You Might Be On An Illegal Book Downloading Site if…

“How do I know if I’m on a legitimate book site?”

You’d be surprised the number of times I get asked that question. As in at least five times a day. I get asked lots of questions every day as it pertains to books and audiobooks. So, I decided to put together this handy guide for those individuals who are ‘uncertain’ if they’re on a legitimate book site or not.

Q: How can I tell if I’m on a book pirating site?

A: You might be on an illegal ebook downloading site (AKA book pirating site) if all the books are free. That is your first give away. No legitimate book vendor has 100% free books. The only exception is your local library’s website. Other than that, if every book is FREE then you’re not in the right place. You’re in the wrong place. As in ‘you’re on an illegal book downloading site’. As in please report to your local author.

Q. I belong to a private FB group where they share ‘free books’. Is this legit?

A. The answer to this one can be tricky. If none of the people are sharing links to legitimate book sites, ie: Amazon, Kobo, Nook, AppleBooks, or GooglePlay, or the author’s own website, then no, this is not legitimate. Legitimate book clubs will share links to BOOK STORES where you can grab a free copy. Again, to places like Amazon, Kobo, Nook, AppleBooks, or GooglePlay, or the author’s own website.

NON-Legitimate groups will have all the book files located somewhere outside of the group, using file sharing sites such as Drop Box or One Drive.

If there are no authors in the group who are sharing LEGITIMATE store links, then you’re probably in an illegal file sharing group. Run far, run fast.

NON-Legitimate groups will have all the book files located somewhere outside of the group, using file sharing sites such as Drop Box or One Drive.

If the administrators of that group are asking for ‘monetary donations to help offset the cost of Drop Box or One Drive’ then you are in an illegal book downloading/book piracy group. This is NOT LEGITIMATE. This is ILLEGAL on so many levels. And yes, YOU can be held criminally liable for participating in these kinds of groups.

Q. My sister and I share books with each other all the time. Is that wrong?

A. No! That is perfectly acceptable because you purchased the books first. The piracy sites never purchase the books (they’ll purchase, make a copy, then return. The author is never paid.) I used to share ebooks and paperbacks with my mom all the time. Perfectly legit.

Q. I just want to support my favorite authors. What can I do?

A. You can purchase books from legitimate sites, such as Amazon, Nook, Kobo, AppleBooks, and GooglePlay. A lot of authors these days also allow purchasing directly from their websites. Try following your favorite authors on Facebook or BookBub. Most authors I know have monthly newsletters with information on upcoming releases, pre-orders, sales, etc. They will almost always have links in those newsletters to the vendor of your choice.

Q. What about audiobooks?

The rules are the same regardless of format. Yes, audiobook piracy is a thing and yes, we’re working on trying to solve the issue. Yes, I’m aware that all of my audiobooks have been stolen.

My tips for readers are as follows: “Follow” your favorite author at Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, or even Instagram. Sign up for your favorite author’s newsletters.

My tips for readers are as follows: “Follow” your favorite author at Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, or even Instagram. Sign up for your favorite author’s newsletters. Stick to those places you KNOW are legitimate book purchasing sites. Avoid everything else.

Ignore any ‘invitations’ or links you might see on social media that say things like: ‘Thousands of FREE ebooks from Thousands of authors!’ or ‘Download All The Free eBooks You want!’ Chances are those are scams, phishing sites filled with malware, and/or book piracy sites.

When in doubt, DON’T! If you’re still not sure the site you’re on is a piracy site or not, reach out and ask. Most authors love hearing from readers and are happy to answer any questions you might have.

Book Thieves SUCK

I just can’t call them pirates. Pirate, in my mind, conjures up an image of a tall, handsome devil with long hair and a swashbuckling personality sailing the seven seas.

We’re talking about thieves. Individuals or groups of individuals who openly steal copies of books and upload them to websites where anyone who is a member can read it. They like to claim they’re offering a service to the public. They like to claim what they’re doing is no more different than a public library.

You’re NOT a Library. You are a thief.

There are a few succinct differences between libraries and book thieves. Libraries, you see, actually pay for books. Most libraries have a limited number of members. Yes, some libraries are bigger than others, but that isn’t the point here. The books were first purchased before they were loaned out to anyone.

The pirates will argue that someone originally did buy the book and they’re simply sharing it with the rest of their friends. Again, no, no you’re not. First of all, nobody has that many friends. Secondly, these thieves might actually buy the book, only to return it an hour or two later after they’ve stripped out everything they need to upload to these disgusting sites.

Some of these sites like to say they’re doing us a favor. One guy likes to argue that it is no different than offering a free sample. If the reader likes that book, they’ll go on to buy the others.

Again, that is a bunch of BS. Why would anyone who has access to literally hundreds of thousands of stolen books actually buy one?

That old argument of you should feel honored we stole from you; think of it as free publicity is also a bunch of BS. If I called a plumber, had him fix my leaky faucet or install a completely new bathroom, and then told him “I’m not going to pay you, but I’ll tell everyone what a wonderful job you did” I’d probably end up with a black eye and a law suit.


Every day, hundreds if not thousands of authors spend countless hours sending out DMCA’s or ‘take down notices.’ Some of us either have to hire a personal assistant to do that or use programs like Blasty. It isn’t cheap keeping up with these idiots.

Where the hell is my book?!? If you find that the book you’ve been assured is there, in fact isn’t, chances are it’s been DMCA’d into oblivion. Simply request the book again. These things happen, heck, that’s life.

from a book pirating website.

So why even bother with DMCA’s? These sites will take the book down for maybe an hour or two. But as soon as they believe the coast is clear, they upload that book again.

This is a never ending game of whack-a-mole. Even if we manage to get a site taken down, they reopen under a new name in just a few short hours. And the entire process starts up all over again.

Additionally, a lot of authors use the KU program at Amazon. This requires their books be exclusive to Amazon. Amazon does check to make certain these books are not available anywhere else. When a book that is in the KU program comes up as available at these pirate sites, the authors get into trouble. They’re accused of violating the rules and are often threatened with losing their accounts altogether. Imagine losing your livelihood because of these idiots.

But the thieves simply don’t care. There are plenty of books to choose from.

George RR Martin, Nora Roberts, Stephen King, JK Rowling, and Courtney Milan, even Michelle Obama are all victims of book piracy.

It isn’t just indie authors they steal from. At most of these sites, they have stolen from the likes of George RR Martin, Nora Roberts, Stephen King, JK Rowling, and Courtney Milan. Hell, they’ve even stolen from Michelle Obama. No book, it seems, is left ‘un-stolen’. No author is out of bounds. Nothing is off limits.

Want a new release? Go to one of these sites and request it. You can have your copy within an hour of it going live.

If DMCA’s are time consuming and expensive, why bother sending them? The answer is simple: it’s the principal of the thing.

Imagine you have worked hard all week long. Pay day rolls around and your boss says, “Sorry, Bernice. I think you’ve already made too much money this month, so I’m not going to pay you.”

Or imagine you own a bakery. Someone comes in and demands free bear claws. Because it’s just a bear claw and you bakers are all filthy rich and live in mansions. They don’t care that you work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. They don’t care that you have a mortgage, a kid that needs braces, car payments, student loans, utility bills, or anything else. Damn it, you have earned enough money. Or, you make enough money off those people who did buy your donuts and cupcakes.

Their arguments are idiotic at best. We work really hard to bring our readers good, quality books. We have editors, cover artists, final proofers, and other business expenses. It isn’t up to these thieves to decide if we’ve earned ‘too much money’ or not. It isn’t up to them to decide if we will offer a sale on one of our books, or even make it free for a few days. It is our decision to make. It is our book, not theirs.

It is our book, not theirs.

If these asshats want to write books and give them away for free, let them have at it. But I shouldn’t have to be forced to fight these idiots because no one either has the financial wherewithal or the political clout to tackle this issue.

I’m getting a little tired of having to explain to the ‘readers’ who use these sites and argue ‘there is nothing wrong with what they’re doing’ that is in fact against the law. They are violating numerous copyright laws.

Enough is enough already. I do believe it is time we take action as a collective to combat these low life, scum sucking, arrogant thieves and put a stop to this nonsense.

Just think about the Napster lawsuit and you’ll see where I’m going with this.