Last night this contact message was sent to my Publisher website.
When I saw the sender: Pissedoff Reader, I thought, Oh, boy! This reader really hates my book!
When I opened and read the message, my first reaction was, "What the Hell?"
And then I took a deep breath and tried to think rationally.
My book is published on many selling sites, maybe there is a glitch on one of the sites and the book didn't download correctly.
So, I sent her an email, not even knowing who she was because she didn't give her name just her email address. When I got the reply, I found out she's a woman.
She replied back, "It's cheating! I couldn't even read any of the pages. It's just some small pictures."
I assured her that I'll look into this because I want my readers to get my books in the best format possible, and I asked her to describe the picture.
She replied angrily that at the bottom of the pictures it says "jump" and she can't read the text on her tablet.
By then I had a hunch about what might have happened, so I asked her which site she purchased the book from.
"I didn't buy it, it was a website where you can download PDF books for free." And she sent me the link and a blurry picture she took with her phone of her tablet's screen.
I clicked on the link and my virus protection immediately flashed "Malicious site".
The page had book cover pictures with "Download free" click box under them. Yup, it was a click-bait scam site alright! I wondered if the woman got a nasty virus with her "free" book when she downloaded it. The picture she sent looked like a page screenshot to me.
Intrigued, I went through the publishing sites:
and looked at the free preview pages. I took a screenshot and sent it to the woman.
"That's it! That's what the pages look like." she replied back.
Then I sent her this message:
"Sorry you had a bad experience, but this site where you downloaded the "free" book is called a pirate site. They steal the books, and in this case, the owner of the site is not even smart enough to properly steal the entire book, they just took screenshots of the free pages that are available on legit selling sites. Had you purchase the book from a legitimate selling site such as Amazon, you'd have received a beautifully formatted eBook to enjoy.
Also, I advice you to run a virus check on your tablet. The "free" books from pirate sites and not so "free".
They usually include a nasty virus or spy cookies in the "free" book.
A friendly advice: if they required you to give them your credit card to open a "free" membership so you can download the book, I would put a freeze on the card as soon as possible.
I don't wish harm to any reader who downloads pirated books, but...
If someone can't afford the $2.99 price for my eBook, please go to your local library and ask them to purchase the book. Then you can read it for free, but the author and publisher gets paid for their work.
Writing and publishing a book is a long process and requires investment as well.
1. The author works on the story for months or even years to bring the best reading experience to readers.
2. It cost money to edit and format the book, have attractive book cover designed.
3. It cost money to promote and market the book so readers can find it.
It would never occur to people to ask for free coffee, haircut, manicure, or walk into a store and get shoes and clothes for free, because they know how much work goes into producing items they buy.
Publishing a book is work and the authors and publishers deserve to get paid for their work.
Don't you think?
Erika M Szabo
Author of urban fantasy, magical realism novels and children's books,
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