SciFi and Fantasy Book Club discussion

Member's Chat > e-Book Piracy

Comments (showing 51-100 of 108) (108 new)    post a comment »

Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides (upsight) | 542 comments Ala - someone else who is more qualified to answer this than I am will probably come along, but until then, I'll take a crack at it.

It's not profitable for bookstores to have a book sitting there forever hoping that maybe it'll sell. After a while, they can return the books to the publisher for credit. It's not cost-efficient to send mass market paperbacks back, so stores are allowed to rip the cover off and just send those; the rest of the book is supposed to be discarded.

Hardcovers are usually remaindered; the store puts a black mark on the page block somewhere and slashes the price by 75% or so. I'm not completely clear on the process here - the extras may go through a distributor or other third party first.

Publishers don't/can't just keep the unsold books for possible later demand because not only does storage space cost money, but at some point there was a change in US law such that those unsold books are taxed as assets. So the publishers really don't want them around.

message 52: by Brad (new)

Brad (judekyle) | 1639 comments I had considered a poll early on in the discussion, but the longer and deeper this discussion goes, the less comfortable I am with such a poll, unless it is conducted as a matter of curiousity rather than as a way to make policy.

This discussion is doing precisely what we moderators need it to do, which is to give us a sense of what our readership thinks, but also to give us a deeper understanding of the legal issues involved. With so many authors and publishers entering the discussion and making important statements about this topic, I think that the moderators will have more than an enough information to make a decision on this.

message 53: by [deleted user] (new)

But why is that cost being put on the publishers and not on the sellers?

When I go to Walmart to buy a video game, it's there because Walmart purchased it already. If it doesn't sell, they mark it down continuously until it just ends up in a bargain bin or sold to some reseller.

Isn't that the normal way to sell goods? Why is the book business model different? Doesn't that just add an extra layer of costs?

message 54: by Jim (new)

Jim (JimMacLachlan) Has anyone read the terms under which we use this service?
2. User Content
...You agree not to post User Content that: ...
(iv) may constitute or contribute to a crime or tort;...

(vi) contains any information or content that is illegal (including, without limitation, the disclosure of insider information under securities law or of another party’s trade secrets); or (vii) contains any information or content that you do not have a right to make available under any law or under contractual or fiduciary relationships; or...

Goodreads reserves the right, but is not obligated, to reject and/or remove any User Content that Goodreads believes, in its sole discretion, violates these provisions. You understand that publishing your User Content on the Service is not a substitute for registering it with the U.S. Copyright Office, the Writer’s Guild of America, or any other rights organization.


I'm not a lawyer, but I'd think talking about & swapping illegal content would be covered by one or more of the provisions I pasted above.

message 55: by Brad (new)

Brad (judekyle) | 1639 comments I read those last night, Jim, and think they amount to the same thing you do. Thanks for posting it here.

Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides (upsight) | 542 comments Ala wrote: "But why is that cost being put on the publishers and not on the sellers?"

I see that Al and I cross-posted ... I am just as unqualified as I was before to answer this, but I suspect that it has to do with the fact that historically, the publishers were lost without the booksellers to distribute their product. (For a while, anyway. In, say, early modern London, a publisher was usually also a printer and bookseller, as I understand it.) And as far as I can tell, this hasn't really changed much, as least as far as the big publishing houses go. Some/many of them sell their books via their web sites, but many/most readers don't think to go there to buy books.

message 57: by [deleted user] (new)

Was that a nicer version of "just google it"? :P

I just figured maybe someone here could dumb it down for me, but I'm sure I could just google it myself one of these days to get a better understanding.

message 58: by [deleted user] (new)

Accursed lawyers... always making with the legalese and sidebars and whatnot.

message 59: by Janny (new)

Janny (JannyWurts) | 156 comments Snail in Danger (Nikki) wrote: "Ala wrote: "But why is that cost being put on the publishers and not on the sellers?"

I see that Al and I cross-posted ... I am just as unqualified as I was before to answer this, but I suspect th..."

No, actually.
Publishers ran on a hardcover model - booksellers returned the books that did not sell/remainders got sold AS remainders.

When mass market paperbacks came along they were on cheap paper and very VERY cheap to buy. They were racked like magazines were: whatever magazines went unsold at the end of the month were stripped for credit. Most sold.

In the early days - paperbacks had little to NO returns; then as low as 2 percent.

The return figure has slowly ratcheted up over the years, until for some titles it runs as high as 75 percent OR MORE. Bookstores now use this to their advantage, sometimes shamelessly - they'll cash out books in a slow season to make ends meet, then re-order more stock; publishers would like to rework the system, it's become so wasteful, but they can't act in a block, or they'll be sued under Anti trust laws. The first publisher to STOP the returns policy (stripping covers for credit) will go under....

The system needs to be revamped. It's not as simple as appears: to get a bookshop to carry a new author, the risk is call carried by the publisher - or a new author, heavily hyped (that means, supported by the publisher) - wouldn't happen without returns of some sort - it's all very interwoven and complex.

message 60: by [deleted user] (new)

Thanks for the info Janny, and thanks for the link Sherri :)

message 61: by Vir (new)

Vir | 4 comments Look in the current system, publishers are actually turing away buyers of their books, and I mean that literally.

If you are not in North America/UK, finding a book you want to read and are willing to pay for is not very easy. Finding an eBook version for the Kindle say, is damn near impossible!

I cannot even tell you how many books that I have actually wanted to buy for my Kindle are not available to me either because I have the irredeemable flaw of not being an owner of a US credit card (obviously my money is not good enough) or the publisher just doesn't want to address the eBook market at all.

Now I know enough about the intricacies of the current publishing system to understand and even sympathize with their predicament. However no amount of finger pointing and hand wringing eliminates the fact that I want to buy their product and they don't want to sell it to me.

The Napster analogy is apt because at the time not only did the music publishers not provide a legal alternative, they also went out of their way to prevent digitization of music by blocking cd-ripping, etc.

So if they don't want our money I say fine, I won't give it to you. But I still want your product and I'm getting it either way.

message 62: by [deleted user] (new)

Vir: do you still buy hard copies of the books as well?

message 63: by Bryan (last edited Feb 23, 2011 08:26PM) (new)

Bryan (blyoung) | 19 comments Vir: It's just as frustrating for me in Canada when I don't have a US-based credit card.

But it's another symptom of the current flawed system. When you say "obviously my money is not good enough", you are actually wrong, and the "obvious" assumption you make obfuscates the reality.

Publishers have always made contracts that give them publishing rights for specific regions. So if Del Rey bought the North American rights to an SF novel, another publisher (let's say Sphere) might pick up the rights to publish in the UK.

This is the old model, and it absolutely does NOT address the current reality. Until the publishing industry realizes that they are now thrust into a global marketplace, the customer (as in the personal case you pointed out) will suffer.

So you might be able to import the paperback from the US with your locally-obtained credit card. But you can't buy the ebook. And that's really because of the jurisdiction signed when the publisher negotiated their rights to publish. If they take your money and let you download the ebook to your Kindle, then they are violating the terms of the agreement they negotiated. They have no choice until they rectify the situation by making different contracts that truly reflect the new market. (I amost said emergent market, but it's out in full force now...)

Don't be fooled - the web vendor (amazon or whomever) would LOVE to take your money. They just can't. If you want the product, you'll have to import the paperback.

(Or get a US-based credit card.)

Just goes to show you that both sides (publisher and consumer) are stuck with some silly regulations regarding ebooks. But, as I've said before, they agreed to these terms originally, so they are legally bound to abide by them. Just as you agreed to specific terms when you paid your money to license the ebook's content, and thus you are bound to exactly those terms, and no others that may be more convenient and which you can rationalize in various ways.

message 64: by Brad (new)

Brad (judekyle) | 1639 comments One of our members is friends with a lady named Glennis who moderates the groupSource List of free e-books on the web, which could be an excellent resource for anyone needing an eBook.

Apparently Glennis is very scrupulous about the legalities of books she sources, and she tries to stay on top of what's available.

Go on over and take a look at what she's doing if you're one of the many who read electronic copies.

message 65: by Frances (new)

Frances (mothindarkness) | 8 comments Actually, I'm pretty piracy neutral, and I'm an author. :-)
The caveat to that is I'm a fairly unknown author, and there's always that nagging thought (thanks Gaiman, lol) that piracy might actually help my sales. That's tongue in cheek, but still its there.

I think we miss the middle ground a lot when we talk about the subject because ebooks are so convoluted right now and anything, anything can happen in the next few years. My houses are primarily e-houses. We don't do DRM, and our ebooks are much cheaper than the paper version. Authors make higher royalties on the e version, and the model is a pretty sweet set up.
New York authors have a completely different experience with ebooks (though they have a bigger drive to sales machine) with ebooks that are almost equally priced to the paper version and very low royalties compared to what an e-house pays.
The big thing in the future is which model (or maybe a totally new model) will become industry standard for the e-book industry.
I can't even begin to guess.
But, someone made a very good point about quality and the hordes of ebooks coming out now. With self-publishing and indie houses and small press and electronic houses, I've heard a great deal of moaning about quality control and the "horrific future where anything and everything can be published."
Personally, I believe that chaos, all chaos, eventually degrades into order. Some system will arise for quality control. Maybe it will be the 20page previews (I can tell in 20 pages if I want to buy) maybe it will be organized reader review sites, where y'all can trust each other to say, hey, buy this. Maybe it will have something to do with the piracy rings and file sharing sites. . . darned if I can even guess.
I think that a lot of authors out there now fall into this middle ground where I am. Some are terrified of piracy, some excited about it, most dont know. We dont have the sales that New York does, or the name reputation, and we buzz a lot about how to get it.
I think the way to do that is to write better books. Every time, make it better. It wont guarantee you get seen or sales or anything, but right now, its the one thing in the author's control.
I spent last weekend at a sci-fi con surrounded by New York pros who all said the exact same thing..."we don't have a clue what's happening or what's going to happen."
sure its scary, but its also really, really exciting!


message 66: by Frances (new)

Frances (mothindarkness) | 8 comments and I should add, on topic (because I wandered off it) that as a group we should follow the goodreads (and legal) rules and restrict it.
It just makes sense to protect the group.

message 67: by [deleted user] (new)

Saw an article today about book piracy, thought I'd share:

A few things:
Crime writer David Hewson, author of the Italy-set Nic Costa novels, said a campaign along the lines of "People Who Love Books Don't Steal Books" was urgently required – because readers who consider themselves his fans are downloading pirated copies of his ebooks and audiobooks.

The whole "you wouldn't download a car" slogans and ad campaigns are rubbish and wouldn't work here either. It would be a waste of time and money, which would probably be taken from the wallets of the Author's anyway.

"Hewson is angry that the people who run the torrent sites – which charge users a subscription – are making money on the back of his work."

Yeah... if you're being charged for torrents, you're doing it all kinds of wrong.

message 68: by Jim (new)

Jim (JimMacLachlan) Interesting article, Ala. Thanks. Yeah, there's a lot wrong on all fronts with that. The publishers really need to get their act together.

message 69: by Nathan (last edited Mar 12, 2011 12:34AM) (new)

Nathan Daniels | 24 comments I think in the early stages of any new media format, piracy has its uses. Before ebooks and ereaders where common, I myself downloaded many .pdf books and read the first in a series when picking up a new author. Not having access to a decent public library, I utilized the .pdf ebooks for that purpose. I even read the first book of the Recluse series as .pdf before picking the paperbacks of the series, by the way LE, love the series, though the timeline shifts always threw me. Now that Ereaders are out there, I am a Kindle owner myself, that purpose is very limited and almost completely unwarranted due to the preview book and lend a copy options that are available. Though I do sometimes wish for a bulk purchase option with ebooks, allowing me to just acquire a large amount of ebooks within a certain group the way the .pdf files were always available, lol. I love finding the unexpected in a author I had never heard of and therefore had never searched out to read on my own.

As for the ebook piracy policy of the group and goodreads in general, I agree with a previous post that said to strictly limit it to lending, or possibly linking to a legit source of a deal, such as amazons free or low cost ebooks.

message 70: by Kevin (new)

Kevin (KevinHallock) | 58 comments I've never been a fan of piracy in any form. People have given me Christmas gifts with pirated materials, which seems to me to be a new kind of cheap, but if somebody has created something you want, why not pay them for it?

message 71: by Brad (new)

Brad (judekyle) | 1639 comments Exactly. My Dad's the king of the scam gifts and it drives me mental.

message 72: by [deleted user] (new)

Just kicking this up top in case anyone was still interested in discussing piracy.

message 73: by Larry (new)

Larry Moniz (LarryMoniz) | 28 comments Brad wrote: "Some members are concerned with potential e-book piracy being offered or solicited in discussions around here, and I thought it would be good to get everyone's thoughts on this.

The offering of..."

Not sure I completely understand the question. Are you saying they are legitimately selling EBooks or offering to copy them? Can't believe an EBook can be scarce. The original publisher and/or author should be able to provide a legitimate copy for sale. If other than a legitimate copy through channels then that would seem, to me, to be piracy.
I'm not trying to breed further disagreement, but to understand the situation as an author and publisher myself.

message 74: by Larry (new)

Larry Moniz (LarryMoniz) | 28 comments Al wrote: "Bryan wrote: "A few words of caution...

When you buy an ebook, you're not really purchasing product - you're actually licensing the content.

This means that you have to follow the terms of the li..."

Al, some good information. Thanks. Also, Bryan is correct, anyone can go to Kindle and read the Kindle purchase agreement online. It's long and boring, but also quite clear as to the topics covered. In fairness to Amazon, they've stretched the lending to the limits of the law in order to accommodate readers. Without copyright laws the book publishing industry would either cease to exist or be drastically curtailed.

message 75: by Steven (new)

Steven Jordan (StevenLyleJordan) | 67 comments The sharing of hard to find e-books , without compensating the author as the author has required, IS PIRACY. We, as a group, should not support such offers, as they are clearly illegal according to copyright law, and the specifics of copyright law have been enough to shut down other sites and arrest individuals.

I realize there are a lot of "But"s in the issue of ebooks: Availability; dead author/MIA publisher; geographical restrictions; format; ebook value; etc, etc. But in fact, none of those things justifies breaking the law, nor properly compensating a property owner for their work.

Books aren't food... none of us will starve without them. If an ebook is offered in a way that we don't like, the best thing to do is not buy it, and tell the seller why. If they want your money, they'll change. If not... there are plenty of other books to read.

We, as a group and as individuals, should not succumb to breaking laws "just because we can and won't get caught." We are not thugs.

message 76: by [deleted user] (last edited Aug 23, 2011 05:44PM) (new)

We pretty much decided the issue a while ago. Since then, this thread is just general piracy talk.

Also, I am a thug

message 77: by Steven (new)

Steven Jordan (StevenLyleJordan) | 67 comments Oh, sorry... so what was the decision? Are Goodreaders all agreed to be thugs? Is it just you? And is there a point of discussing piracy if the issue was settled?

message 78: by Denae (new)

Denae (whimsicalmeerkat) Frances wrote: "and I should add, on topic (because I wandered off it) that as a group we should follow the goodreads (and legal) rules and restrict it.
It just makes sense to protect the group."

I think Ala's point was more about the fact that this was a pretty full discussion awhile back.

message 79: by [deleted user] (new)

The issue was decided by the simple fact that it is against the TOS of GoodReads.

As for discussing piracy, there's more to it than just how it relates to Goodreads and this group in particular. Some folks actually enjoy a good discussion now and then.

Also, I don't know about 'all Goodreaders' being thugs, you're more than welcome to ask them all.

message 80: by Steven (new)

Steven Jordan (StevenLyleJordan) | 67 comments Denae: Yup, I missed that paragraph.

Ala: I wasn't actually accusing anyone of being a thug; it was just my way of asking whether or not the group as a whole prescribed to "breaking laws just because we can and won't get caught." I retract the question, if only because I know how ultimately undependable the answers to that question can be.

message 81: by [deleted user] (new)

Didn't think you were accusing anyone of being a thug, really. If you clicked that link of mine, it just goes to a goofy song with the line "baby, cuz I'm a thug" repeated throughout the chorus.

It was a joke link that didn't go over, I guess :P

message 82: by Denae (new)

Denae (whimsicalmeerkat) Hah, I completely missed that this was about the idea of a group sanctioning or being OK with it. I just assumed it was obvious that an organization of this sort would obviously ban it and that groups would comply with that even if solely out of a sense of self-preservation.

message 83: by Steven (new)

Steven Jordan (StevenLyleJordan) | 67 comments I just couldn't check the video from the office! And yes, I've come across plenty of people who are OK with piracy... Including those you wouldn't expect. Anyway, I just wanted to put my 2 cents in, and split.

message 84: by Posthums (new)

Posthums | 1 comments Actually I wish more publishers/authors would follow along the lines of BAENs Free Library.

The authors choose to put up 1 or more of their works for free to give new readers a chance to see what they have. Personally, I read David Webers 1st Honor Harrington book online, and about 3 chapters of the 2nd, and then promptly made a run to my local B&N and picked up every other book in the series out at the time. Also, many of their authors offer cdroms included in their latest hardcover books that include pretty much all the rest of their work as well. in ebook form.. Both Weber and Lois McMaster Bujold have done this, and it makes me happier to buy their books as well. Also, I admit I came across the first book online of C.J Cherryh's Foreigner series (, and again ended up buying the entire series.

message 85: by Al "Tank" (new)

Al "Tank" (alkalar) | 320 comments Posthums wrote: "Actually I wish more publishers/authors would follow along the lines of BAENs Free Library.

The authors choose to put up 1 or more of their works for free t..."

I tried their library just once because they had something by a writer I'd "kinda" liked after reading one of his books. The book they had on the free site was horrible. I think they put it there because the editors figured it wouldn't sell in the real world. Not the way to promote an author. I've never picked up anything else by him.

message 86: by Jon (new)

Jon Sprunk | 35 comments L.E. wrote: "This is especially important right now, at least so far as authors are concerned. Paperback book sales are down, way down in some areas, and if piracy becomes "accepted" on the excuse that certain..."

Well said, sir. As a fairly new author, the mountain is hard enough to climb without my work being pirated.

message 87: by [deleted user] (new)

I've always wondered, as an author, do you personally go and check that sort of thing?

Just to see if it's out there, and if it's popular, etc?

What do the publishers actually do about your work being pirated? Do they have someone routinely scouring the net for your stuff or is it more a, "screw it, DRM all the things!"

message 88: by T. (new)

T. Frohock (TeresaFrohock) My agent and I use Google alerts; although there are companies that are starting to provide this search and destroy service for publishers and authors (I saw one reported in Publishers Marketplace recently).

When we find a site that has pirated my novel, we turn the site over to our publisher, who sends the site administrator a DMCA take-down notice. If the link isn't removed within so many days, the publisher files a DMCA take-down with Google and they take action to remove the link.

As a debut author, people pirating my book means that I may not be able to sell the next one, because publishers are increasingly looking at Bookscan numbers before buying the next book. If the first book in a series isn't showing healthy sales, I may not be able to sell the next book in the series. That's just a fact of business nowadays, I'm afraid.

Big name authors like Stephen King and Neil Gaiman aren't hurt as bad by these things, because part of their income is also based on movie rights and other sales. Not so for debut authors.

Thanks for opening this discussion up, Ala.

message 89: by [deleted user] (new)

Do the dmca notices do anything to overseas sites? Or is that where google comes in with barring the link from search results?

Also, what about p2p piracy? How is that handled by publishers?

I just find this stuff interesting :)

message 90: by T. (new)

T. Frohock (TeresaFrohock) Do the dmca notices do anything to overseas sites? Or is that where google comes in with barring the link from search results?

Hey, Ala,

That's where Google comes in by blocking the site. It really doesn't matter where the site is located if Google kills the link. Of course, if Google didn't support these types of sites, then they wouldn't be a problem.

I'm assuming that P2P piracy handled the same way by knocking the link out on the Torrent site. If people are file sharing from computer to computer, I don't know of any way of stopping it without going to the extremes that the music industry has used. (Well, actually, there is: if they keep doing it, writers won't be able to support themselves, so they'll just quit writing novels. That will eventually stop it, I guess. Unlike musicians, writers can't take their show on tour and charge tickets. Any book signings or events that I give are done free of charge and all my expenses come out of pocket.)

If there is another procedure for blocking them, I'm not aware of it.

The best protection comes from people like the folks who have posted here and said they do not engage in stealing ebooks. If there is no market for it, then people won't do it. To the best of my knowledge, no one in publishing wants to go to the extremes that the music industry has gone to in order to stop theft.

I agree with a lot of the people who said that the publishing industry needs to work harder to help give people who live in other countries the opportunity to purchase books without a huge hassle. I don't think a lot of people would mind paying $0.99-$6.99 [US] for an ebook, but those things are totally beyond my control.

So long as people circumvent the publishers, they will see no reason to change their current business model.

message 91: by MrsJoseph (new)

MrsJoseph | 973 comments I hang out at a site that regularly discusses ebook piracy in-depth - and due to the conversations I've had I think have a pretty well-rounded view of the entire "idea."

1. It is not "piracy." It is copyright violation. Piracy usually involves large amounts of weaponry and water. Piracy is a war-like act committed by non-state actors (private parties not affiliated with any government) against other parties at sea. The term applies especially to acts of robbery and/or criminal violence at sea. People who engage in these acts are called pirates.

Real pirates still exist. Let's start using the word correctly.

2. The largest amounts of copyright violations take place outside of developed countries.

3. Geographic restrictions hurt author's sells a lot more than copyright violations.

And this is before I ever get to piss poor editing, piss poor OCR scans, traditional publishers acting like asses and the horrors of godforsaken DRM.

So, to sum it all up:

Breaking someone's copyright is wrong but is NOT the biggest or most prevalent issue the publishing industry is facing. I believe that when publishers wake up and service their consumers in the way they want to be serviced the industry will see a revival.

message 92: by [deleted user] (new)

But... But I like the term piracy... It sounds so much sexier that way :P

message 93: by MrsJoseph (new)

MrsJoseph | 973 comments Ala wrote: "But... But I like the term piracy... It sounds so much sexier that way :P"

Ala the Pirate

You know I work in shipping, right? I've had ships hijacked. You know, by real pirates with real guns and bullets and shooting and the whole nine yards?

It kills me when industry professionals use the word "piracy" to talk about copyright violation. I would love to introduce them to some people who've had to deal with real pirates.

message 94: by [deleted user] (new)

Harsh, now I feel bad.

Seriously though, I use the term because it's what they use, and the mpaa and riaa before them did as well. At the most basic level, it's wrong anyways since piracy and thievery involve stealing something. What's done online is making a copy.

And yes, if I could, I'd download the hell out of a car.

message 95: by MrsJoseph (new)

MrsJoseph | 973 comments Ala wrote: "Harsh, now I feel bad.

Seriously though, I use the term because it's what they use, and the mpaa and riaa before them did as well. At the most basic level, it's wrong anyways since piracy and thie..."

It doesn't bother me too much when consumers use it. I think that it is because the various industries have made it seem ok. The purpose of using the word "pirate" is simply propaganda - and I guess it's more catchy than "copyright violator." lol

But you're Ala! You should never feel bad. I'm quite sure you always kiss her goodbye and leave flowers after all the pirate-y rampaging. :-D

message 96: by MrsJoseph (last edited Sep 14, 2011 08:21AM) (new)

MrsJoseph | 973 comments Ala wrote: "And yes, if I could, I'd download the hell out of a car. "

Me, too. Especially if it was a cherry red convertible. I look gooood in convertibles.

message 97: by [deleted user] (new)

I always leave 'em smiling.

Mostly because they're just happy I'm leaving :P

message 98: by MrsJoseph (new)

MrsJoseph | 973 comments Ala wrote: "I always leave 'em smiling.

Mostly because they're just happy I'm leaving :P"

I'm sure it's a good smile. ;-)

colleen the fabulous fabulaphile (blackrose13) | 1405 comments Ala wrote: "I always leave 'em smiling.

Mostly because they're just happy I'm leaving :P"

And don't let the door hit you on your way out... ;)

message 100: by [deleted user] (new)


Saw this today and thought it was noteworthy:

Author Paulo Coelho tells folks to pirate his books

Interesting stance to take, eh?

back to top

unread topics | mark unread

Books mentioned in this topic

This Immortal (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Roger Zelazny (other topics)
L.E. Modesitt Jr. (other topics)
C.J. Cherryh (other topics)
Lynn Abbey (other topics)
Jane S. Fancher (other topics)