Illegitimate download sites and digital books and seeing my book available for free download
I have written a book, Node Web Development (available through the publisher, or amazon.com), and have a blog http://nodejs.davidherron.com/ that's in part meant to promote the book as well as write about Node.js and thereby get some attention to myself and indirectly the book. One strategy I'm following is to look for people who've written reviews of the book, and promote their book review. That helps me, it helps them, we all win, etc. But it means I'm typing the name of the book, Node Web Development, into search engines, carefully going through the search results, and I just came away disturbed by what I found.
There's this scummy underbelly of the Internet where copyrighted works you're expected to pay $$'s for are available for free download. The sites who do this feel scummy, are full of scummy advertising, scummy popup ads, etc. These sites might be unseen most of the time, I'd certainly never seen them come up in search results before today. But a yahoogle search for "Node Web Development" today brings up a couple dozen of these sites within the first 10 pages of search results.
It's disturbing to say the least to see the book I sweated over for 9 months available for free download.
There's a saying some "leading thinkers" came up with - the information wants to be free. We convert our works into digital form, to make it easier on our customers to use, but that digital form then makes it really easy to copy the file around and for example put it up on a download site where people can access it for free.
It's nice in theory to say "the information wants to be free" but when your income model is earning revenue from sales of your work it doesn't feel good to see my work set free for download by anyone.
By saying "the information wants to be free" they're talking about a free flow of data and information in the soup of culture. Yes, I understand that in theory. But there are times what sounds like a wonderful theory doesn't feel so good when you're presented with reality.
I've sent the publisher a report of a dozen or so sites I found making the book available for free download. The publisher is the one who owns the copyright, so it's their job to protect the book and e.g. send takedown orders and the like.
Another defense I can think of is for there to be more web pages out there mentioning the book. That is, bury these scammy download sites in the search results by making legit postings on a variety of websites. Hence, this blog post mentions the name of the book, Node Web Development, in a deliberate attempt to get indexed by the search engines .. (wink wink)
I've read some "free e-book" advice that there's a submarket of "free e-book" authors who throw together "books" that may be of dubious quality, and their revenue model is to fill the free e-book with affiliate links. And along the way of distributing the free e-book they might collect email addresses into a newsletter so they can market other products to those people later on. In other words some people use free e-books as a not-so-honest marketing method. In this case my book is not in that vein, and the publisher is not that sort of publishing house. Our revenue model is a straightforward sale of a book to a buying customer.