Dear Broke Reader: Your Sense of Entitlement is Killing Me

Alone by Cherie/

Alone by Cherie/

I’m afraid this is going to be a fairly controversial post.

I stayed up FAR too long last night reading the posts and comments generated after someone solicited recommendations for pirate sites on their Facebook page. A few people took her to task for finding ways to steal stories–because yes, that’s what it is–but astonishingly, others came to her defense. The perpetrator herself shut down the censure of others, blocking them, calling them names, and then making fun of the people who dared to call her out for stealing from others. I have no doubt there will also be retaliatory negative reviews on some author’s books because that seems to be the way things work these days.

This resulted in screenshots of her post being shared all over Facebook as a warning to authors. More people came to this woman’s defense and the furor grew, with additional voices weighing in on the subject by sharing the original post. And while I was annoyed and upset that once again, someone feels entitled to a creative work without paying for it, nothing prepared me for the number of people who agreed with her.

Now, I’ve been reading a lot about entitlement lately. Entitlement from fans demanding that showrunners give them certain storylines or fans contacting authors and demanding they receive free stories. Fans putting pressure on creators by bullying them online, by threatening their pets, by wishing dire things would happen to those same people who brought them the thing they love so much. I have some theories about why we are so angry these days. I think in part it’s because we’re all so hungry. We’re emotionally, financially, and in some cases, physically starving. We work our asses off at our jobs to barely make ends meet and at the end of the day, we want our reward, damn it. Be it our favorite television show, or that bottle of wine, or that tub of Rocky Road ice cream, or the latest release from our favorite authors.

I get that. I really do. I live that. Overworked, underpaid, under-appreciated–hey, join the club. It’s part of the reason I write. I tell stories because it helps me put aside the cares and worries of today. I jokingly say it’s cheaper than therapy. I share stories because I want to make someone else’s day a bit brighter.

But I don’t give them away for free. I can’t.

So it was upsetting to see how many people in so many posts defended the pirate-site seeker. There seemed to be three basic arguments:

I’m broke and I can’t afford to pay for my entertainment.

Oh honey. I’m with you there. See, I went to school, worked hard, racked up huge student loans to pay for my extensive education and spent twelve years paying them off. Just when things were starting to turn around for me, the economy went into the dumper, business fell off, and I incurred some major medical expenses. I haven’t had a television in 15 years and only recently could get access to broadband. I had to wait for favorite shows to come out on DVD and then had to save up to buy them. God bless Netflix. I’m now able to catch up on many shows I had to abandon.

But see, the thing is, I recognize that I am still a privileged person. I’m living in tight circumstances, yes, but privileged just the same. I have a roof over my head, food in the fridge, and can mostly pay my bills. I have access to the internet in my own home, own a laptop, a ten year old iPod, and a smartphone. I choose to have certain things. By choosing to have some things, it means I can’t have others. That’s called life, sweetie.

Besides, there’s this marvelous thing called a public library. You can go there and check out books, movies, and music for free! The best part is the library already paid for these things! And because it’s a loan which you will then return, it’s not stealing. Also, the library paid for these things out of a portion of the taxes you give to your community. So not checking out books from your library is like paying for Netflix and never using it.

But you want to read stories in your favorite genres and the library doesn’t carry them. Ask them to. If there is enough demand, the library will look into getting the stories you want. It can’t hurt to ask.

Oh, but you want your reading on your Kindle–and you don’t want to give it back. Well, there are hundreds of places where you can access free reads. Authors post things to Wattpad, there are countless fanfiction stories on multiple archives, and there are stories in public domain sites, such as Project Gutenberg. Tons of free material for your reading pleasure. Let’s not forget Book Bub, which offers short-term deals on all kinds of stories. You can even tailor the notices to your favorite genres. I get a lot of my own reading material that way–even as I recognize the pitfalls of such practices. In my opinion, such services go a long way to helping devalue the price of books in the mind of the average reader… but it is a way of getting deeply discounted or free stories legally. There’s also Kindle Unlimited. I’m not a fan myself, but I’m told for a flat fee–again like Netflix–you have unlimited access to a wide variety of genres and authors.

Oh. You want stories in your favorite genres by your favorite authors and you want them today, without having to pay for them, regardless of their listed price. Yeah, that’s entitlement. And when you download them illegally from a pirate site or torrent, that’s stealing. Let’s just get the terms right, okay?

Come to think of it, the notion that books should be free might be a big factor in why many publishing houses are dropping their lines of cozy mysteries–they simply aren’t profitable enough, despite the existing fan base. Think about that.

Creative works should be free–the purpose of creativity is to tell stories and share them, and there shouldn’t be a monetary component to the process.

I gotta admit, I was gobsmacked by this one. I see. So the very nobility of my purpose means I shouldn’t get paid for it. I should create for the pure joy of making things and release my creative works like doves into the sky, crying, “Go! Fly! Be Free!” as I let them go.

By this argument, all medical care should be free. Because what higher calling can there be than to be a doctor? I think I’ll try that argument with the bill collection services. I’ve been paying off medical bills for the last ten years now. I’m sure if I point out how noble it is to be a doctor and how much money I’ve already spent, they’ll cheerfully waive my remaining fees.

And seriously, guys like Michael Jordan love the game so much, no one should have to pay athletes ridiculous amounts of money for your television entertainment. Oh sure, you’re not paying the superstars yourselves–but the teams are, and the television channels are, and the advertisers are–all to catch your attention for a few moments in the hopes of selling you something. Guess what? It may seem free to you, but it’s not. Someone paid for it and they’re hoping their investment will pay off. It’s not a direct payment on your part–but when you become convinced you can’t live without an iPhone, you only drink Budweiser, and you feel that you must have a new car this year–you are paying for it.

Besides, if there were no financial incentive for playing basketball, the players would be doing something else. They have to earn a living, too. So you wouldn’t be able to watch them play, unless you lived in their neighborhood and could drop by for a pickup game Saturday afternoon after work.

Forget about the effort it takes to write a story. Let’s ignore the author’s contribution to this endeavor and deny them any right to be paid for their creativity. This ‘art should be free’ argument completely discounts the fact someone has to pay the editors, cover artists, formatters, distributors, book promotions teams, buy a dealer’s table and so on. I guess entitled readers expect that investment to come out of my own pocket with no hope of return. And if authors didn’t pay someone for these services, we’d have to do them ourselves, taking time away from writing to do so. Not to mention a shabby editing job or poorly executed cover is one of the first things readers will complain about.

Writers already make enough money.

Dear Lord, this one made me want to cry. Seriously?? Yes, there are some writers who make a ton of money, just like there are some basketball players or actors who make a ton of money. But the vast majority of basketball players make little to no money at all. And the notion of an actor working at a bar or coffee shop to pay the bills is practically a trope.

I call it the Castle syndrome. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the show in the early seasons. The premise was ridiculous but fun. One of the things that made me roll my eyes the most was the unlimited depths to Castle’s wallet. It made for an entertaining series because there was always the money to do outrageous things. But realistic? It was about as realistic as the notion that everyone in NYC can afford to live in huge apartments or that the NYPD would let a crime writer become permanently attached to the homicide squad.

Yes, there are authors like Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and E.L. James that have made truckloads of money. Put it this way: you know there are people who win the lottery. It does happen. Chances are you don’t know anyone personally who has won, however, and the odds of it happening to you are slim to none. The stats on author earnings is grim to say the least. In this 2012 article by the Guardian, average earnings were less than ten thousand a year.

Let’s put it into perspective. I couldn’t get the above sentence out of my head last night, so I went to one of the illegal torrents I’ve battled in the past. Yep, four of my stories were there. So, counting only the royalties I would have received, not full price, I calculated how much I lost due to the over 16 K downloads listed. It came to about 13.5 K. That’s thirteen thousand, five hundred dollars and change. From one site. One. I routinely come across dozens of these pirate sites and torrents. I report them to my publisher. I send out DCMA notices. I report them to Google to block their pages in searches. All of this is extremely time-consuming and frustrating. No sooner do I strike down one, four pop up in its place. It’s like battling a Hydra.

Those lost royalties from that one site would have paid outright for the new car I desperately needed and was forced to buy. Or covered the medical bills I’ve been chipping away over time. It would have paid for the new septic system, or here’s a thought, I might actually be able to take more than two to three consecutive days off for  a change. I might not have had to wait five years to save up for extensive dental work that I had to have done, or made do another two years with glasses when my prescription had changed. I’m not looking to be a millionaire, folks. I’d just like to break even. Maybe put a little aside for a future in which I am no longer physically capable of working as hard as I do.

There are people who will argue that these readers, the ones that download my work for free, wouldn’t have bought them anyway. That word of mouth sells more stories than anything else, and if readers love my books, they’ll tell their friends. Yes, but if they acquire them illegally, they will tell their friends how to steal them as well. How exactly does that help me? My response to this argument is I don’t care if they wouldn’t have bought them anyway. Let them read something else.

I give away stories for free. I have a free story permanently listed on Amazon. My publisher routinely holds sales. I sell books at a loss at conventions (I look at it as promotion) because I want people to read and enjoy them–but I sell them to cover the cost of the table, of the travel, of the unpaid leave from work. It’s not free to me. None of it is.

Autumn Path WoodsAnd let me finish here by saying I deeply appreciate every single reader who supports me by purchasing my stories. You guys are the gems that have helped me through some rough times. You’re the people who paid for my dog’s life-saving surgery. You’re the people who’ve made the mortgage payment in lean months and let me take my first real vacation (eight whole days off in a row!) in nearly a decade back in 2012. You’re the reason I keep writing, when it would be smarter for me to put my time, energy, blood, sweat, and tears into something else.

You’re why I don’t do that. You’re why I keep writing.


501 thoughts on “Dear Broke Reader: Your Sense of Entitlement is Killing Me

      • More than a chord. An entire symphony.

        Speaking of which, as a purveyor of the two most stolen forms of media — music and conceptual narrative — I can say that sometimes, I wonder what I did wrong in a former life to be living in the Age of Piracy.

        Yes, some things about it are good; we’ve all heard the arguments. But by and large, both musicians’ and writers’ backlists have evaporated, and theft is the reason why.

        • Bravo! As I have many friends who are writers (and I gladly purchase their books because they are good writers) I totally understand what you’re saying. There is such a huge sense of entitlement anymore and and no respect for anyone else. Hopefully, these selfish, whiny baby people are in the minority. I’ve been a reader for almost 55 years and I am the one you write for and I’m the one who gladly buys and reads your books.

        • I am no proponent of copyright infringement, so please don’t take this as a defense of illegal behavior, but most music back catalogs were drying up prior to rampant online music piracy. It began in the mid-90s with the CD price collusion the big music labels were found guilty of. I think both things are continuing concurrently, not one as a response to the other or vice versa, as some others might claim.

      • This sounds silly, but perhaps because I’m old – but – when I like an author, because perhaps someone says “here, happy birthday, I bought you this book!” – and then I read the book and then I want to read MORE from the author – I go to the bookstore and buy another book by the same author. If I am feeling patient, I try to use my little local bookstore because I go in there and talk to the owner and pet the cat and have tea and if she doesn’t have it she orders the book for me. If I’m really impatient, I will go to the Evil Barnes and Noble store. If I’m SUPER impatient, I’ll order it online from Amazon.

        What I don’t understand is this – this thing where people demand that the author somehow give them new material and that people don’t pay the author anything? Like ANYTHING AT ALL? What the hell is that about? Is this because I am now over 50 or something?

        What has happened? Frankly, I don’t even understand half of what the article is talking about. If I can’t afford a book, I’ll borrow it or trade one of mine with a friend who has one that I want to read. Or go to the library. Or wait for it.

        Jesus. What am I missing? I know I’m not stupid. I have my PhD (Yes, it’s a 25 year old PhD, but still). I happen to like paper versus electronic usually (unless I’m poking around on the internet, like now).

        What am I missing?

        • I’m SO with you here! It’s beyond me, too, and I have a master’s degree that is 25 years old, too, but as you said, but still. There are so many possibilities to get something to read these days even if you’re tight on money. Many of those I used myself in lean times, but I never ever stole somebody’s hard work. When the money is there, I order books galore, when it’s not, I go to the library or look the freebies up on kindle. how can anybody even think they are entitled to the work of somebody else? I don’t enter a bakery demanding bread and cake on top for free. I pay for it, and if I liked it, I tell them so the next time, but I still pay for my bread and cake. I truly like the internet and the possibilities, but I also hate what it does to those who are entitled to their earnings because of the work they’ve done.

      • Without the money authors make their books can not be continuously published nothing in life is free give me a break people

        • I remember an author telling her fans she had to quit for a few years to work another job. because people released “free” digital copies of her written work. As far as I know, the author hasn’t gone back to writing. because she has bills and work takes most of her creative time.

    • So well written, and so glad you shared. It always amazes me that 99 cents is even too much. Or when they ask if it’s out in the library yet because they can’t afford one, when it’s one of the cheapest forms of entertainment. The breakdown of a $10 novel, at maybe 10 hours to read (and enjoy) is $1 a dollar an hour. Going to a sporting event, concert, or movie, is well, way more than that, plus gas and travel time. I love this article and will be sharing it. A lot! Again, thanks for a very well written article!

      • I always think of everything in terms of how much entertainment I get out of it. I go to the casino with twenty bucks and come out with nothing, I don’t see it as losing money. It’s the cost of the few hours of entertainment I got out of it with my penny machine. Go to the movies I spend nearly forty dollars with snacks and another person for two to three hours, we spend less than that for a book. I can spend eight to twelve hours reading a book and only have spend ten dollars, but people complain about two dollars which can equate to only twenty-five cents an hour depending on the book.

        I say if you’ve pirated a book and loved it, go buy it to show your appreciation. Even if you didn’t like it but read it all the way through, twenty-five cents an hour isn’t much to ask to support the writing community.

        I enjoyed your post. Thank you for trying to be a voice for all authors out there.

    • Well said! Recently, Patricia Briggs had an increase in her eBooks price and received some negative comments. Her response was wonderful. The cost of an eBook is 1-2 cups of coffee at Starbucks and often books are much less than a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Puts things in perspective.

    • I’ve never read any of your books, truthfully I’ve never heard of you until Jim Wright shared this blog on his Facebook. I’m now going to buy your book in my Kindle, based on the message and the writing in this one blog post. Thanks!

    • I agree with you mostly. Seriously I do! Best thing I ever did was sign up to volunteer for my local library! They “pay” in “atta-boys”!
      “Thank you for coming!”
      You do such a good job!”
      “We’re so lucky to have you!”
      I may not get paid monetary value, but what I DO get paid is so beyond! It’s self-esteem. It’s self-worth. It’s a feeling that, while I rely upon food stamps, I’m still giving back and I don’t feel like I’m “on the dole”.
      But…I’m old now. Every time someone talks about those on food stamps, they include ME! I worked for nearly 50 years. I made low wages because I believe in small business and they cannot afford to pay much. Therefore, I’m supposed to try to live on $644/month!!! I’ll break my arm patting myself on the back because I’m still in the same apartment for 13 years! I get $150/month off my rent because I’m the “manager” (read that “the old lady who lives there with the keys for everyone else”)
      I fought in the ’60’s for equality for everyone! Blacks! Women! Anti-war! “Human rights”! It’s very wrong to categorize me in any “niche”. I won’t fit! You all (the “haters”) need to back off!
      You see, at one time, I was a successful, ambitious, outgoing young woman. I had a great job. (actually, this happened to me more than once) My man caused me to lose my job and my self-esteem and my self worth and my children and everything I held dear. I have been homeless. I fear homelessness like the plague. It was my judgmental attitude that slapped those sandals on MY feet! I learned what it was like to be in the depths of depravity! It was the biggest lesson of my life!
      I’m still here. I have to rely on food stamps. If you judge me for that, then may God grant you the grace not to follow in my footsteps!

      • Candi:
        I certainly don’t judge you for having to rely on food stamps or for having been homeless. These are my biggest fears too. I live in a house that is literally falling apart around me. It would be cheaper to knock it down and start over again rather than fix it, and I can do neither. It will not see me out the rest of my life, so I am very concerned about my future.

        The thing is, I think people like you, people that are truly strapped for money, represent a tiny proportion of the people who claim to be so broke they have to download books illegally rather than buy them (or wait until they go on sale, save up for them, explore alternative routes of getting them for free). I think the typical downloader uses ‘broke’ as an excuse to justify their actions. Of course, I have no proof of that, much like I have no proof that more of these same people *would* buy these books if they weren’t available as illegal downloads. But it is certainly what I believe.

        But I would never judge you for being a little further down the same path I’m on.

      • Your story (non-fiction), I have to careful when posting on a writers group, caused me some sadness. Not your intention I’m sure. Yet, it is a fine example of pride and confidence in ones self. I applaud you.

        I am old too. I try and temper my emotional outburst when it comes to politics and make an effort to separate the circumstances from the person. I rail about the increase of people on food stamps; but, never rail about the people. My heartache is the handling of the economy that has brought about the cause of so many more people needing food stamps. A Obama administration rant I will defer. I am truly glad your condition is stable for you and pray you will find the means for improvement as they present themselves.

        It seems your post went a little afield of the original posting on pirates stealing intellectual property; yet, dovetails into the essence of it as so many people think because of their “poor” standing that they ought to be able to have the work of others for free. I’m glad you don’t go down that path.

        At the risk of seeming crass, I don’t think that poor people understand the process involved in the mechanics of a healthy economy. For some it is bragging rights as to their prowess with computer skills to steal material from the web. Although, they are not good enough at it to earn a good living doing computer work. Others, just don’t care. If you can’t protect your stuff then you desire to have it taken. Those are the sociopaths. There was a good post up-stream that did a good job on that theme.
        Jerry Hall recently posted..The Princess and the Apprentice by Roland BoykinMy Profile

  1. Hear, Hear, Sarah! I’m aghast at the number of people who steal books using piracy sites. Never in a million years would it occur to me to do that. No matter how broke John and I were at various times throughout our marriage, we still managed to treat ourselves occasionally although we often had to wait and not use the American “I want it now” mindset. There is also something called a wishlist that is wonderful so you don’t lose track of books you want to buy.
    I have been accosted numerous times because as a reviewer I get my books for free. However, there are still a number of books that I buy in order to help the authors. In fact, just this morning I took advantage of Dreammspinner’s 30% off sale combined with a 25% off promo code I received for signing up to their newsletter……I bought 15 books for about $50! I was in heaven.
    The point is that this is your job and you deserve every dime, as all authors do, for entertaining me and letting me escape to a world where I can be happy for a few hours.
    Thank you for that. It’s more precious than anyone can know.
    <3 <3 <3

    • Yes, even as a reviewer, there are only so many books that come your way–if there is something you want to read, you have to buy it. And given the great financial stress John’s illness put on your family, if anyone had an excuse to seek out free comfort reads, it was you. But you didn’t. It’s a different mindset. Those that defend it seem blind to the the fact that they’re killing off the creators they profess to love. Few people can afford to write simply for the joy of it. The very inability to see this screams ‘entitlement’ to me. 🙁

      Great Scott! I had no idea there was a bonus for signing up for the newsletter–this is a cool deal–I hope lots of people take advantage of it. 🙂
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Dear Broke Reader: Your Sense of Entitlement is Killing MeMy Profile

  2. Well said. I truly do *not* understand the rationalization that goes into patronizing pirate sites or this idea that “art should be free”. It never has been and it never will be–at least not legally. (And can you imagine this chick’s boss saying “I’m not going to pay you any more, you should work for free, for the love of the job”!? Right. Like that would fly.)


      • I do get the mentality. It comes from a lack of respect and understanding. Most people think a writer’s work is easy and “anyone can do it” so they see little value in the end product in terms of money out of their pockets. I used to work for the TV Guide. The writing department–the bread and butter of the company, right? Wrong. My department was among the lowest paid, while the fine folks who sold ads and subscriptions got more. Why? the bottom line was more tangible for the sales people. It never really occurred to the higher ups that without the writers, there would be no product to place the ads in. The writers were expendable, replaceable with any joe-schmoe off the street. This attitude permeates almost every sector of society. Having a liberal arts degree is the butt of jokes indicating a waste of time on useless knowledge. The “skill set” for a writer is “just knowing how to write” and people mistake / equate basic language skills for creative writing. They look at the words on a page and think “Well, I could do that too, so why should I pay so much to someone else who did it? That isn’t work at all.” So it really isn’t an issue of copyright, it is a lack of respect and understanding for the work and talent needed to produce a story. People like the one asking for pirate sites and the supporters do not perceive your work as equal to compensation because they don’t think you actually worked.

        • I certainly think lack of respect for writing as a skill is a factor, but I also think the *ease* of file sharing in this day and age is a huge component. If shoes could be uploaded as a file share option, you can bet people would do it (and still justify their actions by saying the shoe company already makes enough money through legitimate sales).

          Combine the low monetary value many people assign to creative works and the vulnerability art, music, photography, and books have for file-sharing, toss in a pinch of ‘I want this/I deserve this’, and it’s the creators that lose every time.
          Sarah Madison recently posted..Dear Broke Reader: Your Sense of Entitlement is Killing MeMy Profile

          • It’s all those things: Disrespect, ease of file sharing, sense of being entitled to free things, thinking it’s easy..

            All these floor me…especially the “thinking it’s easy” part. Have any of them tried to write? When I say write I mean write something really well, something that grabs people and makes them not want to put the story down until they are done? I know I couldn’t do that. I LOVE reading, I have all my life. It’s probably my most favorite thing to do. That doesn’t mean I’d make a good writer. I have ideas I think are great for stories…but just the time and effort it would take to flesh out the whole story…to know where to go from A to Z would be huge. Even if I were led to do that part, it doesn’t mean my writing would be good. It wouldn’t automatically make people want to read and keep reading my story.

            That is a gift. It’s a gift but one that is extremely hard work. It’s not easy to put together a really good story. So for anyone to think it is easy…it totally floors me. *shakes head*

            God bless all the writers who provide me with delicious things to read! *HUGS*
            And, when I say provide…I don’t mean for free!

        • Pretty much it, Jiara. But in case you haven’t heard. Even some employers don’t think they should have to pay their employees. There is a bar owner in Texas who has paid his employees almost nothing over the past 4 or so years. He is doing quite well. He tells his employees the bar isn’t. He as a large turnover, for obvious reasons. We all have bills to pay. Things to buy. Kids to raise. He doesn’t care. He gets upset when employees quit. Promises I’ll pay you. And a dozen excuses as to why he hasn’t yet. Couple of months down the road and they say where’s my check? And they get the same story. And none of them have turned him in. They keep thinking (I believe. Not sure) that someone else will do it. Or he’ll get the message and do right by the next employees. Or whatever. This came out on a segment of Bar something or other where a guy is an expert in business and he goes in and help people see why their business is failing and helps them get on the right track. They did a follow up type of thing with the Texas bar and found the guy has not changed a thing. This entitled thing can be laid right at the feet of parents who don’t say no. We have a whole generation of them. Noticed the trend 50 or so years ago and each new generation was worse about it than the one before. In some places Child Protective Services have actually told people saying no to their kids is abuse and they can’t do that. A lot of businesses hire only for the short term. The average is 3 months, considered a trial, learning period where the employee gets minimum wage, then they are supposed to give the employee a raise as they are then considered full time workers. There were 3 businesses where I used to live that were known for doing that. When I talked to one of them they said it is an employers market. Lots of people wanting jobs. They figure they won’t run out of employees. It really is a lack of respect. So few have it today. For anything or anyone. Really is sad

      • Check out Zenni for cheap glasses. Nobody deserves to be unable to see well because of some arbitrary monopoly on eyewear and crappy fans who don’t pay for your work.

  3. *sigh* Stealing is stealing is stealing. I just cannot understand the willful ignorance of these thieves! It’s appalling and disheartening and I say this as a reader. The truth is, the pirate sites will inevitably lead to authors no longer writing and publishing – why should they if there is literally nothing to be gained by it? As I’ve stated before, the people that I KNOW by observation who do this are NOT broke, but they are young and entitled. One girl in her Louboutins and Prada bag freely admitted to downloading movies from torrent sites! WTAF??? I don’t know how we put the horse back in the barn on this one, but it needs to happen.

      • But guess what she’ll actually remember and appreciate long after the shoes and bag wear out or she gets bored and donates them to Goodwill.

        I go around in jeans and tshirts and I buy the danged books.

          • I commend your honesty and intelligent assessment of the systems, both broken and braking, even if your act hurts fellow creatives. We can’t beat piracy as long as humans continue to be flawed, scared animals that will do anything for another reward impulse. All I ask for is honesty among thieves. Understanding the behavior is wrong is actually the part I care about. That means we have hope for our species which makes it easier to sleep at night even if I can’t afford a nice pillow. Thanks and happy sailing.

    • The truth is, the pirate sites will inevitably lead to authors no longer writing and publishing – why should they if there is literally nothing to be gained by it?

      This is a very real concern, I believe. And yet the feeling seems to be to shrug and say, “Someone else will take their place.”

      That may be true. But if we lose authors for lack of support, if publishers close because they can’t compete with pirates or Amazon’s cut-throat pricing, if authors can’t afford a decent editor or cover artist–will the end results still be worth reading?
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Dear Broke Reader: Your Sense of Entitlement is Killing MeMy Profile

    • This willful ignorance is rampant. I was reading thread on line and one of the posters castigated anyone that was dumb enough to pay for any copyrighted material. He failed to connect that artist (writer, musician, director, etc.) with the work, then failed to connect that time spent in creation and honing the final product was worth anything.

      • I do think that there’s a pervasive disconnect between the people who justify their use of illegal downloads and the creator of the very product they appropriate in this manner.

        Which is interesting to me because in this day and age, fans have greater access to authors, actors, showrunners, etc than ever before. Interesting, and sad, too. You would think they would have *some* inkling of how harmful their file-sharing habit is to the people who produce the material they love.
        Sarah Madison recently posted..Dear Broke Reader: Your Sense of Entitlement is Killing MeMy Profile

    • Here’s the seed of an idea: Disney is very aggressive about going after copyright violators, and has developed such a reputation for utilizing the full extent of the law that many people,(not all), think twice about stealing anything Disney. Of course, they have mega bucks at their disposal, and legal teams that are part of their organization. But how could this concept be put to work for writers? A legal co-op perhaps, where everyone who joins contributes, and the funds are used, not against the pirate sites, but against those who are actually caught using them. There has to be a way to make the perpetrators afraid of being caught.

    • Thank you, Stephen! No, it really isn’t. But I think thanks to the digital revolution, the lack of being able to hold it in your hand and the ease with which digital files can be shared makes some readers feel like it’s not a tangible commodity–and therefore should be free.

      Can you imagine the uproar if someone bought a pair of shoes at Wal-Mart and then was able to upload that same pair to the internet, where thousands of people could get a pair illegally? ‘Oh but we’re not hurting anyone. We wouldn’t have bought the shoes in the first place, so it’s no big deal. And you should be *glad* we’re wearing your shoes! It’s free advertising you know. Especially when we tell all our friends where they can get your shoes for free.’

      I say go barefoot.

      Mind you, I feel differently about those people in foreign countries that have no access to such stories otherwise. Maybe these stories are banned in their country. Maybe they have no other means of accessing them. I doubt seriously this represents the average user of torrent and pirate sites, however.
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Dear Broke Reader: Your Sense of Entitlement is Killing MeMy Profile

      • But they did NOT get those shoes for free. They had to pay Walmart to get them in the first place. The maker got the original price they wanted when they signed up to sell them AT Walmart. The maker should be happy. What a buyer does with the product after he takes those shoes home , is their choice…wear them or sell them.. Your example stinks .

        • No, I don’t think so. Yes, you are correct in that once I buy a pair of shoes, I can give them to Goodwill. I can loan them to my BFF. I can sell them on eBay when I don’t want them anymore. What I can’t do is put them up online for 16 K people to download for free–and share that illegal copy with their friends, and their torrents, and their pirate sites. I can’t do that because it is physically impossible. I don’t do it because it is cheating the original creator by providing their product to thousands for free. Why on earth should the maker be happy that they produced an *awesome* pair of shoes, only to have the pattern stolen and shared thousands of times over with no compensation? The idea that some readers should be able to do this is the very definition of ‘sense of entitlement’ here.

        • I think you missed the point. She was saying if shoes could be “multiplied” like electronic goods, shoe companies would not sit by and shrug while their revenue was stolen from them by pirated sales.

          • You can’t make a practical argument about piracy. All that is ever lost is potential; what people MIGHT have paid for if it were not available otherwise.

            In this example, if physical goods could be cheaply and massively reproduced by the average Joe, the competition in the market with massively reproducible material from nothing would eat itself alive. It is a moral argument, for certain, but you can’t put a price on data. By that logic, a spoiler post about the most recent Game of Thrones would also be piracy. You paid nothing to know what happened, but I told you the Hound isn’t dead. I could even describe it to you scene by scene, but that isn’t piracy is it?

            I get what OP is trying to say, and I agree to a point, but it is a moral dilemma and one that is not so clearly defined let alone so easily settled.

          • No, it is not an easily defined or settled dilemma. And you’re right, I can’t say how many of the people would have purchased legitimate copies of my stories if they hadn’t been available as illegal downloads. But if you look at the number of illegal downloads from *one* site–and factor in the widespread availability of illegal downloads across *many* sites–if even a fraction of the total downloads resulted in a legitimate purchase because the story wasn’t available illegally–that would make a difference in my life.

            Because I don’t have television at the house, a friend of mine would often send me snippets of dialog from my favorite shows. I had to ask her to stop because when I finally got around to watching the episodes for myself, some of the impact of the show was lost due to her spoilers. That didn’t stop me from watching the show, however. I didn’t say, “Gosh, my friend told me everything I need to know about this episode–I guess there is no point in watching it for myself.” It simply isn’t the same. Even if she had quoted me entire scenes, it wouldn’t have been the same as watching the episode for myself. Someone illegally uploading one of my stories to a file-sharing service–or worse, *profiting from the sales of my stories–completely eliminates the need for the reader to ‘watch the entire episode’. They already have. Illegally.

  4. Stands and cheers. Brilliant, brilliant post.

    I am *stunned* by the sense of entitlement being shown by the people in the current brouhaha on FB. Even more stunned that the one who kicked all this off is a photographer who has got to understand the concept of copyright and getting paid for her work or does she do every camera gig for free? Then again, photographers get paid enough, so stealing her photos – no harm, no foul, right?

    • I know, right? One of my friends got out of photography because photos posted online were so often stolen and used without purchase or acknowledgement of copyright. Then too, the subjects themselves frequently acted as though because the images were digital, there was no effort or talent involved in taking the shot. Clients became increasingly demanding and less appreciative and she and her husband simply quit doing it.

      So at the very least, you’d think the pirate-site seeker would understand the depth of the problem and the impact it has on people trying to make a living. Hell, on people simply trying to supplement their income.
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Dear Broke Reader: Your Sense of Entitlement is Killing MeMy Profile

  5. The first time I heard the term “entitlement,” it was explained to me as, “I should have it because I want it.”

    It’s just a fancy name for selfishness. And immaturity. Although we all call it entitlement these days, in some ways, it legitimizes it. Common behaviour becomes the norm. There may have been 3 major arguments, but even if we refute all three, they’ll just do it anyway, “because I want it.”

    It’s the same as the woman who walks into me, then tells me to fuck off. I rarely go to the threatre any more because people, when asked *during the movie* to turn off their phones are never apologetic or contrite. They’re angry. “I should be able to do what I want when I want it, regardless of how it affects anyone else.”

    It’s not justifiable, it’s sociopathic.

    Just my 2cents Canadian.

    • I have to say, I’ve seen a big change in how people interact with each other both in person and online in the last ten years. I do think the internet–and our addiction to it–play a large role in that. Two young men standing behind you in line joke with each other about your appearance and your purchases–and don’t care if you hear them. You honk your horn at someone who didn’t see you on the road in order to prevent an accident–and they act as though you’ve personally insulted them and try to run you off the highway.

      When the Dixie Chicks stated they were ashamed President Bush hailed from their home state of Texas, they received death threats and radios refused to play their songs. These days people can directly tweet President Obama, saying some of the foulest things, and it’s just par for the course on the internet. Donald Trump can say the most outrageous things, make comments that would have sunk a presidential campaign four years ago, and not only does no one care, they applaud him for it.

      We’re a world of angry people. I don’t think there is any coming back from that. And ‘I deserve this’ is one of the biggest problems out there.
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Dear Broke Reader: Your Sense of Entitlement is Killing MeMy Profile

    • Gina,

      I’m not sure who gave you that definition but you and they have it all wrong. Entitlement is when you earn it, pay for it or deserve it. It’s when you ARE entitled to it…not when you think it’s owed to you.

      • Fran,

        This is actually Exhibit A of the problem. People feel like they deserve things so much without actually earning them, the original meaning of the word “entitlement” has changed. It’s head-spinning, really.

        • WORD.

          Which makes me grind my teeth when certain political factions try to tell us Social Security is the ‘negative’ version of entitlement. No, it’s not. we paid into that fund our entire working lives and we ARE entitled to our Social Security payouts. Completely different circumstances but an example of how the word has changed meaning.

          • The word hasn’t changed its meaning, just people’s understanding of it as we let idiocy rise and vilify intelligence. There’s nothing wrong with being entitled to something. Problems arise when you have a “sense of entitlement” for something to which you’re not actually entitled. Usually, people aren’t entitled to things which aren’t theirs, aren’t earned, or aren’t given to them by the rightful owner. Certainly, politicians don’t help this situation with their typical obfuscations, attempting to confuse constituencies about their own rights while taking things to which they themselves are not entitled. Oh, irony, thou art surely a bitch 😀

          • So true–which is why I used ‘sense of entitlement’ in the title of this post. It’s frustrating and infuriating when I hear Congress use entitlement as a negative word, implying we *aren’t* entitled to Social Security–when the truth of the matter is that we *are*. We’ve been paying into it our entire working lives.

            I think spin doctors are part of the reason the word’s meaning is being skewed.

      • Thank you, Fran. I was reading through to see if someone was actually going to get that right about what entitlement is before I threw in my 2 cents. Yet… much as I hate to say it, I think Congress and the mainstream media is the most at fault for distorting the meaning of entitlement in their treatment of social programs.

        As a fledgling writer that writes a little everyday, I haven’t delved in the marketing side of writing (as yet). This post about pirating is a real eye opener.

    • Many public libraries also lend e-books. My county library has over 25,000 available to download. And they buy them.

      • Not only that, most libraries have interlibrary loan. Our small rural community library didn’t dare stock the True Blood series….but I read them all and watched all the episodes due to the magic of interlibrary loan.

        • The Overdrive app (which is used to sign in and legally borrow library books) has been a lifesaver for me. Not enough people are aware that it’s an option. My specific library system is very healthy and 90% of the time has the title I’m searching for…including new releases. FYI…they also loan mp3 audiobooks (and video, music and more – but I’m a dedicated bibliophile).

          I understand financial stress. My husband and I are both young to have serious health problems and the bills that go with it. As you said, that’s life. It happens.

          I could not possibly feed my ‘book-a-day-keeps-the-blues-away-habit’ without my local library. As you mentioned, If they don’t have what I’m looking for, it’s easy to recommend it for purchase through the app. So far, my library has purchased about 85% of my requests. That’s pretty good!

          Thank you for a very insightful article! I enjoyed reading it and couldn’t agree more with your position on this issue.

    • Our public library is part of “Tennessee Reads” and we can access tons of e-books or audio books using the Overdrive app. I’ve spent many hours doing laundry and cleaning the kitchen while listening to books.

      How much did this cost? A two dollar library card.

      It’s better for the author that we buy the books, obviously, but borrowing them is better than stealing. Piracy spreads.

  6. I’d like to point out that the only reason the earnings of the average author is said to be “less than 10k” is because of the few at the top who earn millions. In reality, if an author earns more than 1k a year through writing, they’re beating the odds. Writing is no longer lucrative, except for a very few.

      • My royalties are scarcely worth cashing…in fact, my publishers only send out checks over $5, and so I usually only get paid once, maybe twice in a good year. And I’ve had readers contact me directly to tell me how much they enjoyed the entire novel I have for free on Smashwords, and ask me how they can get the other 4 books in the series. I direct them to the Amazon page and never hear from them again…or else they write back and ask me again how they can get a copy. Clearly they want me to slip them a freebie, because then want it. Um…no.

    • Actually, I make my living as a writer, but not as a FICTION writer. You’re right, it’s nearly impossible to do that these days. Writing web content, and maintaining social media accounts for businesses is my business.

      It’s a myth that you “can’t make a living” writing. You might not be able to do it writing fiction, unless you’re good, prolific, and lucky, but it *can* be done.

  7. Excellent post. I only wish I had a quarter for every one of my books that have been downloaded from a pirate site. I might actually be making a living. *sigh*

  8. I don’t call them pirate sites, too resonant of jolly swashbuckling rogues like Captain Jack Sparrow…I say it as it is, parasitical thieves. There is nothing their supporters can say in their defence that isn’t specious nonsense…like ‘ all culture should be free for all society’….Utter tripe….we write as professionals, it is our living…even if we have to top it up with waiting tables to survive. Download from an ebook theft site and you are stealing someone’s hard work.

    • I am tired of seeing books I worked on end up on pirate sites with an order of magnitude more downloads than I have had sales.

      Isn’t that the most infuriating part of the whole thing? “But they wouldn’t have bought your stories anyway.” FINE. Then let them read something else.

      Do those illegal downloads translate into sales? Heck, do they even translate into reviews? Doubtful. Extremely doubtful. The numbers simply aren’t there to support that. If I have 16 K downloads from *one site alone* and my sales are nowhere near those numbers, then that refutes that theory, doesn’t it?
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Dear Broke Reader: Your Sense of Entitlement is Killing MeMy Profile

  9. Your post could have been taken out of my head…even down to the dental work I keep pushing back while paying other more important bills with my writing royalties. lol I love my readers too, but this problem does seem to be getting worse. It’s not just upsetting, it’s sad.

    • Gah, I sympathize. Especially when you consider that dental disease predisposes you for all kinds of health issues–and yet if you don’t have the money, you don’t have it. My dentist suggested I take out a second mortgage on the house to pay for the necessary work. I kid you not!

      It’s not like we’re asking to pave our sidewalks with gold or buy private islands in the Caribbean. We only want what is our due. Most of us are asking nothing more than the price of a cup of coffee. Starbucks is lucky that coffee can’t be shared as a digital file…
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Dear Broke Reader: Your Sense of Entitlement is Killing MeMy Profile

      • I SOOO agree. It crosses my mind so often when I stand in line at SB. $5 for a cup of coffee yet paying that much for something I spent 1000+ hours on is not worth it? Ugh. Disheartening to say the least.
        I write because I have this crazy idea I want to change the world. Is that too much to ask? 🙂 I’m all about getting those hard-spun words into as many hands as possible, but stealing is stealing is stealing. As the mom of teens, we’ve had this talk many times.
        “Just because you CAN get something for free and EVERYBODY’S doing it, does NOT mean you SHOULD.” One of my kids aspires to produce & direct movies. He totally got it when I said, “You’ll want to make a living doing that? Then ya better make sure YOU don’t steal other people’s work now.”
        Thank you so much for this post. We need to keep the dialogue going and keep trying to educate about this issue.
        If we do nothing, we’re part of the problem.

  10. Well said. I’ve always heard, “The people who download from pirate sites wouldn’t pay for the book/song/movie anyway, so you aren’t losing any money.” I just can’t buy that in every situation. I think it’s more like, “Why should I pay for it when I can get it free from a pirate site?” I don’t know how it would be possible to get rid of the sites, when they’re like the legendary Hydra. Cut off one and three more appear. But I really wish law enforcement could do something.

    • Thank you!

      “The people who download from pirate sites wouldn’t pay for the book/song/movie anyway, so you aren’t losing any money.” I just can’t buy that in every situation. I think it’s more like, “Why should I pay for it when I can get it free from a pirate site?”

      THIS. OMG, I am so tired of hearing this as a justification. Fine, they wouldn’t have bought the book anyway. Then let them read something else.
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Dear Broke Reader: Your Sense of Entitlement is Killing MeMy Profile

  11. I don’t think this is nearly as black and white an issue, though. It wasn’t until this century that artists, including writers, made much money from their art. The idea of the “starving artist” is a long-held one and perhaps artistic types are now the ones feeling entitled to make money from their art.

    I’m also a writer and I’m conflicted on the subject: if someone reads something I wrote and they didn’t pay for it, but they enjoyed it, then that’s sort of a good thing. But yes, I also have bills to pay. It’s much more complicated than simply saying that these people suck and should stop doing what they are inevitably going to do.

    Rather than control that, I’ll just continue making art that people want to read and that most, hopefully, feel is worth something. I think as artists, that’s what we should focus on.

    • It also wasn’t until the 20th century that we eradicated polio or allowed people of color and women to vote. Writing = time + work, just like any other job that creates a product. Those products should be paid for. By this logic, shoplifting groceries should be fine because farm communities used feed themselves.

    • I’m of the same mind, kind of torn. I know I have readers who’ve gotten my books from pirate sites because they couldn’t purchase them in their countries. I just couldn’t stand the thought of cutting them off because someone else isn’t paying me. But that’s just me.

    • We also had slaves in this country up til 1865. Artists didn’t make a living without sponsorship back then because most people were POOR.

      If you have a roof over your head and sufficient food to eat and you own luxuries that you have purchased in the past six months, you are not poor. Or, if you are somehow poor (and I know it’s possible), you at least have access to enough of someone else’s money that you can do the polar opposite of slumming it.

      So buy the danged art already, if you like it that much.

    • I’ve pretty much resigned myself to the notion I will never make a large amount of money from writing. I’m okay with that, actually. I’m quite willing to give away my stories, too. You’re sick? Here, have a story. Having a sucky day? Here, read this. I give away stories on book tours, I give away stories when people sign up for newsletters. I sell autographed print copies below cost at conventions because I figure it’s promotion.

      But there is a cost to producing a book, even if you completely negate the value of the author’s input itself. At the bare minimum, it costs me (with reputable editing, a quality cover artist, book promotion, etc) about $800 to self-publish a story. I think it’s only fair to want to recoup that.

      I agree it’s more complicated than saying these people suck and should stop pirating. But short of putting pirate and torrent sites out of business or changing digital content so it cannot be shared, my only other weapon is words. I can say, “No, you *are*hurting me (and other authors) when you illegally download stories.” I can refute the arguments in a public forum. Maybe I won’t change the minds of the vast majority of people who use these sites, but at least I can make them think every time they click on that download.

      If we suffer in silence, no one will ever know how big an issue this is for the average author. Silence implies consent, and I do not consent.
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Dear Broke Reader: Your Sense of Entitlement is Killing MeMy Profile

      • There’s also a huge difference between gifting something and having it stolen from you. It’s not a difference in revenue, but it does allow one to PLAN for the “difference in revenue”. There’s also a difference in intent – it’s a slippery slippery slope to justify taking something that the creator of the work and the law, and society says you can’t have because it doesn’t belong to you – consent is paramount if we want to live in a society, together, without rights being violated constantly. Society is a construct that we all agree to live by, and if you can violate rights in some ways, what’s to stop rights violations from happening just a little_more. I know this is kind of an extreme view.
        I’ve also heard the argument that artists should charge with the expectation that a bunch of their work will be thieved. You know, like Walmart, ffs.

    • “It wasn’t until this century that artists, including writers, made much money from their art.”

      This is actually false. Michaelangelo and his ilk all had huge amounts of money paid for their work. There was also a system where wealthy patrons could pay for an artist’s (art, writing, history, etc) living expenses so they could work.

      That’s where we get the term “patronising the arts” from.

      The system fell apart during the Victorian era, and that’s where the dream/trope of the “artist starving in a garret” was born.

    • Centuries ago, artists, writers, and musicians had patrons who not only paid them a wage, but provided living quarters and health care for them and their families. Johann Sebastian Bach’s patrons were various princes and counts who provided enough to support Bach’s wife and 20 kids. Leonardo da Vinci’s patrons were the Medicis and the Sforzas. Shakespeare’s patrons were Queen Elizabeth I, King James I, and the Earl of Southampton.

      Lesser artists, writers, and musicians still had their patrons–employers–whether it was a church, lower nobility, or a rich merchant. It was earned, and it was good money, enough to live on in decent circumstances.

      It wasn’t until about the 18th century that artists started to earn money on their own apart from patrons, and could live off it, too. So it’s not a recent phenomenon.

    • “That they are inevitably going to do”?

      Why should it make it acceptable behavior just because they’re “going to do it anyway”? The “it’s just who they are”; “let it go because you can’t change people”; and “people gonna do what they gonna do” are wearing thin. By those justifications, homicidal homophobic jerks shouldn’t be punished for murdering a gay man for no other reason than he’s gay because, hey, you can’t stop everyone from being homophobic. You don’t need antiterrorism protection because terrorists will always exist. Don’t bother locking your door because robbers gonna find a way in if they really want to. And don’t bother the cops when they do steal your TV and your grandmother’s heirloom jewelry because hey, it made them happy. Yes, those are extremes, but they’re all really just examples of people feeling entitled to act any way they want without regards to others or consequences. Where do you start drawing lines? Where and how do you begin turning the tide in this growing culture of selfishness?

  12. I’ll post here what I wrote on Facebook when I shared this:

    Personally I get a lot of books from charity shops. I’ve also started buying e-book bundles, and from time to time I browse to see what has been uploaded lately that looks interesting.* If someone posts a link to temporary free books, I’m also pretty quick to get those.
    There’s also libraries of course.

    (I also spend plenty of money at Watersones. And as soon as I have had a chance to buy some of the suff I need at home, I’ll spend more money there.)

    Bottom line is that getting more books than you can ever read is not that hard. People who complain about the price of books do have entitlement issues.
    They clearly want specific books for free, or whatever price they’ve convinced themselves a book should cost.

    It’s actually not that hard to get those specific books for free if you want to either. If you set up a review blog and post regularly, then NetGalley will give you access to plenty of big-name authors’ books before they are released to the public.

    I can’t see any other reason than entitlement and laziness behind complaining about the price of books.

    *I have discvered a lot of books on Gutenberg through browsing there. Plenty of them are obscure works of non-fiction that I would never have known existed. I’d highly recommend spending a few hours browsing, and downloading there from time to time.

  13. An addition: Most libraries have broached the digital world and use services like overdrive where patrons can–with their library card–check out e-books! So whether you like book books, or ebooks, the library has your back.

    Thank you for this post. I hate that these kind of reminders continue to be necessary.

  14. I am glad to see an author’s opinion. I figured that would be it and I am sure others agree. Personally, I look for ones listed as free so I can try different genre’s or authors. I also volunteer to be an ARC reader for as many as I can handle. I so enjoying helping out and have (mostly) enjoyed every book. I have found several new-to-me favorites!!! Otherwise I save my money–and sometimes it takes quite awhile–and I will buy the book. Stephen King’s I always have to buy. But I am disabled and live on a very small fixed income–even so I don’t steal!!! Thank you for sharing your gift with the world–but you are the entitled one, deserving every cent charged for your talent. {{{HUG}}} There are still good people in the world.

    • Aw, that’s very kind of you, Sue. Like you pointed out, there are ways of getting free stories that allow you to test-drive an author or a genre without making a financial commitment. Sometimes all it takes is patience to wait for something you want to go on sale or be offered for free, leaving you to spend your money where you want on the things you don’t want to wait for or may not go on sale for a very long time. There have been some excellent suggestions in the comments here as well–services and options I didn’t know existed.

      Thank you for being honest in your transactions with authors. Most of us write to make someone else’s day a bit brighter, so your post here made me smile.
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Dear Broke Reader: Your Sense of Entitlement is Killing MeMy Profile

  15. Bravo! As an independent book store owner and operator (one store, not several or a chain) I applaud this insightful post. Books are not expensive when one considers all the work that goes into making one. People that want books should be happy that our society can afford to have people working in the arts instead of everyone subsisting. When asked to give a better deal, a fellow business owner tells customers that she would love to if only they can prove to her that they go in every day and renegotiate their salary/compensation, which is in effect what they are asking her to do.

    • Thank you!

      When asked to give a better deal, a fellow business owner tells customers that she would love to if only they can prove to her that they go in every day and renegotiate their salary/compensation, which is in effect what they are asking her to do.

      Oh my goodness, she’s right, isn’t she? And yet not only do people feel they can ask, so many vendors I know would be tempted to give in–with the idea that any sale is better than no sale at all. I’ve been guilty of that myself!
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Dear Broke Reader: Your Sense of Entitlement is Killing MeMy Profile

    • Just looking at sales price, the return for dollars spent is amazing. I routinely buy one author’s books on kindle for $8 and add on the audio for an additional $4. The audio book alone is 14 hours of entertainment. And I can listen anytime I want.

  16. Entitlement.

    We hear it from this woman wanting “free books” because “we poor” (omg, that saying…)

    But we also see it on TV, in magazines, and in songs. “You’re worth it.” “Get the money you’re entitled to.” “You deserve it.” Every time I hear those words, I want to throw something through the TV.

    We have kids who “deserve” a trophy because they signed up to play a game (soccer comes to mind.) The team didn’t win but, hey, no one has to feel bad, here kid, here’s a trophy. We have kids whose parents will go into a school and tell a teacher what grade to give their kid because “he tried, he’s entitled to have the grade.” We have student athletes in high school, college, and even pro teams who believe that since they are special enough to be on the team, they deserve to get away with cheating on exams, getting drunk and disorderly, or, in the recent case of the swimmer at Stanford, deserves not to go to jail because “jail would have a severe impact on him.” His father told the court that “That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.”

    ENTITLED TO books, music, a car, a place to live, a free education, free medical care, and on and on and on.

    This woman who is wanting us to write for free so she can read it is part of the problem, she’s also an indication of a serious problem in society at large. Unfortunately, that can’t be fixed with a cease and desist letter. 🙁

    Great post, Sarah.

    • Thank you!

      But we also see it on TV, in magazines, and in songs. “You’re worth it.” “Get the money you’re entitled to.” “You deserve it.” Every time I hear those words, I want to throw something through the TV.

      This is true on so many levels. I think, too, it’s part of why so many of us are so angry. We’ve been promised things we were never going to receive, and we’re pissed at not getting them. And we’ve gone from being told we’d achieve the Amercian Dream it we worked hard and put in the hours, to ‘just show up’–and when we don’t get what we think we deserve, we take it out on others.

      Sadly, the court agreed with the Standford rapist’s father. They seemed to have forgotten the impact his 20 minutes would have for the rest of his victim’s life.
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Dear Broke Reader: Your Sense of Entitlement is Killing MeMy Profile

  17. I no longer publish. I still write, but I no longer publish any of it.
    I actually spoke to a producer at the BBC during a function, and he lamented about the downloading of TV Series.
    My reaction was “Meh. That’s a secondary problem.”
    He gave me a funny look.
    I said “You need to look after the writers.”
    Another funny look.
    I said “If you want new material to make new movies and TV Series and stuff — where does it come from? Ask yourself what you’ll do for a living if the stories dry up.”
    “Oh, they won’t.”
    I looked at him and said point blank. “I no longer publish. It’s not worth it.”
    Long story short, a light bulb suddenly went on. He realised that, if the writers don’t publish, there is a danger to his own profession — which requires good stories.
    I told him that I can’t even buy a cup of coffee from my royalties, because the books are pirated pretty much the second they are out. So why should I go through all the hassle of editing, cover art — writing! — if at the end of it the reader uploads the copy somewhere.
    He was shocked to hear that there was very little done for authors, and how very little we actually make.
    Maybe it opened some eyes, but alas… I’m not putting anything out anymore. Done. Finished. I really can’t be bothered to deal with the heartache.

  18. Thanks for this article. I’ve shared it on Facebook. I had *no* idea that pirating books was a thing. It made me sick and, on behalf of readers everywhere, I’m sorry.

  19. I find this happens across the board. I have friends who are life coaches who get that all the time. They want the free stuff and then demand the products they have for sale. So sad! As a writer and an artisan I have dealt with this too. It drives me nuts to see “I would buy xxxx but I don’t have any money.” or “I bought from you before, I should get a discount…” Really people?!?!? Thank you for fighting the good fight!

  20. Thanks for posting this. I barely got over the “We shouldn’t have to pay for the stories in your head” and then I saw this. I am an author that feels the stories in my head are FREE, however, you MUST pay for the cover, editing, formatting & marketing. You are so right on because I too am sick of self-entitled people. I’m already pirated 800+ times per month(according to MUSO) and my books are .99(if you have to steal a .99 book. You have BIGGER issues than stealing). Let it be known that one author posted HE had NO problem with “pirates” as long as they left a review. I commented, that I sincerely prayed, he had NO children because according to his logic” it’s okay to steal as long as you leave a thank you note.”

    • Your books are $0.99. If you’re being pirated 800+ times a month, that’s $800 that you’re not getting! That’s craziness. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t mind getting that extra $800 a month!

      • Actually, if the book is sold at Amazon (for example) for .99c then the author would only be receiving 30% of that. So, 30% of $800 is what the author has truly lost. Readers don’t understand that the price of the book is NOT what the author receives. But, in the case of pirating, they more than likely don’t care anyway.

    • Thank you! Oh man, so 99 cents is too much, eh? *sigh*

      In fandom, comments *are* currency–it’s how people ‘pay’ for fanfic. That’s because it is illegal to make money off fanfic because of copyright issues. Even that has dropped dramatically in the last decade thanks to the advent of ‘kudos’ and ‘like’ buttons on some of the archives. But we have a different system of payment for original fiction. It’s called ‘money.’ 😉

      No, seriously, if I’ve had 16 K downloads from one site alone, where are my 16 K reviews? Your author friend isn’t seeing them either, I bet.
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Dear Broke Reader: Your Sense of Entitlement is Killing MeMy Profile

  21. Thank you!

    I’ve lost thousands through pirates and I’m a small name! I can only begin to imagine what others have lost.

    I write because I love to write, but I publish to earn a living. That’s the difference. Writing for publication is a job, and those self same people who steal books, movies, music and more, would be horrified and/or outraged if you asked them to work for free. They’d scream about stealing their time, their skills, insulting them by offering exposure, word of mouth recommendations. They wouldn’t accept ‘but I’m broke’ as an excuse.

    Ever noticed that many of those who claim ‘I’m broke’ as a reason, have a $5 latte in hand? Or think nothing of a manicure every week or two? Last one I ran into in person had brand new designer jeans on, perfect manicure and had obviously not long been to the hair dressers! But they were broke.

    No darling, I know what broke is. It’s sleeping on a friends floor, it’s praying your next royalty payment comes in before the lights are turned off, it’s using glue to fix your shoes because you really can’t buy new ones for you AND the new ones the kids need for school.

    Been there, done that and frankly the t-shirt was crap! Not in that position any longer thankfully, but I was – for a long time.

    Stealing food because your hungry, you haven’t eaten in more than 24 hours – that I can understand. Stealing a book because you ‘deserve it’ – nope, not going to get my sympathy!

    And yes, I do put out free stories, every single week on my blog. Between 1500 and 4500 words at a time! So there’s that excuse stripped away from the thieves.

    • Oh my, so much THIS. I’ve been in your shoes, and I know what you mean.

      I write because I love to write, but I publish to earn a living. That’s the difference. Writing for publication is a job, and those self same people who steal books, movies, music and more, would be horrified and/or outraged if you asked them to work for free.

      So true. And yet somehow, people can justify almost anything to themselves, can’t they?
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Dear Broke Reader: Your Sense of Entitlement is Killing MeMy Profile

  22. It’s worth noting that Overdrive e-books can be as great a potential source of piracy as any pirate site. Overdrive e-books use the same DRM that e-book stores do, so cracking tools that some people use to strip the DRM so they can back up books they’ve purchased will do the exact same thing for books they’ve checked out from the library. It puzzles me a bit that publishers don’t seem to be more concerned about this.

    I think one of the other reasons fan entitlement is such an issue these days, apart from anger and hunger, is that it’s a lot easier to contact most authors and creators these days. Twenty years ago, the only way to get in touch with an author was to write a snail letter to his publisher and hope the publisher deemed it worth passing on to him. Now, in many cases all you have to do is tag him on Facebook or Twitter.

    • Taking your two points separately–thanks for the info on Overdrive—I’m not familiar with it, so that was news to me.

      But yes, it is MUCH easier to contact authors and creators these days. And sadly many showrunners have encouraged the breakdown of the fourth wall, and then don’t understand when they can’t control fandom and it turns on them. This easy contact also seems to have erased the sense of propriety fans show actors at conventions these days. I’ve witnessed some unbelievable and gross crossing-the-line behavior on the part of fans, and if rumors about this past weekend’s convention are true, it will probably be the last one Chris Evans ever attends. 🙁
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Dear Broke Reader: Your Sense of Entitlement is Killing MeMy Profile

  23. How sad the stupidity of some people. I am retired and have a small income. I understand that this is a business. I diligently search book lists, I have a good relationship with some authors I review for, I review every book I read bought or gifted, or free from lists.

    I feel lucky to have a good relationship with a few of my favorite authors and the time they take to not only write wonderful entertainment, but stay in contact in the media as well.

    If you make an effort you can get some of both, good reads especially from authors trying to get a following if you read and follow reading groups. Purchase for those you really want and can’t afford.

    THIS IS THE JOB FOR THE AUTHOR. Do you want to go to work every day, work long hours and not get paid? Didn’t think so. Why do you think authors should want that?

    Thank you for your attention. The people who agree with this person are selfish and uninformed.

  24. AS an author of metaphysics books I ran into the same argument that people should be able to pirate to try before they buy, which they don’t. I argued as you do its theft, and got alot of push back. I have a pretty good paying day job and decided I do not need the “exposure” and haven’t published another book. I have them written, but I have no need for validation and the idea that people would not buy them anyway is a garbage as is the notion that an author should not be able to make a sustainable wage. Sorry not Sorry. The notion of “starving artist” as a historical justification is also absurd. Simply put, the artists would start because they had a limited pool of available resources. Consistently, most big house/well advertised authors would make about 13K ( thats STILL below poverty), if the pirated materials were paid. Yes some of those people would in fact PAY. Period. Instead I have been focusing solely on webinars and courses ( both of which are harder to pirate).
    Andrieh Vitimus recently posted..Protected: Convocation Shapeshifting 2016 Full LetureMy Profile

  25. There is a future where stealing creative work will be generally acknowledged as a serious crime. It may only exist in a story, but I am going to write that story… And I just might let people read it for free. My choice. We’ll see.

  26. Well said, people who steal, be it art, property, intellectual property, music, books, programs are just that Thieves. They deserve nothing but scorn and public shaming.

  27. All you have done here is to be entirely wrong at considerable length. Piracy simply is not theft. It is copyright infringement, which is at most half a theft. More importantly, it does not represent lost revenue. Something you made was used, but nothing has been taken from you.

    Broke people aren’t kidding. They’re broke. They can’t afford to pay your bills and if some magic made piracy go away tomorrow they still wouldn’t be paying you. They just wouldn’t be reading you.

    And if that’s a result you’re okay with, you still need to understand that what you’re asking for *is* magic.

    And then figure out what to do about the fact that your livelihood depends on unjust laws that prop up an outdated business model.

    • All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law.

      17 U.S.C. § 506, which sets out the elements of the crime, and 18 U.S.C. § 2319, which specifies the punishment.

      The crime requires willful infringement plus one of the following:
      motivated by profit
      total retail value > $1,000
      leaking commercial works to the internet before they’re released

      You can say it is not theft but it is illegal as all hell and everyone knows it. You can say it’s half a theft but it is a full crime and therefore should not be tolerated. Period. hat’s the point of her post and I think you knew that. But well done at splitting the one hair in it to make a strawman argument. It’s a crime, it’s illegal, they shouldn’t be doing it. End of story.

      • Problem is, you have to prosecute the crime and even then, you cannot regain control of the intellectual property if it has been posted on line. Getting a damage award is no guarantee either-you have to enforce the judgment if it can be enforced.

        • No, you’re right. Once it’s out there and has been shared and re-shared, there is no regaining control of the intellectual property.

          Which is why this post is an appeal to the people who share files illegally: there IS an impact. It *does* affect the creators of the property that is so blithely shared without a thought. It is not a victim-less crime. And while it may largely be an unprosecutable crime, it *is* a crime.

          I’m going to continue to write stories. People are going to continue to pirate them. The pirates are telling me that I ‘simply’ need to make more sales than they take in downloads and I’ll be just fine. That would be a heckuva lot easier to do if people couldn’t get them for free. Vicious circle with me as the loser.
          Sarah Madison recently posted..Dear Broke Reader: Your Sense of Entitlement is Killing MeMy Profile

          • The only way in which in which JediBear is correct is that copyright infringement is a crime distinct from theft. That doesn’t magically make it not illegal and not harmful to creators and, in many ways, consumers. But I must admit I do dislike the theft rhetoric that is bandied about in discussions of copyright violation. The two are different, and both illegal. One does not need to be associated with the other to make it more or less illegal. We’re you dead now 50 years and your heirs living a cushy (hah!) life off the extended library you’ve written, then I might want to have a serious discussion about whether certain aspects of current copyright law are indeed helpful to creators and society at large, but the kind of thing this blog post of yours wrestles with is indeed important and unaffected by the kinds of complaints copyright reformers typically bring against current copyright laws. You are being materially harmed by illegal behavior and some folks are attempting to justify their criminal activity by removing you as a person from the equation.

    • I wanted to respond to your post quickly because I have a feeling it will engender some strong response here.

      Half a theft? Is there any such thing? I call it rape. You call it sexual assault. Do the semantics make the act easier to tolerate? I guarantee it feels like a violation to the victim either way. Believe me, I *get* broke. Bred and born in that briar patch. I’m the Queen of the Double Wides. I’ve collected aluminum cans to buy a tank of gas. I’ve sold plasma to help pay the rent. I’ve lived without heat in the winter. You don’t know ‘cold’ until you wake up to discover the dog’s water dish has frozen overnight. In your kitchen. It’s because I understand what it is like to live off potato soup for weeks on end that every sale counts. And I believe if my stories weren’t out there on pirate sites and torrents as free illegal downloads, I would have more sales. If people wanted to read them that badly, they would cough up the price of a cup of coffee to do so. Maybe not in the same numbers as the downloads themselves, but even if a percentage of those downloads across all the illegal sites resulted in actual sales, it would have a significant impact on my life.

      I think also you’re missing the point here in that broke readers have a multitude of opportunities to access free fiction in a legal fashion, without having to infringe my copyright.

      • I wouldn’t pirate a book, mainly because I like the feel of the paper in my hands, the smell of the ink, etc etc.

        I’m not going to put you down either, my girlfriend is an aspiring author who spends all her free time polishing her novel. She’s had thousands in editorial help, lost wages doing this instead of another job, etc etc. I really hope that one day she can get some recognition and make some fat royalty checks.

        That said, a lot of people really wouldn’t purchase your book even if they could afford to pay for it. I know you wouldn’t give away physical copies unless you thought it would help you spread the word of your book or your writing skills, and that it costs you money to do that. It’s not the same thing for digital copies of course, a copy-paste and away it goes. This costs you money in a lost sale, assuming said person was going to buy your book, surely.

        But all of that aside, you have to look at the behavior of Internet Pirates (or thieves or whatever you want to call them.) as a unique thing. People often accumulate vast collections of stolen property just because they can. They like to look at their huge library of stolen media (If you read what they say in various places, or if you know anyone personally who makes it a habit.) and you know, just stroke it and be happy. If you torrent 2 Terra-bytes of music, maybe several thousand dollars in CDs, did that hurt all those musicians? No. Some of them surely, one or two out of 50 or 100 would have been a sale. But the vast majority of that library would never have been accumulated normally. Even the people who download it for free barely listen to it, if at all. Maybe they collect it, pet it, play the odd song, but the bulk of it is just unused copies of digital media.

        This is where your pirated books fit in. I get, I mean I really get, that you put your heart and soul into these words. You agonized over which characters should be what gender or nationality or religion or race, how they would act, who they would like, etc etc. I’m not putting you down in the least. You put in the time, you deserve to get paid.

        But the TL/DR is that the bulk of torrents go unused. Someone, maybe many someone’s out there have copies of your book that they did not pay for. However, the odds are that they haven’t even been looked at. Or they jumped to the steamy bits and skipped the rest. And yes, a PERCENTAGE of them will indeed actually enjoy your work and convert to a paying customer at some juncture. The volume of your perceived loss, however, is considerably lower than you are imagining. (Something the record companies and movie houses are starting to notice as the government pushes back on them trying to sue people for lost revenue.) The entire book market is in a slump since 2008, you’re not the only one hurting. More-over, maybe a factor, but Romance novels are also the number one more competitive field of fiction currently. And also the most easily interchangeable with each other.

        Keep up the good fight though. Report the torrents as you see them, and look for yourself on search engines other than google, because they censor results that may involve copy-right infringement. Duckduckgo for example would be a good pick to get past those filters and really get a look at where your book is being hosted.

        • Actually, people who torrent movies, music, etc turn around and burn them to disc and sell them. They’re called bootlegs. And okay, so maybe they’re at a fraction of the price, but people are still buying them. DVDs and CDs go on sale in store all the time. They’re also much cheaper on iTunes. Yet people buy bootlegs for half the quality and maybe a couple dollars cheaper. Therefore that’s sales out of the artists’ pockets.
          Elizabeth Barone recently posted..Why I Don’t Love HalestormMy Profile

  28. I think that the people stealing books are just not thinking. They are not thinking about your bills or family at all. All they want to do is read the book. They center and focus on that and he it however they can.
    Heck, makes me feel bad when an author sends me a book for free to read. I know it hurts them to do that. Compair it to and Avon Lady, Tupperware etc. They have to get all those prizes and gifts and books out of pocket to give away. Then people throw it in the trash! Not even looking at it one time! Ugh. People

  29. Sarah. I absolutely give you the utmost credit and respect for this very well conceived post. As an independent publisher of genre fiction, the desire for and pervasive use of piracy and torrent sites as a source for downloading copyrighted material is highly detrimental to each and every one of us — large or small — engaged in the creative sphere. I’m fully aware that most consumers who use such sites likely don’t much consider their actions, nor do they stop for a moment to think about whether or not the continued existence of the work(s) they’re enjoying for free is in jeopardy with each “click” of their own mouse. A very tangible example of this was in a recent interview with Roger Daltrey, frontman for The Who, when he stated that he didn’t see the point in the band releasing a new album as it was his opinion that the music industry has been decimated by piracy and free access to creative on the internet. Real music fans and actual book lovers (whatever the genre) need to wake up to their own “unreality” of this current digital age.
    Anthony Rivera recently posted..“Pure Blood and Evergreen” by Bracken MacLeod in DREAD: A HEAD FULL OF BAD DREAMSMy Profile

    • I think there is a very real risk of artists, writers, and musicians like Roger Daltrey deciding that it isn’t worth it any more. At least musicians have the option of making money through live performances–what options do readers have along those lines?

      The truth is, I know many talented writers who no longer publish. They write for their own enjoyment because they have stories to tell. They share them with a few trusted friends. But they no longer publish.

      There have been times I’ve been tempted to quit myself.
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Dear Broke Reader: Your Sense of Entitlement is Killing MeMy Profile

  30. You are NOT entitled to someone’s work. this is the height of privilege and it’s costing artists big time. Piracy, like another commenter above pointed out, is too nice. It’s parasitic.
    There is suddenly a universal drive against ‘intellectual property.’ The feel that once something is out there in the ether, they entitled to it. And it’s all over the place. In Movies, television, in music, and now it’s come to literature. The money lost is in the millions if not more.
    It’s illegal as hell. But there is no other way to stop it unless authors of all the arts get together and demand that the publishers of their work start coding their material so it can’t be downloaded. The writers are who are suffering in all platforms but these people don’t see it that way.
    I don’t know how many times authors have gone back to DSP and other publishing houses to get ‘take down notices’ on pirate sites. And I can understand the disappointment when it comes to their checks and the desire to stop writing altogether.
    Personally, I would rather you message me on FB and ask for my work if you can’t afford to buy it, as long as you review it. I’ve done it before. And people have done as I’ve asked. But just to take someone’s hard work? To just walk in and snatch it up and walk back out again?
    No. That’s bullshit.
    People today do not have the financial resources of a patron who will finance their life while they work. Writers are really taking a chance and because of people like this, it isn’t paying off.
    According to, the cost of this theft of ebooks to publishing houses is 3 BILLION a year.

    Now if your traditionally published author, you are already taking a cut in going through a publisher to begin with. Some only make 40 percent of ebook sales, already. If you go with Amazon, you get more of the stake but none of the support of a Publisher. So you are paying out of pocket to buy an editor’s time, cover art, etc. One friend of mine pointed out that one of her books that she self published cost her $700 U.S.D just because she wanted it to look good.
    Seven hundred dollars.
    If you do this thinking “What harm is it really doing?” or “Aw, they’re paid enough,” then you are a fool. And a goddamn thief. And you had better pray real hard that one day someone doesn’t walk through the door of your business and snatch your paycheck out of your boss’ hands.
    Then and maybe only then, would you understand how it feels.

    • The BF and I have gone round and round about whether digitally uploading files to a file-sharing site is theft or not. He says not, that copyright laws are designed around an out-moded model and don’t apply here–that no one is taking the original material from us, ergo it’s not ‘theft’. It is, at best, copyright infringement and the copyright laws (as others have pointed out) were designed to prevent issues in the pre-digital age.

      I do understand what he’s saying, and I can see where people use this argument to justify sharing files to thousands of other people. I pointed this out to him, but he said there was a gap in their logic. Whether or not it is theft in the true sense of the word, the remainder of his argument is that it IS wrong. Something can be wrong without it being theft.

      The very fact these files are out there, either being sold by pirates or shared on torrents, means we as authors are forced to compete for our own works. And we can’t compete with ‘free’.
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Dear Broke Reader: Your Sense of Entitlement is Killing MeMy Profile

  31. You took the words right out of my mouth. I’m an avid reader and I have tons of books on my kindle that I’ve bought legally, won through contests, got free on places like Bookbub and even Amazon. I’ve also had authors give me ARC’s for reviews and I have NEVER been tempted once to let anyone else have it. The authors placed their trust in me to do that and I would NEVER betray that trust.

    • Some authors are resorting to sending out different ARCs to reviewers with one or two sentence changes so they can try to determine where these illegal file shares might be originating from. It’s incredibly disheartening to discover your story is available online for free before you’ve even released it yet. 🙁

      I’m also hearing authors say they aren’t going to do giveaways anymore for fear that this is where the stories are being passed on from.

      THAT is the atmosphere of distrust now. 🙁 Kudos to you for maintaining your integrity.
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Dear Broke Reader: Your Sense of Entitlement is Killing MeMy Profile

  32. Well said, Sarah. I used to chase them down like that, but it was so disheartening. Like you said, for every fire we put out, four more pop up. Looking at the numbers, I think more of my stories were in the hands of pirates than were legitimately purchased.

    “It at least generates word-of-mouth exposure” is a BS argument. Written reviews that’ll be seen by many, however, are useful. I gave away quite a few copies of my recent release to review blogs because that gave my book real exposure. I gave away a number of copies through the MM Romance GoodReads group’s Don’t Buy My Love program to generate extra Amazon reviews. Those things were done to boost sales to paying customers. Hundreds or even thousands of pirated copies are downloaded. Imagine if they each made the effort to post an honest Amazon and B&N review. It would be a small way (that cost no money) to give a little something back to the author. Wouldn’t make it all okay, but at least it’d be something.

  33. Thank you! I recently shut down (through Google) a theft of one of my own books, but that’s just one, and unless a reader tips me off, I have no way of knowing what other thefts are going on elsewhere. Anyone have any ideas of where I can look? I’m still pretty much a Luddite and don’t have mad skillz… But yeah. This absolutely enrages me, and your comments are totally right on.

  34. Well said, Sarah! As an author myself, the one thing that infuriates me most are the people who call themselves my friends and say, “I want a signed copy!”

    Okay…how about you show you’re my friend and buy one, and I’ll sign it any way you like?

    I never can get to the explanation of how many hundreds of hours I spent of my book, the hundreds of dollars it cost to hire a fantastic cover artist to do the work, the hundreds of dollars in postage sending out promo copies for approval to Barnes & Noble, or in the great hope of getting an interview, etc. I won’t tell them about all the money I spent in office products (computer repair, a new printer, paper, etc., etc.), because I’ll never get time.

    Yeah, I get a lot of these “friends” are struggling, but the “I want it now” mentality pisses me off.

    Actually…in your first point about art being free: back about 20 years ago, there was a movement in the punk scene (and probably elsewhere) that started this bullshit idea that bands should not ask for money for their gigs, CD’s, etc., because that was akin to “selling out.” A friend of mine in a successful gigging band told me he’d gotten upbraided by a black hair-dyed, college radio chick (young enough to be his daughter) that he and his partner were fucking sellouts because how dare they make money at this?

    Now until we figure out how to do without money, we’re stuck with the current model. I think some elitist pricks in the music/entertainment industry planted that seed with an idea toward cashing in behind their backs. Either way, people need to understand the work we put into our craft. We’d love to just write all day, and know we had an audience, wouldn’t we? Doesn’t happen.

    I’ve had to be firm with “friends” and tell ’em if they want one, trade me something I need…you in a band, and I dig your CD? Let’s trade.

    If not, well, I gotta recoup the cost, my “friend.”

    I am afraid we are stuck with the entitlement crowd for a few more decades, until we get a better handle on living our lives in a better way, and not demanding it all right here, right now.

    Keep fighting the good fight!

    • Now until we figure out how to do without money, we’re stuck with the current model. I think some elitist pricks in the music/entertainment industry planted that seed with an idea toward cashing in behind their backs. Either way, people need to understand the work we put into our craft. We’d love to just write all day, and know we had an audience, wouldn’t we? Doesn’t happen.

      Yes, there is that pesky little problem about needing money to pay the bills, right? Every person who acts as though I should give away my work for free and be happy about it would be outraged if their bosses thought the same thing. 🙂

      Not to mention, ‘word of mouth’ and ‘exposure’ aren’t recognized as currency at the grocery store.
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Dear Broke Reader: Your Sense of Entitlement is Killing MeMy Profile

  35. I work in the service industry and am forced to deal with a multitude of people who suffer from entitlement on a daily basis. It makes me hate everyone.
    You said this so very well, Thank you!

  36. Brava! I am utterly astonished at the entitlement culture that has sprung up from the dawn of the internet and Napster, right down to the many current pirate sites stealing and transacting the work of artists who will make zero money for those transactions. You put it perfectly: IT’S STEALING. To frame it otherwise is to dismiss all logic and ethics to fulfill one’s entitlement issues and lack of artistic empathy.

    When creative work of every kind is diminished in value to the point that artists are making a third (or less) of the money offered a couple of decades ago, we know we have a problem. This trend has lowered the standards of what’s acceptable, what’s considered “good”; what’s set as the “market rate” for creative work. It has also glutted online stores and sites with subpar work, as it’s shoved talented artists to the wayside, because, after a point, those artists simply can’t afford the exercise.

    Thank you for spelling it out so clearly. The only thing artists can do is model good behavior, do our best to deliver good work that we DON’T feel compelled to give away for free simply because the market insists, and do everything we can to support artists we like by buying their work and sharing it with people going to paid sites.

  37. Well said! I’ve noticed though it isn’t just individuals – organizations can also be guilty of this. I have found the worse violators of copyright are churches and schools, the two places where we should be teaching our young not to steal and creativitiy has value.

  38. And, you know we authors are out there giving it away, Ladies and Gentlemen. You don’t have to steal a thing. When one of my friends has a book freebie, or one of my fangirl obsessions for that matter, I pay them back… with a review. That’s the purpose of freebies. To generate buzz. We are hoping for return, so it’s not exactly free, now is it?

  39. Well said! Hate that this is even an issue, but glad that both sides are being adressed. Hopefully more people will read and instead of entitlement they will find enlightenment.

  40. I’m an artist. I want as many people as possible to see my work. I never expected to make a living writing fiction. It’s like trying to be a movie star. Steal my novels. Please.

    • So why don’t you just post your novels for free? You can choose to do that, it doesn’t mean that readers are entitled to the work of authors who don’t choose to do that.

  41. Thank you for nailing it all on these fools heads. I hope they learn and I hope something can be done about these types of sites to be put down at all costs.

  42. If I buy an eBook for my Kindle, should I have to buy it a second time for my Nook? If I buy an eBook for my Nook, should I have to buy it a second time for my Kindle? DRM sucks and doesn’t prevent piracy, it just inconveniences customers. If I buy a book once, I should be able to read it on any eReader that I own. I will buy the eBook once, but then download a pirate copy for my other devices, that way the author still gets their money and I get to read on all my devices.

  43. Oh. You want stories in your favorite genres by your favorite authors and you want them today?
    Your favorite authors can spend more time writing, and so you can read more of their work, if they don’t have to wash dishes to buy food and pay the rent.
    So, paying for their writing directly benefits you.

    If you are annoyed at the wait between books, stop stealing them via pirate sites. And tell your friends to stop stealing them too.

  44. Well said!! I am overworked, at times struggling for my family and paying bills.. And I’m a nurse. People think that would make me well off right? Not the case! And through it all I am an avid reader and write for fun on my VERY LITTLE free time. But I would NEVER steal a book. Do I live getting a book for free? Yes! There’s no shame in that. I’m a member of book bub and kindle unlimited. I love to get a free or discount first installation of a series or first taste of an author to see if we fit before spending my hard earned money on the commitment. But when not possible I still pay for my books to try it out, and pay to continue a series I like. Even when I ended up not happy with what I read. Do I go save to get a rare night out? Yes. Is it always as good as my expectations? No. The bars, restaurants and movies don’t give me a refund or offer everything free because I feel like I deserve it. Everyone has to make a living and I respect that because I want to make a living too. These people who poach/”share”/ steal books are stealing someone’s lively hood. That boy who broke into a women’s house and got shot to death because he was robbing her had family and friends who stated “he needed to be able to get money for clothes and things. He had to make a living.” Nobody saw that excuse as reasonable or acceptable for stealing. So why doesn anyone think this is ok? And if you are desperate for a book and all options the author of this article listed don’t work for you for some innate reason… Ask your friends. Even most kindle books can be shared to devices with author permission.

    Well said and you have my support. Wrong is wrong.

  45. This speaks to so much of what is broken in all of pop culture. I sat in a training class in corporate America and listened to the trainer and nearly every other member of the class talk about how delighted they were to use torrent sites to steal books, movies, music, you name it. This is an incredible piece of writing. Thank you for it. I’m going to track down something of yours to buy because you’re a hell of a writer.

    • Craig this has been my experience as well. I admit to being quite middle-aged at this point, but I have to say that NONE of the people I know my age do this. I’m in the IT world and pretty tech-savvy and if I wanted to, I could certainly do it. But I don’t. I’ve seen some rather flimsy excuses by some posters that technically it’s not “theft” apparently as described in the penal code. Whatever euphemistic label you want to put on it, it’s illegal, immoral and wrong.

  46. 1. I had no problem reporting her posting and her page with the screen shot to Facebook. That’s advocating an illegal activity and if she were trying to steal physical property, I would have no problem calling the police. What they do with it after that, I don’t know. But I’ve reported it.

    2. The unmitigated gall of some people boggles the mind. These little snowflakes that think they deserve an award just for being in the race. Or because it’s an efile, it’s not a real book. And the interesting thing is, if she hadn’t asked for pirate sites, I think we all could have turned her on to the emails from sites posting about the free ebooks she could download from Amazon’s KDP promotions. All publishers and indie authors will promote their books with free downloads for a short period of time. Hell, I’ve done it. And there are authors putting out first books in a series as a permanent free download. The point being, you don’t have to steal. There are freebies out there. All you have to do is download them.

    I sweat over my books. Sometimes, quite literally. I go to the trouble to get them professionally edited. To have a professional graphic and layout artist not only design the cover but also the layout of the text. This is not cheap. I have overhead and I have to sell quite a few books before I recoup my costs. For someone to want to steal my books through pirate sites robs me of my income. It doesn’t matter how much money I make — which isn’t enough — it’s still theft. And the little snowflake needs to know that. Hopefully, all the bad publicity will get that beaten into her head. And if not, reporting it to Facebook will land her in TOS jail and see the posting removed.

  47. “By this argument, all medical care should be free.”

    There are thousands of examples you could have used for comparison and you picked one of like ten that genuinely should be free.

    • Jack: I am a BIG believer in universal health care coverage–but as someone who works in the medical profession, I recognize that even if we removed the over-inflated fees forced upon us by the big pharmaceutical companies, the powerful medical lobby, and price-fixing by insurance companies, it still costs money to practice good medicine. National Health Care isn’t free–it’s paid for through taxes and everyone chips in–something people in the U.S. seem vehemently opposed to–despite the fact that Jesus seemed to be a big advocate. Just about everyone I know is one health-care crisis from bankruptcy. No one should have to start GoFundMe campaigns to treat an illness. But even with the impossible dream of health care for all, it would never be free.

      Which is kind of my point here. Even at the price of a cup of coffee or less, producing a quality novel isn’t free.

      • That’s right Sarah! This is the only country where Breaking Bad makes sense and could happen. NOWHERE in the industrialized world would that series make any sense. Universal Health Care isn’t free. It’s just one hell of a lot more fair and frankly provides for much better outcomes.

        • So true. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people making a lot of money off keeping the health care system in the U.S. as it is. And they’ve invested a lot of time and money in convincing the average American that universal health care isn’t in their best interests. It’s so frustrating–especially when I see the current government in the U.K doing its best to dismantle the NHS. 🙁

      • I live in Australia. Basic healthcare and education are free, but if you want more you need to pay. The same should apply to all creative arts. You want it free do it legally or buy the book, music, photo.

        • Nikki: Kudos to Australia for making healthcare and education available to all its citizens (and your gun control laws are awesome, too!). But it isn’t really free–it’s a paid for through a cooperative effort through taxes. I wish we could get something like that instituted here in the U.S. but the people who capitalize on private systems have done a good job of making this seem like a terrible, horrible idea. Which is frustrating because almost everyone I know is one medical crisis away from bankruptcy. 🙁

          But you are absolutely right in that there are many legal ways in which to get free reads. Those that illegally download are saying they want to read *this* particular story right now, and they aren’t willing to wait for a sale or save up to buy it. As Josh Lanyon said in another comment, that’s essentially saying their needs are more important that those of the creator.

  48. I am a booklover and avid reader of many genres. If I enjoy a book I go and BUY every book I can get hold of by that author. If possible I buy paper, rather than electronic, as part of the enjoyment for me is actually having a book to hold. I have hundreds of books in my bookshelves and a similar number of electronic books. If I love an author’s work I want them to get the credit and the royalties, so even if I borrow a book from the library I may still go and buy it because I love it so much.
    I am retired, on a low income, but I am willing to pay for my books because as far as I am concerned they are a cheap form of wonderful entertainment. I can journey anywhere in the world, and often to other worlds, in the pages of a book. A well written book with an appealing storyline is like good wine, and lasts far longer.
    I have several friends who are authors and I know they make very little money from it, but write because they love to write.
    People SHOULD pay for books they want to own! If you like an author’s work, surely the best way to repay them, for their hard work and the entertainment they give you, is to pay for their book.
    For those who truly cannot afford to buy books, all I can say is, use legal channels like libraries.
    If we want our favourite authors to keep writing we need to show our love of their work by BUYING copies of their work. For the hours of joy and pleasure we gain it is really a very cheap option.

  49. How I wish you could see me at the moment! My daughter just ran into the room because she heard me call out…”YES!” I actually jumped up and punched the air. Bravo … it takes guts to write a post like this one. You have a new follower and admirer.

  50. Eloquently said, Sarah! I could comment on each and every reply if I had the time (and the eyesight, since I had eye surgery five days ago). I have the greatest respect for authors and appreciate the time and effort, not to mention the sweat and tears that go into creating a story. Beside the ‘financial’ problem it causes, everything in life is balance and ‘stealing’ an author’s work throws the equilibrium off big time! The only ‘satisfaction’ I get from this situation, is knowing that thieves will end up paying far more in karma than they would have if they had if they had honored the author’s gift to them and paid for the book in the first place. (steps down off soapbox)

  51. Authors absolutely should be compensated for their work, that’s just basic fairness. However, there are certain external realities that also should be recognized.

    Does it take longer to write a book that is read by 100,000 people than one that is read by 1,000 people? No. And yet the writer would receive 100x as much money for the first one. To the majority of people in modern societies who are paid hourly (or salaried, which is basically paid per day worked) this feels unusual and a little unfair.

    Does it cost more to create 100,000 copies of an e-book than it does 1,000 copies? No. And yet the 100,000th copy of an e-book is priced the same as the 1,000th. Compared to the majority of businesses that produce physical things, this feels a little unusual and a little unfair.

    I don’t have a suggested solution to the problem of properly compensating authors. But I think authors should recognize that the true problem facing them is not really entitlement, but rather a two headed beast:

    1) A structure of payment for authors that has no relationship to time spent writing, and
    2) A complete lack of scarcity of digital items, in an economic system where scarcity largely determines value.

    • Well, Jason, up until now, I’ve left compensation for the author out of the picture. I’ve focused solely on the fact that producing a quality novel is never ‘free.’ But I *do* believe authors should be compensated for their creative efforts. Does a manufacturing company reduce the price of a blender once they have recouped the production costs? Perhaps a little, in order to make it more competitive, but at no point does a company say, “Golly, we’ve sold 100 K blenders! Let’s offer them for free now!”

      Your model would actually *penalize* the best writers and stories. The more popular a story becomes, the cheaper the price. Where is the incentive to create the best story possible under your scenario? Far better to crank out story after story with no investment in polishing or editing because the only way to get paid in your system is to have new material in the pipeline all the time.

      Also, the very lack of scarcity of digital items supports the argument that piracy is indefensible.

      • Also this is a bit of a straw-man argument. I have been in the working world for well over 30 years now. I guarantee that I worked longer and harder than MANY of the folks I worked with and for and was compensated far less. Who is to say how *many* people benefited from my work or my co-workers??

        I accept that many things about life are unfair, that many people are grossly overcompensated for their contributions, pay scales aren’t necessarily in line with actual effort, etc. As I’ve always told my bosses, I know there are many people being paid far more than me for doing far less. All I ask is that they not sit next to me 😉

  52. Excellent post! When I first starting reading, the first thing that came to mind is… have they never gone to a library? Growing up, I read a lot and my parents wouldn’t have been able to afford all the books I devoured! Libraries became my second home. It’s sad that people think all writers make the big bucks. I’d like to thank all the writers that have added enjoyment to my life! <3

  53. You are a new to me author but dear lord this is what I constantly say. And I say it from the privilege of being a reviewer.

    It’s all in the mindset of the person really. I advocate HARD for my library to at least carry digital copies of some of my favourite books and authors. Because they are all more the indie type and I think they write really well and SHOULD be getting a wider audience. And the public library is a great way for them to. I have been known to loan my books that I have legally bought to others in similar financial situations as mine (very limited budget for extras) when I legally can (for instance, I can’t loan ALL my kindle books to other kindle users but all of my favourite authors that I gush about have at least one book that I can loan and will do so if someone wants to try a book I gush about or if the person lives close enough I will let them borrow my print copies).

    But if I really like a book I have gotten for review and don’t have money, it goes into my wishlist and I buy either on sale or when I have money (which sometimes correlates with sales).

    Also, being a reviewer, I have met and made friends with a lot of authors so I have gotten the look into the fact that a lot of authors have 2 or more jobs besides author.

    I appreciate all authors whether I like their writing or not (unless they are assholes like e.l.james) for the work they put into writing.

    And every free book I have gotten is gotten legally. Whether by newsletter sign up, ARC for review (digital ones get deleted after they’ve been read and reviewed and print ones I will send to newer reviewers to help get them started), or free promo via amazon/publisher.

    The only thing I object to is novellas less than 100 pages being over 4.99 (especially when it’s 50 pages) and novels that are also in print that are at/around the same price for the hardback (in other words I won’t pay 15.00 + for digital book especially as there’s no printing and binding costs. At that point I will just buy the print copy). But that’s also coming from a place of limited budget and wanting to support authors I like/live/enjoy.

  54. I agree here, unless I get hooked on a series, I try not to pay more than $5 a book. Not because I don’t want to, but $8 or even $10+ for a book adds up and I don’t have a lot to work with being on SSI.

  55. I agree with you 1000%. It is your work product. You are entitled to be paid for every title someone reads. That is how you eat and live. I am a court reporter and I hear from attorneys, “Why does it cost X amount of dollars for a transcript when all you do is push a button?” I tell them that is my work product. It took many hours to get to the point to where I “push” a button. As an author it takes many, many, many hours to get to the point where you publish your work. You deserve to be paid for it. You are entitled to that. It is yours that you are selling for someone’s enjoyment. Take going to the movies for instance. You and a friend are going to see a film. When you get to the theater, even though you are both seeing the same thing, you can’t get in without each of you paying. You are both seeing the same thing, but you both had to pay for it. Those pirate sites should be shut down. It is a criminal act to steal the work of others. Most of all, it is morally wrong. I wish you the best in your fight against piracy of your work product. I support you.

    • Thank you, Alan! I checked out your post–you made a very good distinction between the open source discussion and the the individual creator in terms of intellectual property. Good post!

  56. As an agate miner, I lived in a VW bus and traveled much of the time, and I had only two meals a day and glad for that. I had five library cards, in three different states, because even a used book at 25 cents, at a flee market back then, was more than I could afford. Needless to say by the time I was to move on, those books were back in the library. I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without those library cards, and those books that I read by candle light.

    So being poor is no excuse to expect something for nothing. I even went without eating once for two weeks. Sure its is hard, but no matter how hard it is, someone else always has it worse. Now I can buy books new and used, have my little library and feel truly rich for all those years that I could not. I look the books on Amazon, get all the necessary in formation and then order them from our one remaining used bookstore, even when it is a new book, because I like having that bookstore still there when they are disappearing all over the place. It costs me more money, but it is to seethe smile on the book store owner face when I walk in the door. Now if I could just slow down enough to buy books only as fast a I can get them read. But hey my eyesight is going, I never know when I may not be able to read them. Meanwhile our small town still has that book store and that seems kind of important to me. I never heard of Amazon smiling at you when you buy a book from them.

  57. They can “justify” it any way they want. It’s theft and it’s a crime. I guess the best we can hope for is that karma eventually bites them in the ass.

  58. One of the questions for these thieves I have is, “Do you steal your Starbucks from the barista without paying? Do you steal your prescriptions from the pharmacy? Do you steal groceries or clothing from your favorite stores? What about your power, water, cable, sewer, etc?” Then, I’d like to ask, “Why do you feel that stealing work from someone who also has these same bills to pay as you, is okay? Who will pay MY mortgage? Who will pay MY utilities?”

    Stealing art, is STEALING!

  59. I agree that pirating especially in the realms of books is ridiculous. Most authors have sales that make a lot of the books affordable. O just recently starting reading a series by John Corwin. I got an ad on my facebook for his series and it sounded interesting. The first book was free I believe. I fell j love with the characters and story. Needless to say I had to finish the series. The first 3 books were $3.99 total and the rest were $3.99 each. 12 books later and I’ve bought everyone of them, and will purchase every book in the series and 2 spinoff series due to that. John even has commented on my facebook numerous times about his books and we’ve had conversations about it. Long story short, you want a book, spend a few bucks. For the price of a cup of coffee at Starbucks, or less you can enjoy a great book and for a lesser known author they see that purchase, and heck you may have even made their day.

  60. Have any of these people ever heard of this thing called a Library? Check out 10 books FOR FREE and hey, take two weeks to bring them back. If you didn’t finish a couple of them. Again, check them out for another two weeks – FOR FREE. Most libraries also have DVD movies for kids and adults.

    I’m sorry people can’t afford a vacation every year. I’ve NEVER had one. Stop complaining. Most of us are in the same boat. But instead of crying “boo hoo”, try being a little more creative about your entertainment instead of trying to pretend people owe you something just because you’re too lazy to do something about it.

  61. As a fellow author, I agree with everything you’ve written. I don’t know if there’s anything of mine that’s been pirated, but anecdotally I’ve seen that pirating is more a problem with fiction than non-fiction (which is what I write). I’m working on a novel right now (technically my second, but the first one, written decades ago, remains unpublished which is probably just as well) and wonder about the pirating consequences. It’s bad enough to put up with abuse from publishers, low pay, big demands, etc., but at least publishers pay. To people who pirate, I have no sympathy for their complaints.

  62. Amen….as a long avid book reader and now reviewer, street team member how could you bite the hand that writes to take you away to another time and relax. …stealing is stealing.

  63. I am one timy reader. My purchases wont make any author rich. They may pay for anloaf of bread. Patroen helps me pad some of my favourite authors wallets. So, maybe it’ll cover the cost of 3 loaves of bread.

    But some of us DO value authors. Some of us will buy your books, donate them and the repurchase them in eBook format. Because they love the written word. Or just your words in general.

    I know we are a small group, but I hope we help. One loaf of bread at a time.

    • Here’s the thing: saying your purchases won’t make an author rich is like saying your vote doesn’t count in an election. No, one single purchase or one single vote won’t amount to much in the long run–but *thousands* of people voting decide an election, and thousands of people making legitimate purchases allow the author to keep writing. 🙂

      In that respect, every vote counts. Every purchase counts. Every loaf of bread feeds someone for another day.

      • I live outside a small comunity, and the voters in the city limits had to vote over staying dry or allowing beer and wine sales. There were 203 registered voters, 101 voted for, 100 voted against and 2 didn’t vote. Don’t ever think your vote (or your money) doesn’t count.

  64. We are at a point were things need to change. I truly believe authors if able need to band together and put forth a mass media campaign against piracy. I didn’t my senior paper this spring for my BA on the topic of digital piracy of ebooks. I conducted a survey of readers and found some honest answers from those who do or have pirated books. For many what got them to stop, was learning how it could harm authors. Not to mention that many, MANY stated had they not had access to the illegal version, they would have bought the book. That is proof there is a true loss of revenue from piracy, people can say they wouldn’t have bought the books anyways, but I don’t believe that is the case.

    You can read my survey results and my paper here:

    • Awesome, thank you for sharing. Someone told me yesterday that pirated ebooks represented a 3 billion loss to the industry every year. I don’t know where they got their numbers, but obviously this is a bigger issue than most people realize. You hit upon the main reason for writing this post: to educate the casual pirate that this DOES hurt authors. At the moment, words are the only weapon I have.

  65. Our biggest task as indie authors is not to form mobs to hound book pirates, but to find ways of monetising our content in a marketplace where free is the accepted norm. That’s where the real task and the next move forward lies. If we can’t understand this and evolve and find ways to work with this virtual market we’re just luddites smashing machines. We can’t win against the pirates, let’s put our efforts into making this evolution work for us.

  66. Sarah, I agree with everything you say.

    And the answer to why we’ll always be paid peanuts is: supply overwhelming demand.

    Storytelling is a basic need, a bug we can’t kill, for many of us. We can’t stop creating, and with the means at hand to disseminate what we create, we take it to the masses. The readers are spoilt for choice because there are just too many writers who want to tell stories.

    Plumbers will always be better paid, because there really is no ‘plumbing bug’ that bites people, no one wants to unclog drains so bad they can’t stop doing it. They do it for the money.

    On the other hand, with the glut of stories in the market, there’s just so much of it, and following the rule of overwhelming supply, so cheap, that the next expectation is for it to be free. It is not fair, and I hate it.

    I have pirated a book or two in my reading days of misbegotten youth, but not since I got access to a library. I buy books but not as many as I read: most are from the wonderful library in my neighborhood.

    I hope there’s an answer to this piracy problem, but I don’t see it. There’s no way regulation can work on a tsunami of piracy. It is everywhere.

  67. I was astonished that people would go to great lengths to steal books from authors when there are many legitimate sites to get free books. Why not use the public library for your source of free books. The library can get books if they don’t have the one you want. They also have kindle books. Our library has laptops, WiFi hot spot devices, tablets, streaming movies, DVDs, books on CDs, playaway devices preloaded with stories. I’m on a fixed income and I still read the new releases because I use my public library. If I hear of a book that I would like to read that is being released in a few months, I ask my library to order it for me if it hasn’t already been requested. The library has started a new service for people who are shut ins. They will hand deliver or mail you reading materials for free. Isn’t that amazing for a small town. Stealing is stealing no matter what is stolen.

  68. This was a great read. I have been talking with people about this very incident. What she is doing, and what a few of her friends were advocating is unethical. Like most she has a gross misconception of what Authors/Writers do for a living and it is sad. The fact that she is a professional photographer makes this ten times worse. I bet if she found her photographs being used without her permission, she would be suing to the cows come home.

    We have all seen pirating with other media as well. It has cause other artist to limit the electronic availability of their craft. For the indie/self published author it is 2 fold because you have to supply all of your own art (pay for it) and handle all of the marketing/promotion as well. So the cost nowhere comes near the ACTUAL cost of the book.

    One would think that she would think that another artist time is as valuable as her own. She doesn’t and that is quite evident.

    Lawsuits are expensive and we know this. There are means to get legal assistance with this as you come across it. The most direct is reporting a known thief to the FBI. It may not recover the cost but at 250,000USD she and anyone else having this need to not pay would have a sad. The seizure of property alone would break the heart.

  69. It is really appalling that people would STEAL! I will admit, as a prime member, Kindle Unlimited Member, and Readly user, I tend to get a lot for ‘free’, but I have also bought books recently! Not all books are available for free. I would never dream of looking for an illegal site, least of all because of the threat of infection on my computer/tablet!

    I cannot believe people think it is their right to free entertainment. Here in the UK, a writer gets some money every time their book is borrowed, so free for me, pennies for the author (and I bet it is pennies, but it all adds up!).

    Thanks for a awesome post.

  70. Hi,

    A great post, well written. I agree with you 100%. I’ve published 2 books, writing a third and haven’t made any money from them yet. So many people forget the costs of books – the editing, proof-reading, covers, marketing, sanity of the author!! There are plenty of places where material (full novels or short stories) can be accessed for free that I can’t understand how anyone can justify stealing.

  71. BRAVO!!!

    Each time I try to think of another comment, the same expletives come up. “Bravo!” “Amen!” “Right on, Sister!”

    Thank you for so poignantly expressing what so many of us feel.

  72. Well said. These comments make my skin crawl. I’ve actually even given up on taking down my pirated books. As you said, take one down, four more go up. It’s frustrating to say the least.

  73. Wonderful post! So many truths spoken. Wonderfully written article that brings up so many valid points. More authors should sue or the justice system should come up with a way to punish those pirating…deny them internet access for a period of time or something!

    Bravo! So well written!

  74. I truly believe art should be free, and artists should be free to create that art! It’s the “and” part that I think got lost somewhere along the line. The and part implies that the artist IS supported. That the basic needs of the person – housing, food, education and medical care is covered. Sadly we don’t live in that world, but imagine the art that could be created if we did! (Unless of course you believe as suggested in Childhood’s End that it is the struggle that creates such art….) So until we live in that society — support the artists! Buy books (or use a library)!

  75. I am astonished repeatedly re: sense of entitlement, these days….. I WISH THE INTERNET WAS FREE!! like the radio is … 2007 power surge 6 th TV blowup….no solution…decided to see how long i could go without a TV????? It was a GIFT!!! Re discovered my public library, met dozens of interesting people as well as authors WHO SHOULD BE PAID for every scrap of talent they share with us…like all the arts!
    To present….thank an author with a quick email and you are invited to review next one for free copy/ bookbub free! Discovered authors i would not have explored…./ sit your a*s on rhe computer @ public library( or the free wifi @ sm resturants & laundromat) and sign up @ goodreads for every neverending giveaway!!!!!! Teeny effort ANY location for free entertainment…it is summer = free live music(parks) Every nite of week.
    OR…volunteer somewhere…NOVEL IDEA ,punn intended…
    (????abby hoffman…steal this book…?)

    Stop Pirating…mic drop

  76. This is a fantastic post. Until fairly recently, I was totally sheltered and didn’t realize the extent of book piracy. I think part of that is because I’ve worked in libraries for 8 years and we pretty much will always purchase requests. And I recognize, too, that that is privilege: our community has the funds to do that. A lot of libraries don’t. So thank you for identifying libraries as a free place to get books.

  77. Omg, just thinking of the amount of money you would have made if the people had paid for your stories makes me wince!! Great post. I don’t know why people have singled out artists these days – perhaps so many have offered their work for free that now people seem to be entitled. No doubt the Internet and digitizing media has made it super easy for people to steal. Sure wish there was a solution, but **sigh** I don’t know what it is!

  78. This is a most excellent post! It is so very frustrating, what we have to deal with on a daily basis. Luckily, I’ve not been personally attacked by morons such as these. It’s like playing a psychotic version of whack-a-mole, trying to stay on top of all these pirate sites. I’m told most of these sites are located in foreign countries and that is why no one can or will go after them. Not sure how true that is but it is a sad commentary on today’s society. Wishing you all the best!

  79. I am a librarian and feel guilty that authors only get one sale from selling books to the public. The public gets to read those books for free and hopefully share how much they enjoyed the author. I pray that those who want the newest best seller (NOW) and don’t want to wait on it, will purchase it.

  80. Sarah, you slammed that one out of the ballpark! Writers. Work. Hard. We pay for our own educations, publication, marketing, and distribution…one way or another, our stories and books are investments of our time and talent.

    Thank you for posting this. You are brave and you are absolutely right. Nothing good in this world is free.

    Love a story? Love an author? Put your money where your love is…a writer’s gotta eat, too.

  81. I think it would take a week to read all the comments here, but wanted you to know that your original blog is right on target and totally resonates with me.
    And, as a side note, I spent nearly 30 years in the library profession, and wholeheartedly support and encourage citizens to make full use of the many different resources and programs therein.

  82. Sarah, love your article. You are so correct. I work hard and save money so I can do the things I enjoy and have a decent retirement. It’s scarry how so many people aren’t raising their kids teaching them personal integrity AND THE VALUE OF WORK. We raised our kids and are helping raise our grandkids on a farm where you have to work. My kids will tell you they heard the phrase “you don’t eat until the animals eat”, even on a school day. I buy a lot from Dreamspinner and will definitely be buying some of your books. I’m always looking for new (to me) authors. Keep on writing!

  83. As an avid reader but a horrible writer, I am in awe of anyone that can create a compelling story. It is hard work and every author deserves to be paid for their hard work. I was a single mother raising 2 children alone. So was often too broke to buy books. However, the public library was my life saver. It allowed me and my girls the opportunity to read books and watch new to us movies for the cost of a bus ticket. I can now buy books easily but it wasn’t always so. I don’t understand this sense that the world owes you something for nothing.

  84. Great article!! I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a pirate site until reading this article, although it didn’t surprise me.

    I love to read, and am one of those people who will read the same book over and over and over, if it is one of my favorites. And each time I find I glean yet another nugget of info, make another connection, or it sets me to exploring another squirrel trail!! Because I do often read books multiple times, I also find myself buying a good book multiple times without thinking twice about it. Sometimes I even purposely set out to purchase a second copy, just so the author can make a bit of “bonus” money off of me. If I have a hard bound, I may buy a paper copy. Or now that most of my reading is ebooks, I will buy the ebook version of an old favorite that I have a printed copy of. With audible books becoming more reasonable (especially if you purchase them from someplace like Amazon at the same time you buy the ebook) I find myself falling asleep every night while listening to a book I may have already read so many times I have the story line memorized.

    All of us who love to read — can you imagine a world without good books?? If not, we must support good authors!!!

  85. I couldn’t agree more. The bible says, ‘the worker is worthy of his hire’. One of my numerous cousins is married to an author, and they self-publish. She sent me a free copy of one of his latest books. The price was printed on the cover flap, so I sent her a check. She wrote back and told me the book was free to family members. I wrote her and told her to go out to lunch on the check, then; lunch was free to family members. Then again, I’m a Libertarian, and believe that people are entitled to what they earn.

  86. ‘And when you download them illegally from a pirate site or torrent, that’s stealing. Let’s just get the terms right, okay?’ Yes let’s, because torrenting isn’t stealing. Here’s what Stuart Green, a copyright lawyer says, ‘in order to actually “steal” something, you must deprive the owner of whatever that thing is. If you take my bicycle, then you have it, and I don’t. But if you download a song off The Pirate Bay, you’ve simply made a copy — now there are two bicycles. (Or thousands or millions.)
    If Cyber Bob illegally downloads Digital Joe’s song from the Internet, it’s crucial to recognize that, in most cases, Joe hasn’t lost anything, Yes, one might try to argue that people who use intellectual property without paying for it steal the money they would have owed had they bought it lawfully. But there are two basic problems with this contention. First, we ordinarily can’t know whether the downloader would have paid the purchase price had he not misappropriated the property. Second, the argument assumes the conclusion that is being argued for — that it is theft.’

    • Both legally and morally, you are incorrect. The property being stolen is what is called intellectual property and digital forms of intellectual property are covered by the law – specifically the DCMA. This is why you can’t go to a photo shop and have them reprint professional photos, because the photographer owns the copyright and reprinting them would be stealing and illegal. This is why you legally can’t just photocopy an entire book. And this is also why torrenting music, movies and books is illegal. It. is. Theft.

    • You want to throw out legal authority? Okay. Supreme Court Justice Breyer has clearly stated that “Unlawful copying is no less an unlawful taking of property than garden-variety theft.”

      In casual terms, it’s stealing. The End.

  87. I understand stealing. You want something and you take it. I get what’s going through your mind. Or at least I thought I did.

    What I don’t understand is stealing and feeling “justified” about stealing. The author is charging $2.99, you take the book (or song or movie) for free, and you feel like you’ve done nothing wrong? This I don’t get at all.

  88. Excellent post, Sarah; I hope it gets forwarded & linked *millions* of times! Those who follow you know that you work incredibly hard (at both writing and your day job). The fact that so many people think you don’t need or deserve to be paid for your work boggles my mind. It’s a depth of ignorance or entitlement that I just don’t understand…. >:-\

  89. Yes!!! Oh, and by the way, the authors who now make a lot of money with their writing do so because people BUY their books. Thank you for writing this. So much reasoning and logic and good thought has gone into your argument. I hope you strike a chord and help many people realize the harm they do when they steal.

  90. Ah – so that’s what brought this discussion on at Mad Genius Club –
    Yes, dear broke reader fan – I feel your pain, but in going to a pirate site and downloading my books is essentially stealing. And whining about it in justification is just adding insult to injury.

    About the only saving grace is that most of those doing the pirating aren’t really in it for reading the darned books, or so I am told. They’re just in it to have an enormous collection of free downloads.

  91. Yes, yes, and yes. I recently wrote a blog post in a similar vein. Not a pirate issue, but a reader who asked a writer to please make all their works free in the future because she didn’t want to have to buy them and *then return them* because she can’t afford to buy that many books. I really get angry that people feel that this sort of stealing, whether it is pirating works or chronic returning, is okay. It isn’t. Thank you for helping to get the word out on these practices.

  92. This is a beautifully written piece and I’m glad to see it is getting shared so much. There is almost nothing to add to so many excellent comments, except maybe this. Please don’t lose hope. Please don’t give up. Please don’t think that everyone is doing this. I am a teacher. And when I stand in front of a room of 12 year olds (mostly from poorer backgrounds) and they tell me that I should show the latest movie (still in theaters) in class, they saw it on the internet, I usually stop class. I explain that I cannot show movies obtained ILLEGALLY in a classroom. That starts a whole discussion about pirate sites, how artists are paid for creative work. I’ve even gone to a file-sharing music site and shown them the language in the “agreement” that says they aren’t responsible for the files, the people who share them are. I show them that they say, essentially, “if you download this and break the law, it’s on you.” They are SHOCKED to learn that every song on my phone or iPod was purchased legally (as a CD or iTunes file) or downloaded legally through my library. Then I proceed to tell them the places that they can get free, legal downloads of music, magazines, and audio- and e-books — from our public library or school libraries. You can’t KEEP the ebooks, but you can read them. I talk to them about how those artists get very little money for each LEGALLY sold piece, and if they ever want to be a writer, a movie star, or (most popular) a rap star, they need to understand how those artists are paid. It may not reach many, but some of us ARE out there saying it.

  93. You can’t fix stupid and the next generation is (on average) pretty stupid about ‘real life’. They have been raised with no parenting, no rules, no consequences….and led to believe that the world revolves around them. Of course, there are some exceptions, but the majority have been poorly raised. The sad thing is though, that as they mature into adults (physical years), they have the ability to enact laws and rules on our society because they have great numbers…..and ‘their’ thinking will become ‘real life’………

  94. Interesting post I agree with you on many points, but

    1) I think it misses (part of) the point.
    People who want their favorite book, a brand new one, hic et nunc ( = here and now), without paying a single cent are a minority among readers. And they are crybabies, and they have no excuse for what they do. Not to mention the ones that think that writers make enough (or too much) money. Anyway.
    The majority of people who download books are people that literally have no choice.
    Of course it would be best to buy them, but I can understand that not everybody can afford to pay 200$ for a research paper.
    (Which is, by coincidence, the amount of money I would have to pay for a book I desperately need for my thesis and it’s not available in my country. 200$ + 50$ shipping)

    2) it’s a bit western-culture-centered.
    How can you assume that everybodys has access to a public library? How can you assume that there is one around?
    And, again, how can you assume that a public library has enough funds to buy useful books?
    Sometimes, believe it or not, there is internet connection and not a library in a 20miles radius.

    Anyway, good food for thought. Thanks.

  95. vbbvbfggH Here, here! Well said! As a new writer/author whose book is not out yet, I so appreciate your post. Yes, I write for the love of writing and for the hope that my books will inspire and help others. And yes, I’ve been told not to expect to make a fortune writing. But, I do hope to make some money as I’d like to be able to continue writing in the future… Unfortunately, I was not born into a fortune and I need to work for a living. I’d love to do that as a writer some day! 🙂 I applaud your courage to write your truth!

  96. I kinda feel sorry for the OP–she had no idea the of the forces she was unleashing. But that’s karma, and I’m glad people are speaking up about this. Writers get it, but now some readers do as well. Thank you, Sarah! Shared.

  97. Thanks for saying what so many of us were too shocked to articulate. I’d also like to add that authors are often at the mercy of their publishers…some of whom steal from the author as well.

    Anyone who thinks authors “make enough money” probably says the same about the student who works in their college cafeteria twenty hours a week, the janitor at their local elementary school, and the clerk at the library they seem so reluctant to visit.

    The simple fact is…no one wants to work and not be paid…including authors.

  98. A few years ago I discovered a business book I had written was offered as an incentive on a download site. The book had taken four years to write and was only available from my web site in digital form. It cost $6. When I finally tracked down the thief, they said I should feel grateful for the exposure. They refused to stop giving it away and said, try to sue us. You will just spend money on lawyers and get noting back. They were right. I talked to a copyright attorney and he said these cases are impossible to pursue and costly to try. He also told me just finding the actual people would be an endless game of cat and mouse.

    The exposure argument is silly since that exposure would be to sell a book they were giving away. And the idea that it would be too expensive to pursue them in the courts shows how little recourse artists and writers have. The lack of respect in our society for the artist and our work is reflected in this example.

  99. Well said. One comment I have is about the second point, where anything that is out there should be free. That is a cultural thing in some countries. Even large movie Studios have problems with piracy in these countries, because intellectual property is seen as a shared good, available to everyone. That’s hard to fight. What they don’t realize is that without the incentive to earn money from writing, new works may not be written. That’s why the US Constitution has an explicit clause protecting the rights of authors. You can’t steal what doesn’t exist. And there are countries with socialized medicine, where it is “free”. There are problems with that as well.

  100. Oh boy, where to start? As a member in good standing of the Baby Boomer Generation, it makes my blood boil when faced with the “it’s my due” attitude. As much as I would love to lay this entirely at the feet of the “pretentious” millennium brats who can’t be bothered for anything less than a corner office and a title “just because”, we all know this is an odious trait that crosses generations.
    Free doesn’t have to mean breathing gives me the right to anything just because I want it. You like to read, but you’re on a limited income? Become a beta reader. You get to read, the author gets feedback that might normally be channeled through a proofreader. Need to budget? Try something like KU. $10.99 a month will give you a wealth of reading material in any genre. If you turn your nose up at ideas like these, don’t whine when you are perceived as being lazy, self absorbed, & ungrateful.
    Yes, I subscribe to KU. I take advantage of legitimate sites like BookHub, EReader, DigitalBookSpot, I’m always on the lookout for freebies, & take advantage of sales (love those $.99 deals). These venues have introduced me to some great authors and hooked me on series that I hope never end. All of which I happily pay for.
    Unfortunately, parasites seem to thrive & no amount of shaming does any good. I guess we can only hope that the ratio of decent human beings vs slugs continues to weigh on the plus side. I know it doesn’t pay the bills, but hopefully the knowledge that there are those of us who truly appreciate your value your worth & are more than willing to support your efforts as much as possible will sooth the sting of the “broke reader” blues.

  101. You go girl! Well put. Piracy, copyright violations, plagiarism…it’s just nuts in this day and age, likely due in part to the internet. Awareness is key…will be sharing your post.

  102. Sadly theft of creative work comes in many forms. People take books from pirate sites, people take art work from accomplished artists and use it as their own on book covers and sadly even authors take images from Google and make memes from them and never think about the fact that image belongs to someone. There are plenty of resources to get free legal books, free legal images, there is no reason to steal.

  103. Well said, Sarah. I didn’t know about these pirate sites. I always pay full price for my e-books and if I really like the book, then I get the paperback. I like the feel of a ‘real’ book sometimes.

  104. For me, there’s a split in time. I think if you look at the Napster timing and the beginning of ebooks, there were a portion of people who felt they had the right to obtain digital versions of music and books they already had physical copies of – and in many cases, digital copies weren’t available for sale for the items they were looking for. They already purchased the item and they weren’t available for sale digitally. Now we draw a line in the sand between what we did then, and how (and who!) does it now. Many of us (I’ve had this conversation many times including with authors and musicians) turned around and then purchased legally the art once it WAS available digitally. Authors and musicians often had no input on when or if their art library was going digital or IF it would go digital. Many people used torrents because purchasing wasn’t an option. Unfortunately, by that time the monster was created. In 2016 it’s laziness, greed and entitlement.

    I use BookBub (I’m not a fan of Amazon and don’t own their products). I can honestly say in the last month alone I’ve D/L at least 4 either free/$.99 books from there from authors I didn’t know that I’ve now been devouring their backlist.

    Marketing for an author is an individual thing. As a reader, BookBub works very well for me to find new authors. Then I spend too much money on books again :p

    I wish I had an answer better than I’m going to go check out all the cool authors commenting on here, but that’s all I’ve got.

    • Hi Kelly.
      I’ve run campaigns on Bookbub 3 times and was super-pleased with the response every time. Yes, all campaigns were for FREE copies of my books, but the exposure for such a concentrated time was wonderful and always resulted in Top-of-lists Amazon ranking and, when timed right before the release of the next in a series, resulted in holding the #1 Hot New Release in my category the entire month.
      Yes, those were FREE campaigns and they were PAID ads, but I CHOSE to do them for a specific time. Plus, Bookbub delivers–so much so they are now out of the reach for most indie authors since they are super-hard to afford & choose, generally, only New York Times Best Selling Authors. It has been encouraging to hop out of the weeds once in a while due to Bookbub and have some adoring, even clamoring fans but the fact remains that most of us indie authors seem to be competing for attention from a rather small group of digital book fans who are used to getting book downloads for .99 cents tops!
      I don’t have any easy answers in this digital, easy-access-to-too-much-information age. I fantasize occasionally about developing an incredible TED talk sort of presentation that would change lives and sell a truckload of books. But in reality, travel + advertising + simply carting books around is super-expensive and not real conducive to a healthy family life.
      If I have any epiphanies as to how authors can write what’s on their hearts, get their books into the hands of eager readers, and NOT get robbed blind along the way, I’ll be back to share.
      In the meantime, don’t give up, folks. Do what you love to do and do it well. Never, ever quit. There’s a lot of noise and discouragement out there, but if excellent new books are not available, we’d have no outlet and readers would have no escape. Anarchy would ensue.
      Seriously though, I pray encouragement for all you hard-working authors.
      Also, encouragement to you too, Sarah Madison. Thank you so much, for a well-written, effective article that’s bringing attention to a heinous crime.
      (I mean, really, does ANYBODY prosecute these site owners who steal other people’s work????)
      Chana Keefer recently posted..Grieve, Mourn & Wail–Joy is On the WayMy Profile

  105. I’ve been thinking about posting this publicly, but (1) it’s no one’s business and (2) I don’t have any interest in sharing my personal numbers publicly.

    But, I thought maybe here, quietly, it could be shared.

    I have 8 works out. Many of you would know my name from certain lists, groups, and awards. I have high review ranks and wonderful readers.

    And here is what I make a year.

    I bring in about $25,000 a year.

    Not bad, but that’s before taxes.

    Ok, so I bring in about $15,000 based on state and federal. So, basically, I’m below the poverty line. As a list making, award winning, multi-published, small-named author.

    But wait! As a now independently published author, I have to produce those books (-$1500) and market them ($-500).

    So, that’s more like $10,000 a year.

    Unless I’m going to go to a con to see my readers. I want to do that once a year at least. So, minus travel, hotel, the cost of the table so they can come say hello, the cost of the books (bc most people don’t typically make money at these things.)

    So, more like $7,000.

    As a single woman I have to pay rent, obamacare, food, and car insurance…. so I’m currently making about (-$11,000) this year.

    Granted, before KU I was skimping by with what I made to not be losing money and still being able to produce, but the cost of KU, loss of visibility, the added fees for ad pages (BB, etc), and piracy means this year I won’t be making money. I’m living off my savings from pre-writing full time and last year’s small profit.

    Right – I have enough money to have my books stolen….but even if I didn’t. What part of stolen do we not get?

    Anyway, I thought someone who has current books, has had a modicum of success, and has a proven track record of producing a “good product” should just put out what those of us not making big money might be making. These are my current real numbers. I hope that helps people understand what writers are doing right now.

  106. There seems to be a wave of entitled people in generation Y and even several from generation X. Where is this sense of entitlement coming from? Were these people just handed too much in their lifetime, without ever having to work for anything, or are they just so self absorbed that they cannot see anything past their own wants and desires? We live in a society where people compare their lives to that which they find in magazines at the checkout counter. They see it, they want it and they compare their lives to it. They often believe that they are entitled to these same things without ever having worked for it. They seem to have lost the ability of common sense, that tells you that kind of life in the magazines is not real for the other 99% of people on this planet.

    What is real is working hard to provide for yourself and your family. There are NO real entitlements in this world. There are people in other countries, including children, that work day in and day out for a measly living, just to survive. They make products that are brought into this country to be sold in the stores that we shop at. Common sense tells us that it is wrong to steal from stores and the law backs this up. We are not entitled to take things from stores that we have not paid for.

    There are musicians and authors that work hard each and every single day to provide the public with their products as well. We are not entitled to receive their products for free, although some may think so. If we cannot walk into a store and leave without paying for the items that we have selected, then why in the world would it be any less of a crime to take from authors and musicians that have worked hard to provide for us their products?

    Stealing is stealing by any other name. We are not entitled to receive anything in this world for free. I realize that there are those that do not think twice about stealing from a store and it is that exact kind of person that feels entitled to other things as well. It’s a matter of morals and ethic and if you do not have them, then you feel that you are entitled to whatever, whenever you want it. It’s sad that so many people today have this sense of entitlement. Since when did you become so much more important than everyone else, that you feel that you should have something that another person worked so very hard to produce? That person has bills to pay and families to feed, just like everyone else. They rely on that product that they have worked hard on to sell, so that they too can provide for themselves and their loved ones. You are NOT entitled to take that from them.

  107. Weighing in here, not as an author, but as someone who runs a homework website forum, with over 700 pages of resources and customised solutions to maths problems for members. it is a subscription site for a tiny nominal fee which would average out in cents per hour if you look at all the work that went into it. Yet I am bombarded so frequently with emails that range from whiny to outright abusive about how wrong it is that they should have to pay for access. They DESERVE access for free, and on demand. What kind of crazy unreasonable bitch am I to have the nerve to ask for membership fees?

    I also run the website for an author who moved recently from fanfcition into pro writing (and is very good imho) and the amount of work that she puts into her writing is beyond staggering. The amount of time I put into her website is crazy too and those two are only one part of the process.

    The Sense of Entitlement that we see today in what I think of as the ‘selfie’ age – where half the people I know have never taken a photo of anything but themselves or their food – is almost beyond belief. With narcissism so rampant – feuled by social networks – reinforcing this Sense of Entitlement, there seems to be no end in sight.

    • Are you kidding me? A math homework resource site is worth its weight in GOLD. I would have killed for such a thing when I was in school. As it was, I had to pay hundreds of dollars in tutors. I can’t believe users are balking at paying a subscription fee!

      Kudos to your friend whose made the transition from fanfic to profic–and to you for providing tech support!

  108. High Five!✋

    I think that the authors who publish at Dreamspinner Press are awesome – some of the best stories I have ever read – yes – even bypassing those ‘famous and rich authors” .

    I have never expected anyone’s writing to be free. It’s bizarre that there are grown adults who have that mindset.

    Note to authors: Thank you for being brave enough to put yourself out there. The publishing world can be very unforgiving and each book / story you write is personal. I get that. Charge what you need. If the quality is there, I’ll always figure out a way to buy it,

    P.S. I really appreciate that authors respond to fan tweets and emails. I never expect a response but when it happens, it’s always a very personalized and thoughtful reply. I cherish each and every reply – that’s better than a free book any day!!

    • This brought a smile to my face, Kristina! I’ve been a bit flabbergasted at the reaction this post generated and I’m definitely having trouble keeping up with comments, but I wanted to let you know how much I appreciated your kind words here. 🙂

  109. Well done Sarah. My wife writes and has had both her published books pirated. She gets the same reaction from the pirate sites. Kudos for putting this out there. Too bad many won’t listen…

  110. And pirate sites are the reason I no longer give away free downloads to my readers. I just don’t make enough writing to afford the chance that my next novel will end up on one. All 3 of my current books have been downloaded thousands of times. So it is a new rule I made. Which is a pity because I’d love to reward a loyal fan base. Thanks for writing this!

  111. Oh, man…I buy books at the used book store, usually. If someone I know writes a book, I will go out of my way to buy it at full price – even if it isn’t something I normally read – just to help support their dream. It’s a small price to pay.

  112. Great post! I think part of the problem is that a lot of the public think writing is easy. I’ve lost track of the amount of times someone has asked me what I do, so I tell them, and without even commenting on my career or asking how it is going, they tell me they too are going to write a book! The rest of the convo is basically them talking my ear off about their story idea and then picking my brains for ways to get an agent (like I know…lol) or get published!

    I have sympathy for those who are in genuine financial difficulty, but it is pretty hard to swallow that statement when it is coming from someone who can obviously afford the technology and broadband access required to tell us why they are entitled to our work for free!

    And as for us being well off, give me a break. Many authors are but most are not. I’ve written loads of books and had a couple of good royalty cheques but I have NEVER earned enough in a year to pay tax on my royalties. In fact, the only reason I was able to devote so much time to my writing was because my hubby earned enough to pay the bills and we have no kids, so I have been able to view it as a part time job in the past. Other authors are not so lucky. If you steal their work, you take food out of the mouths of their children.

    I can’t imagine any other scenario where consumers would publicly defend their right to steal a product. This has been a real eye opener.

  113. I just started reading 3 years ago and I honestly had no clue about sites like torrent. Stealing is stealing no matter how you sugar coat it! I would imagine that selling books for .99 or 2.99 would not be the most lucrative career choice but as a reader I say Thank You!! I love giveaways, auctions, free books and swag. I know that it costs the authors money to do those things. In return I try to give a few books away when I recieve a free one or an ARC, I try to comment on my favorite author’s posts(maybe too much…lol) and I would certainly loan a book if I am tech savvy enough to do it!! I am super blessed and can afford my books. I don’t consider my ‘bad habit’ an expensive one but it is one i truly do enjoy. So thank you to all the indie authors who fuel my bad habit and kudos for standing up for yourselves!!

  114. Bravo! I couldn’t have said it better myself so I posted it on my Facebook page.

    Blame Napster. When I was going to college that was the hottest thing out there and the beginnings of the plague we see today. The anonymity of the Internet doesn’t help either. People think just because there is no one watching or they can’t be personally identifiable, they can get away with stuff they wouldn’t even consider in real life.

    That isn’t the case. The Internet is one big network. Each computer has a number tied to it to connect to the network. If someone really wanted to, they could use that number to find the person behind the computer. Yeah, hackers and other computer savvy folks have their tricks to avoid detection, but most people aren’t hackers. . . I know this because I do web development to pay for my writing habit.

  115. Great post! You hit the nail on the head. I also think that this wave of piracy stems partially from a lack of creativity and a need for instant gratification. Most of the time, it isn’t that much more effort to figure out a legal, low-cost strategy for acquiring a book. As someone who doesn’t have a lot of money, I rarely buy books, but by using resources like my county and city libraries, religiously using coupons, sharing books with friends, and taking advantage of library ebook lending programs like EnkiLibrary and Axis360, I rarely run into problems procuring books through legal means. It just takes some effort and patience. Hmm, kind of like creating art?

  116. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been guilty of downloading free books (albeit from iBooks, never from pirate sites). However 9 times out of 10 the free book has made me want to go and buy the other books by the author, be they ebooks or hard copy.

    Your books and your words are your intellectual property. They are like the service you get in a restaurant or the condition of the roads we drive on – they are there to be shared and enjoyed, but there is a price for that needs to be paid to do so. Perhaps those who think otherwise would like to do their work for no remuneration? After all, if you work in the service industry you’re there to serve, not make money. Right? 😉

  117. Here’s the thing: Copyright laws come under the umbrella of property law – so how can we get people to think of intangible things like music, images and words, as property, NOT as creative floatsom out in cyberspace waiting to be “found?” These same people who think anything on the web should be free would never dream of taking my car just because they “found” my car keys, or would never walk into my home uninvited if they “found” the door unlocked. My creative works are my property. We have a long history of respecting other people’s property. Just as with my car, if you want to use my creative work, you’ll either need my permission or to pay my price. The other option : wait til I’ve been dead for 75 years – the law says that’s when my property becomes available for you to do with as you wish – and yeah, 75 years after I’m dead, I wouldnt mind if you want to camp in my living room or drive my car either. Til then, please don’t steal my stuff.
    (P.S.:(oh, and psst, all you authors: I hope you’re not guilty of copying music or pictures, because then you’d be hypocrites. What if all the creatives got togehter and came up with creative solutions to piracy of all sorts – betcha we could solve some of these issues!).

    • Totally agree. It is the disconnect from a tangible product. Many think, wrongly of course, that if you share something to the internet or they find it on the internet it is common use. That once you share it on the internet you lose ownership of it.

  118. Well written.
    I would quibble with how much you have lost in royalties as there is no way that every person who illegally downloaded your books would have purchased them legitimately.
    Some people will download something that they ordinarily wouldn’t look at because it doesn’t cost them anything.

    • Thank you. I agree with you on the royalties estimates. Certainly not everyone who downloads an illegal copy would have purchased one legitimately. But that was only one site. There are hundreds out there. If even 10% of the illegal downloads became legitimate sales, it would make a huge difference in my life. And if the illegal downloads weren’t available and someone really, really wanted to read one of my novels, they might be willing to cough of the price of a breakfast at Starbucks or Hardee’s to do so. 🙁

  119. Sarah I read this and went to buy one of your books. The one’s I found seem to be about terribly attractive and incredibly chiseled young men. Is there one in your collection that would entertain a fifty year old bloke? Ok I have picked practice makes perfect and looking forward to the read.

    • This made me laugh, Stephen! I write about guys falling in love with other guys, so the genre tends to demand terribly attractive and incredibly chiseled young men on the covers. Believe it or not, my covers tend to be tamer than most! If it’s any consolation, most of my characters are in their mid-thirties edging toward forty. I just think people are more interesting after they’ve spent a little more time on the planet, you know?

      Practice Makes Perfect is a bit of silly fun I wrote many years ago–I hope it doesn’t make you wince too badly! If I had to pick the story I’m the most fond of, it would be The Boys of Summer. It’s a survival story, but there’s this whole underlying theme of possible reincarnation with a WW2 twist. (And I believe it’s on sale today–June 8th–only. Thirty percent off!) Hopefully, Practice Makes Perfect will give you a taste of what my writing style is like. Thank you so much for making me smile this morning! 🙂

  120. Thank you for this post, Sarah.
    When I was with a few ebook publishers, I had a new release that was pirated within a few hours. I was stunned at the speed of the pirates.
    I’ve been struggling to get back on the writing track (health issues) so I can build a fanbase and hopefully make an income.

    I really hate people try to shame creatives for wanting pay for their work. Someone said that to me once. I answered this way, “Do you go to work everyday for free? Do you expect to be paid for the work you do?”
    Insert their look of indignation. “Of course I expect to be paid!”
    “I expect to be paid for my work. It shouldn’t matter that my work is creative. I expect and deserve to be paid just like you.”
    Yeah, that conversation ended quickly. LOL

    I don’t understand why people expect those in the creative arts to give away their work. The entitlement attitude was alive and well when I self-published a specialty children’s book in 1990. People were mad when I refused to give them a copy.

    Thank you again for speaking so truthfully and eloquently on this subject. I support you and wish you all the best.

    • Thank you! I truly believe it’s a combination of factors that makes it so easy for some people to dismiss the effort that goes into creating original works. So many people today can click a button and instantly access a favorite show, movie, book, or song. I think in their heads, they honestly believe there is no cost to producing these things and they are all free for the taking.

      That was the real purpose behind this post, to be honest. To shine a light on the fact that there *is* an impact on the creators, and hopefully educate some of the casually ignorant into supporting the originators of the works they love. The ones that believe it is their inherent right to download files without paying for them will probably continue doing so. I only hope some day their favorite artists don’t pack up and leave the business for something that pays the bills. 🙁

    • The original poster has taken it down. It only exists now in screenshots. I don’t know the OP personally–I just saw the screenshots being shared again and again as a warning to other authors. 🙁

  121. Thank you, Sarah, not just for writing this but for your thoughtful responses to all the comments.

    I’m an author. Enough said. I would never try to make a living at it, though. These days, especially, it’s close to impossible.

    I must say, you have inspired me to go buy one of YOUR books, right away. And if I like it, I will review it (as I try to do for all my colleagues).

    Keep up the fight.

    • *grins* I’ve been slowly working my way through the comments but it’s been challenging to keep up! I’m both delighted and nervous that you’re interested in one of my stories–thank you! The good news is all the Dreamspinner titles are 30% off for the rest of the day (June 8th) so today is a good day to get one. 🙂

  122. Thanks for a wonderful article.

    I don’t think people realize that writing is a job such as a teacher or nurse. They fail to credit a book with being the result of three-six months of intense labor. To add insult to their demand of unlimited free books, I’ve seen scathing reviews of the free or stolen books stating if they paid anything for it that they’d demand their money back! Please the fact you refused to pay money for it, says it all.

    When I worked retail in a nicer women’s clothing store, we had dozens of people shoplift or cheat the system by bringing back clothes they’d worn once. We actually developed files on the people and were overly helpful when they came in the store. We knew their game and refused to play it.

    Theft did go down. We also instituted a no return policy, which helped too. Amazon could honor authors by doing the same. Some people might insist the prices were too high and they had to steal. Our store often clearanced items to 5.95, which is about as cheap as Goodwill. No one has to steal, they choose to do it. Just like they choose to lie, cheat, or back stab a friend. A person who visits a piracy site for a book, movie, or music is not someone I’d want to associate with or hire . The same person is not someone I’d want my children to hang out with or marry.

    • Thank you! I do think it’s a certain mindset–and one that seems to be ever more prevalent. You’re made two excellent points here. The first is that Amazon’s return policy (up to seven days) allows for people to read and return stories much as your retail customers would do. I’d like to see that change. I appreciate Amazon reminding me when I’ve already purchased a book–that right there would be my #1 reason for returning something! But I think seven days is too long for a return policy on books. 🙁

      The second is that while I hear complaints about ebook pricing (and I think $11 for an ebook is crazy) I have to scratch my head when people complain about 5.99. I’d skip breakfast for that.

  123. Excellent! Easily one of the best articles on this topic I’ve ever read and, sadly, it will fall on increasingly deaf ears among those who disagree with it. It’s why I have slowly begun weaning myself off writing and no longer feel sad when imagining a future where I hardly write anymore at all. The idiots have won again.

  124. Wonderfully written, Sarah.

    I’ve written a couple of tech books which are sometimes used for basic training in some of the various tech schools & universities. They’re not cheap, but they’re not especially expensive, either.

    Like you, I’ve found several ebook files – some cracked versions of DRM copies, some amateurish page scans – on torrent sites.

    The books helped pay for my house – they sold well enough that there were a couple of mortgage payments a year for a while, and more than that in the first couple of years. Got very fortunate there.

    I quit doing revs after the third go-round, though, because revenue per book was dropping like a stone due to piracy. The publisher quit putting much money into revs as well, so the content languished – they hired someone (with my oversight) to do a rev 4 and wanted to not pay them to do it (‘exposure’ again), and the results were such that it was necessary to tell them that the quality was not acceptable….

    How do we get control of this? No idea. DRM isn’t going to work, because ultimately, anything that can be digitally locked can be unlocked. It’s a matter of establishing a consensus within the general reading public that the content of digital media is equal to the content of physical media, and that in the same way as they would pay for content delivered in physical media, they should be willing to pay for content delivered in digital media.

    Because, at the end of the day, the media on which this stuff is received is irrelevant. The information is what matters….whether it’s tech instruction or a good story.

    • I agree, Matt. There are no easy solutions here. You’ve shown us a very real consequence of such actions: publishers deciding that it’s not worth their time. I have to wonder if this isn’t part of the reason we’re seeing entire genres–such as the cozy mystery–being dropped from major publishing houses. And while I agree with those that say copyright laws are outmoded and need revision, the fact of the matter is our livelihoods as creators of original content DO need protection. Sadly, there’s a huge contingent of people who think they don’t have to pay us anything.

  125. Agreed! If it makes you feel any better, I work in the veterinary field and we get it too. Constantly. The refrain if “I don’t understand why you won’t treat “Fluffy” for free because you love animals” is chronic and nonstop. And yes, we love animals and want to help them, but we need to make a living and pay all the staff, and keep the lights on. People like to absolve themselves of any and all responsibility and make it someone else’s problem.

    • I hear that sort of thing, too, Julie. I frequently undersell my services because I understand what it is like to be desperately broke but want to take care of a beloved family member. But the problem is, the drug companies, the mortgage companies, the utilities, the taxes collectors, you name it–none of them take “But I love animals” as payment. They don’t cut you any slack. And the bottom line is you *must* charge enough to keep the lights on and pay the staff, or else you won’t be there when that same client has a crisis and needs you. You will have given up and moved into a profession that pays better for the level of education and hard work you’ve invested into your career.

  126. This. All of this. Shouted from the highest rooftops.

    I have this friend who frequently downloads illegal copies of books and music and movies, even though he’s gainfully employed. I asked him, once, why he did it. Because I was curious.

    His answer: Because I can.

    I asked for elaboration…but that was all he had. It was probably the most frustrated I’ve ever been with someone I call a friend.

    • I honestly think this represents the bulk of the people who illegally download files, Gary. Not the desperately poor. Not the people in countries that would have no access otherwise. The people who can and see nothing wrong with it. THAT is what this post was meant to address. 😉

  127. I did not attempt to reason or respond to her…..she would not have listened and neither would her supporters….I did post to facebook my feelings on the matter……I do not discuss my health and situation on social media but this infuriated and disgusted me enough I had to….here is what I said….

    Disgusting, disturbing and plain as day illegal!!!

    And to the peeps who support this kinda crap…before you tell me how poor you are…please know that I am disabled and cannot work….I would love to though….I receive social security but it is so little that I must have a medical card and SNAP card (aka food stamps)….it embarrasses the hell outta me that I have to resort to these measures and I resent it….but, I cannot tell my body that…. I BUY my books….if I cannot afford one I do without until I am able too or for some authors who have become wonderful and dear friends I tell them my situation and ask if a copy could be provided and I will review….Usually, I do without…..So DON’T give me your sh*t about being poor and cant afford to buy them…..You are thieves plain and simple and if you are stealing here I shudder to think where the hell else you are taking what you think you deserve…..

    the jo…..thoroughly and completely disgusted!!!

    I applaud your article and your wonderful, enjoyable gift!

    Thank you and well said,
    the jo

    • Aw, thank you, Jo! I appreciate your outrage on behalf of writers and creators everywhere. The sad truth is that if the system penalizes the people who write well and make it impossible to see a reasonable return on investment, I think we’ll see the best and brightest of artists, writers, and musicians get out of the business. Because it *is* a business.

  128. Thank you! Thank you for this post. THIS exactly. I am lucky right now I am sharing a house with my sister and BIL (for the moment) and struggle for every single sale. I’ve been out of a regular job, disabled and only recently able to work again, still looking for a regular job (you know, the 9 to 5 paycheck and benefits because I don’t make that or even close from book sales). And when I see four downloads a week from a pay site and a few thousand from a torrent … when my wares cost less than a grande americano from Starbucks that the reader probably buys four or five of a day … makes me want to quit. But I keep at it for the true believers and fans, and for myself.

    All the same, I wish oozing boils to those entitled torrent users. :/

  129. An author friend shared your facebook post about piracy & i thought you presented your argument brilliantly, so well so that, despite not having read any of your books before I decided to buy one.
    Altho that won’t nearly contribute enough for the losses to piracy struggling authors like yourself can endure, i hope that some good may come of it & hopefully your brilliantly written point, well shared on Facebook, will promote your skills as a writer enough so others readers will feel the same as me.
    Anyway I can’t wait to read the 1st of the Six Sense books & if it is as good as it sounds, will be working my way through the whole series in no time.

  130. I feel teachers, as well, are expected to do their work for little pay because a lot of iwhat they do comes from their hearts.

    I also feel that if people can, they will. If something’s not nailed to the ground someone will inevitably walk off with it – because they can.

    I don’t know the solution to your delimma either. YouTube legend Chris Crocker attempted to set up a Fund Me account for his fans to donate if they wanted to. The idea being that he has millions of fans, who love his work but he can’t pay his bills. It didn’t go over well, but I think he, you, I, and everyone deserves to be compensated for their work.

  131. I’m a middle-aged creative-type, who sadly is not yet making a living from my art (writing). My motto was that if I didn’t have the money for it, I would without until I did. Yes there were times, I couldn’t be entertained because I didn’t have money for a movie, play, concert, etc. It’s rough, and I’ve missed one of my favorite singers because the price of a ticket was way out of my price range. But I had to accept that.

    I know many of us have lousy jobs or things going on in our lives that our negative, and we need a diversion, but why isn’t the person creating the “diversion” worthy of a living? We have such disregard for artists in the US UNLESS they’re getting a lot of press and making money.

  132. Wonderfully said. I had someone recently approach me and say they never ended up reading my most recent novel because the free download didn’t work…Apparently she projected that me or my work could not have been worth the $2.99, so glad she told me 🙂

  133. Thank you, this was incredibly well said.

    I have been pirated since my first novel came out in 2010. These days, the books are getting pirated BEFORE RELEASE. (Thanks, NetGalley. Whatever you’re doing to prevent piracy, it isn’t enough for determined thieves.) Like you, I determined that the money lost was in the tens of thousands per book, which then determines my print run (never gonna see NYT because I’m not selling enough to get a big enough print run to make it…because of pirates), which then determines my worth to the publishers. And don’t get me started on the pirating of my self-pubbed works.

    To date, I have met one, and only one, person who pirated my first book then went and bought every other book, and bought that first one, too, and has become a superfan. ONE. Out of what appears to be tens if not hundreds of thousands of thieves.

    I always say that I’m firmly on the side of Metallica. If they hadn’t fought and won the fight against Napster, I can’t even think of what we’d be doing right now. (Not writing, most likely.) And yet, when I say that at cons, I get people telling me that Metallica were GREEDY, that they were being pissy to their fans, that they LOST FANS. And I say, “Metallica were fighting for every single artist in the world. They are our heroes. And if you resent them for what they did, you are the problem.” Taylor Swift did the same thing recently. Because, trust me, music and writing share a lot of the same problems. Only writing doesn’t have the few brave ones willing to take a stand for everyone else like music does.

    As you said, it’s like fighting the Hydra. And we need Hercules. Or an author who’s as powerful at Metallica or TSwift. Maybe we can convince Taylor to write a book, ASAP. Maybe we can get successful authors to stop saying that pirating is great because they’re actually rich enough that it doesn’t matter to them (looking at you, Neil Gaiman). And maybe pigs will fly. Who knows, it could happen, right?

  134. You’ve hit a chord. I have e-books on Amazon. I have good reviews and great reviews too. But I’m lucky to make $1.00 a month. Yes, my books are on pirate sites. I have dreams of being discovered, but so far…it hasn’t happened. It takes me longer than most to finish a book because of my health. Than I must pay an editor and book cover artist. They want to be paid and deserve to be paid, but so am I. I’ve had people say they want me to add more art in the books they downloaded for free. None of them even consider the fact that I must pay for that.

    So…I hear you. All writers hear you. I do think that people believe we make tons of money. Hollywood always portrays writers with lots of money. A little like over weight people are always eating. I have both problems. “Sigh!”

  135. Sarah, sadly your facts are real enough. When I have given away a book for free, which on the upside did usually mean the bought the rest of the series, that’s the only time I received snarky reviews. And most reviews are of this sort: I don’t read this kind of book so here’s a one star to prove it. I mean, really? There is a sense of entitlement in our country and it isn’t limited to just reading. In any event, keep making the magic. We do it because we love writing.

  136. Oh god, I can’t believe you listed Stephen King and J.K. Rowling together with E.L. James. I think this is a sure sign of the apocalypse.

  137. It seems to me that the model of “author publishes a work and then waits for people to buy it” is difficult in an age where making copies of the work is trivial. A replacement model is needed, such as subscription: “author publishes a fragment of a work, solicits buyers, and releases the remainder upon reaching a threshold.” Work is copied as soon as it’s released, but you get your money before it’s released.

    As for entitlement, there is also the entitlement of wanting to do work once and be paid for it forever. The vast majority of people do not function that way; they are not paid in perpetuity for a piece of work they have done once. The subscription model seems more fair to everyone; the author makes the work available once they decide they have gotten enough money, and then the work is available to everyone (which is the bargain that the Copyright Clause makes – “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”)

    That Copyright Clause bargain has been abrogated by copyrights that never expire, even when authors can’t be found. Look at the Author’s Guild lawsuit against Google, for example, or the dance to forever keep Steamboat Willie out of the public domain. Now that’s entitlement!

    The pay structure for artists has weird disparities in any case – an actor on a TV show will be paid a salary and then royalties for each time it airs. An actor in live theater is paid only the salary. Ditto musicians. The artists are putting in the same amount of work. Why does one get paid forever and one not? It seems to me that this is just a matter of history and negotiated deals, not anything intrinsic. When it was hard to make copies of books, you had an industry dedicated to making them and selling them. Now that it’s easy to make copies, there’s no use complaining that the model doesn’t work anymore. You can stand athwart history and yell “Stop!” but history is disinclined to listen.

    • I don’t disagree that there are problems with the copyright laws as they stand, but I’m not sure your subscription model is the answer either. The only way I could see it working is if the story were already written, polished, edited, and had cover art in place *before* soliciting subscriptions. Because once you start releasing pieces online, you’ll have an angry mob on your hands if you don’t produce finished product on an extremely timely basis–such as daily. Your audience isn’t going to be happy if they have to wait for the next installments. When I want to read a book, I want to read a book. I don’t want to get to chapter three and then discover there is no more material available right now.

      Conan Doyle was very successful with serialized releases of his Sherlock Holmes stories–but in his time, there was not nearly the competition for audience attention that there is now. Not to mention, many people will not embark upon a ‘work in progress’ until it is available as a complete story because life events prevent the author from completing the installments in a timely fashion. Heck, there are people who won’t even begin a series until it is complete.

      Your model also implies authors tell stories in a linear fashion. Not all of us do. I tend to write the scenes I can see the most clearly first because they have the biggest impact. I write the bridging scenes later.

      As for entitlement, there is also the entitlement of wanting to do work once and be paid for it forever.

      Do you read a book only once? Have you never listened to a piece of music more than once, or watched the same movie multiple times? If I love a book, I read it until the spine cracks and the pages fall out. I can read it as many times as I like because I *bought* it. I own it now.

      One of the great gifts of literature is that we can hear the voices from the past. I’m not sure your model would allow for publishing houses to continue to publish Jane Austen, or Conan Doyle, or Dickens. There would be little in it for them and those stories would be lost to time.

      • The subscription model applies to how the artist gets paid, not how the work is produced. By all means, get the book completely done and polished first. Then put up the subscription offer, release a sample chapter, and wait to reach a threshold of subscriptions. Once that’s reached, release the entire work to the subscribers. Then even if the work gets pirated, you have at least earned the minimum you believe the work deserves.

        “Do you read a book only once?”

        I live every day in a building designed by an architect. The architect was paid once for that design, and does not collect royalties in perpetuity. For that matter, the cover artist for a book gets paid only once for the art, not for each copy sold. Why should that be?

        I also don’t see what the subscription model has to do with works in the public domain. The subscription model is a payment model, nothing more. Subscribers who receive the work would still own it. Works by Austen, Doyle, and Dickens are all in the public domain (despite efforts by Doyle’s estate) and may be freely copied and republished in any form. Publishing houses publish them knowing that, and people buy them knowing that; presumably the publisher adds some value in the physical production that attracts the buyers.

        • I’d like to point out the architect is paid a LOT of money for the building design. A good cover artist is worth their weight in gold, and I’ve willingly paid large sums of money for a brilliant cover. Those fees allow the architect or cover artist to pay the bills while they create the next project–and at a significantly higher rate of return than what I charge for a single copy of one of my stories.

          I strongly suspect the subscription model will feel to many as though the story is being held hostage for payment demands. Especially when many people seem to feel as though a story–priced at the equivalent of a breakfast for one at Hardees–is too much money.

          • I apologize for butting in, but the model you’re proposing (Mr. Rosen) is one of the first that was tried on the internet, maybe most famously by Stephen King. In the 16 years since then (an eternity by internet standards) nobody has figured out a reliable way to make it work.

            What you’re suggesting sounds very good on paper, but in practice it has so far done very little for authors, while serving as a rhetorical shield for piracy.

            Here’s a good article on King’s early attempt. Certainly a sample size of one doesn’t prove anything, but it’s worth reading for its own sake:


          • Also, people who haven’t paid the architect can’t take that design and use it elsewhere. The only one who can use it, is the one who paid for it. You aren’t allowed to steal architect designs, a design for an engine or even someone’s t-shirt design.

            So why should a book, music or movie be different? Can you imagine someone saying a movie that cost millions of dollars to make should be free?

            “As for entitlement, there is also the entitlement of wanting to do work once and be paid for it forever.” Whether it’s a story, a movie, a t-shirt or a rubber ducky, why should anyone get it for free? Why does anyone deserve to get someone’s hard work for free? Why shouldn’t they get paid each time someone new wants to read their story? It’s hard to write a story, it takes time and effort, it’s not a simple thing to write a good one. How is it entitlement to be expected to get paid for your work? I can’t even understand that type of thought. When people want something, they are always trying to find arguments as to why they should be able to take it.

            “For that matter, the cover artist for a book gets paid only once for the art, not for each copy sold. Why should that be?” I don’t know how that works, but people are buying the story in the book…not the cover art. People aren’t seeing great cover art and saying, “I have to buy this for the art”. The art is
            dressing for the story inside. Now if it’s a book about art they probably do get paid to have their art in the book.

            One reason I think the subscription model wouldn’t work, is why would people pay for it if they knew eventually they’d get it for free? So the first people that read it have to pay and the rest get a freebie? Why would I pay so someone else gets a free ride? That would tick me off to no end!

            You want to read it…you pay for it…bottom line. If you don’t want to pay for it…then don’t! But, don’t steal! It’s a choice…it’s not a life and death situation, no one will die or be hurt if they can’t read it. And, like Sarah said, there are TONS of places you can get FREE stories. Go get them there. No one has to steal!

          • I believe I have read at least 90% of the thousand comments here and some of it seems to verge on bickering. Let me state that I’m NOT an attorney and don’t claim expertise about much of anything. But as a librarian for nearly 30 years, I do have a good grasp of copyright law.
            Let me move on to my point. Some here have made a distinction between creative work which is paid for once an “consumed” once versus creative work which can be used (and illegally duplicated) multiple times for use by multiple consumers.
            I don’t want to argue that either.
            Let me just point out that some [ ? most ? ] recording artists are paid residuals whenever their works are played on the radio or are used in any type of programming or broadcast. Also, some [ ? most ? ] actors/actresses — along with the script writers (I think) — are paid residuals when their syndicated shows are aired in re-runs. If that’s correct (and I believe it is), to me it tosses out the argument (that some here have made) that writers should not expect to be paid for each “use” of their created work.
            Please, folks, be kind and civil in your responses. I’m not here to argue or make enemies. And, as I already admitted, I am NOT an expert in these matters.

          • Copyrights and patents require that the government, which is all the people, spend money and resources to prevent and punish infringement, and in doing so, also limit the free expression of ideas (for example, you will be prevented from making a Harry Potter vs. Doctor Strange movie). The bargain (in the United States, via the Copyright Clause of the Constitution) is that in exchange, the people eventually get the benefit of those works because they enter the public domain.

            United States law does not recognize a “moral right” of artists, nor is “sweat of the brow” permitted to be taken into account when considering infringement (the $250M epic does not get any more protection than the $250 smartphone video). On the other hand, endless rounds of copyright extension laws prevent works from entering the public domain, and “orphaned works” are being lost forever because of this. And a web of lawsuits and takedowns is destroying the creativity that results from using old works in new ways – think of how many works are adaptations of fairy tales, for example. I personally believe that copyrights and patents are inherently immoral, but I also believe that infringement laws should be obeyed, while attempts to shut down fair use should be vigorously opposed.

            In any case, arguing that people should not pirate is useless in a world where people do pirate. As an author, your goal is to be paid, and complaining about piracy doesn’t accomplish that goal. A subscription model will do one of two things; assemble enough money to have made the creation of the work worthwhile, or demonstrate to the author that the work is insufficiently worthwhile to the audience. (The King example is different; he was doing write-as-you-go, whereas my model is more reminiscent of Kickstarter. He also made a half-million dollars on it!) The author doesn’t have to make the subscribed work available for free to everyone once threshold is reached, but it’s likely that pirates will do that anyway.

            Feeling upset and indignant that some people will get to read the work for free is entitlement; it may be justified entitlement, but it is entitlement nevertheless. It is also not useful entitlement, because it does not lead to getting paid. Getting paid involves a dispassionate analysis of the world as it is, and then working within those confines. If it is a fact that after a work is released it is pirated and sales thereby suffer, then perforce the sales must occur before the work is released.

          • Elsewhere in this thread, someone shared a post about Stephen King’s attempt to use a subscription model. It makes for interesting reading. Especially the vitriol unleashed on him by readers, reviewers, and fans alike. What an eyeopener. Because if Stephen King, an established author with a strong fan base can’t make a go of something like this, then I see very little hope for the rest of us mere mortals.

            Feeling upset and indignant that some people will get to read the work for free is entitlement; it may be justified entitlement, but it is entitlement nevertheless.

            Wow. Thank you for proving my point more eloquently than I ever could.

    • There are different kinds of jobs and businesses in the world. Why would everyone be paid by the hour?
      E-book publishing is a form of establishing passive income. Anyone can try and create a passive income business. It’s neither fair nor unfair. A worker comes into their job, does their work and goes home. A business owner takes the risk and makes an investment.
      If a business owner creates a company that he then hands over to managers and only oversees it for a few hours a week, is it ‘unfair’? To whom? If someone earns money off ads on their blog or Youtube channel, and gets to the point where he doesn’t even need to put out new videos or blog posts to earn a stable amount of money, is that ‘unfair’?

      There is no one way of earning money or running a business.

  138. I thought I’d add something to this great discussion – about which I firmly agree. A few months ago I was reading a site that was discussing whether or not to add DRM to your books. (I wish I could find it again, but I need to get back to my own editing.) I was rather surprised by the comments from another side of this issue – not the pirates, but some writers. Below is one of the comments that stuck with me about this issue. I’ve paraphrased, but not exaggerated. I’m using quotes so that you know the part written by the other commentator.

    “I write because I love to write. I work a regular job to support my writing because I don’t believe you should do something you supposedly love, for money. That’s like being a prostitute. If you love something, you should be willing to share it, not try to make money from it.

    I would rather have a thousand readers read my stories for free and enjoy them, than force ten people to pay for my work. I want people to read my work. Writers who are out to make money are just trying to get paid for what should be free.

    What writers are really saying is: I’m so important that you should pay me, even though I say I love what I do. If you really love to do it, then go get a regular job like the rest of us, and write your stories at night and on the weekends, like I do. People like to say they are “artists” but that’s just a way of saying, I don’t want to really work for a living, I just want to create stuff and have you pay me for it! Get a real job and give what you love away for free.”

    Anyway (It’s me again), I thought I’d post this because this attitude is out there among more than a few writers (as well as some musicians, artists, etc.). Google something like “Should art be freely shared?” and you’ll find a bunch of similar comments. As a professional actor and writer, you can imagine what I think of this attitude.

  139. Hi Sarah.

    First, thank you for your time and articulate presentation of this problem… er… crime.

    While I have given books away for free, I’d like to believe it’s my choice, not some thief, who gets to decide when I choose to do so.

    I’ve run campaigns on Bookbub 3 times and was super-pleased with the response every time. Yes, all campaigns were for FREE copies of my books, but the exposure for such a concentrated time was wonderful and always resulted in Top-of-lists Amazon ranking and, when timed right before the release of the next in a series, resulted in holding the #1 Hot New Release in my category the entire month.

    Yes, those were FREE campaigns and they were PAID ads, but I CHOSE to do them for a specific time. Plus, Bookbub delivers–so much so they are now out of the reach for most indie authors since they are super-hard to afford & choose, generally, only New York Times Best Selling Authors. It has been encouraging to hop out of the weeds once in a while due to Bookbub and have some adoring, even clamoring fans but the fact remains that most of us indie authors seem to be competing for attention from a rather small group of digital book fans who are used to getting book downloads for .99 cents tops!

    I don’t have any easy answers in this digital, easy-access-to-too-much-information age. I fantasize occasionally about developing an incredible TED talk sort of presentation that would change lives and sell a truckload of books. But in reality, travel + advertising + simply carting books around is super-expensive and not real conducive to a healthy family life.

    If I have any epiphanies as to how authors can write what’s on their hearts, get their books into the hands of eager readers, and NOT get robbed blind along the way, I’ll be back to share.

    In the meantime, don’t give up, folks. Do what you love to do and do it well. Never, ever quit. There’s a lot of noise and discouragement out there, but if excellent new books are not available, we’d have no outlet and readers would have no escape. Anarchy would ensue.

    Seriously though, I pray encouragement for all you hard-working authors.
    Also, encouragement to you too, Sarah Madison. Thank you so much, for a well-written, effective article that’s bringing attention to a heinous crime.
    (I mean, really, does ANYBODY prosecute these site owners who steal other people’s work????)
    Chana Keefer recently posted..Grieve, Mourn & Wail–Joy is On the WayMy Profile

  140. I can only hope that your beautiful response reached the right ears. I’m going to go now and purchase one of your stories and escape.

    • Aw, thank you. I recognize that my stories aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but until midnight tonight, they’re 30 % off at the Dreamspinner website. So if you really want to grab a story, now’s the time. I also have a free story permanently posted on Amazon. I appreciate your kindness–thank you!

  141. I am selling virtually zero books at the moment and have just spent two days sending DMCA notices to all and sundry. I see one site take it down only for an identical site from the same people put it back up again. Until the penalties for piracy are made to be almost draconian, they will proliferate.
    Isn’t it strange that people see stealing from a grocers is wrong, but stealing from any sort of artist, well that’s okay? After all, they just made it up anyway and it cost them nothing to do that. Grrrrrrrrrr.

  142. Would this person go to work all day and not expect to get paid? Because that’s what they’re expecting you to do? Would they go into a store and take whatever they want and not pay for it? If they are smart enough to be literate and actually read, then they’re smart enough to know that THIS IS STEALING. Writers work as hard as anyone else, we forego the benefits of paid work and often live very much hand to mouth. Those people who think creative work should be free, should try creating something, prose, art, music and see how many hours, research, effort and resources go into creating anything. Lets See those thieves go out and do their jobs for zero pay!

  143. Whenever I see readers posting about “free books”, I chime in that I prefer to pay for my favorite authors’ works. I like to reread books, so that $7 I’ve spent pays many dividends in the time I spend enjoying that book for the rest of my life. 🙂 It upsets me that so many people seem to think that because entertainment is frivolous no one should have to pay for it.

    If no one can make money by writing or being a musician, we’re going to eventually have *no* entertainment. The future Michael Jacksons and Princes of the world will be digging ditches or selling life insurance to survive. Is this what we really want?

    • I think there will always be people who sing songs and write stories, but I think that if the process isn’t rewarded *at all*, then only the wealthy will be able to indulge in the creative arts. Or else people will have to fall back on listening to their family members. 😉

  144. Youtube make it 100x harder to get a stolen version of an audiobook removed than to post, so I just comment on the theft.

    This is cut and paste from the comments section of a youtube stolen version of my audiobook:

    Mark L: Please stop stealing my work and the work of the people that made this audio book.

    Danielle Hollamon
    Good book but your a ass for saying we are stealing your work just be happy that we are listening to your book and leve it at that

    Mark L
    I should be happy that you’re a thief and my hard work along that of the narrator and other folk at the Recorded Book company goes unpaid? What a strange and entitled world you live in.

    • Oh, Mark.

      This makes my blood boil just to read it. This seems to be the quintessential attitude of those who believe they’re entitled to our work without paying for it. ‘You should be glad we’re reading your book.’ As if the honor of having the stories read (or in your case, listened to) is somehow going to pay the grocery bills. 🙁

  145. I read a few books over piracy a few years ago and got 80% of them in hardcover now… (just like I buy the tv-series on blueray after they are released (i watch them online when they are run in america))
    I believe for myself that doing so is fine, but most people forget that you have to support the creators. I want more Mercy Thompson, I want more Demonica, I want more Game of Thrones. But maybe even more then that i want the people who created this to be happy too. I look at my “bookwall” and feel happy. I want to give something back and it makes me sad to see people who dont get this feeling.

  146. I get you, I’m not am author, but I’m a mom of growing kids, and sometimes money is very tight, I DO wait until I can purchase a book, or it goes on sale, sometimes I have been spoilered (does this word exist) because many people DID buy the book or say they did. But I want to be honest and a good example for my kids.
    I’ll be looking into your books and if possible buy one, or wait, lol!
    Back in the day when we were kids there were no torrents, there were only libraries or waiting until the book came out in paperback form, and we didn’t die or shrivel up and cease to exist, people seem to forget. Immediacy a curse of these times…

  147. This post shouldn’t be controversial at all. I don’t get to walk into a gallery and take my favorite piece off the wall. Neither do I get to go to a craft fair and pick something off a table. Why in the world would anybody feel like they are entitled to free books or music?

  148. Sarah, I got to your page from Jim Wright’s Facebook feed. Your writing genre is not my thing, but if it was I’d go buy something of yours. I agree with you 100%. I’m retired and on limited income, but I pay for what I get. I use BookBub and BookBarbarian, Amazon’s Kindle Deals, Ebay, as well as used book stores, to get the best possible deal I can. I’d use the library more often if I felt I wouldn’t end up not reading something I’d checked out and deprive another reader. I prefer having a multitude of books to choose from, depending on my mood. Just wanted you to know there are people who only feel entitled to be entertained, and we’ll gladly pay for the privilege.

    • Hey, I *completely* understand the genre not being your cup of tea–it’s definitely a niche market! You are the prime example of someone who understands they have a book habit and manage it accordingly. I’m like you–I alternate between romance, historicals, mysteries, and sci-fi, depending on my mood, so I like to be able to mix up my reading list at any given time.

      For most of us, having something we’re passionate about means giving up other things or saving in order to indulge. It’s not only the right thing to do, but without the minimum support of readers, most mid-listers will have to give up writing to take on some less time-consuming second job. 🙁

      Thank you so much for sharing your view with us!

  149. There’s no way any of us who do anything creative can take you to task for the most wonderful breakdown of what anyone goes through. Brava ma’am!

    After reading this, I will be looking to find your work in a library and if it compares well to this, likely buying copies of it as well.

    • Aw, that’s very kind of you to say, Tony–thank you! To be honest, I think this post was a fluke among my usual blog posts. I suspect I’ll have a hard time topping this one. 🙂

  150. Sarah, I followed the link from Jim Wright’s FB post (great credit to him for linking it). I have been a professional writer for more than 35 years, and I have survived mostly as a contract writer, taking on any challenge from the highly technical to the absurd, from video game critiques and narrative writing to advertising. I’ve even written some fiction, though that hasn’t made me much money.

    I write in solidarity with you as I prepare to publish two new books that no doubt will do very little for my bank account, but that I spent years writing. I can’t give them away for free, either. And even if I were uber rich, I wouldn’t do so, because that would devalue the work of all the other writers who have earned the right to be remunerated for their efforts – not just all the things you mentioned in your piece here, but for the unique creativity that each author brings.

    You can list all the expenses associated with writing, including the countless hours it takes, on a spreadsheet and add up the bottom line. But you can’t in any way quantify the immense creativity and skill it takes to be able to write well, to be able not only to think up a cool story or character, which isn’t really that hard, but to implement it. To create a plot that works. To bring characters to life through descriptions, actions, and dialogue. Very few writers are paid adequately for their talent, their creativity, and their skills with language and structure.

    So kudos to you for writing this and reminding people – at least those who will read and comprehend – that stealing a writer’s work is stealing. Period. Thank you.

  151. I’m so sorry that this happened to you. I think people just feel a sense of entitlement in this world now a days. It’s been pushed on them from birth. Touchy Feely society that we have now breeds it.

  152. Well stated. I’m not a creative type, I’m an engineer, but I can definitely understand your frustration. I’ve heard some of my kids’ friends having the same arguments about illegally downloading music. I tell them it’s the equivalent of asking someone to work for free and no one should be asked or expected to work for free. If we stopped paying novelists, musicians, sculptors, painters, etc for their work, there would be no novels, music, sculptures or paintings for us to enjoy. You deserve a fair wage for your work and just because your chosen field entails “entertainment” as opposed to something more concrete does not mean it is one penny less valuable.

  153. So I am not a fan of free anything really. Books, music, whatever. Someone worked to do that and paying them is how they continue. It’s not my stuff, it’s their stuff and I get to use it if I pay whatever that price is. Most libraries also have an e-book component and you can put a hold and wait for a book and you have three weeks to read it. They even fulfill through Amazon at mine so I can still use all my Kindle stuff. I don’t get it and the sense that someone thinks they should get this stuff for free is crazy. When will they be doing your taxes or fixing your plumbing for free? Anyway, rock on!

  154. Well said. And sadly so true. Jiara who posted earlier had some really good points to. I mentioned there that even employers are feeling entitled do workers without pay. A guy who has a bar in Texas barely pays the employees promising that they will get full pay when a glitch or something gets cleared in. It hasn’t happened in 4 years. Jiara is right in that it is a lack of respect. That is what entitlement is. Over the past 50 years have seen parents pander to their kids. Never saying no. And each successive generation has been worse than the one before. Nor are they given chores to help out around the house. What they have is no sense of pride, no sense of accomplishment. No sense of self-worth. So of course they expect everything to be handed to them, just as their parents did, and get quite upset if it’s not. It is sad these sort of things happen. But in general most of us really appreciate what artists do and are willing to wait until they can afford it. I used to sell crafts at the Farmers Market, Saturday Market. And if you do crafts you know supplies are not cheap. And I ran into that attitude a lot there as well. “This is highway robbery. You want a mint for this little thing?” It is “Madam. The yarn for that ‘little thing’ cost almost $30. It took me over 45 hours of work on that pattern. All I am asking for is the price of the yarn and for just a couple of hours of my time.” Sometimes they grudgingly pay. Some just stomp off. Sad. But this does permeate every strata of our society. And some areas are worse about it than others. Such as Uganda and Nigeria. If you talk to someone there and they learn you are from the states, they instantly expect you to hand over your hard earned cash when they ask you for money. Entitlement is everywhere. Sadly. It is up to us to be strong enough to say no. It is up to us to not be beaten by the sorry state our society is in.

  155. I’m a reader whose budget cannot practically keep up with her appetite for stories. So. I utilize my local library (ebooks and audiobooks! No need to drive to the library and no risk of late fees!
    I subscribe to KU, because while it’s not much, I want the people whose stories I read and mostly enjoyed, (even if I occasionally want to offer a free edit to any one self-publishing works under 500 pages….) to receive something for their efforts. I avoid the “authors” that I suspect are re-branding other people’s work. I subscribe to Audible, since audiobooks are stupid expensive (I totally understand why, I just only have so many dollars available).
    I won’t pay even .99 for an ultra-short(34 pages is not worth a dollar from a new-to-me author), but I will pay 10-15 for a longer work from a favorite author, happily. I’ll pay a buck for a book if it’s over 200 pages, otherwise it’s better to choose a longer story. I buy Pat Briggs stuff in a couple formats, usually,
    I do not pirate. I will not pirate. Good work should always be compensated. Shoddy efforts teach me not to trust that person with my dollars again, but they are not a reason to stop paying for good work.

  156. Excellent post! I had no idea book piracy was so prevalent! I had not heard of you before, but I’m off to BUY one of your books from Amazon.

  157. I can’t speak from the perspective of a talented and creative individual like a writer, I can only speak from my perspective of being a computer tech and a web developer. The entitlement goes far beyond just entertainment and includes pretty much everything connected to computers.

    “Whats that? You changed your password to your bank account on your computer and now you can’t view your bank account on your tablet? Did you update the password on your tablet?”

    Or one of the ones I get most frequently:

    “What do you mean I have you pay to get the virus removed?! this is entrapment!”

    There really is no end to where this sense of entitlement ends any more. So many people want to be given whatever it is their hearts desire, and the internet and rise of telecommunication IS partly to blame for that. Far removed from the children of yesteryear where their parents paid for everything they wanted when they wanted it, now we have people who have been given everything they wanted whenever they wanted with out expectation of payment. I saw a guy at McDonalds the other day say he shouldn’t have to pay for the food because it’s cheap and nasty. I had a client tell me that the 6 month contract ($14K) price for my firm to develop and maintain her web site was ludicrous and demanded we do the design work for free because “I’m a very important person and I run my own online store where I sell napkins”. It is utterly unreal now a days.

    But know that not all of us are like that. There are people out there who enjoy the creative works of others, and understand that for people who make a living by producing their creative works, there is a need for payment for effort and I happily pay for many such entities. Heck, when I read a story I think a friend will enjoy I tend to buy them a copy so they can read it with out my hearing “But I can’t afford it right now!”

  158. This is so typical of the entitlements kids today think they deserve. I sat in a restaurant earlier and a couple came in with a baby and asked if they had WiFi and they did. So they sat for a few minutes and picked up the baby and left. They didn’t order anything. Just wanted the FREE WiFi.

    I love my books. Those beautiful little things that sit on a shelf just waiting to be opened again. I do read e-books. If I really love it, I buy the hard copy and place my gem on the shelf. That way when our power is out because of a hurricane, I can read my hard covers. I love libraries and my home would be a library if possible.

    Thank you to all the writers whose God given imagination keeps you wandering the worlds we cannot see until you explain it to us.

  159. I am a self-employed artist. When people moan about prices or ask for free things my response is: if you don’t pay me, then I cannot pay my bills. That means I will have to go back to a ‘regular’ job, which won’t leave me any time to create the things you want to have’.
    That usually shuts them up 🙂

    Anyway, very well written article, I’ll look up your name on Amazon (I own a Kindle as my husband ‘banned’ me from buying any physical books due to lack of space as I read A LOT 🙂 )

  160. Well said. I think it will have devastating consequences on the long-term education of the general public. Everyone is a writer, even though they cannot actually write. Sans editors and fact checking, everyone is a reporter. It’s all free because ego is enough payment for some.
    You get what you pay for.
    I hope more people realize that theft is theft. It’s quite literally in some cases taking food out of the mouths of children. But, who cares if you can do it anonymous where no one can see you do it….it’s not like you’re going into a book store and taking an actual book off a shelf and walking out without paying. Wait. Yes. It absolutely is.

  161. I never cease to be amazed by what people think they can do with other people’s work. My thanks goes to you and your post as well as the libraries where I read some of the most amazing stories ever. Best wishes and good luck in the future.

  162. Any piece of writing requires talent,hard work and a previous investment in education.I’ve a small library of books at home-all bought/given as gifts/inherited.My daughter has kept all her childhood books(that’s where all her pocket money went)She now has the best vocabulary and spelling of anyone I know.And 3 GCSE’s.This ,despite the fact that she has learning and physical disabilities.So I’ll never take for granted all the wonderful authors who opened her eyes to a world beyond her bedroom.
    In 2009,I was asked by Penguin Books India,if they could use a photo I’d put on Flickr.Not being a professional ,I thought ” Yes,why not.?” A bit of pride swelled my chest,especially as the photo of my handmade felt artwork was for a bookcover by a famous film-maker and writer.
    But I’d literally sweated making that felt ,with boiling water,soap and elbow grease. I was loath just to give it away.So I asked for payment,accreditation and copyright (the image was to be used by them only and the original remained mine).
    Bless them,they did all of that,and sent me a free copy.I already had it on order and would have paid for it.Lol
    It’s a shame that publishers /writers cannot attach a self-destruct virus to real and e-books that only cancel when a payment code is sent by the reader.

  163. I don’t have kids myself, but one thing I keep seeing, over and over, is that parents for the last generation or two have kept their kids constantly diverted and entertained. Therefore, they are entitled to entertainment, at least in their own minds. Thus the search for free entertainment is in itself a form of entertainment and diversion. I think my question is a little less why people will spend that amount of effort to get something for free (that’s as old as civilization, maybe older) but why people will put up the effort required to steal a work and provide it for free. One thing we face as writers in the cyber-age is that piracy of intellectual property is easy, almost effortless. The task of being paid for our work is no longer simple. We as a community should think about that and find some solutions.

  164. My earnings have gone down over the last couple of years, in part attributable to pirate sites. I was horrified at the amount you’re lost on your own calculations. Also horrified at the cosy statistic – that’s my genre! Definitely sharing this post, although I doubt it will reach the right people!

    • Publishers are dropping the cozy mystery left and right. 🙁 There’s a Facebook Group called Save our Cozies which lists all the publishers that have stopped carrying them, and which series are in limbo. I think the cozy mystery lends itself very well to the self-publishing market, but if these authors don’t get their rights back, they won’t be able to continue their series. Not to mention, it’s easier to fight piracy when Random House is behind you, as opposed to fighting on your own.

      • Hardly any English publishers carry cosies – I’m lucky that mine is a smallish independent – and haven’t for years, which is why a lot of British authors went to the States to get published back in the day before ebooks and self publishing. And a smaller independent publisher hasn’t, of course, got teeth like Random House!

  165. Hear Hear!! Completely agree. This attitude permeates all the arts. My husband is a magician; he doesn’t mind doing the odd charity work, but has to draw the line sometimes.

  166. As a physically disabled reader, I will admit to occasionally being *tempted* to pirate — but a) only in cases where I already own a legitimate hardcopy (that I can no longer read easily because disability) and b) it leaves a bad taste in my mouth to consider “supporting” piracy sites. So it stays a temptation and not an action.

    I don’t have a lot of money, and my purchases skew towards either discounted items (e.g. Kindle Daily Deals) or books/authors I know I like. I also make good use of my library’s digital offerings. And other stuff I just don’t read, because I can’t get a legit copy. I wish I could pay for every book that catches my interest, but … I can’t. Which means I’m not entitled to read the things I haven’t paid for. Weird concept.

    I love books, I love reading, which means I am fully in favor of authors *getting paid* so they can *keep writing*.

  167. I know this will draw negativity but i’m going to be honest. I have illegally downloaded almost as many books as i have paid for over the years. It made me feel bad to read your post because your right. I also live i frugal life struggling to get by and at many points in my life whilst buried in bills and misfortune my only solace was a book to read. If i couldn’t afford one i read one of the many i have on my shelves i loaned from the library until it was shut down. I traveled further to another library, this was also closed down, i bought from second hand book shops in markets and even read books from charity shops. But i also bought books. But over the years i wanted to read a certain book that my friends raved about. I bought it and the second in the series even though they we’re £12 or £15 in hard back. But before long there was eight in the series and I still only had the two. So i gave in to that terrible crime and allowed someone to give them me on a usb stick for my kindle knowing full well where they came from. I’m not asking you to to be happy i’m just giving you an explanation. The bills keep coming and life is hard and i need a book. I remember when you could buy a book for £5 when i earned £8 an hour. Now they’re £15 and i earn much the same. Like all things the prices have gone up astronomically and my wages stay the same. The world is not very fair these days. It likely isn’t going to get any better and people will cut corners and make ends meet. Again i feel sorry after reading your post but I don’t think you’ll cure it anytime soon. You really would have got 13.5k for 16k downloads. That’s less than a £1 for a book that i paid £6,£8 or more for. Well there lies your problem. The margins are a little ridiculous don’t you think. That’s what drives people to torrent sites. There’s no printing cost for a digital copy and i don’t even get to put your book on my shelf. What a rip off. Will i still buy books ?…hell yes when i can afford them. I’ll even ask for them as birthday presents or buy them second hand when they become affordable to have them on my shelves even after I’ve already read the illegal copy. Will i stop read illegally, sadly no. The gap between what i can afford and what i want to read is still a void that is going to be filled. I know you don’t want to hear that but i did say i would be honest.

    • Neville:

      There’s something about your post that makes me want to pat you on the head and say, “There, there.” I suspect it is because I recognize a fellow avid reader. I also know a lot about being so miserable that losing myself in books were the only thing that kept me hanging on. Hey, it beats a cocaine addiction!

      I’d also be lying if I said I was never the recipient of a care package that included digital books as well as food and clothing. I’m sure people are going to point at this comment and say I’m splitting hairs, but I do see that as different from the bulk of illegal file-sharing. For one thing, the stories were legitimately purchased and given as gifts. They were also given to you personally, by people who care about you. That seems like an entirely different proposition to me than someone who acquires a story either through legal or illegal means, and then posts it to a torrent for thousands of strangers to snag their own copy.

      The only problem I have with your comment here is this: There’s no printing cost for a digital copy and i don’t even get to put your book on my shelf. What a rip off.

      I’m sorry you feel that way. I really don’t know how to respond to that. I had to do a conversion factor on pounds to US dollars–the only way I can see someone paying $21.38 on a new book if if they are buying it in hardback. I get a lot of used books on Amazon for as little as $4 (including shipping), as there is no longer a used bookstore in my area. As for digital copies being too expensive, most people I know don’t charge $8 an e-book. My stories are being file-shared even when the price is $0.99 cents. So I think the bottom line is that even some avid readers such as yourself, don’t value the author’s work on some level.

      I do appreciate the strict financial situation in which you find yourself. Even four dollars represents a significant proportion of your paycheck.

    • Neville, there may be no printing cost for digital books, but we have to pay for editors, proofreaders and cover art. Some also pay for promotion so you actually get to hear of the books in the first place. Producing a digital book can cost up to around £800. Okay, not always that much, but there is still cost involved. It also takes months and months of hard work. Yes, it’s work that we choose to do because we like doing it, but we’re not getting paid for all those hours we spend at the laptop when you’re down the pub/watching telly/reading!!!

  168. Bravely said, and you’re right about what we get paid. I have never been able to understand why publishers won’t give us a higher percentage of the sale of an ebook, and this is one of the reasons so many authors change to self publishing. And at least you’re still buying books as well as the downloads.

  169. I’m a broke ass book lover. I love ebooks and audio books. We are so, so very poor. Unexpected job loss hit us hard.

    So what do I do? We can’t go to the movies. I can’t buy books. I have yarn to knit I purchased (long before the job loss). But I love stories while knitting.

    So I..

    Use my bloody library.

    My library has books, ebooks, audio books, magazines. … and even movies!

    The entitlement drives me crazy. I hope you see more income soon. I’m just a knitter, and still I have people asking for handknits that take weeks of work. For free, or worse, for less than the cost of the yarn (typical offer is under $20). It’s so offensive, and it’s not even how I make a living, and they certainly can’t copy it out to share with others.

    • Bravo! Thank you. I love my local library. 🙂

      Great Scott–I can’t imaging asking for a handmade knitting project that cost less than the yarn itself. I am in awe of your skills!

  170. Stealing is wrong. I don’t think there are any excuses for books to be stolen. If the author doesn’t get paid, there won’t be any more books. How hard is that to comprehend?

    Love your post.

  171. Thank you! So many responses that I doubt I could add anything original, but I really wanted to thank you for putting into words what I’ve often thought myself.

  172. Here’s how it goes,

    Are you a popular writer? Congratulations, you don’t need to worry about piracy because people are gonna buy your stuff anyway.
    Are you not really well known at all? First of all, too bad, you chose a career path in which only a select few get to be successful at all and the fact that your work is being pirated is something inevitable, it’s part of your career. It’s something you have to fight and it’s something that you should’ve been prepared for.

    Another note: going to the library as an alternative to piracy? Doesn’t this go against your own arguments? If libraries became the next big thing, how would you profit from it? Libraries don’t pay royalties to the authors. And only the bestsellers are bought in larger amounts. In fact, I don’t see how a library is much different from piracy. They buy the book and they let you read it. There’s really nothing else to it besides that the library gets permission.

    How can you really relate to the people ‘pirates’ anyway? What if I have 1000 movies on my watch list and another 500 music albums that I have streamed online but don’t have legal copies of despite how much I really want to listen to all of those albums? Like, yes, there are actually people out there who dedicate their time to watching LOTS of movies and listening to LOTS of music, all that combined with their expensive education costs. They end up only being able to buy their most favorite albums and movies. And that’s not entitlement, it’s passion. It’s being so passionate about something that you couldn’t possibly afford it.

    Everything in this post and the comments leads me to believe one thing: You’re unhappy about your lack of success. You failed at what you do and you’re trying to blame someone for it. It’s the same situation everywhere really. Factory workers will complain about machines taking their jobs. The police complains about civilians filming them. People who lose their jobs will complain about migrants.
    In fact, maybe you’re just not fit for the job.

    • Well, let’s see. Your opening statement suggests that all authors, not just me, merely need to make more money than we lose in pirated sales and all will be happy. That’s a bit like suggesting to a man hemorrhaging to death that he just produce more red blood cells and he won’t die. Nice.

      Secondly, libraries do buy copies. Yes, people get to read them for ‘free’. But there are a lot of libraries out there. A paid copy is a paid copy. Not to mention, a limited number of people come into a physical location to read books present there. The ability to download copies online is limitless. Not the same.

      Third… ah, well now we get down to it. Your passion supercedes an artist’s right to be paid what they are due. Your passion is more important that my passion. You can’t afford to pay for your passion, but hey, your needs are more important than anyone else’s. If that’s not the definition of ‘sense of entitlement’, I don’t know what is.

      Everything in this post and the comments leads me to believe one thing: You’re unhappy about your lack of success. You failed at what you do and you’re trying to blame someone for it. It’s the same situation everywhere really. Factory workers will complain about machines taking their jobs. The police complains about civilians filming them. People who lose their jobs will complain about migrants.
      In fact, maybe you’re just not fit for the job.

      Well, that’s taking the subject far afield, isn’t it? Sounds to me that you felt strongly about justifying your actions to everyone here. I hope that made you feel better.

    • Your comparison miss key details Michael.

      Libraries. Libraries purchase the books they carry. Yes only the most popular authors and books get purchased in large quantities. So what? 20 copies purchased for an given library system is still 20 copies purchased and that’s $5 in the authors pocket (Okay, actually it’s like $2.25 but still). Libraries buy their books, or in the case of e-book lending they pay licensing fees to have the digital version of the book available and to have x-number of copies of that book available.

      Your comments regarding movies… I’m not entiring sure what you are referring to here, but I’m going to assume you are referring to online streaming services such as Hulu, Crackle, YouTube, Netflix, Spotify, Apple Music, and the like. So if you have a netflix streaming list of 1000 movies… then you have an active subscription to that service which is used to pay for the licensing and streaming rights for the movies in question which means money in the production company’s pocket which means money in the original writer’s pocket. 500 music albums that you’ve streamed but don’t have legal copies of. Again, I’m assuming you are referring to some form of online streaming service such as Spotify, Pandora, or Apple Music. You are either paying for a subscription to the service in question, or you are a secondary service being marketed to other companies through the use of ads. Both cases mean money is being exchanged for services which means money in the artists pocket.

      None of these examples are of people pirating anything. These are of people who are working with the system to legally and equitably obtain the sources of entertainment they want.

      As for your final comment,

      “Everything in this post and the comments leads me to believe one thing: You’re unhappy about your lack of success. You failed at what you do and you’re trying to blame someone for it. It’s the same situation everywhere really. Factory workers will complain about machines taking their jobs. The police complains about civilians filming them. People who lose their jobs will complain about migrants.
      In fact, maybe you’re just not fit for the job.”

      Now I will not comment on Miss Madison’s fitness for the job of career novelist. That is her choice and no one else’s. However, you analogy is incredibly narrow and frankly insulting. “Factory workers complaining about machines taking their jobs” is a far cry from “Hey I did this job, and produced this product, that now I am not being paid for the production of.” This isn’t a case of an advance in technology made a prior job obsolete, the sole stamper on the shoe line for example. This is the sole stamper stamping 10,000 soles for shoes but only getting paid for 5,000 and then being told you make enough money anyway so I deserve to get the soles for these shoes for free.

      “The police complains about civilians filming them.” These complaints are 2 fold. Firstly you have cops who are abusing their authority and position for personal gain. Actions that previously they got away with because no one could prove it. These individuals most assuredly should be fired and tried for their transgressions. Thus they don’t want people filming them. The second type are the cops who are honest and sincere in their efforts to do their jobs, are making every reasonable accommodation they possibly can, and are working 12-14 hour duty shifts that are now in a position of elevated stress. So on top of everything else they already do, now they are tired and stressed, AND they are being filmed probably by people who’s only basis of understanding what their rights are and what police procedure are from assorted TV shows and activist charged speeches that tend to go out of their way to broad stroke the actions of select officers as representing every police officer ever. They’re tired, they’re stressed, they have people getting in the way of doing their job, they have people threatening to sue to them with cameras which means now they have to eight times squeaky clean as they would normally be, which is already a demanding standard. To stretch the comparison, this is a cop who pulled someone over for doing 85 in a 65, gave them a ticket, and now found that not only is the ticket being thrown out of court, but he’s facing back lash at the office because the audio on the tape the person had in the car got muffled and they made a case that what the cop actually said was “good afternoon sh*t” as opposed to ‘Good afternoon sir’ meaning they were able to twist the cops actions to make it look like he was being hostile to the driver.
      Michael recently posted..Dreamspinner Press Offers Ways to Help GLBT Organizations in FloridaMy Profile

    • This post was not too bad of a read till the end. Gee… How mean are you? My first thought is this has to a liberal. One of the supposedly self-proclaimed entitled. But, perhaps not. We all have a bad day now and then and everyone is invited to put forth an opinion when someone posts a thought like hers on a topic. I guess, I don’t understand the personal attack. It hints at some deep and not so repressed resentments at life as a whole on your part. You go ahead and justify your theft of peoples work because you otherwise can’t afford not to. Telling this this is a bit like kicking against the pricks and I would expect a backlash because you’re tone tells me you can’t handle criticism well.
      Jerry Hall recently posted..The Princess and the Apprentice by Roland BoykinMy Profile

  173. I’m so ignorant. I had no idea there were sites like that for stealing books. I use Book Bub and Kindle Unlimited and read a lot more books that way than I would otherwise. I like them because I’ll take a chance on an author unknown to me, and then go on to buy their other books if I like their writing. I borrow books now and then on kindle from the library.

    My sister is a musician. She has people asking her to play for events all the time for the “exposure.” They ignore the fact that playing the harp is how she makes her living.

    I wish there was something more to be done to stop these book pirates. But, I’m now going to have to go look up your books! I’ll have to buy one just because I like this essay a lot and you opened my eyes to something I had no idea occurred for authors.

    • Aw, that’s very sweet of you, Nancy–but I’m fully aware my stories might not be your cup of tea. Don’t feel obligated to get something unless you really think you’d enjoy it!

      To be honest, the events of this last week, with the shooting in Orlando, has taken my attention away from this post. I still think it’s an important problem we need to solve as we move forward into an increasingly digital world, but my heart’s been kind of heavy. Your comment is the first one I’ve responded to in a while. I’ve been a little distracted.

      I’m sure your sister can pay a lot of bills with her exposure, though! 😉

  174. I know I look for free or reduced cost Kindle books (I am on disability so not THAT much spare cash!), but generally just to see if I like a new to me author. If I do then I tend to pre-order and go without something else – I certainly wouldn’t think I was “entitled” to get anything through piracy!

  175. Wow, what a terrific article. I am going to quote it on my blog and link back to it. This problem of piracy is too easily accepted by way too may people. I wonder if they don’t have a clue of how hard it is to write a novel, and how much time it takes.

  176. Sarah, thank you for bringing awareness to this very important issue! I’ve shared this article and it’s generated some very helpful discussion amongst my friends and family. Keep on writing!

  177. Wow! So many great comments… and I don’t have time to stop and read them all, so maybe someone’s already said this?

    That stuff that gets pirated comes with malware in the download, because here’s the secret: even the pirates want to get paid! So not only do they steal once from the author, but then they use malware to steal again (maybe even more than once!) from you; in the form of passwords and identity theft, and maybe even up to and including the emptying of your bank accounts.

    You may think you’re too poor now to pay for that book, but trust me: once the pirates are done with you, you are going to be really hurting for certain!

    On a happier note, many authors (like myself) are willing to offer a free ebook in exchange for an honest review. You can say you hated it, you can say you loved it…all I care is that you actually read the book and your comments are relevant to it.
    Krystine Kercher recently posted..For The Love of BooksMy Profile

    • Possibly with the pirate sites. In fact, I’ve heard of authors getting their personal information stolen when they attempt to verify their copyright claims. But I’m not so sure the torrents have those kinds of traps. I wish they did. 🙁

  178. Dear Sarah, this article says it all! I have a lot of writer-friends, and some of them barely make ends meet these days – not only because of piracy but the effects this has on some genres, too. Haven’t read any of yours sofar, but ordered my first. I’m much looking forward to it. and, yes, I’ll always pay, not only the book but my respect as well in form of a recommendation. Fight on, please, and write more, too. <3

  179. So there are only two times I get free books (1) when someone gives me a book. And no, I don’t demand books from authors. (2) when it is offered free for Kindle. I’m a poor reader, and I will willingly pay for material. I do not “buy” pirated music, movies, tv, or reading material. I just won’t. I want more, and the deal is I pay. I have no problem with that. This was a wonderful piece. And I think I just might read one of your books.

  180. Thank you for writing this beautiful and heartfelt post. You’ve so eloquently explained why I refuse on principle to ever use torrents etc. and so often got into arguments with “friends” in college who used them regularly. It’s theft.

    Thank you and I wish you all the best in your writing career. 🙂


  181. I was just having this conversation on Facebook about role playing game products. I am an author and publisher and I was looking for a specific “out-of-print” product. I asked if anyone knew where I could get a physical copy and was shocked at how quickly someone suggested I download a PDF copy and get it printed at I had to explain that I wanted to walk the walk I so frequently talk online. I wanted to pay full price for the product so the creator could get their cut.

    I could write my own piece about how the role playing game industry is rife with piracy and how the industry as a whole severely devalues their products through digital sales channels. I just doubt it would do very much good.
    Alex Karaczun recently posted..A Rebuttal to The Worst Adventure of All Times by John WickMy Profile

  182. Actually, I think health care should be free and in most civilized countries it is. Doesn’t mean doctors don’t get paid, but it’s still free to the end user. As for books, not so much.

    • Even in countries where health care is provided as a national service–it is not free. A portion of tax payer money goes to support this, as it does the public school system, police and fire departments here in the U.S. I am a strong believer in Nationalized Health Care–just about everyone I know is one medical crisis away from bankruptcy. But it isn’t free, and the far right knows by calling it ‘socialism’ and threatening the already over-burdened middle class with higher tax bills, they can prevent it from ever happening.

      Sadly, from what I’ve been reading, the UK’s current government is doing its best to dismantle the NHS there. There’s been a big push toward privatizing recently. 🙁

      • Sarah,

        When I was born, health insurance was in its infancy in this country. Dad was a newly ordained minister, and the church covered him and Mom’s health insurance…

        Mom spent a WEEK in the hospital! She really didn’t need a week, but they gave her a week, and–it cost so much LESS for that week than what it cost for me to spend less than 24 hours in the hospital with only one of my two children. We didn’t try for a third. We were paying on our copay for those hospital bills for years.

        There’s a moral lesson here: every single time you try to get someone else to pay your bills for you, those bills will go UP. And UP and UP and UP!

        Here’s an article I wrote about why:

        Oh, and one of the reasons Great Britain is under pressure to privatize its health system is because of Liverpool Pathways. You might have heard of it?

        This is the program where doctors decide a patient is taking up too much room at the hospital so they withhold food, liquids, and medicine–until they’re dead–often without first informing the family of their intentions and generally without allowing any discussion or debate (or objections).

        Since most people view this as murder and are extremely angry, particularly when they discover it can happen to them or their gran– They want the system put back in private hands in the hopes of stopping these serial killers in white lab coats that government healthcare has enabled.

        You’re far safer being nursed at home by the people who care about you, but have no medical experience than taking your chances in the government-run hospitals in Great Britain–especially–if you’re seriously ill.

        Also, you might want to research long waiting lines for life-saving procedures (people are dying in Great Britain and Canada from illnesses we think of as non-fatal in the U.S. because of months-long waiting lines just for the diagnostics to confirm their illness), difficulty getting a hospital bed, and the mounting national debt.

        That taxpayers are obligated by law to pay for something doesn’t mean that they always can or should.
        Krystine Kercher recently posted..Don’t Give Up On Doing Good By Boycotting TargetMy Profile

        • I have many, many friends in the UK that would disagree with you–some of whom would not be alive today except for the NHS. My BF is an ex-pat, and has a first-hand feel for the benefits of such a system. I’m afraid you’re not going to change my mind on this one.

        • As a transplant from the US to Canada, I have seen our system in action, and you are exaggerating the problem. There can be waits, but most of us here are quite happy with our socialized healthcare. We’d rather have it than lose our house over a cancer diagnosis, which happens all the time in the states. Nice try, though.

          • I’ve got a bunch of Canadian friends. In their more honest moments, they say some pretty hard things about medical care in Canada.

            One of them died 2-3 years ago of cancer. He couldn’t get hospice care. He couldn’t get a bed at the hospital. They were treating him outpatient at the ER with chemo (!!!). His wife, who had kidney problems thanks to donating one of hers, nursed him alone round the clock for months. He lived in Toronto, Ontario (which ought to have had the infrastructure for taking proper care of a cancer patient), he was a DOCTOR and a philanthropist who spent his entire life up until he got cancer serving others…

            And. They. Couldn’t. Get. Him. Hospice. OR a HOSPITAL BED (!!!) when he was clearly sick enough to need one!

            I could add more…

            Y’all’s medical care stinks! If you aren’t personally aware yet of just how badly it stinks, you can count yourself fortunate…but sooner or later you’ll find out for yourself where the indifference and medical horrors lie in wait for you, particularly with Gary Trudeau pushing euthanasia. When you do–well, if we can’t get rid of Obamacare, I regret to say it, but there won’t be much help over the border here for you either!
            Krystine Kercher recently posted..Don’t Give Up On Doing Good By Boycotting TargetMy Profile

  183. First let me thank you for standing up for yourself and the rest of us who attempt to make a living from creative endeavors. It’s sadly one of the most difficult paths to walk in this life and one of the most dreamed about for some ridiculous reason.
    I am a game developer and my industry is devastated by piracy. It’s much more prevalent among my consumer-base, most likely due to age and the vehicle used to deliver our art.

    The entitlement argument among our thieves is that they deserve to try the games before buying them to make sure they are good or work on their computers. In an effort to end this practice our leading electronic distributor, Steam, began a practice of allowing customers the right to refund any purchase for up to 2 hours of use or 2 weeks time for any reason. That should eliminate most piracy, right? Wrong. No deviation in statistics. No rise in earnings. In fact, for most independent(indie) developers the earnings have further dropped off. It’s yet another way for people to get something for free. In a world of bargain hunters many see it as another chance to get one over on the store. They dehumanize developers in an attempt to justify their actions. Most people seem to have one group of individuals that they deem unworthy of financial success. For some it’s writers, game developers, movie stars/studios/writers/stage hands, musicians, etc.

    I don’t fight the Pirates anymore. It’s maddening. Three times as many people steal my games compared to my sales. Each game could be my last- that’s the level of financial reward for my chosen field. I must put up my entire financial stake in this world each time I make a game, risk it all on Black as it were. My fans praise me for attempting to save a dying genre no longer supported by large studios because it was no longer financially viable. Those who steal from me say I should make games for free as a true fan of the medium. As if it’s a privilege to work 18 hours a day for less than minimum wage. That I am lucky enough to suffer from insulting reviews from children and adults, I should also commit slow suicide by giving away something I spend $50k-$100k+ a year creating? It’s maddening that they don’t think the programmers that I pay or the artists I pay should work for free. Somehow, as the creative voice I am not worthy of financial success. How do you fight that? You don’t.

    There is no reasoning with that mentality because it’s based on broken logic and an impressive force of will to not see the truth. This is a group of people without the courage to put original art into the world. They will never know the sacrifice or fear or blind faith required. Piracy is a decision made in fear but reinforced wth bravado. I have resigned myself to the notion that there is no stronger force in this world than fear combined with bravado.

    Let someone stronger than me take the fight to them. I am struggling to make my art without letting the VOCAL minority poison my vision. I am not in your prime demographic but I bought one of your books today in solidarity. Good luck to you and thank you for having the courage to call out the non-paying portion of your fanbase. I hope you see a net gain in money or satisfaction.

  184. I’m always fascinated by conversations about piracy. They tend to revolve around the piracy of film and tv, which is equal parts a problem of entitled people simply not wanting to shell out for something, and outmoded distribution methods that don’t take into account actual consumer behaviors or demands. Music is a little similar, but writing and video game piracy are different beasts; Writing because the making and selling of copies is literally how the business model works, and video games because the cost of patching, upkeep, and R&D is far higher than the average player has any idea of, let alone the amount of money that (should be) paid to the dozens-to-hundreds of artists and engineers that create the damn things to begin with.

    At its core, piracy is theft. What makes it a weird sticky point with people, I think, is that a lot of people are motivated to utilize piracy by different factors, and all of them are justifiable in one’s own head. So the motivations for it vary, but you can’t police motivations, you can only police access and consequences.

    Confession: I’ve pirated books. Specifically, I pirated a handful of Robin McKinley’s works as far-from-perfect PDFs converted into Kindle-readable documents. I did that because there were no ebook versions available for purchase, and I wanted to bring copies with me when I traveled without sacrificing any of my multiple physical copies. So I have to admit I, personally, felt guiltless. I’d been supporting her work, buying replacements of my own loaned out versions, or water damaged versions, or lost versions, for years; I pre-ordered her rare new releases. So when the only option available to have digital copies was to make my own or download the ones someone else had done, I did it.

    Then Amazon released all of those books and more as Kindle editions, and I bought all of them the same day of their release and deleted the old unofficial ones. But I somehow doubt this is the case with majority of book pirates.

    When the multiple expensive media delivery services I pay for fail to yield up content- a DVR records a black screen for two hours instead of the show, On Demand is broken and won’t connect, neither Hulu nor Amazon Prime nor Netflix nor any individual cable provider app or website are hosting it- when my paid options are exhausted or faulty, I’ve pirated tv episodes, and I didn’t feel bad doing it. Not if I had already paid for them, and then not been given what I had paid for. But I doubt the 32k other people downloading that episode of the Walking Dead were doing it for the same very specific reason I was.

    A major problem is, once you know how to pirate media, it’s easy to default to doing it. The tool is there, why not use it and save yourself a bunch of money? Well, because it’s wrong. But, obviously, you can justify pretty much anything to yourself, minor or major, if it gets you what you want. As with every other unflattering human behavior, the internet has magnified this one, as well.

    In all honesty, as long as the tools remain, I’ll probably continue to use them on those rare occasions when the systems I’m paying for fail. But if every torrenting site in the world went down tomorrow, I wouldn’t mourn the loss.

  185. I for one will admit to using one or two of the illegal download sites when I first started reading eBooks, money was tight at the time. I didn’t know about Kindle Unlimited or all the free books that author’s give out. I no longer use these sites and try to support the author’s work that give me so much enjoyment, by buying their books. I buy their books on their websites instead of Amazon if I can, so they are not having to pay Amazon any royalties for their hard work. People will go get coffee at Starbucks or go out and have a drink and spent $2-10 for their drinks but balk at spending that much for a book that will give them many hours of enjoyment…

    • I forgot to add that one can sign up and get ARC’s ( Advanced Reader Copies) and sometimes or beta copies of author’s books for a review.. I have and thoroughly enjoy reading before it is available to the general public and writing a honest review of it

      • Todd McCaffrey’s “City Of Angels” which was added to and revised under a different publisher. Was first released in digital form, 2 weeks before the release date. with permission of his at the time digital publisher. The publisher at that time told him that during those 2 weeks. Any digital copy bought would give him the full profit.

        He had 4,000 fans on his facebook friends’ list. And has a lot of followers on his author page website too. As far as I know those 4,000 alone paid the 15 dollar price. Because we knew he’d get that profit, and we’re not only fans but some of us are called friends by him.

  186. You’ve put it so well. It’s shameless when people steal authors’ work and readers who are part of this crime. It’s a crime. The defense argument is so ludicrous. I am a book reviewer and get free books to analyse authors’ works but will never steal someone’s work. Once, I saw an author’s work illegally posted on Google, saved the book on laptop to show her and immediately deleted it after that. I do take free books available on Amazon but only after the author shares it on social media. Films are creative business and why the free loaders don’t ask for free entrance at the box office.

  187. I have seen quite a few of these articles recently and they make me furious! Not the articles themselves, obviously (and this is a particularly super one!) but the shameless theft of another’s work. There is no need for it.

  188. I referenced your wonderful article covering an unfortunate topic on one of my own relatively brief Monday Grumpy Monday posts: “SHAME on the nasties who pirate Intellectual Property” ( – linked to you, of course (I can’t tell if you get pings). I see that at least one of my readers has already jumped here to read what you had to say on the topic.

    To my mind, the more of us who ring in with censure (and support others who do), the less likely intellectual property will be stolen by what my father used to refer to as “the honest thieves.” By that, he meant those who buy into the justification that “petty theft” is okay as long as “everybody else” is doing it.

    Social psychiatrists have bully studies that show that peer witness is likely to see it increase, but than if even ONE person will stand up in opposition, others will follow.

    IMHO, those of us with higher standards need to band together to “out shout” the trolls if we want to stem the increase in the practice of piracy.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”
    Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, MCC, SCAC recently posted..Getting along when only ONE of you has ADD/EFDMy Profile

  189. I love buying Amazon Kindle Books. I can carry it everywhere with no backpack.
    The same way you feel about your books and the work that goes into it, is how I felt about my websites and how once it made a few dollars a month, that went to nothing when AdBlock became popular.
    I no longer have those websites because of the amount of time and work I put into it, and it did not even make me enough to pay 1 small bill… not enough to buy a Pizza.
    I gave up on those websites I loved and when I do publish, it will be paperback LOL
    Same issue authors have, YouTubers and Webmasters have.. everyone wants your time and need you but even when it cost them nothing, they still block creators from earning money.

  190. I’ll admit, I do pirate the occasional story. Usually when I’m not doing to well financially and have a need to escape to some other world. Books are amazing for that. Then again, I also have an extensive library containing 300+ paper books, all purchased new, from diverse sources. With computer games, I always pirate first and buy if I enjoyed the game. I have big name titles that I’ve bought but never opened because I already finished the “illegal version”. If I love a title be it a book, movie or game, I’ll buy it even if I’ve already completed it. If I love it, I want the author / developers to make another. What I used to experience (when I would buy first and try after) was that I would pay for so many things that didn’t interest me that I would quickly run out of disposal entertainment income prior to finding something that I did enjoy. So yes; I’m one who “pirates” but I’ll always spend them money if I enjoy the product.

    • And this is why we authors and game developers and other creative people can’t have nice things. Because you want the pleasure first and then maybe you’ll buy. You keep the pirate sites alive; you starve the people who produce what’s on the pirate sites. Because you don’t use *libraries* to find out what you like. You don’t use second-hand bookstores (whose stock was paid for by the first purchaser.) I lived on libraries first, then libraries and second hand bookstores when I could afford used books, at a time when buying one new book a year was a struggle. Whatever book I read, the author had been paid for. Whether I liked the book or not (and yes, if I brought home five books from the library, two of them might be duds, but that just meant I’d go back to the library sooner.)

      I’m glad you’re buying some of the things you read, but seriously, Alexandre Charron, you’re still stealing from us. Your determination to buy only what you like (but take more just in case) means that sales figures for what you bought lag *way* behind what they would be if you bought it earlier, and that often means losing out on bestseller lists, not making the “numbers” that publishers require to print the next book. Why do some series end after the first or second book? Because the early sales weren’t enough to justify going on. Because, these days, of piracy. We may have thousands more readers than the publisher can verify…enough to have kept the book in print longer.

      You may feel virtuous that you at least buy some of the books you pirate…but it’s not enough. You’re just a thief like the rest of the piracy club, like someone who goes through a grocery store taking one bite out of a fruit or a pastry and then throws it in the bin, only paying for the ones they eat completely. Writers are going under. Most writers’ incomes have gone down, advances have shrunk except for a few stars.

      Yes, books are amazing escapes to other places. So are libraries, which are full of books and tapes

      • *applauds*

        THIS. Piracy is an industry-wide problem that doesn’t just impact the ability of the little fishes to make a living. It damages the ability of our favorite authors to reach critical publishing goals which are used to gauge the success of a series or even whether the author will be offered another contract. It’s part of the reason small presses are going under. It’s a factor in why publishers are dropping entire imprints and focusing only on a few genres.

        What this means is in the long run, the pirate is shooting down the creator they profess to love. Why is this so hard to recognize?

  191. Well said and amen. I have been fighting that fight since forever with these entitled little snots. My work has been pirated more times than I can recall.



  192. I admit that I feel “entitled” to peruse public libraries and second-hand bookstores. I also admit that I feel “entitled” to lend my stuff out to my friends and family. Sorry that you’re not making any money off of me.

    • I never said I had a problem with libraries, second-hand bookstores, or loaning physical books. In the first two instances, someone paid full price for the books at one time–just not you. I specifically listed libraries as a way to get books to read on a tight budget in this post. As for loaning a book to a friend, we all do that. Especially if we’re excited about a story or series and want to share that with our friends.

      Loaning a book to your BFF or even two or three family members is not the same as putting the digital file online for thousands of people to download without paying anything for it. I would think the difference would be obvious.

  193. Since I couldn’t pay for this rant (which totally deserves it,) I’ve bought some of your books, which look right up my alley. Online ordering of e-books is just so easy, there’s no excuse. As you pointed out, for those who genuinely can’t afford it, there are plenty of options that don’t involve stealing, and far as ‘I pay for it if I like it’, Amazon will send a sample. The sample of Unspeakable Words is three whole chapters, more than enough to get hooked.

  194. My favorites are “you will get exposure by doing this for us for free” … from a for-profit company.

    And “I think the work has more integrity if it isn’t just done for money,” .. from a person who works for a for-profit company.

    P.S.: this was for technical content.

    • Yes–and those magazines and journals that rely solely on free content ‘for the exposure’ have a lot to do with this mentality these days.

      Apparently an organization recently bought out LA Weekly, fired most of the staff and went to the ‘your payment is exposure’ model. I sincerely hopes the magazine goes belly up as a result. 🙁