I’m amazed by this pirate’s chutzpah

Chutzpah – the quality of audacity, for good or for bad

Dianna Dilworth passed me an email the other day. She’d gotten an email pitch from a new ebookstore, and she didn’t have time to write about it. I’m glad she forwarded it to me because it’s deeply amusing.

I’m always in favor of giving at least a basic blurb for every ebookstore I come across, so I visited the site in order to give it a basic once over. It looks like it’s using a standard e-commerce theme, and at first glance is professionally built (from a kit). The layout is good, and at first glance the prices are decent.

But then I notice that all the ebooks for sale were cheap PDF bundles, which tips me off: this is probably a pirate site. The impossibly cheap Stephanie Meyer bundle only confirmed it.

You might expect me to get pissed, but I admire this pirate’s chutzpah. He actually sent a link to the press in the hopes we’d talk about his site. This is one person who has big brass balls, and I  find that amusing.

He’s still a filthy stinking pirate, though. But so long as I’m on the topic:

How to Tell It’s a Pirate Site

There are a couple of basic ways to tell that you’re dealing with pirated ebooks. Basically you’ll need to become an informed consumer.

  • First, does the site have content not (legally) available anywhere else? For example, search for Harry Potter series. That series is still not (legally) available anywhere, so its presence is a sure sign of piracy.
  • Second, are the ebooks free? What about free after a subscription? If you find a lot of commercial ebooks for free then it’s probably not legal.
  • Third, can you get those commercial ebooks as cheap bundles? If the site only sells bundles then it’s probably not lega.
  • Fourth, Does the site say anything about DRM? Most commercial ebooks are encumbered by Digital Restrictions Management. If a given title has DRM elsewhere, but not on a suspect site, then the suspect site is probably pirate.

P.S. Let me cover 1 exception to the rule before anyone adds it in the comments. Some publishers have their own sites, and some are even DRM free. O’Reilly and Baen Books are a couple good examples.

P.P.S. If you’re not sure about whether a site is legit, you can leave a comment and ask me. Or you can go ask over at MobileRead. There are any number of people who will help you with this.

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. fjtorres22 March, 2011

    Of course, there are “consumers” to whom the piracy is the whole point of the exercise. 😉

  2. monopole22 March, 2011

    First, does the site have content not (legally) available anywhere else? For example, search for Harry Potter series. That series is still not (legally) available anywhere, so its presence is a sure sign of piracy.

    There, I fixed it for you…

    It really does verge on the absurd when a series of books which is nearly omnipresent on the web cannot be legally downloaded. Sort of like refusing to sell a DVD of a movie in times square while it’s playing on every video screen in a continuous loop. and then complaining about it.

    1. Nate the great22 March, 2011

      That does improve it, thanks.

  3. TopherGl22 March, 2011

    Good to know! Of course, I’ve never looked into buying anywhere but through Amazon.

  4. Booksprung » How to spot a pirate ebook site22 March, 2011

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