Life of a Pirate: Getting Content for Free

Lately, I’ve been spending more of my paycheck on buying books than I should. It doesn’t help that I’m a fast(ish) reader. I tend to read a book a week. Sometimes I manage two, typically depends on what else I’ve got going on. So, I buy a lot of books (and that’s with also using the library).

15053279396_07b157a002_zAbout a week ago, I was talking to some of my friends about how I should be using the library more than I do, but how it’s frustrating having to go on waitlists all the time for in demand books (yeah, I know. I’m impatient). One of my friends mentioned trying to find free downloads online. They said they could give me a list of sites that specialize in free book downloads.

I admit that I was intrigued, but my moral compass started screaming at me after a few seconds. Authors work hard to produce a book that will sell. Not to mention that for many authors, writing is their full time job.

And, to go elementary school for a moment, pirating books is stealing and stealing is wrong.

I stumbled upon a post by Susan Dennard, author of the “Something Strange and Deadly” trilogy and the upcoming “Truthwitch” novel. Her post’s title sums up her post nicely: “Please Stop Pirating Books.” Though the post is a few years old, I thought I’d share it here because not only does it still apply today, but it gives you an author’s perspective and brings in an emotional element to a legal situation (pirating = stealing). Plus, reading the comments was pretty fun too.

The following post comes from Susan Dennard’s website:

Please Stop Pirating Books

I saw someone complain that the illegal version of my book was taking too long to download, and I wanted to take a moment to apologize to this person. So here we go…

Dear Person Pirating my Book,

I am sorry you can’t have your instant gratification. That book that I spent 3 years of my life working on full-time is now taking you a whopping ten minutes to download illegally. I mean, jeez. Talk about injustice.

I honestly can’t wrap my head around the fact that you’re waiting so many  minutes when I only spent 9 to 5 of every day since 2009 typing at my keyboard.

Okay, I’ll admit I wasn’t always typing. Sometimes I was scouring the document for plot holes or hand-writing my characters into corners only to then hand-write them back out again. Sometimes I was on the internet researching Victorian fashion (the book is set in 1876, in case you aren’t aware of exactly WHAT you are illegally downloading), or I was online seeking out a critique partner. Other times I was honing my query letter to get an agent or working on my 1-page synopsis.

But most of my time was spent writing (weekends included). So comparing all that time I spent on my book to your 10 minutes is just inconceivable for me (and I do think that word means what I think it means).

Wow, 10 minutes is just SO huge.

And you know what else, my dear, dear pirate-friend? I am so sorry you have to wait 10 minutes because that book (which, by the way, pays for my food, my mortgage, my heating bill, my health insurance, and everything else that sustains me in life) is really good. I mean, honestly, I’m really proud of it, and I think that once your copy finishes illegally downloading, you’ll really enjoy what you read.

I do want to point out, though, that you wouldn’t have to wait on my book if you bought it for your kindle or ipad or computer. Why, you’d have the file in mere seconds! And, because you would’ve BOUGHT the book, then I would get paid. And the cool thing about me getting paid is that I can afford my bills and then continue to writemore books. I mean, hey–sitting at the computer all day ain’t fun and it sure as hell ain’t easy. Making enough money to keep my electricity turned on (so my computer will also stay on) is kind of important if I’m going to finish this series…and maybe even start the next.

But if you don’t want to pay for my books, that’s cool. I get it. You probably steal other people’s paychecks too. Or maybe you just walk into book stores and take the book right off the shelf (‘cos clearly you’re a no-fear badass like that). Either way, I guess the whole free-factor means you’ll have to wait a few more minutes on this illegal download, and I’m just so sorry about that.

I hope you can forgive me.

Happy reading! ❤


This post endears me to Dennard. She’s got some snark to her, but she’s also being honest. Writing is her livelihood and there can be major consequences when someone messes with another person’s livelihood. As Dennard states in a response to one comment, “I have author friends in a TOTALLY different boat–their publishers canceling their series because sales are low…yet illegal downloads are high. It just sucks that people can’t see the monetary value of an author’s hard work.”

Wow. That’s like getting fired from your accounting, medical, teaching, or whatever job you have for something completely out of your control. Or like someone else taking credit for your hard work. (We’ve all experienced that second scenario at least once in our lives.) Neither situation feels great. In fact, both are horrible positions to be in. So, why would anyone consciously put someone else in a similar situation?

(Photo courtesy of Robert Pittman.)

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