Legal Alternatives to Piracy

Think of your favorite author. No matter what name just passed through your mind, chances are that at least one of that author’s books has been pirated. A lot has already been written about the impact of e-book piracy on author royalties and the publishing industry in general. Some arguments about it have even gotten quite nasty. I’m not going to tackle that issue here, but I do want to suggest alternatives to downloading pirated books. There are ways to download literally hundreds of e-books for free that are perfectly legal and do not hurt authors, but actually help them.


1. Giveaways

Almost every author I know does a giveaway of one of their new releases at some point. Sometimes these giveaways are done through a blog or guest blog in which you just have to leave a comment to be entered to win. Entering these contests boosts traffic and gets the word out about these books. We authors want you to comment and enter. And the odds of winning are often really good—sometimes a 100% chance of winning when only one person enters, and yes, that does happen. Check the author’s website frequently for announcements about their giveaways.

A blog hop, in which multiple authors participate in giveaways, offers dozens of chances to win and usually has a grand prize like a gift card or even a Kindle in addition to the book giveaways. Again, you’ll see announcements for blog hops on the authors’ sites.

Review sites like Long and Short Reviews (LASR) ( and The Romance Reviews (TRR) ( do giveaways to commenters on their site and/or contest announcements about how you can win free stuff. TRR hosts “parties” where you play games to try to win books and swag and gift certificates. The last party had some 400+ authors all giving away free stuff!

2. Free Reads

Some authors have free reads posted right on their sites. This is a great way to check out an author’s voice and style if you aren’t familiar with them, or to enjoy some bonus material from a writer you love. is another great place to get free books legally. You can just enter “free reads” in the search for e-books to see hundreds of free books you can download. What’s more, Amazon has freebie days for some author’s books—certain dates when that title is downloadable for free. This is not to mention the 99-cent books, which are a real bargain. Since Amazon makes most of its profit on the sale of the Kindles, rather than the e-books themselves, their prices are already extremely low. Each sale on Amazon boosts an author’s ranking, either among the free e-books or among the paid books.

Smashwords ( is another site with lots of legitimate free reads. You can see the Price section right on the front page: “Free,” “$0.99 or less,” etc.

3. Ask Your Library

With the advent of the e-library, there’s another option for accessing free e-books. If there’s a title you want, ask your local library about acquiring a copy. Not only is this method legal, but it has the added benefit that you don’t have to worry about downloading a virus or losing your hard drive to a malicious site.


There are so many wonderful, legal, moral ways that you can gain access to free fiction. What’s more, these avenues are safer for you and the health of your computer, and legitimate downloads really do help the authors. As part of the “starving artist” group, we writers need all the help we can get. I hope all the great readers out there will continue to support us. Thank  you.

7 responses to “Legal Alternatives to Piracy

  1. All of these are great suggestions, Allie! I’m especially glad that you mentioned libraries. They are a great community resource and now so many have ebooks available for easy download to many devices. I know in some communities the library may be the only spot with wifi (sorry, a bit off topic) . Even in this digital age, libraries are thriving and striving to serve customers. Plus, their services are free, and goodness knows we readers can’t possibly afford to buy all the books we’d like to read!

    • The library has always been one of my favorite places — a fun and peaceful retreat dedicated to my favorite thing: books. I’m glad to see libraries adapting and continuing to serve the community, too.

  2. Great post, Allie! I made this suggestion in the forum but will add it here. What about becoming a book blogger/reviewer? It’s easy to set up a blog, and you can recruit your friends and family to start you off a following, and use Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads to find more. Post a few reviews of books you’ve already read. Authors and publishers always want reviews – for example, my own publisher Lyrical Press Inc is looking for reviewers –
    and many of the review sites I know are desperate for new reviewers to join if you don’t want to set up your own blog. There are some review sites on my list here –
    that are looking for new reviewers to join them. Most are so backlogged they are saying a year to post a review on books! And you don’t have to write an indepth analysis of the book – most readers (and authors) just want to know what you liked, what you didn’t like, and whether and to who you’d recommend it. Five minutes to write a review, getting the book for free, and doing the author a huge favour.
    I’m also wondering whether it’s worth authors perhaps having a page on their own sites linking to free reads – not just their own, but in general. I know it won’t do a huge amount to stop piracy, but if even a few people are guided to legitimate sites instead of looking up pirates, that must be a good thing?

    • Thank you, Pippa! You’re absolutely right. Lots of review sites are begging for people to volunteer as reviewers. Reviewers get free copies of the hot new releases, plus they sometimes get to read the book ahead of everybody else in the general public. All it really takes to be a good reviewer is to give a quick summary of the book, what you thought of it, and most importantly, why you have that opinion. Bingo, all the free books you can handle. And since a lot of authors cruise the Internet, anxiously awaiting feedback on their new releases, you’ll be doing them a favor by getting more reviews out there more quickly.

  3. Pingback: Most Popular Posts of 2012 | Allie Ritch, author

  4. Pingback: Fabulous and Free | Allie Ritch, author

  5. Pingback: Getting Free E-books Safely and Legally | Allie Ritch, author

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.