Why I Hope You Don’t Pirate My Book

Yesterday I wrote a thing about my thoughts on book piracy (or whatever you want to call it, including “thievery” or “unauthorized file-sharing” or “warez” or “Dave”), and there I suggested that we make today — February 6th — International Please Don’t Pirate My Book Day, where authors and writers and creatives of all types hop online to share their thoughts about piracy. This, then, is my entry serving that goal. If you join in, let us know.

It’s not about the money.

I mean, maybe it is. In the long run. About the money.

I need money, being a human being who lives in a capitalist society and all. I have bills to pay. A roof to keep over my family’s head. I have to keep my Internet turned on. I have to buy whiskey. I need to afford all those unusual sexual devices in the shapes of various mythological figures (though I find “Hephaestus’ Forge” more than a little uncomfortable).

So, to clarify, it’s not just about the money.

I have this notion. I believe that art has value. I believe that this value is not purely or even necessarily monetary — art and stories make the world go around. They change the creators and they change the audience. They make us think and feel. They teach us things. They challenge us. And, at the base level of it all, they can entertain us when we’ve just plain had a dogshit day.

The value of art being separate from money does not unfortunately remove the artist from this world of ours, a world that is at times comfortably and other times crassly capitalist. Because the artist lives in this world and not some other perfect world (WHERE WE ALL HAVE PET UNICORNS WHOSE HORNS ALSO SPRAY DELICIOUS WHISKEY INTO OUR MOUTHS wow that got phallic really fast), we must then suggest that for the artist to create the art that moves us and challenges us and entertains us, the artist must be given a means by which to survive.

“Starving artist” is a cliche that, like most cliches, comes from a real place.

It’s hard to make money with art. Not impossible. And maybe “hard” isn’t even the word.

But it is, at times, a challenge.

Which is where this whole issue of “unauthorized file-sharing” comes in. Meaning, you or someone else downloads my book without paying for it. I don’t consider this stealing. And without effective data on the subject, I don’t even know if it’s really hurting me at all.

Hell, maybe it’s even helping. (More on that in a moment.)

This isn’t about that.

This is about what people see as the relative value of art. File-sharing expresses the value of that art at baseline of almost zero. It takes ridiculously little effort to click a button and tickle the Internet and make it poop out my book onto your respective e-reader. I’d be impressed if you had to… I dunno, throw a trash can through a window and grab my book off the shelf before the ED-209 police-bot tromps over and fires a photon torpedo up your slurry-chute — at least then I know you really wanted that goddamn book. But file-sharing is so… simple, so effortless, even careless it feels like it dismisses the entire thing we do.

So, let me be clear about it: it’s hurt feelings I’m talking about. I get a twinge in my gut when you pirate my stuff. A tiny little prison shiv of sadness.

And maybe you don’t give a lemur’s left nut about that. I don’t see why you would. Certainly if you’ve nabbed my book by some illicit Internet means you probably have your reasons for doing so. Some of those reasons might not even be terrible. Many of my books are DRM free and are not exactly expensive, but just the same, maybe you’ve got your knickers in a twist about blah blah blah whatever. Maybe you want to stick it to me. Or to my publishers. Or to Amazon. And this is your way of voting with your not-dollar, a splinter in the eye of commercial publishing. Maybe you don’t have access and I don’t realize it — certainly the International Internet Laws are both byzantine and bizarre. I don’t know if you can buy my book in Papua New Guinea.

If you pirate my work, I don’t hate you. I don’t think you’re scum. I mean, unless you’re taking my work and slapping your name on it. Or you’re somehow making money off the pirating of my work. Then you officially get squished sloppily into the “scumfuck” category, thanksmuch.

Here’s all that I’m asking:

I’m asking you to try to support art. Which means, when you can pay for it, please do pay for it. The more content drifts toward free and open access, the  harder it will be for the content-creators to continue creating content, at least until some major paradigm shift in crowdfunding or patronage models offers up a revised revenue stream that won’t cause me to starve and die.

If you find that some component of the books doesn’t work for you — some kind of DRM or issues of access, I might suggest pirating the book but then paying for a physical copy. And then taking that copy and either using it to shore up a crooked table or, even better, donating it or passing it along to a friend. Don’t donate directly to me; my publisher helped make my books exist. Publishers catch a lot of shit for a lot of shit. Some of it is deserved. But the truth is, my books — and most of the books you’ve loved in your life — are due to the publishers getting to do what they do. They’re an easy target but they deserve some back-scratchings once in a while.

If you find the pricing practices of an author or publisher problematic, you should at least let that author or publisher know. Voting with your dollar (or with your unauthorized file-sharing) only has value when the author/publisher knows why.

At the very least, if you nab a copy of my book from some shady smut-shellacked Spam-Bot peddling them in some dimly-lit corner of the Cyber-Webs and you happen to like it, I’d love for you to tell other people about it. And maybe, one day, consider buying some other book of mine.

That’s what this guy did. He grabbed Blackbirds without paying for it.

And then bought all my other books.

Which is, you might say, a way to ethically share files, unauthorized or no.

Mostly, I just want you to think about the artists and authors and even the people in publishing once in a while. We like what we do and we want to continue to have the means to do it. If that means you buy the book through normal means, great. If that means you ethically support the ecosystem through other, less authorized means, hey, I can’t stop you.

Just be aware of what’s happening. Be aware that you’re not the only person involved in this exchange. This story didn’t fall from the heavens, dropped out of some heavenly sphincter. It took work. And love. And pain. And time. Think beyond the button-click it takes to snatch it from the etheric 1s and 0s. Take time to realize that art and stories have value.

To you, to me, to that guy over there.

Art is rad.

Stories are awesome.

Try to pay for them once in awhile.

Especially if they’re mine, ’cause I’m saving up for that fucking whiskey-jizzing unicorn.

69 responses to “Why I Hope You Don’t Pirate My Book”

  1. Chuck. I love this. I love your last post. And I love that guy’s post, whoever he was. Piracy is not a simple issue. I’ve heard my husband (who pays for things and supports art and love to go see live shows) say the words “They’ve gotten my money already.” Over and over, when he ends up not paying for something. It’s about supporting the artists, (agents, publishers, producers, editors) behind the work. If more people put up the coin, the world would be filled with whiskey jizzing unicorns. What a nice place.

    • Hi, “the guy” here.

      Thanks! I was friggin’ terrified when I saw Chuck had linked back to me.

      I’ve seen what the internet is capable of when it disagrees with you.

  2. Hi Chuck,

    Just posted my thoughts here: http://itt.ymakadomain.com/?p=94

    If it helps that little bit of sting, yours are one of the few e-books I own, and I’ve only copied them once (after paying for a second set.) And I never plan on pirating Blackbirds or any other book, because I will not rest until I have their papery goodness in my hands. Mmm print books. 😀

  3. I’m in a theraflu-induced brain coma right now, so there will be no epic blog post (yet). But, I heartily concur with your thoughts and my social media apps are a blaze with it.

  4. […] of my fave authors, Chuck Wendig has a fantastic post over at his site Terrible Minds. He’s wanting to make February 6th “International Please Don’t Pirate My Book […]

  5. When our fellow authors price their efforts at two pence, or worse yet, “free,” they devalue the art and debase your otherwise cogent argument. Stop that, too.

    • I’ve argued similarly in the past, though I’m no longer as rock-solid on that. Certainly there is reason once in a while to reduce the price very low (or even to zero) to help, erm, “spread the virus that is you.” And, of course, a lot of the *free* work out there is not necessarily *good.*

      Just as GRRM’s book prices (which some think are high) doesn’t lift the price of e-books, some guy who charges nothing probably doesn’t reduce the value, either.

      Probably. Maybe. Nobody really knows a fucking thing, of course, including me. It’s all just spectacle and guesswork.

      — c.

  6. I’ve had a lot of conflicting thoughts on piracy, and I think you’ve totally nailed it for me. Art is awesome. Pay for it when you can. Support artists and the people who bring their stuff into the world in the best ways you know how. Don’t be a dickbag.

  7. I’ve got a page up on my site about piracy-it’s a permanent page so I’m not doing a post on it. But I’ve lost two series within just a few months of each other…due to low sales. They are, ironically, two series that get pirated like mad.

    There was one I chose to end years ago-it was fantasy, hard for me to write, never sold as well, but…again…pirated like mad. When I spoke out about it, I was told… “you should just be happy people want to read your shit, period…”

    Um…no. Because I don’t write to get read. Writing is my job. ‘Being happy’ doesn’t provide for my responsibilities as a person-it doesn’t put food on the table for my kids, pay my bills, etc.

    And while my responsibilities are nobody’s problem but my own, when I have a low-selling series, I have to make tough calls… like ending a series on my own…deciding whether to self publish a series that a publisher cancels…etc.

    Writers produce a product…it’s definitely an artistic one, and it does have value. If it didn’t, people wouldn’t want it.

    If it was easy, anybody could do it. I wish the people who pirated those works would understand that…and respect it, and realize what they are doing

  8. I absolutely get what you’re saying, and as someone who buys a LOT of books, I can also tell you that it makes me Incredible Hulk-style angry when I consistently CONSISTENTLY see publishes and distributors charging equal prices, if not MORE, for e-book versions than for dead-tree versions. It’s not uncommon to be browsing the Amazons and see a Kindle version that costs double the price of the paperback, or even a buck or two more than the goddamn HARDBACK version.

    That’s thievery, straight up plain and simple. Until that outmoded 1990’s “we’re scared of technology!” thinking that’s plagued the music/movie business dies in the car fire it so richly deserves, book piracy ain’t going away any time soon. Sad but true. I wish it weren’t so.

    • On the one hand, I agree. I won’t pay a Kindle price when the physical copy is same or even cheaper. I think it’s nonsense no matter how many excuses a publisher gives for why those prices need to be equal.

      On the other hand, I disagree that it’s thievery — it’s their choice to make the prices what they are (though obviously Amazon now has some say in setting those prices, too) and while it’s bullshit, it’s a price you don’t have to pay, right? I mean, I think the price they charge for, say, a Range Rover is fucking ludicrous, but I don’t go out and demand they lower it. I just don’t buy it because I think the price is too high. That’s the contract we have with commerce: we don’t like the price, we don’t buy it.

      Art of course enters into a weirder territory where we want our work to be seen and read and consumed, and if our publishers don’t think progressively then we as those artists or storytellers are theoretically hurt by that. Unless of course we trust that the publishers know implicitly what they’re doing (some do, some don’t)…

      So, I acknowledge: this is the stickiest of wickets. I just don’t know that price is the best excuse for “unauthorized file distribution” — and further, I’ve seen it disproven time and time again. Certainly a lot of my books are out there for unpaid download and my Angry Robot e-books are about 40% off the physical price ($5 for e-book, $8 for physical copy).

      Usually, with high prices, “Fuck you, I’m not paying that” was enough. Now it’s, “Fuck you, I’m not paying that, and I’m going to have it anyway.”

      Tricky stuff.

      — c.

    • I see this argument a lot. But the anger is never directed at those responsible, and that is Amazon (, and other reatilers). The price the publisher sets for a paper book is the Suggested Retail Price (the one printed on the book). Amazon could sell the book for that price, but they choose to discount it. And they do sell some big name authors’ books at a loss.
      I have my suspicion they set the paper price lower than the e-book to piss people off, and make them “hate” publishers. And that tactic is obviously working.

  9. Posted my thoughts here: http://www.intellectualblathering.com/arrrgh-dont-pirate-me-book-day/ – It’s a difficult thing. There’s that balance between the need for exposure and the need for money, and you have to take both into account. I do think there are better ways of going about reading a book for free – Libraries offer e-books now, in large numbers, and I’ve rarely found a book missing from my library’s available e-books. And for new, unestablished writers (especially indie writers), well, they really need the money from any sales they get.

  10. I agree with most of what you said on the subject, Mr. Wendig.

    You nailed the reasons why I still don’t have an ebook reader even. As a european customer who mostly reads, listens and plays english stuff, I have it easy on the physical books. We’re a free-for-all publishers country where you can just walk into any bookstore and buy/order whatever book you want, even specifiy if you prefer the UK or US edition.

    For ebooks? Amazon won’t let us buy their ebooks or even a Kindle. Localisation should be easier in the digital age, but for some reason it made it worse. There are a few other options, but they don’t have the content I’m looking for.

    Now I’m really easy and don’t pirate things. To this day, I still buy CD’s and rip them myself (for my household only). Because it’s easy to do and skips the whole iTunes and whatever else the options are as they still think that half of their content should not be available in my country, while, again, I can buy them physically just fine. Thankfully I do not have DRM locked CD’s (although they do exist).

    My only wish is that there would be a digital copy for every physical book I bought in a non-DRM format I can actually use without systems telling me I’m doing the wrong thing. We’re not there yet.

    As for games, there have been some truly awful DRM options for it that broke entirely legal computer setups. I’ve even been in a direct argument with [game publisher] to get their games to work on a Con I was working on, because the physical copies installed a variety of DRM that made it impossible to create virtual images of the any physical drive on your system. We had to pirate them to make it work. Go figure.

    Don’t fuck up my software because you’re scared of pirates. The only thing they did was making me frustrated and making sure I would never ever buy any game that had that type of DRM on it. I do not want to sponsor a company that thinks it can violate my own rights on my own system that way. And no, I don’t pirate it for my own use either. Steam (now it’s grown up) is a good way how to do it. You can buy almost anything in any country for your local currency and use it whereever. It has decent offline options too. This distribution system makes it easy for the consumer instead of more complicated, without the pointing finger policy of telling you that ‘thou shall not pirate’ like official movies DVD do.

    Sorry, got a bit wordy here. tl;dr I hope that there will be a system like a combination of Steam and a ‘one time unlock’ so you can register your book or music copy once and use it like you see fit in a format you want. I realise it’s far from as easy as I make it sound.

    • I’m a micro-publisher in the USA.

      1) I put my books up (MOBI & EPUB) without DRM. Some 3rd party vendors (I’m looking at you, SONY) add DRM further downstream, but I can’t do anything about that. As far as possible, the books are DRM free in the retail channels.

      2) I sell my digital files worldwide direct from my site, so that customers have the option of buying them through their favorite retailers with whatever restrictions apply, or as an ordinary digital file.

      3) I offer bundles of multiple ebook formats (families with mixed readers) for $1 extra, or of paperback plus all ebook formats ($2 extra). No one’s purchased one of those options, yet.

  11. So, basically you’re saying that you have no idea if piracy is hurting anything other than your feelings, but you still think it’s a bad thing? You even admit that it could actually be helping people, but disregard that and go back to talking about how it might, just maybe be taking money out of your pocket.

    It really just sounds like an irrational fear that every pirated copy is money out of your pocket. Even though you don’t necessarily believe that, you’re afraid that it might be true, so you’re against piracy. I understand that fear. It’s hard to make a living selling art and you want to be protective of it, but there’s not enough evidence to really make it worth your time to rally against it.

    I’m writing books myself and fully intend to put them out there DRM free. I believe that if I make a product worth buying and have a way for people to give me money, they will. There are plenty of people out there in other mediums that have proven it’s true. Take Amanda Palmer for instance. Most of her music is in a “pay what you like” scale with the minimum being free and she just had a million dollar kickstarter project.

    I’m absolutely for promoting the idea that if you get something for free and enjoy it, you should promote it, but I can’t imagine there are many people who wouldn’t do that already. Can you?

    TL;DR: Be careful when spreading Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.

    • @Robert:

      There’s also no hard evidence it’s any value.

      All we have here are our beliefs to go on (and, were I to be pedantic, the law, which is actually far more against illicit file-sharing than I am), and my beliefs are a fairly reasonable, “Hey, maybe don’t grab my stuff for free if I didn’t authorize it to be free, and if you should, please do me the solid of either buying something else down the line or at the very least telling people about it.”

      I’m not spreading fear, uncertainty, or doubt. I’m actually taking a pretty soft line, here.

      — c.

    • @Chuck:

      I understand your general stance about wanting people to spread word if they get your stuff for free or buy something later down the road and I agree with that. I also think that most people who pirate tend to do that anyway, but that’s just my own gut feeling.

      I’m not saying you’re trying to hard line it. I did come here expecting that and was pleasantly surprised on that front. The rest of the post though, does seem to be vaguely spreading fear of piracy and the hashtag buy itself does sound pretty hardlined. *shrug* I guess it’s just a mindset thing. I don’t think piracy of our books is something worth trying to start a whole “national day of blah” about and just by starting the movement it is stirring up fear.

      • It’s voiced as a request, not as a demand.

        And knowing the amount of people I do who pirate the shit out of all the things, I think it is a good thing to let people think about the issue. There are enough people out there who simply never think about it and find it the easy way to acquire whatever the fuck they want online.

        And not because of ‘no money’ (although that happens too), but just for a sense of ‘wanting all the things’ and not caring it’s illegal. Or at least that is the case with the people I know (which I admit doesn’t hold much in the light of statistics).

  12. Great points. I am a avid reader. Once upon a time I was also an aspiring writer, but now I’m expressing my creative energy in graphic design instead so I know where you are coming from when trying to put a price on art. I still have a hard time with that aspect, which isn’t great when you are trying to make a living at it.

    As for the ebooks? I do look at pricing first, and I admit that I take as many freebies as I can get my hands on. They are all legally obtained though. I’ve never even considered doing it any other way. I do consider myself a poster child for the pros of offering freebies from time to time. I don’t know how many books that I’ve picked up free that have led me to buying at least one of the other books from that author. They hooked me and I may not have given them a chance if not for that first free book. Do I buy ebooks if they are offered at the same price as a physical book? Generally not. That’s more out of preference than anything else though. I figure if I’m going to pay the same, I’d prefer the actual book on my shelf. Probably crazy logic, but that’s all I got.

    As a general rule I do believe that ebooks should cost less than physical books. I do think that there should be some cost though. Authors and publishers can’t give all their books away, but there is much more out of pocket cost involved in printing on paper than creating an electronic file. When you take away the paper and the ink, what you have left is the ‘art’ itself. I don’t have an answer to what percentage that cost should be, but this article definitely made me think about it more. That and I really need to google ‘whiskey-jizzing unicorn’ 😉

  13. I teach writing and literature classes at a local community college and during the first class meeting I explain, thoroughly, the concepts of plagiarism, copyright and piracy. Every semester I get a student that says to me (in some variation) “Everyone does it. It’s no big deal.” and “Why should I care? I need it so I’m taking it.”

    This last response really gets to me because I see this as the underlying issue (or one of them). Whether the product is a song, movies, books, or simply plagiarizing on a research paper, people have this attitude that they are entitled to the product and should not have to pay for it. This usually just leaves me blinking at the class, temporarily stupefied at their brazen attitudes. And then I launch into the whole “If I find you have plagiarized the wrath of me and this college will come down upon you and end your college career.” Or something along those lines. (In a scary, angry voice of course that I have perfected over the years.) Most of the students end up getting it, or at least not trying it in my class.

    But still, I’m sure some still go home and download movies, music and whatever else they can find on torrent without thought. In fact I know some do. Because to some, they want to have something so they take it. (And when I use ‘they’ I’m referring to those who do this sort of thing-not everyone). They don’t give ANY thought to the person who wrote it, sang it, acted in it, produced it, or whatever. Or if they do, they just don’t care. They do not care that is not only wrong, but it’s also illegal. So to me, it has little to do with pricing, publishing wars, Amazon, e-readers or the like. (These things may play a part of course, but I think it’s a small one). To me, it’s that a large portion of the population has this entitled attitude and they just don’t give a crap about whoever worked hard to create it. (Well, this and the fact that there isn’t a lot of civil and/or criminal enforcement going on out there when compared to the amount of the illegal downloading that occurs). Because if they DID care about the creator of the “art”, they would have paid for it. To me, it’s really that simple.

    Other than suing everyone (which isn’t practical or cost efficient) I have no idea what to do about it without first changing this underlying attitude. And then the question is, how would we do that?!

  14. We should really stop calling file-sharing piracy. Conflating the two simultaneously belittles the issue of real piracy and makes file sharing seem more dangerous than it is.

    Also, digital goods are competing with their own copies’ versions, so when distributors don’t make prices reasonable and limit availability, file-sharing is the result.

    More here: http://darusha.ca/blog/thoughts-on-file-sharing/

  15. I’ll spill my thoughts, at least as it pertains to myself, on the subject of art and piracy.

    There are countless reasons (or excuses, depending on your view) behind piracy. I think I’m a mostly reformed pirate. I still like booze and booty, so I guess full reform is out of the question.

  16. I’ve shared my thoughts on this many times. I fundamentally disagree that piracy is damaging to authors. I’ve researched the culture and compared it to what happens when you legitimately offer a book for free. People love free things. They grab them up with little thought of how they will use them. Most pirated book and free legal downloads go unread. I went through when I got my Nook and downloaded about 10 ebooks and I haven’t opened a single one.

    On the other hand, what having a work pirated means is that you are ahead of the curve as an author. It means you have a work worth pirating and someone thinks it is good enough to share. I’ll be honored when I reach that point. It is an achievement.

    And the relationship between free downloads, whether legal or illegal, to sales is marginal. On Amazon you can make a title free for a day (with KDP Select) and you might get 100 downloads in a day of a book that otherwise sells only 1 copy a day. The number of people who grab free stuff is huge. The number of people who use it is smaller and the number of people who would pay, even a minimal price, is tiny.

    I understand the feeling that stories are art and should have value, but if that is the reason you are writing, you aren’t writing for the right reason. We should be writing for the love of writing and storytelling and the first goal should be to reach the widest audience. That means taking the piracy in stride and beingg happy that you have acienved enough notariety to get pirated. Ultimately you will benefit from it more than it will cost you. If all you can see is lost value, then you shouldn’t be in this business. Giving away things for free or at a huge discount is part of the business that we have signed up for as writers. The art is in the storytelling and the real value is in satisfying your readers. If they like what you right you have done your job.

    • Fascinating, but how in your model do creators make a living? Have you actually attempted to make a living as a creator? If you have the secret to making a living when people don’t pay for your stuff, I am all ears. Or if you’ve figured out a way to keep bread on the table and a roof over your head with “the love of your art,” please share.

  17. I have friends that will argue until the sun goes out that pirating isn’t actually wrong (NO REALLY WE SWEAR HONEST!), and I understand their reasoning. However, there are several factors that keep me from doing it.

    The first and most important (to me) is the very real threat that someday I will have some content provider come bust down my door with a team of tactical ninjas in tow and that they’ll drag me away to the gulags to be beaten for my crimes against the Medieties (Media Deities, get it?).

    The second, however, is that I like to think that I’m helping out things that I like. Since I own a Nook, I can’t really say that I’d pirate to try things out–the Nook gives a pretty good sample of most books. Since Spotify has come to America, I can listen to most music for free there, and buy it if I like it (happened with Mackelmore’s THE HEIST album).

    All in all, I like to buy things because I genuinely like it when the people that entertain me are able to entertain me more. It’s why I have purchased Double Dead, Blackbirds, and Mockingbird, and I’m chewing through my keyboard waiting for Dinocalpyse Now to hurry up and get out so I can–SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY ALREADY!

    That said, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t improvements I would make the industry if I could. A great example is something that Amazon offers. A while back, my wife and I bought a cd for a friend–lullaby renditions of Green Day songs for their new baby. However, the cool thing is that Amazon includes in that purchase both the mp3’s to download as soon as you buy the cd (so you can listen to it before you get the disc in the mail), AND they upload those songs to the cloud so I can listen to them on my phone, too. It would be great if a similar thing existed for books. Buy Blackbirds in paperback, get the e-book for free to download to your desktop/e-reader device. Have access to a cloud library of past purchases that will let you access your books from your mobile device as well. You can read it ANYWHERE!

  18. All this reminds me of King Kanute (yes, I’m that old) who tried to stop the tide from coming in and got his feet wet. It seems to me the problem needs to be tackled from the other end. Who are these pirating web sites? What do they gain by their actions and why can’t they be put out of business?

    • One of my books ended up on a download site, and when, out of curiosity, I ventured there, my awesome virus protection dinged at me with a warning: “Threat has been detected!” I quickly clicked off and was absolutely livid.
      I — like others — don’t mind if they want to go ahead and put my book out there, but I am incensed that they would attach a Trojan or virus or some other nefarious thing to it. It gives me a bad name, and I have worked very hard not to have one of those.

      “How do I get this off their site??” I wondered. Since there is no way to contact the perpetrator, I think I am stuck with this thing out there, and maybe me being blamed for it. Does anyone have an answer to my question?? Please help me if you can.

      In summary, that is what they have to gain. It is yet another way to gain access to other peoples’ computers.

  19. I’m a bit late here, but have you read – or heard about – Brandon Sanderson’s Warbreaker? It’s a full-length epic fantasy novel that he offers as a free e-book on his site. The idea is that people can have a chance to experience his work, which may then lead to them buying his other books. Because, in my opinion, one reason people pirate books is because they want to see whether the author’s books are good enough for them to invest money on them. There’s nothing as disappointing as paying a lot of money for a book which you end up hating. Oh, and of course, if people want to buy a physical copy of Warbreaker after reading the e-book, he offers that, too.

    I don’t know; it seemed like a smart strategy. And I know it worked for me; I bought several of his books after reading Warbreaker. He’s extremely prolific,though, so I think this might be a bit harder for other authors (writing a full-length novel for free).

    He also has this neat little section on his site titled Annotations for most of his books, where he dissects the book chapter by chapter, and explains the process of writing each chapter. He talks about why he chose to do certain things, what some events mean to the rest of the novel, why he introduces certain characters; etc. It provides a fascinating insight into the author’s mind, and enhances the reading experience. Although the Annotations can be accessed by pirates, it helps the reader envision the work the author put into the novel, and maybe make them more willing to pay for the experience of reading his books.

    Also, I really recommend Warbreaker. You can find it, and Sanderson’s explanation, here: http://brandonsanderson.com/books/warbreaker/warbreaker/

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