The current times, with the coronavirus pandemic and quarantine/confinement, are difficult on most people, in more ways than one, including (and importantly) financially. Many lost their job, others (like me) are on temporary unemployment.
This also includes a lot of authors. Not everyone has the chance of a J.K. Rowling, a Nora Roberts, a Diana Gabaldon, or a George R.R. Martin. In fact, the vast majority of authors barely make it in the green.
Which is the purpose of this rare PSA (public service announcement).
You buy, but it isn’t yours to give
What? What I buy isn’t mine to give? Not necessarily. Yes, you may (and are encouraged to) buy books and gift them to people. Key word: gift. For if you buy it for yourself, the book (physical or electronic) is technically yours, insofar as you bought someone else’s work, same as you would buy a piece of art. It is yours, but when it comes to intellectual property, it is not yours. It belongs to the writer by copyright.
Where am I going with that? Towards some sites that are absolutely wrong and very harmful to the livelihood of many an author. Same as there is a lot of fraud currently going on in all aspects of life (banks, charities, etc.), because of some (and I mince my words) scum willing to make money off people’s plight and good intentions, pirated book sites are growing.
These sites offer free books, often PDF versions of best sellers from favoured authors. Yet, they are not legal.
The only ones who can give books are the authors themselves, either via promotion or via official vendors (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters Indigo, to name a few). Or a reader buying and gifting a book to a friend. As far as lending goes, there are very few ways to legally borrow a book. There is the public library, which purchases a license for an eBook or purchases a book, and there is Kindle Unlimited. The former usually has free membership. The latter is by subscription.
The site you see is not an author’s site, or a vendor, or a library? Then chances are very high that what they are “giving” or “lending” (see the use of the quotes, here?) is illegal. Consequently, they are harmful to authors. Very harmful.
The authors denounce
Many authors have taken to the social networks to rightfully denounce the situation. Of course, some morons (again, I’m mincing my words) go all “boohoo authors, people are dying” and that kind of crap. Yes, crap.
Because what those people fail to understand is that those writers need to make a living, like we all do. And don’t go giving me that BS of “well, they can choose another job”. Because it is just that: BS. Just like everyone, writers can choose to make a living out of their work.
So please, don’t go and steal their work. Those who end up multimillionaires from writing are the minority. The majority of writers barely make ends meet. So buy their books, or borrow them through your library or through Kindle Unlimited. But don’t encourage piracy by going on sites that give you free books and are not vendors.
Chuck Wendig is one of the authors who denounce, again rightfully, the current situation. Read this whole Twitter thread of is (click on the tweet to have the complete thread). This thread I saw via Diana Gabaldon.
Katherine Locke is another of the authors who tweeted about it (which I saw via Elizabeth Hunter). Again, click on the tweet to read the whole thread.
So please, think twice before quite literally steal from authors. Because it is their livelihood we are talking about.