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  • Writer's pictureJenna Moreci

My Book was Pirated on Amazon

HelloOoOo everybody!


This post is gonna be different from my usual content. I feel like this topic is really important to discuss, especially because it has become a recurring issue for a lot of writers. My book was pirated. Honestly, that in itself is really common. I think all of my books have been pirated at this point. The difference is, this time my book was pirated on Amazon. It's one thing to find your book on a pirating website. It's a whole other thing to find your stolen book not only on a mainstream retailer site, but the most popular bookseller site in the country, or potentially the world. It's scary to have your work hijacked and sold through a major retailer, especially when it's being presented as if you are the one selling it.


Fortunately, I was able to get this book removed from Amazon, but it took a lot of effort and help from my friends. I am making this post today to warn readers about this problem and to help any writers who experience this down the line, so they know how to get it taken care of. If you're worried about theft, that's what we're talking about today. I am breaking down my experience of having my book pirated and sold so that hopefully it can help you if this ever happens to you. Let's get to it.



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Let’s Start With the Basics. What Is Book Pirating?

If you're a millennial, you'll probably remember platforms like Napster or Limewire, where you could download free music. Book pirating is the same deal. It's websites that illegally upload ebooks, usually PDFs, and then make them available for free download. You can usually tell if a website is a pirating website, because it's not a major retailer, and also the books are free. I am not going to list any examples of pirating sites, because I'm not trying to give them free publicity.


Obviously, the appeal of downloading pirated content is that you get the book for free. The negative side is you are supporting theft, obviously. Additionally, these PDFs are usually of very poor quality. The formatting is off, sometimes the books are really tiny on the page or much larger, they can be blurry, and sometimes they're not compatible with certain e-readers. The lines and spacing are usually totally fucked up. It's like downloading pirated movies. Sure, you're getting it for free, but quality is gonna be shit.


A lot of writers take huge issue with pirating sites for obvious reasons. Their books have been stolen, they're losing money. Some authors support pirating sites because they believe that it gives them greater exposure, and thus helps them attract more readers. I fall somewhere in the middle of these two camps.


Is Book Pirating on the Surface Fucked Up?

Absolutely. It's hard to deny that. But a lot of these platforms are hosted internationally, which makes it very difficult to bring forth any legal action. Additionally, research shows that people who use these platforms to download free books often come from one of two camps. Number one is book lovers and buyers. A study from 2021 showed that people who download pirated books actually buy more books than the average person. Not only that, but they're more likely to buy books in multiple formats. So it's possible that after downloading your pirated book, they may go ahead and buy it, which is a good thing. Some authors argue that this data is false and misleading. I am honestly not well-versed enough on the topic to tell you who's right and who's wrong. I'm just relaying what I've read.


And number two, we have people from the global south, who don't have great access to books. Books are priced differently all over the world, and in developing countries, books can be insanely expensive. Because of this, for people in those countries oftentimes pirated books are the only realistic option. In this case, the morality of the situation is a gray area. Stolen work isn't great, but a single book costing fifty bucks isn't great either. Coupling this with the fact that there's very little writers can do to press legal action against pirating sites, when I find my work on a pirating site I just think, “Well, shit.” It's not my favorite thing, but I'm not gonna lose sleep over it.


But, as I mentioned at the start of this video, this particular experience I’m about to share was very different than the norm. And I definitely lost sleep over it. A lot of sleep.


Some Background To Set the Stage.

In August of 2015, I published my debut novel, Eve: The Awakening. In 2020, I unlisted the novel, which means I removed it from publication and distribution. I did this for several reasons, but the most prominent reason was that things happened in my life that made it really hard for me to continue working on that series in particular. Thus, it seemed really unfair to readers to have book one available for distribution, when there was no promise or guarantee that there would ever be a book two or three. I didn't wanna be a dick tease to my readers, so I decided to unpublish Eve for the foreseeable future, at least until I decide to work on the series again, if ever.


Because of this, for several years now, you will only see Eve available for purchase on Amazon as a used paperback. Now, let’s make one thing clear. People are entitled to sell their used books. I have no control over the price they choose for that book nor do I receive any of the profits. That's perfectly fine and legal. These people bought this book from me, it is now their property, and they can resell it if they choose to. But you will not see a “used ebook" in distribution, because there is no such thing as a used ebook. It is a digital commodity.


But all that changed in March. Last month I received an email from a loyal fan who excitedly told me that they were able to purchase an ebook copy of Eve: The Awakening. My initial reaction was “Huh? Eve isn't available in ebook. It was unlisted three years ago.” I checked Amazon and lo and behold, the Eve ebook was available for distribution. Not only that, it was priced three times higher than its actual ebook list price. What!?


At first, I assumed it was a glitch on Amazon's part, so I checked my Amazon KDP account. Amazon KDP is the platform that authors use in order to publish their books to Amazon. I checked my account thinking maybe Eve was accidentally redistributed. Except it wasn't, it was still very much unlisted.


So I Sent to Amazon KDP an Email Asking Them What the Fuck Was Going On.

Why is my ebook live and available for $10, when it very clearly shows up as unlisted in my account? While I waited for a response, I went back to the Eve sale page to do some investigating. Under the publication information, it very clearly stated that Eve was first published in August 2015. It also stated that it was republished in March of 2023, something I never approved.


I also pulled up the look inside feature, so I could see the book itself. The format was a hot mess. The lines were jumbled, and all of the chapters just ran through together, it was just an absolute dumpster fire. It became very clear that this was a stolen version of Eve downloaded from a pirating site, and then re-uploaded to Amazon for profit. Eventually, I heard back from Amazon KDP and they confirmed this. They let me know that the Eve ebook was uploaded from a different Amazon KDP account other than mine, and thus if they were going to remove it, they had to hear from that account holder. Can you fucking imagine? In what universe is a pirate going to out themselves for having stolen someone else's property?


“Yarr, matey! I plundered this book to make some booty. Please remove it from Amazon as I willingly walk off the plank.”


At This Point I’m Distraught.

Not only is Amazon KDP proving itself to be absolutely worthless, but this pirating situation is different than the norm. First of all, my book is not being distributed for free. They are selling it for $10. They are profiting off of my copyrighted work that they didn’t contribute to in the slightest. But the most frightening part about this whole ordeal was that the Amazon page for the Eve ebook was linked directly to me. It wasn't linked under a third-party seller. I was listed as the author. That meant that any reader who went to this page would think that I was the one selling this book. They would be spending a ridiculously high price on an ebook, all the while thinking they're supporting me. That's exactly what happened with the person who emailed me saying that they bought this book. They genuinely thought they were supporting me, and they didn't second guess the $10 price. And why would they when it’s linked to my name? On a pirating website, you know that the copies are pirated. You know that you are not directly supporting that author. But in this case, that detail is completely hidden.


Back to the Person Who Had Emailed Me.

I immediately let them know that unfortunately, they had purchased a pirated copy of the book, the format was a mess, and they would not enjoy their reading experience. I asked them to please return the book while I worked on having it removed from Amazon. They were incredibly kind and understanding. They returned their copy of Eve and then went on to purchase The Savior's Champion and The Savior’s Sister. They literally got two books for the price of that one pirated copy.


But I still had to figure out a way to get this copy removed from Amazon, and the people at KDP were not helping at all. While I was freaking out, I was so fortunate because my good friend Iona Wayland was doing research on my behalf. The whole time this was going on my partner Cliff was going through a major health crisis. He suffers from a chronic pain condition called CRPS, and he was having a major flare-up. Basically, I was managing two debacles that once, and Iona stepped in to help take the load off. Through her research, she discovered that unfortunately, this issue has become prevalent in the writing community.


Pirates are upping their game, creating Amazon KDP accounts, and selling stolen PDFs. I am not the first person this has happened to, and honestly, that is scary. She also learned that the way to combat this issue is by filing an infringement report on Amazon. This is done outside of the Amazon KDP network which is why the KDP team couldn't help me with shit. Thanks to my hero Iona, I was able to file an infringement report, which took quite a few steps. You have to describe the issue, share the pirated book’s identification number, and offer a bunch of proof that you're the one who published it first. It's a hot mess. But after over ten emails going back and forth with the Amazon infringement department, I was finally able to have the pirated ebook of Eve removed from Amazon, at least for now.


So Why Am I Sharing This Story With You?


Mostly to spread awareness. As Iona learned, this is apparently a thing that has been happening more and more frequently. And while I was able to get my pirated copy of Eve removed from Amazon, I am positive that that was not the only pirated book that asshole was selling. They probably have countless pirated books attached to their Amazon KDP account, and I'm pretty confident that Amazon didn't do shit in removing any of the other books. So writers, if this happens to you, file an infringement report. I have a direct link to the infringement center listed below.


AMAZON INFRINGEMENT CENTER: https://www.amazon.com/report/infringement 


And readers, if a particular book has been unlisted or unpublished, but you see it available in ebook format on Amazon, let the author know. Again, paperback used copies are fair game, but this is not the same thing. An ebook of an unpublished book is very suspect. So at the very least let the author know so they can tell you whether or not it's legit.


So that's all I've got for you today!

Author Jenna Moreci.

Last but not least, a note to my readers. I know you've been asking me about Eve: The Awakening, and unfortunately it is unpublished. It was a very difficult decision I had to make based on multiple factors, but if you see its ebook available on Amazon, that is a pirate. Please don't buy it and let me know so I can take the appropriate action. I hope this video was very educational for you, and I hope I don't have to deal with this bullshit ever again.



 

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