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Prevent Piracy of Your Books Before They Are Released

Posted on 2014-Sep-22

by Paul Salvette

The Growing Problem

Three years ago when I first became interested in indie publishing piracy of eBooks was not that big a deal. Most authors were primarily concerned with just getting noticed and figuring out how publishing their own books worked. If anything, piracy could be seen as a form of free advertisement! That was then though, and my how things have changed.

Now, try Googling your book plus "EPUB" and you will probably find, on the first page, a list of torrent sites and sleazy web operators like TUEBL and General EBooks. If you are in the top 1,000 on Amazon, you most likely have had your book(s) stolen, unfortunately. There is also a recent, troubling development of Facebook groups dedicated to sharing eBooks stripped of DRM.

Avoid Leaks

It is very difficult to prevent piracy once your eBooks are for sale. We discussed a few methods you could try in a previous post here, but I'm not sure we have any real groundbreaking solutions. However, one thing that keeps us up at night is ensuring that piracy of your eBook does not happen before it goes on sale. There have been an alarming number of cases where ARC copies have been published before the author's release date. This is a disaster, but luckily it is very preventable with a few modest security measures.

What We Do On Our End

We have a very small staff and they have all signed a statement (including me) saying that under Thailand's Computer Crime Act unauthorized distribution of a client's copyrighted material will result in criminal prosecution (with the involvement of our lawyers) plus jail time. Thailand is under military rule at the moment, and Thai prison is not a pleasant place—I assure you. I am also responsible for monitoring incoming and outgoing internet traffic on our office. While the normal goofing off and selfie-posting is permitted to some extent, my wife and I take the issue of client's files very seriously. Our staff understand this and we have never had a problem (knock on wood).

Additionally, we are in a very non-descript neighborhood with a guard so physical sabotage of our office is highly unlikely. Our server is password-protected and our backup drives are kept in the company safe. I'm much more worried about car driving through our door (this almost happened—twice!) than someone breaking into our office to steal your eBooks.

BB eBooks uses no sub-contractors for eBook production-related tasks. Everything is made right in our office. For distribution, we distribute books primarily through the BB Client system, which is use an encrypted connection to transfer you your files. This is much safer than using email and especially Dropbox.

We have not yet received an email from someone asking for an author's book before it was released, but I imagine this will occur someday. This is one of the reasons why we build one-on-one relations with our clients, so we can notify them if something fishy is happening. I am not a gullible person and am actually quite rude to unwanted solicitors. We will notify the client immediately if something is amiss.

What You Can Do On Your End

You have to keep in mind that the EPUBs and MOBIs we send you are not DRMed. They are ready to upload as is and have no security measures whatsoever. Therefore, it is best not to place these in a potentially unsecure location online like Dropbox/Google Docs or in an unsecure physical location like a flashdrive that could be accessed by someone with malicious intentions.

For Advance Reading Copies (ARCs), we recommend you utilize the PDF eBook we send you (if you order the print-on-demand package). It contains no page numbers, so can't be sold as a print book. Additionally, PDFs cannot be sold as eBooks at the major vendors like Amazon and Apple. Every file can be stolen, but the PDF eBook is the "least worst" book to have stolen.

Be careful about who you send ARCs to and make sure you trust the reviewer. You may want to consider releasing your eBook before sending out copies for reviews. Never, never, never send your print -ready PDF to anyone except CreateSpace, Lightning Source, or another printer.

We only recommend sending out the EPUB and MOBI you get from us in very specific circumstances. If you have a book blogger who only takes EPUB or MOBI, you may want to consider gifting it to them via Kindle or trying out a service like NetGalley which can distribute DRM'd eBooks. If you need help making a specific ARC copy of an EPUB or MOBI, this is very easy for us to do. Please drop us a line and let us know how we can help.

Label: Self-Publishing

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