The last couple of weeks a number of my books (and those of many other authors) have been appearing at a variety of pirate sites. Nothing new here, but still troubling given that I never see a penny from such downloads — and it is possible to see declining sales that parallel the downloading of these stolen titles. (Don’t write to tell me that these pirated books translate into more sales – they don’t, I’ve been watching my own numbers and know better.)

I often wonder if those pirating books understand what they’re doing.

While big time writers may have lots of money to absorb losses incurred from pirated books, that’s not true for the rest of those writing today. Writers are lucky to even pay the bills with the money they make from writing, let alone save any for retirement, nice clothes, or other things many take for granted when working regular jobs. It often is a labor of love that requires “moonlighting” with another job to make ends meet.

Writers make a lot of sacrifices and it’s the least you can do to pay for their efforts rather than basically stealing from their pocket — which is just what pirated books do. If you enjoy a book, and want to see that author write more books like it, then you should pay him for his work.

That said, it always amazes me how the thieves (and that’s what they are when they post copyrighted books) who put books online for folks to download seem to think what they’re doing is okay and doesn’t hurt anyone – and then get belligerent they become when asked to stop distributing the title. In other words, they get upset because you have the audacity to ask them to quit stealing from you.

Perhaps the most ironic thing is that pirated books are hurting the publishing industry — perhaps even to the point of killing off the mid-list writers in the publishing industry since even a little profit drained out of that area makes it less than worthwhile for both the publisher and the writer to continue to produce books.

Barbarians of the past understood they were destroying and looting, bringing an end to culture. These modern barbarians remain woefully ignorant of how economics work, and of the ramifications of their theft over time. Most delude themselves into thinking they’re doing a wonderful thing for the masses; all the while these misinformed souls are actually killing the industry that produced the books they want to read.

I’m reminded of like the story of the whore who shot her lover and then explained to the police, “But I loved him.”

Likewise, today’s book pirates are busy killing the publishing industry they claim love.

When not griping about pirates, Duncan Long is a freelance book cover illustrator for HarperCollins, PS Publishing, Pocket Books, Solomon Press, Fort Ross, and many other publishers and self-publishing authors. See his cover illustrations at: