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Robbers & the baron

Updated: Feb 16, 2023


Imagine going to sleep after working hard all day, only to wake up to find every book you worked on for years has been pulled from circulation. They're just gone. So is your account.


Which means your access to ask questions is limited. All the money you earned for 60+ days has also vanished. There's no explanation. No reason why your source of income has been stripped, and all you have is the sliver of hope given to you by the people on the Internet.


Because this is happened before. The Baron Strikes Again.

Now, if you are a very popular author, your sliver is a bit brighter. Your fans can take the fight to the Baron that has done this to you. This is what happened with Ruby Dixon, whose followers flamed Amazon when they pulled her account and stripped her of the right to publish when they found her books on pirate sites. (Never let it be said romance fans take an attack on their favorite author laying down.) But if you're a small author, how much hope do you have?


It’s hard to say how many author accounts have been closed without notice because Amazon is a black box they keep closed. However, reports from authors and publishers suggest the number has grown in recent years with the reliance on bots and the enormous number of pirate sites and TikTok’s promotion of them.


It's an increasing problem and one only possible due to Amazon's near monopoly of the book industry. Admittedly, Amazon closes accounts for violations of terms of service, suspected fraud, or perceived low-quality content, but the most common is the piracy problem that strikes authors in KU.


Which leads to a great deal of not just frustration, but financial loss and fear, since those authors have all of their eggs in one basket, because that's what Amazon forces them to do.


What's this got to do with readers?


Well, 1st: it's books and authors you read that will disappear if this doesn't stop. Amazon taking down accounts is making authors reassess writing completely.

All because pirates think it's okay to put up books they have no right to.


The argument has always been the piracy is a victimless crime. It never was.


It is stealing money from authors. Many of us have been screaming in the wind that every act of piracy will take away future books. And here it is.


Amazon literally closing accounts. In growing numbers.


And to be clear, the punks on TikTok and elsewhere are thieves. They aren’t socialists or communists who think they view society with more egalitarian views.

They’re just shitheads who come into your house and puts their hand in your purse and don’t care if means you can't eat afterward.


They've been told over and over it hurts people and they don't care.


So that means readers who do care need to engage. With people who post about pirated content, and with platforms that allows them to post it.


The authors can't do it alone. It's going to take the hundreds of thousands of readers to demand of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, hosting companies, you name it, to pull this stuff down. To change the rules on all the platforms so these thieves can't have accounts. Tell your senators and representatives.


Yes I'm that woman.

2nd: those who use Kindle Unlimited will see many authors who stay in the business pull their books out of the program.

Authors afraid of having their entire livelihood stripped from them in a moment, over actions that aren’t theirs will make decisions best for their families. Even if they lose money in the short run, it is better to lose a little now, then lose every bit of their earnings and their account due to pirates.


Which will hurt the people who need lending programs like KU the most, countering the argument made by pirates that their actions are to help those that can't afford it.

Unless Amazon changes the rules or piracy starts being taken seriously. Better to have both.


How can you help? There are several ways to support authors:

  1. Make sure every book/audio book you purchase is a legitimate copy. If you use KU, you know it's fine, but when purchasing, stick to the major platforms or the author’s personal site. When you buy these items legally, you support the author and creators that produce them and ensure they can continue to make a living from their work.

  2. Report piracy: If you come across pirated content, or offers of it, report it to the correct authority and the author. This helps get the site taken down and prevent others from accessing the pirated material.

  3. Share antipiracy messages: Raising your voice about the harm caused by piracy can help stop it. Talk to friends, family, and others about the issue and encourage them to support all content creators.

  4. I’m assuming my readers aren’t part of the problem. But you can help by signing the petition on Change.org. https://www.change.org/p/stop-the-unfair-removal-of-titles-on-amazon-change-the-kdp-select-policy

Why is this petition so important? Amazon requires exclusivity and then sets up the authors for failure.

A. By allowing easy copying of their files to pirate sites.

B. Promoting the easy borrowing and return of purchased books promoting pirates.

C. Facilitating easy automated scraping of their files off their site by pirates.

D. Refusing to enforce their rights on pirates when they are the ones with the legal resources and funds to do so.

E. Creating a system where they remove authors without warning and without consistent means of recourse.

Overall, stopping piracy requires a collective effort from everyone, including authors, creators, publishers, governments, and consumers. If we work together and take steps to protect the rights of authors, we can reduce the harm caused by piracy and ensure books are written and authors get a fair return from their work, thereby supporting editors, proofers, designers, illustrators, models, even the programmers of author-specific programming.


We all love books, and we only get more if the people who write them can afford to do so. And every bit of your help matters.


Thanks for attending my Ted-talk.

-Kat

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