Piracy – Every Author’s Nightmare

SGA CoverEvery author’s nightmare (one of the nightmares anyway) is to discover that his/her book has been pirated. This is far more common than people realize. And it’s not just authors who feel the pain – publishers also share in the “victimhood” of piracy.

Some countries are quite blatant about the theft of someone’s work – and I think we all have a good idea who these countries are (think India for one). And increasingly it seems that pirated books are appearing on Amazon.

When it comes to a foreign country doing the thievery, there’s really not much anyone can do about it. And when it comes to piracy on Amazon, one often feels like one is dealing with a foreign country, and not just because most of people on the other end of the line sound very “Indian”. Maybe Amazon doesn’t care because they’re too big to have to care. I doubt it’s because the company is inept – but perhaps it’s grown so unwieldy that there’s no accountability.

Case in point Рmany months ago J.R. Sanders, author of the outstanding Some Gave All, Forgotten Old West Lawmen Who Died With Their Boots On,  contacted me about his book being sold by an Amazon seller who marketed the book as a Mass Market paperback. This book was never issued as a Mass Market paperback Рit was only issued as a Trade Paperback. I ought to know Рmy company (Moonlight Mesa Associates) published it.

The seller (Bless R) also failed to include the book’s REGISTERED ISBN number when they advertised it on Amazon. Instead, Amazon issued the company its own ASIN number for the book. ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. Every book that is published and wants to be sold commercially receives its very own ISBN that identifies only that book. The publisher pays for the ISBNs. An ASIN number is Amazon’s identification number. Put it this way, an ISBN allows the book to be sold in any bookstore throughout the world. An ASIN is good only for Amazon sales.

So the seller, this Bless R, failed to post the book’s registered ISBN number. They posted the book’s cover that the author designed, advertised it incorrectly as a mass market publication, and jacked the price to $26.95 instead of the printed price of $19.95. They also listed the “paperback” as $26.95. This inability to know the difference between a trade paperback and a mass market paperback highly suggests piracy by a sham company.

Did the smarty-smurfs at Amazon notice this? Hmm? Not at all. And now that it’s been called to their attention TWICE, they said they will “look into it.”

Statistically only 35% of the population in this country reads books. Since self-publishing raised its head, there are likely millions, if not billions, of books on the market. Traditionally published authors are suffering enough already from the plethora of tripe being sold. To have their hard-earned work pirated is too much. Publishers lose money – and authors lose any royalties they might otherwise have earned from the “legitimate” sale of their work.

This is thievery, and it’s no different than any other kind of theft – stealing people’s writings, songs, artwork, photos, and ideas is as painful as having your house broken into and everything you treasure stolen. What good is it to be gifted with talent and creativity if your work is misrepresented and even ripped-off?

Beware.

logoMMA-lg for WP 300