If you steal books, you suck

    We interrupt this fun discussion about sex scenes because I'm really ticked off.

    How many of you think authors are millionaires? Please raise your hands.

    The truth is that few novelists are millionaires. Most juggle the demands of a job — full-time or maybe part-time — while writing books. They depend on the extra money they receive from their books to pay bills and save up money for their kids' college or maybe their own retirement. I pay bills and some college tuition.

    Unfortunately, it's getting harder and harder to make a decent living off writing novels these days, not because no one is reading books, but rather because so many people are stealing books.

    Here's a news flash for those who are slow on the uptake: IF YOU DOWNLOAD BOOKS OFF THE INTERNET WITHOUT PAYING FOR THEM, YOU ARE STEALING.

    I wrote about this last winter when another author brought a particular file-sharing site to my attention. The sight had thousands of romance novels on it, all of them pirated. I emailed the person who had shared illegal versions of my books and explained to her that what she was doing was illegal. I suggested she come to my modest three-bedroom home and steal directly from me. That would be more honest than doing it from a distance. She claimed to be mortified, and the files disappeared.

    Now there are several additional sites sharing copies of my books. The only electronic format for my books at this point is Kindle, so anyone who has any other version (who didn't receive it from me) is a thief.

    Right now a site called Demonoid.com is offering my historicals, while another site is offering everything I've ever written. My publishers have written to these people, but, although many of the users are here, one of the sites is located in Singapore.

    Reading through the posts on the Singapore site, astatalk.com, it was obvious to me that the women who were downloading these files thought they were "sticking it to the millionaires" in the publishing industry. Also, they're doing what they can to hide their footprints, limiting membership and encouraging members to "hide their links."

    Demonoid.com is obviously a "members-only" site that you can join if you're invited by someone who's already a member. That must be their way of protecting themselves from scrutiny for the illegal content they provide. What's even more sickening is that they are making money through advertising by providing my books illegally to others.

    In reality, they're not sticking it to millionaires; they're sticking it to me. Every book they steal is a book I don't get paid for. Every book they steal is a book I don't get credit for, thus making it seem to my publishers that there's less interest in my novels than there truly is. While I spend every free moment I have trying to turn out novels that people will enjoy, they take advantage of that work for the petty gain of a handful of dollars.

    Although publishers are trying to go after the supply side, I guess it's up to writers and other (honest) readers to go after the demand side by letting our readers and friends know that stealing books is wrong and shouldn't be tolerated.

    Here's the bottom line: You don't have a right to any author's work unless you pay for it. If you don't like that, watch more TV. If you don't pay for books, you hurt the very industry that produces them for you and the authors who work their butts off trying to share stories with you.

    As of this moment, both sites still contain illegal links to my books, including a copy of Ride the Fire that was scanned in page by page.

    It really, really pisses me off.

    I welcome ideas on how to deal with these two sites and how to address the issue of stealing books in general. It's an issue I might take up as an investigative reporter. I'd just love to land on the doorsteps of the people who posted my work on these sites. It could be really amusing. Maybe I can walk in their front doors, go to their refrigerators and steal food from them, which is what they're doing to me.

    I know none of my FOPs and no one who regularly posts here are among the readers who are stealing books. You all rock. And I would appreciate whatever anyone can do to raise awareness about the harm that is done to authors when people steal. Perhaps then fewer people will participate in this organized theft.

    I know people actively search for these file-sharing sites because my blog keeps a record of the word searches that bring people here. "Free Pamela Clare downloads" is a frequent search term, as is (perversely) "prison strip search." (There's always at least one person who logs on here every week to read the account of my being strip searched in jail. Do they wank? I don't want to know.)

    Hopefully, karma will sneak a little virus in to each of the illegal downloads on these sites, destroying the computers of anyone who steals romance novels or any other kind of literature.


    Just as I was decided I needed to mellow out, I got an email from another author who gave me a link to this site: http://www.4shared.com/. There are eight of my novels, some the Spanish translations, that are available for free download. I've already notified the site that this represents copyright infringement.

    One of the people who posted the books has a Blogger site on which she declares (in Spanish) that her blog is dedicated to the belief that books should be free to everyone. She offers information as to where people can download the books she reviews for free.

    Let me get this straight: Authors work their butts off to write good books, relying on sales from those books to eat. But she thinks books should be available for free, as if that's some kind of activist stance. But who is going to reward authors and help them put food on the table if their books are distributed for free? Should farmers' vegetables be available for free to anyone who runs into their fields to harvest them? Should clothing on the racks in stores be distributed for free to anyone who wants it? How about cars? Should there be free cars for everyone?

    I'm going to report this blogger to Blogger/Google, but I'm not sure what they'll do, given that she isn't actually providing the books from her blog.

    Thanks to everyone who has posted for your support. You rock. I've met so many wonderful people through writing, and you're each such a blessing in my life. The people who steal books are a small but growing group. It seems a new site is being brought to my attention every single day now.

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