"Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom." ~Thomas Jefferson
Last night I was in a liquor store buying my favorite bottle of local Riesling (side note of trivia: it's made at the oldest winery in the country, which has this title only because it was never shut down during Prohibition because the monks needed wine for services).
I noticed the guy behind the counter (probably in his mid-late 50s) had an eBook reader lying open. I asked him about it - it was a Kindle, and he'd just gotten it for his birthday 2 weeks ago. He didn't ask for it, but he's such a voracious reader that his family chipped in and bought it for him. I asked how he liked it - he loves it! Wonderful. So we're chatting a bit about eBook readers (I haven't yet mentioned I'm an author) and he says with a smile, "Well, you know, you don't really have to pay for an ebook at all. You can download them for free at bittorrent sites."
Red Flag! Red Flag! Alert Alert Alert!
In case you don't know, bittorrent sites are websites where you can download files of information (books, music, movies, etc). Usually they've been uploaded by someone who bought the file legally and is now sharing it with the online community. THESE SITES ARE ILLEGAL IN MANY CASES. They are giving away copyrighted files and depriving authors of their sales and royalties. Sure, millions of people do it, unfortunately. But that doesn't make it right. Every time I find a bittorrent site with my books on it, I try to contact the website owner and tell them to remove the file, which they always do (they have to, legally). But I can't spend all my time policing the web.
So I said to the man, "You know, those sites are illegal. Authors don't get any royalties when their books aren't sold and are just given away online."
He turned a little red and said, "Yes, I know. You're right." I took my wine and left.
So please be aware of these illegal sites, and spread the word about them. Artists work awfully hard to create an original work. They deserve to be rightly and legally financially rewarded for that.