Any indie or self-published author who claims they don’t ‘Google’ themselves has their pants well and truly on fire. I don’t mind admitting I do it myself, to see where in the world my books are available to buy, so when I come across a site offering a FREE download of one of my books, I’m not entirely happy. After all, I don’t earn a bean from an illegal download, but what can I do about it?
As we all know, file sharing isn’t a new concept. For year, films and music have been shared widely using torrents, but it’s easy to think that getting hold of a book file would be harder, until in 2013 I discovered that the company I currently use to SP my books, Lulu, decided to do away with Digital Rights Management (DRM) back in 2013, saying that removing DRM on EPUBs and PDFs will remove the need for readers to create an Adobe account if a book was downloaded from Lulu, or to authorise the purchase in digital editions or install a third-party application. They claimed that it created great possibilities for the growing number of readers who want to shop, purchase and download books to their eReaders from sites other than large corporate providers, and they saw that as a step towards helping authors reach the broadest audience possible. Companies like Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble would allow integration of a reader’s experience from purchasing to downloading and finally to reading.
Some of the reactions from the authors were mixed, but most felt that this could lead to illegal downloading of their books, and it seems they were right. Somehow it now seems easy to get hold of an author’s PDF or EBUP file. I’ve noticed my titles appearing on one or two of these sites. Other authors who don’t use Lulu have commented on Twitter that it’s happening to them, and there are even readers who want to know ‘Where can I download a book for nothing?’
Recently, at the idea of someone illegally downloading one of my books, this thought passed through my mind, ‘So what? At least it means someone is reading it!’ It’s not as if I earn a great deal from my writing, anyway, because it’s not about profit for me, it’s about kudos and reviews – except the reviews aren’t genuine and are more like propaganda to promote the sites themselves! Then it occurred to me: what about viruses? Do readers know if these downloads are kosher and free from viruses if they’ve been shared by everyone and his dog? I bet it doesn’t even occur to them to check the files they download.
And so, in an unprecedented move, I’ve listed below the torrents I’ve spotted and authors need to look out for, and for readers to be aware that complaints are made and upheld daily about such sites, and are removed from the web almost immediately. Some of them hide behind a PDF link and only have an IP address in their URL address, and you shouldn’t really be surprised at how similar some of them look:
In fact, I’ve just reported to Google someone who posted copies of Epiworld and Goalden Sky using Google Fusion Tables. Naughty, naughty! It might also be worth ‘Yahooing’ and ‘Binging’ to see if any of these sites pop up there, too.
Places where you can report infringements: