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Epiracy: yes, it's wrong. And yes, it hurts. - Ally Carter

Epiracy: yes, it's wrong. And yes, it hurts.

Almost every day I see someone posting online about reading my books for free as eBooks, uploading my books so that other people can read them for free, or actively ASKING someone else to upload the books for this purpose.

This is something, again, that I see every day.

And every day it makes me want to cry.

Of course, I’ve written about this before (go read this post for my in depth thoughts on the matter).

But one of the things that continues to astound and amaze me is how many people either don’t know (or choose not to think about) the fact that this is both wrong and illegal.  Now, we’re not talking about a technicality here.  It’s not some obscure law that makes epiracy essentially a victimless crime.

When you upload a book (or any copyrighted material) for others to read for free you are taking someone’s property (my books) and distributing it to people without paying for it.

I know that becuase we’re talking about an electronic file that you read on a computer or iPad or something, it feels different from, say, walking into Barnes and Noble, shoving the book down your pants and running for the door…

It FEELS different…

But it isn’t.  You are doing that, but worse.  You’re actually potentially taking thousands of books.  THOUSANDS because for every file you upload those files will be downloaded by many, many more people.  Some of those people might post them to other piracy sites, and then things spread like wildfire.

So let’s say that I get paid $1 for every book that I sell.  Let’s say you upload my books to your site and then 10,000 people download it for free (a very, very conservative number I’m using here.  Actually, it’s far higher.).  That’s $10,000 that I should rightfully have, so there is a victim–me. 

And not just the author, but this also hurts publishers, editors, agents, bookstores, and even libraries.  (Again, go read this to get more detail.)

If you really want to read a book and you don’t have the money to buy that book, I understand.  Boy, do I ever understand…

But that’s what libraries are for.  If your library doesn’t have the book, that’s when you ask your librarian if they could possibly order it (I’ve met a lot of librarians in the past 5 years, and they all assure me that they always try to accommodate these requests–in fact, they love getting suggestions from readers.)  If your library can’t order their own copy, almost all are hooked up to some sort of interlibrary loan system, so they can borrow it from another library for you to read.

See?  There is a way, and it doesn’t involve stealing.

Just ask yourself this: would I shoplift this book from a store?  If the answer is no, then don’t download it online.  And please don’t upload or scan your copies for others to download.

It hurts, folks.  It hurts more than you can possibly understand.






Some people have expressed concern about whether it’s okay to loan books to friends or not.  To this I say, “absolutely!”  Once a person has purchased a book it’s their right to do with that book what they wish–loan it, sell it in a garage sale, donate it to a women’s shelter, whatever!  Because that book is just that: one book.  If you were going to fire up the Xerox machine and crank out thousands of copies we’d have a very different situation, but the key is that book is still just one book.

It’s like this…  Say you go toa diner and buy a club sandwich.  Say you only eat half of it and you decide to give the rest to your friend.  Have you stolen from the diner?  Nope.  You paid for a sandwich and you got a sandwich–who enjoys it after you is up to you.

But say instead of giving your sandwich away you break a window in the back of the diner and hang up a sign that says “Crawl through here to take free sandwiches! (But please support the diner…)” 

That’s the difference.



  1. swim chic says:

    I totally understand! It’s really wrong for people to do that.
    when you put effort, time and thought into books, you want to get paid for your efforts. so yeah, people, it’s illegal. STOP!!!!!!!

  2. Jennifer says:

    Note: to the anonymous person who said hopefully they don’t understand what they are doing

    As my ex-policeman science teacher once said “Being unaware of the law is not an excuse for breaking it.”

  3. I honestly don’t understand why people would even want to read a book on a computer. Having the words literally in my hands is one of reasons that I love reading so much. Plus, I sort of love to shop for books. It makes me feel sort of good about myself when I can say that I have the money to buy the things I want.

    Also, I just wanted to say that I’m so glad that your books are now available as ebooks on Barnes & Noble. Some of my friends were wondering if your books were going to become available that way.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I totally agree with Ally on this one. I hope some day that I can be an author myself; but with people stealing books online every second of the day. That hope is going down because of that. I love all of your, Ally, books. They are amazing and I own every one. Hardcover. I just wish that people will understand that this is how others make money, and it is not right.

  5. It makes me sad to think that the authors I love and will support forever are losing money because people are breaking the law. I’m so sorry, Ally. For every book you aren’t selling because of piracy and any hard-earned cash you’re being cheated out of.
    I, for one, will always be first in line at the books store on release day to buy my copy.
    I love your books! Big Fan!

  6. Anonymous says:

    This question popped into my head when I was reading the blog post:
    Do you get to say ‘No’ to having your book become an Ebook?

    Because if so, I wouldn’t let your future books become Ebooks, just to help stop the loss of income and maybe prompt people to buy/borrow the book from a store/library.

    It’s just a thought.


  7. You’re totally right, Ally! I’m sure people will think about it differently, when they think about if they would steal it from a store. That’s a smart, and, well, real comparison that’ll make them think.

    And the only book I’ll read for free online is THE SHORT SECOND LIFE OF BREE TANNER by Stephenie Meyer. Because, you know, that book is actually LEGALLY free. (Well, for two more weeks it is. Then I’ll go to the store and get a copy.)

    You’ve got my support!


  8. Thank you for saying it… most of my friends epirate music, not books, but it drives me nuts anyway. What you’re saying about the impact is completely true.

    Miss Fitz’s question is a good one, though–I borrow books from friends all the time because my library doesn’t stock a lot of stuff. It’s not stealing, I’d say, but it’s not exactly helping the author either…? What are your thoughts?

  9. Anonymous says:

    You are absolutely right. That’s why i always try to buy everything i like including books and CDs from my favorite artists or bands or authors because i like to support them in everything that they do.

  10. Riza Hawkeye says:

    Being lent a book is different than purposefully stealing it. That is also the intent of libraries. While the author does not receive money for books you are lent, they are often informed of how many times their books have been borrowed from a library.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Hopefully a good portion of people doing it aren’t aware of exactly how it’s stealing, and can be made to think about it. After all, authors definitely repeat it enough (and rightly so) that you would think the point would get through eventually. Unfortunately some people really don’t have any qualms about theft. I worked in a children’s and YA bookstore for 9 months, and eventually, though it made us feel fairly guilty because most of the kids weren’t doing anything wrong, we had to start making all the teens leave school bags at the cash register because we were having such a huge problem with shoplifting (come inventory we were missing 500 books from our mangas alone). And then there were those who seemed to think it was an acceptable use of the returns policy to buy a book then come in and exchange it for another one. And while I’m all for reading, we were a bookstore not a library, and we were already pretty gracious about letting kids just come and sit and read for hours without buying anyting. But everyone has to make a living.

    And heck, broke student that I am, I can usually still scrounge up some budget for a book here and there. Being poor just forces you to be judicious in choosing books, not steal them

    Perhaps you should have Kat do a PSA, “Steal illegally acquired paintings from unscrupulous mobsters, not books.” The more you know *queue the star* πŸ˜‰

  12. Anonymous says:

    Oh Ally this makes me want to cry too! :..( PEOPLE OUT THERE DONT STEAL!!!!!

  13. Aw! Ally I am so sorry people are doing this. Books are so special and amazing and to see them being pirated and not being honored is a shame. I really love how you’re taking a stand against this crime.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I think she is saying that she hopes they dont know what they are doing so that hopefully they can realize that what they are doing is wrong and stop. But if someone knows they’re stealing, there isnt much hope of getting them to stop because they know what they are doing and are doing it anyways.

  15. Anonymous says:

    that is horrible! i always buy your books then i recomend them to friencds. i have all of your books in paperback and hardcover

  16. Miki(not my real name) says:

    I dont get Ebooks, but do you get payed for them?Thats asolutly terrable that people would take away money form you, when you worke dsoooo hard to write those books.You shouldn’t even have to tell us this.

  17. I have to save my money ahead of time to buy your books. Or I just go to the library. Or I borrow them from friends. Is it O.k to borrow books from friends though, because the author doesnt get any money? What do you think Ally?

  18. I totally agree with you! I LOVE to buy and shop for book. I just love bookstores. It is part of the fun buying the books. And then you can read them over and over again.

  19. Anonymous says:

    this is a horrible thing to do! :-(….

  20. hannahROXyourSOX says:

    Thanks for this posting, Ally.
    Personally, I’ve never illegally downloaded anything, but I’ll admit, I know several people who have in the past… I’ll be sure to talk to them about this is the subject were to ever arise! That just sucks!
    Love, Hannah

    P.s. Whew! I’m glad lending books to friends is alright! Otherwise, I’d be feeling incredibly guilty (I’ve loaned an borrowed books wayyyy to often to count)… πŸ™‚

  21. Anonymous says:


    I agree with you on this issue. I do not use music stealing sites, just the itunes store or CD’s I’ve bought or share with my friends (we swap CD’s). It is because of these sorts of things that Midnight Sun is not coming out for who knows how long (if it ever will) and more tragedies. Sometimes people don’t think, though, about the harm it’s causing. Maybe there should be an even to promote awareness on the illegal-ness of it all. Some people don’t know where the line is drawn.

    Another adoring fan.

  22. your popsicle says:

    i am really sorry that people are doing that ms. carter. do librarys make you mad too?

  23. Anonymous says:

    I’m so sorry people are stealing your books, Ally. You don’t deserve that. I am so stoked for your signing on the 30th, I am driving 4 hours to see you and *buy* the book! (:

    “Your popsicle,” did you even read her post?

  24. Exactly! My parents are always asking me why I don’t just check books out from the school or public library. They don’t understand that going into the store and handing over your own hard-earned money is part of the reason I’m such a big bookworm.

  25. emerald says:

    Just a question to make sure I understand…You know how amazon is always advertising Kindle? Is that bad too?

    I’ve never downloaded a book and I never will. Authors definitely deserve to be rewarded for all their hard work.

  26. SFogleman says:

    Reading a book that has been uploaded illegally to the internet is different from reading a book that has been purchased legally and added to a library’s collection for many reasons, the biggest of which is that one is LEGAL and one is ILLEGAL. One helps communities to have a supply of books that they can share (legally) and compensates authors for their work; one takes what it wants and doesn’t compensate authors, publishers, or anyone else for the work that they produce.

    It’s like owning a pair of shoes. If you buy 500 pairs and decided to start loaning them to friends for free you’re not doing anything wrong, right? They are YOUR shoes. That’s what a library does. What an illegal, online, epiracy site does is says “Hey, we’re going to knock a hole in the back of the shoe store, everyone come get whatever you want!”

    Do they sound different enough now?

    Because that is EXACTLY the difference.

  27. Anonymous says:

    HOW is this NOT the same as borrowing a book from the library? You read it for free either way, correct? This is what I don’t get. Thank you for posting this. I have never given this much thought and you have enlightened me. I am waiting for a chance to get my hands on Only the Good Spy Young. Can’t wait. πŸ™‚

    • But the library buys each book. They can lend out exactly how many they buy and no more. The person who buys one book and puts it up for download is not lending out one books, they are lending out thousands. Yes, the reader reads the book for free, but somebody (the library) paid for each of those books.

  28. My library is awesome about getting book for me. I have a book budget that I can use every month to spend on what ever books I want, and not going over! But of course I want more books, so I tell my library about new books I want to read and they have bought every single one! It costs me 50p to request a book and I’m the first on the list to read it. It is a great idea, and people don’t know you can do it.

    I also donate any of the books I get to review for free, so that I am re-stocking the library since I’m re-questing them to buy more. It’s a win win for the whole community. Other people should try requesting.

  29. What would you say to those among us who often buy USED (previously read) books (since the price tag for new ones exceeds our fixed incomes)? No author gets any extra payment for any book that is resold as far as I know, so if you’re looking for extra royalty payments, it won’t often come from me. Yet I still read voraciously (just not new titles), since I wait for used copies (which come from individuals OR library discards) to become available in the “secondary book market” (at places like betterworldbooks.com, alibris.com, etc.) so I can get more books for my money. Even though I am not contributing directly to author’s wallets by purchasing books that were previously USED, this is far from e-piracy (and as a result, I feel no guilt for doing so). What do you think about this, Ally???

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