We’ve all heard the arguments that pirating books doesn’t hurt authors. That the people who pirate ebooks wouldn’t have bought the author’s ebook anyway, so it’s not a lost sale. Regardless if you agree or not, the truth of the matter is that book piracy does hurt authors who are enrolled in Kindle Direct Publishing’s (KDP) Kindle Unlimited program.
For anyone who doesn’t already know, Kindle Unlimited is a subscription service that, for a monthly fee, allows readers to read as many titles as they’d like from the KU library. It permits users to have up to 20 titles at a time “check out” and return them when they’re doing reading so that they can check out another. It’s sort of like a library but with a monthly fee. If you’re a bookworm and read a lot every month, you know KU can be a huge money saver.
The program benefits readers who are on a budget tremendously.
In order for an author to enroll their books in Kindle Unlimited, they’re required to agree to terms of service (TOS). The TOS restricts how much of a book an author can have available for free (I believe it’s 10%, like the sample KU offers, but the TOS will have that listed in more detail). Authors cannot have their titles listed for sale or for free anywhere else on the web while enrolled in KU.
You might be thinking to yourself that if an ebook is being pirated KDP will understand that isn’t the author’s fault or doing. That they’ll make exceptions. No. That isn’t the case. Notices can and will be sent to authors if their ebooks are found on other sites (pirate sites or not), letting authors know they are violating the TOS. They are often given a few days to correct this issue or risk not being paid/ having their accounts closed/limited.
If an author is not proactive about fighting piracy, they can end up in a jam. Be sure you’re equipped with every tool you can to help protect your copyrighted work.