Can Ebook Piracy Actually Help Self-Published Authors Sell More Books?

I’ve been writing and self-publishing ebooks since 2002. And many of my ebooks have been ripped off, ie, pirated and sold without my permission. I’m not the only one; this happens to self-published as well as traditionally published authors all the time.

JA Konrath, the self-publishing guru by the blogger blog of the same name, actually did an experiment to see if piracy helped or hurt ebook sales. In the May 22, 2010 post on his blog, Piracy… Again, he wrote:

I’m being pirated. Google pointed to 8880 different sites where my work is being illegally shared. And these are just torrent sites. This doesn’t count file lockers, which I believe account for many more downloads than torrents. And yet, I’m not worried.

I’m currently selling 220 ebooks per day, and that rate shows no signs of slowing down. So everyone needs to take a big, collective breath, let it out slow, and stop worrying about illegal file sharing.

I totally agree, for the following reasons.

3 Reasons Self-Publishers Shouldn’t Worry about Ebook Piracy

Nowadays, I no longer worry about ebook piracy, for the following reasons:

1. You can’t stop it 100%

If something is digitized, it can be stolen by internet thieves. That’s just the way it is. So while I do take measures to protect my work from ebook theft, I don’t spend time worrying about it over and beyond this.

It will drive you crazy if you do, and again, there’s nothing you can do to stop it totally, so why stress about it.

2. Ebook theft helps sales

I totally believe this. It’s like free advertising. I’ve written and self-published over 50 ebooks – and am constantly putting out new stuff.

Most times, thieves haven’t stolen all titles, so if someone is introduced to my work via a pirated title, then they may visit my site and purchase copies legitimately.

3. Most people are honest

Many times, when a person buys a pirated copy of an ebook, they don’t know it. Yeah, the ebook thieves know they stole it, but the unsuspecting purchaser many times don’t.

And, this is why you have a chance of picking up new customers when one of your ebooks is stolen. If people like your work, they’ll visit your site/blog/ebook store and buy legitimately.


I received the following email from an ebook author last Friday morning. He wrote:

Do the benefits of producing an ebook version outweigh the costs of piracy? By only supplying a print version of the book is that the best route to take? Or does that severely limit profit potentials?

In my opinion, ebook writers should spend no time worry about ebook thieves, and all of their time producing new products. I only publish digital products (not paper copies), and would never consider NOT publishing ebooks just to prevent ebook thievery. You severely limit your profit potential when you do this.

And for the reasons outlined here, ebook theft can actually help your sales instead of hurt them. So by all means — self-publish — digitally and in paper if that is your wish. Focus on what you CAN do, not what ebook thieves MIGHT do.

Good luck!

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