My Big Fat Fucking Post about Book Piracy

My Big Fat Fucking Post about Book Piracy

Somebody stole my book!

You spent all that time writing your masterpiece. You're understandably proud of it. And you get the dreaded whisper in your digital ear from a fellow author: "My book was on this piracy site and yours might be too!" You check (mistake number one, you shouldn't even visit these sites) and lo! There it is!

Your baby.


You feel physically ill and you're not sure what to do. 

The last answer you want to hear is... nothing?


Hold the fuck up

Let's think about this for a moment like sensible people. Better yet, let's think about it as though we were detectives solving a crime. You'd want to know something important:

How did they get your book?

They couldn't have stolen it from Amazon, so how did they get it?

You might think they bought it legitimately so that they could then do all sorts of illegitimate things with it (and to it, the perverts). If that were the case, how would these pirates make their money? Website hosting and bandwidth must be paid for. And they appear to have thousands of books on offer.

Appearances deceive

I have some news for you that, on the one hand might make you feel better (at least about your book). On the other hand, it won't make you feel better about human beings.

You ready for this?

That's probably not your book.

It's just a link. It's just pixels on a screen. If you were to try and acquire a pirated copy of your own book, here's what would likely happen:

You would never actually get a pirated copy of your book, because it's not really there. You would have downloaded a file, sure. What you would get would be malware/virus infections on your device. Whatever personal information you were foolish enough to give them will now be used against you in myriad ways in the future. Welcome to hell. 

And you thought you felt violated before! Now what? Your book's not good enough to really steal? Ha ha ha...

Book pirating sites aren't about books at all

They're scam sites. They take your personal information and use it against you in what are known as phishing scams and other types of fraud. They entrap people looking for a free ebook and swindle them. These sites don't present themselves as pirate sites. Giving away free content is a legitimate, regular occurrence on the internet. These sites try their best to look happy and legitimate, the better to fool the unwary.

Services like can intercede with Google on your behalf to remove the search results that point to your book title when people search for it. While they may claim to also (now or in the future) remove the offending content itself, don't count on that. Because there's no actual content there at all. It's all a scam.

But... but... surely there is real piracy?

Yeah, of course there is. Torrent sites, for example. But again, you have to ask, how did they get your book file? Sometimes it's one you gave out at some point, now endlessly replicated. It may be possible that a legit buyer decided to give your book away.

If you don't know what BitTorrent is, it's a way of downloading lots of content rapidly by many people at the same time. Each person's computer becomes a miniature content host on the network so that everyone can download something super-fast. It's a legit technology used in countless legal ways as well as illegal ways such as piracy.

The real piracy danger is...

Other "authors" who scam both readers and Amazon by stealing your books and then turning around and selling them as their own. Yes, this happens. They change some things, slap their own cover on it, and fucking sell it. Often the only way to know this has happened is for someone familiar with your books to buy one of these plagiarized books and realize the similarities.

Buyers aren't pirates and pirates aren't buyers

And never the twain shall meet. We're talking about two very different groups of people, here. A pirate is not ever going to buy your book, even if she can't get it for free. Because she's a pirate. She'll just get a different book for free if it can't be yours. You're not losing money to this person because she never would have bought your book in the first place. You can't lose what you never had.

A buyer could potentially be suckered in by a nice-looking scam site and not even realize they're attempting piracy. People like free stuff, right? But that's not the same as a pirate mentality: out to get everything for free like it's some kind of game to be won.

So what's an indie author to do?

Stop wasting your time worrying about how some crook is trying to undermine an empire that doesn't exist. Build your empire instead. Keep writing and publishing and (hopefully) selling books. The most effort I ever spend on piracy is writing articles like this one. Because of everything I stated above, what I do about "piracy" is a big fat fucking nothing. It's a pointless waste of time.