name? Because these files have no permissions from the authors to modify the document or copy the document, it doesn’t mean it cannot be done. They simply download a PDF to Word converter program and convert the PDF file to editable Word file. Give your book only to trusted professionals and to people yo trust.
There are a few websites that sell programs that protect PDF eBooks. They guarantee safety from copying and selling the eBook, for around $600/month. Yeah, perhaps big publishers can afford it, but small ones and self-published author could most likely not.
Those who want to copy the book or “wannabe” authors who change names and a few scenes and then publish the book under their names can very easily steal your work, change a few things and publish it. Some of them get caught because a reader who knows the writing style of the original author notices the similarities and alerts the author, but nobody knows how many are out there collecting royalty payment from publishing a book they stole.
There are a lot of secret readers’ groups on social sites. The members attend every possible event where the authors offer complimentary copies. They specifically ask for PDF copies saying that they don’t have Kindle or phone with app, and they can only read PDF files on their computers. Watch out for those “poor me” readers unless you know them personally and trust them that they really can't afford buying an eBook and they have an old computer that doesn't support reading apps. Your book might end up posted as a PDF file in groups, and hundreds of members will read it for free.
Any "DRM protected" file could be converted and edited by installing the DRM removal program. This is an ongoing problem for authors, and until the eBook selling sites come up with a solution, it will remain a problem. But, at least, when your book is published and you own the copyright, you can set up Google alert, track down suspected book thieves and demand that they take your book off their website where they are offering it for free and report the websites.
Honestly? I can’t feel sorry for those who download free PDF books from pirate sites. They trust their credit card info to people who live in who knows which part of the world, hide their IP address with routers, so they can’t be tracked down without a thorough investigation. They promise 30-day free trial, but when you find out the lousy copies with the narrow selection they offer and try to cancel the membership, they give you the runaround and charge you anyway. Even if they don’t charge you right away, perhaps six months from now you’ll see $2-3 charge on your card statement that you don’t even know who is making. By the time you get your statement and call the listed 800 number, it’s disconnected. These scammers charge only minute amounts that could easily slip, but when they charge thousands of credit cards, it adds up to a pretty nice amount. Moreover, when the freeloaders are downloading the “free” PDF file, they might end up having malicious cookies that in best scenario track their browsing history, but… everyone keeps passwords, credit card, bank and personal info on their PC. Is it safe from the downloaded malware?
Keep writing, enjoy it and be careful who you trust your unpublished book with.
Nothing is FREE in life. If you want to read, respect the authors' hard work who provide you with entertainment and purchase their books at legitimate selling sites.
Ask for a free copy only if you truly can't afford to pay for books that mostly cost less than a cup of coffee.
If you enjoyed the story, please write a few words review. You will not only make the authors very happy with your feedback, but your review will help other readers to decide if the book is for them, or perhaps not.
Also, the selling sites promote the books according to the number of reviews posted. Books without reviews are sitting at the bottom of the shelf collecting virtual dust.
Happy writing and reading,
Author Erika M Szabo