One of my clients enrolled his eBook in KDP Select. One of the requirements is that you agree to keep your eBook on Amazon exclusively while you are in KDP Select. Shortly after he received an email from Amazon claiming he had violated the exclusivity agreement. They found his book on some website based in Mexico. They probably have some software program that searches for these sites. I went to the site and, indeed, there it was. It was all in Spanish, but the Chrome browser offered to translate it for me. They were offering his book, but the format was not stated. It was for sale for $308 pesos, which at the current exchange rate was $15.15. That seemed quite steep for an eBook! Also, it said it would ship within 10 – 12 days, which also did not make sense.
I did some research online and found that book piracy, like music and DVD piracy, is rampant. Many books, especially ones that become popular, are offered for free download in PDF format. Others are for sale, but the articles I read said that many of the sites asking for money are credit card phishing scams (good thing I didn’t buy my client’s book – I was curious what they would send me).
How do the bad guys get the books? One article said they get them from the free giveaways that seem so popular lately! My client’s eBook has been around a while, and is pretty popular, so it could have been on the Mexican site before his giveaway, but the theory does make sense.
My client sent the following note to Amazon:
This work, XXXX is my first book. I wanted to get into KDP for the help it provides in getting attention to the book. I didn’t expect to see it hacked and in the hands of a Mexican Cartel.
You message advises me of actions that can be taken against me if I engage in activities that undermine Amazon’s conditions to have sole usage of the book for a period of 90 days. I have not engaged in any such activity.
I did not ask or authorize any site other than KDP to offer my book.
I will, if I can figure out how to send a a cease and desist letter to a piracy site, demand that they cease and desist.
I have, since receiving your message, learned that “book piracy” is rampant and doubt that any such letter if written and received by the gangsters running the site would result in their obeying my request.
Your group, Amazon, probably has the wherewithal to identify and locate the pirates. If you have information about the group doing the piracy, send it to me and I will turn it over to the Illinois Attorney General.
The next morning he had an email from Amazon saying basically “never mind.”
I agree with my client. It’s a lot to ask us individual indie writer / publishers to take on book piracy. Amazon, with all its legal and technical expertise, is far more capable to squish these scumbags like bugs.
I was able to find out a little about the site – I got a name connected to the domain, but no address or email. My client’s son is a lawyer, and he speaks fluent Spanish. So, maybe there will be a karma-filled follow-up to this story at some point!
However, as the following articles say, all is not doom and gloom. The people that troll for free PDF downloads were never going to buy your book anyway. Perhaps they will read it and leave a review. There’s not much we can do about it, as musicians and moviemakers have also found out.