Pirating books is theft, and here’s why I think so…

*Holds up white flag*

I come in peace, and before you throttle me and make me regret my decision to ever start a book blog, hear me out. Just humor me this once, and we can go back to the throttling afterwards.

We cool? Great. That means I can begin to explain myself.

Now, according to the dictionary, the definition of theft is:

theft
/θɛft/
noun

  • the action or crime of stealing.

And pirating books are—in its essence—taking something without paying for it, most commonly known as stealing.

That is a fact. It can’t be disputed unless the law changes. Piracy is stealing. End of discussion.

With that said, though. There might be a ton of reasons why someone would choose to pirate a book.

Perhaps they don’t have the money to buy the book currently.
Perhaps their local library hasn’t seen any new release since the seventh Harry Potter book.
Perhaps Amazon/book depository doesn’t ship to their country.
Perhaps they have to choose between starving or books.
Perhaps it’s banned in their household and they have to hide it.

Like I said, a ton of reasons that are all valid concerns, but which doesn’t dispute the fact that piracy is still stealing. I don’t make the rules here: if you download a book from a piracy site it’s theft. And that sucks. I get it.

Oh trust me, I get it. You see, I live in Denmark. We are not a poor country, but books are still hella expensive here.

If I go to the bookstore, a paperback english book costs around $21/£15. For a paperback that might be £5 on amazon.
A Danish translated book can easily cost $49/£36. That is a lot of money that not many of us have.

If you’re like me, who mainly reads English books, then you’re also out of luck because it’s only the biggest book stores that carry them. Libraries have a small and, frankly inadequate, section—mostly available near the universities. And there’s no Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or Goldsboro.

We have one big bookcon every year and there’s no english publishers nor english books sold at the venue. E-books are still breaking through here.

So trust me, I get the frustration.
I get that sour taste in the mouth when you hear someone calling you a thief.
I get that you’re only trying to read what the majority of the world already have access to.
I get it.

Doesn’t change the fact that it’s stealing.

^ In the next section this mug doesn’t fit me 100 %.

If you haven’t already deduced it, then I might as well confess it directly: I used to pirate.

At first, I wasn’t really entirely sure it was pirating. I’d just gotten a sweet smartphone, and I found a few reading apps on what used to be called Android Market (Now Google Play). These apps were amazing.

I’d just read Twilight, and I jumped head first into all the big vampire series. We’re talking Morganville Vampires, Vampire Academy, Vampire Kisses, Sookie Stackhouse Novels, House of Night—you name it. I was so on board.

And it was still wrong. Even though I didn’t know, or that I wasn’t the one who made the apps… I stole the works of Rachel Caine, Richelle Mead, Ellen Schreiber, Charlene Harris and P.C. and Kristin Cast.

I didn’t even really care when I found out at first. I couldn’t help that it happened. Sure it was wrong, but they were there anyway, I wasn’t the only one who read it.

And then I tried writing my own story on a writing website, which was then uploaded somewhere else withour my permission. I wasn’t even being paid. It didn’t lose me any money, but it sucked to know that all those readers could have helped me, on my platform, following me, commenting, supporting me, instead of someone who literally copy-pasted the entire thing.

So, I started feeling bad. I felt bad for the authors I’ve stolen from, and I’ve tried to redeem myself by buying their books (a few years late) and are now doing my best to promote them to other readers.

Still doesn’t justify any of it.

My point is, you might try to justify why you’ve been or are pirating books. You might have a heartbreaking and completely valid reason. But that still doesn’t make it right.

Which is why, I’m gonna leave a list of websites where you can read books for free. You might have to make a profile, some might have time limitations, and some othes want you to sign up to a newsletter. Some might have paid options too. But they all have legal content free of charge.

For FREE ebooks, check out:
  • Amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, amazon.com.au The Amazon Kindle App is free on any device (Computer, tablet and phone) and offers access to thousands of freebies. All you have to do in the Kindle Store is to selevt “Low to High” and a ton of free reads across all genres will appear.
    I couldn’t be a part of the UK site due to regional rights (apparently) but the amazon.com works absolutely fine for me. Both for buying ebooks and for freebies.
    They have a top 100 free list, as well.
  • Project Gutenberg is an online catalogue of public domain books available for free. They cover various Classics in several languages. Additionally you can find over 18.000 books on their wattpad profile.
  • manybooks.net over 33.000 books available.
  • openlibrary.org The internet Archive, working to digitalize local libraries across the US.
  • Riveted is Simon & Schuster’s free YA program. Every Week they have some new selections online. These often range between New and upcomming books, and long time YA Bestsellers.
  • Instafreebie is an online Giveaway and promotion tool for Authors and Readers to connect. By signing up for the author’s newsletter you are given access to an ebook which can be downloaded in mobi, PDF and epub. Lots of books to chose between.
  • Tor.com is Tor’s own website where the offer numerous of free reads, novellas and short stories from some of their greatest authors.
  • International Children’s Digital Library is an online source for children’s books across the world.
  • Wattpad.com is a writing an reading website and app. If you’re an aspiring writer, the platform is pretty useful in building an audience of booklovers. Authors like Anna Todd, Beth Reekles, Taran Matharu and many more started on wattpad. While many of the authors have since then taken down some or all of their writing, there are still some who have the unedited drafts or a novella on the site. Big Time authors like Brandon Sanderson, Colleen Hoover, and even more authors. A good place to start would be This List which was made by the wattpad staff themselves.
    And, if you’re completely bored, you may even check out my own unedited first drafts here.
If you got a few bucks to spare and don’t know where to look:
  • Book Riot has a daily newsletter where you can find great reads on discount.
  • OHFB initially started for freebies only, but has since then expanded to include deeply discounted books.
If you’d rather go for physical books:
  • Awesomebooks has a ton of cheap used books, with a flatrate shipping to almost anywhere in the world. Your country not on the list? Send them an email and maybe they can work something out. Otherwise I’m sure someone would be happy to act as layover if you need it.
  • Amazon Warehouse Deals and Book Outlet has great prices on used, slightly damaged or overstock books. It’s well worth it to check your local Amazon to see if they have something you’d like.
  • Book Depository Bargain Shop sometimes stock up on some awesome books, they then discount them for our pleasure. With book prices so high most places, this is definitely worth a look. Also, Book Depository has no added Shipping Costs which is always nice. They don’t ship everywhere, though. But maybe you can also find a friend in a nearby country that can ship them to you.

So here was a few ideas for alternatives to book pirating. This list doesn’t even include the Read Now books on NetGalley, or the many authors looking for a Beta Reader. There’s even more writing websites where you can read amazing completed works, as well.

There are a lot of alternatives which can offer almost as most as pirating, but legally, So the next time you want to read a book, maybe check out some of these? That way more authors can release more free stuff legally, and publishers can see that they have readers all over the world.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll even see Penguin, Tor, Hot Key Books, Sourcebooks or Simon and Schuster in Denmark some day.

24 thoughts on “Pirating books is theft, and here’s why I think so…

  1. Tobias Backman says:

    Well, if you live near Copenhagen, Fantask is a great place for finding fantasy and science fiction books primarily in English, both new releases and older, cheaper ones. And if you want it even cheaper there’s a couple of nice, big second hand shops as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Briana says:

    I agree with so much of this. Piracy is stealing, whether we like it or not, whether we believe we have reasons for it or not. But I think the conversation is getting way off topic with the suggestions that everyone stealing ebooks is some poor down on their luck teen who just wants a good education from reading. Stats show pretty clearly that people who steal ebooks are older, college-educated, and employed (with good salaries). When people complain about people stealing ebooks, they are largely thinking of THESE people–people who could afford to purchase the book and people who DO have access to a library. I think we all know that person who thinks they’re “too poor” to buy books (or movies or music) but always seems to have money to order a pizza or go to the movies or drink at the bar.

    There’s also still the digital component to this. People steal ebooks because it’s easy and hard to get caught, or because there’s still a sense that things that aren’t tangible aren’t “real.” If you wouldn’t walk into a bookstore, take a stack of paperbacks without paying, then defend your actions to the store owner and the authors because you sincerely believe you were right to do this, there’s no reason you should feel differently about stealing ebooks.

    Finally, if the piracy conversation is really about access, then I want to talk more about access. I love that you have given so many links (including ones that apply internationally!) to help people find free, legal books. Personally, I would be very interested in supporting small community projects if more international bloggers wanted to look into doing something like a Little Free Library or other library service in their hometowns, but so far I haven’t seen anyone interested in starting one. I just would love to see this conversation move from “International people need to steal books” to “How can we get books to places that really don’t have good access to them?” That way books would ALSO be available to the average person in these places, not just book bloggers who go through avenues like Netgalley…or pirating.

    Liked by 1 person

    • MajaDiana says:

      That’s definitely true. When saying it, there’s one kind of person in mind, and rarely it’s the truly poor thats in the front of the line. Nor is it people with limited access in general. It’s those people that see it as a way of saving money.

      I’m international myself, so I made a point to try and find access from Denmark. Of course, there might still be restrictions, but hopefully not too many.

      If you’re looking for something to support there’s the diversity book bridge where you can donate an arcade that’ll be shipped to the hands of a teen reviewer across the worlds. I’m not explaining it well, but I follow them on twitter and it’s a great incentive.

      Like

  3. Krysta says:

    You have so many great resources here! I think it’s important to remind people that there are so many free and legal ways to get books. I often see people justify piracy with arguments such as “My library doesn’t have what I want,” but I wonder if they’ve checked out all their options. For instance, my library has some titles as e-books but not as physical copies. Also, many libraries collaborate so you can borrow a book from any local library within the system. Or you can put in a purchase request or request an interlibrary loan. Plus, in the U.S., there are some libraries that will give a card to anyone in the state. So even if your local library doesn’t have a title, that larger library system might have it. You just have to apply for a card online and they’ll mail you one. Then you check out ebooks to your heart’s content.

    I understand not everyone has a great library system. However, I see plenty of U.S. college students saying they have to pirate books. But I think that if they used ILL or checked out other options besides just looking at the “new” shelf, they might be surprised at what they have legal access to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • MajaDiana says:

      I definitely agree here. Not many thinks about every option until they HAVE to. And once you’ve fully understood what it means for the author to pirate a book, then I can only hope they reconsider.

      I’ve seen many people – especially young – who didn’t see the problem.

      Like

      • Krysta says:

        I thought Maggie Stiefvater’s testimony about how ebook theft affected her sales and made her publishers order a smaller print run for her novel was very powerful. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that defenses of stealing ebooks are still cropping up, but I had hoped Stiefvater’s story would make people reconsider their stance.

        Liked by 1 person

      • MajaDiana says:

        I think it was powerful, but I also think that the way she went about it seemed almost like she was trolling her readers. Nobody likes feeling like an experiment, even less than being called thief. And there are some who will blame Maggie if she as much as breathes wrong.

        Like

      • Krysta says:

        I didn’t see it as trolling her readers but rather as her finding the one way she could personally reach out to the people who were stealing her books and ask them to reconsider. She said she’d already tried taking down illegal copies and that hadn’t worked, so this seemed to be her only recourse. And I find it hard to blame her. If people were entering a bookstore to steal books and the owner put up an alarm that said, “Hey, we see you and this isn’t cool. You’re costing us money and we may have to shut down operations if we lose more,” people wouldn’t see that as trolling readers but as the owner protecting their property. I think Maggie did the same thing, just online.

        I realize that people who pirate books don’t like being called thieves and don’t like people calling pirating “stealing,” but that’s what it is. And by calling stealing what it is, we can help people see that what they are doing is both wrong and harmful to the person they are stealing from. Pirating seems like a victimless crime because it’s online. No one can see the pirate and the person feels like they didn’t steal anything because a digital copy isn’t “real.” There’s a reason pirates don’t walk into bookstores and walk off with books without paying. It’s because 1) everyone knows this is stealing and 2) they’re going to get in trouble for it. You can’t tell the security guard at the door that “you’re poor and therefore should be allowed to walk off with Maggie’s books free.” That isn’t going to fly because everyone watching you in that bookstore knows that you are stealing and that you are doing something wrong. I think we need to help people realize that stealing is wrong, regardless of whether they are stealing a physical copy or a digital one.

        It’s a shame that Maggie can’t get a break from her fans. I don’t see why she should be expected to work free. If my employer told me I had to do a bunch of work and then I wouldn’t get paid for it, I would leave and find a new employer. But Maggie’s fans want her to work for them free when they steal her books? How would they feel if they had to do work free or if they created something and then it was stolen?

        Liked by 1 person

      • MajaDiana says:

        Oh, I definitely agree with you on every point . I was just relaying what I thought was a reason why someone would disregard her post. They want to blame Maggie for everything. Even the ones who agree with her but dislikes her were all “tell me again how one pirated copy harms you while you sit in your thousand dollar muscle car” because apparently being wealthy is also a reason why someone is allowed to steal from you.

        Like

      • Krysta says:

        Yeah, I think they don’t realize that every person thinks “It’s just one copy” and suddenly that adds up to thousands of copies. Plus, if one person steals “just one copy” of a couple dozen books, they’ve stolen a couple hundred dollars worth of merchandise. To me, that would be a scary thought!

        And, yes, people do seem to justify stealing from “the rich.” Of course, stealing is still stealing. But that reasoning is problematic, too, because “the rich” is always relative. Typically the person means “I assume you have more money than I do.” They don’t know what the person is actually making. And children’s authors (which includes YA) don’t, as far as I can tell, make as much as adult authors. And authors in general probably don’t make much, unless they’re J. K. Rowling.

        My understanding is that most books lose publishers money and they kind of break even by relying on old staples (like if they’re selling Harry Potter still they can probably lose money on new titles). Publishers themselves don’t make much money. An editor in NYC makes, on average, $30,000. You need to make at least $50,000 to live decently in NYC. If the publishers aren’t making a living wage in the city they work in, I don’t think the average author is rolling in dough. They need book purchases to make rent, probably.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Hilary @ SongsWroteMyStory says:

    I definitely agree – pirating is stealing. And it’s something I used to do, as well, because sometimes it was my only way to access current or popular books. Mind you, this was 9 or so years ago, when there wasn’t so much access to the online stuff you referenced here (awesome list, by the way, I’m going to have to look into some of these), I didn’t have access to a library, and many places wouldn’t ship to the super rural area I lived. I’m not saying it’s right or acceptable because of this, but at the time I saw no other option.

    Things have come a long way, which is awesome, and there’s a lot more access for people who don’t have access to a lot of books. If I were an author, and someone could couldn’t access my book because of location or access, I would understand if they pirated my book. But perhaps that’s just me. I suppose a lot of it depends on how it sits with your morals.

    Liked by 1 person

    • MajaDiana says:

      I think a lot of authors understand the need for books, and how much it sucks not being able to read it. Which is why so many give them away in. Giveaways or on instafreebie or even Wattpad etc. Authors also often look for beta readers also. I just don’t think they like how they can’t control piracy. I mean, sure…

      Some might not have access. But that’s just a small percentage of all the people who do pirate. Some do it because they see it as a way to save money. Others do it because they want to know if they’ll like the book before they buy it. And others simply do it because they can.

      Which is the opposite of helping people without easy access to books. I hope that in future debates more alternatives will be listed. Because I also get the feeling of having no options. I do. Doesn’t justify it, though. So instead of shaming I say we offer alternatives to libraries. 🙂 ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hilary @ SongsWroteMyStory says:

        It’s true, and that’s actually an important point in this discussion I think: the people who are pirating because they have no other access aren’t the issue. It’s the ones who just can’t be bothered to go out or spend the money or what have you that are the real issue. Maybe if the authors who are speaking up about this qualified that, fewer people will be upset by it. It’s a different discussion altogether.

        I totally agree with the idea of adding alternatives to future debates though. I’m definitely going to start keeping a list myself for when people are looking. Not to mention, if we all keep talking about options for accessing books if you’re typically limited, maybe someone in publishing/writing/whatever will start doing something to help as well.

        Liked by 1 person

      • MajaDiana says:

        I’m planning to do a more alternative only post in the future. There are really tons of different types for audiobooks, ebooks, and even access to arcs. And even more places for discounts, as well.

        I’m sure we can change something if we try

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Camilla @ Reader in the Attic says:

    I saw this debacle few time before, but I had no idea that was coming out again. Anyway, I think you’re right: pirating books is a crime. The law say it and is not something we can actually argue againtst Yet there’re blogger/readers that cannot have access to book that easily, and sometimes using piracy is the only way to read. It would be great to find some way to carry book to international readers, like some kind of exhange platform

    Liked by 1 person

    • MajaDiana says:

      The thing is. All the websites I listed are international, and they’re so often disregarded when it comes to this debate. Which infuriates me because there’s no way pirating is the only way to access books. Especially online.

      Literally, Riveted had books by Sarah J Maas, V. E. Schwab and Malinda Lo. Wattpad has full and exclusive books. Authors are basically throwing their books at people some places. If a person has access to pirating, then they have access to all of these. I’ve even compiled them all into a list.

      Liked by 1 person

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