Over a month prior to the highly anticipated May 2014 publishing release of the now New York Times Bestseller title ‘We were liars’ fans already started downloading illegal pirated copies on the internet.
This prompted author E. Lockhart to send out a plea to her readers via the following tweet
As copyright piracy, facilitated by the Internet, grows unchecked, it is not uncommon to see more authors reach out to their readers with similar pleas. In fact, the article she referenced was a detailed blog post from fellow award winning author of adult fiction titles Ally Carter in which she gives some insight into the personal impact of book piracy on Authors, Editors & Illustrators.
Contrary to the popular belief – the majority of authors live relatively modest lifestyles and the median annual income for professional authors in the UK is shockingly low at $16,000!
The majority of this income is derived from royalties, which for printed copies can range from 8-12% of the selling price and for e-book versions can be in the range of 18-20%.
Given that the average price of a paperback novel in 2015 is $15.95 we can see that at a 10% royalty the financial losses to authors from even two thousand pirated downloads online (a relatively low number for volume of downloads of pirated content online) are $3,200, representing 20% of an authors income.
These impacts are even more amplified when taking e-book sales into account. A recent report on author’s earnings in 2015 studies the prices of the top 50,000 e-books on amazon. The average price of a small/medium publisher e-book was $9.53 in May 2015. Taking a 20% author royalty we can see that authors stand to lose $3,800 or 24% of the median annual income of an author from only two thousand pirated downloads online
As we can see the impacts of piracy are not only restricted to the large publishing corporations but are even greater for professional authors without whom the industry cannot exist.