Pirated Books!!!

Source: bangalore-city.blogspot.com
Source: bangalore-city.blogspot.com

Okay let’s talk about Book Piracy. Here I’m not taking about eBook piracy where you probably see about hundred’s of eBooks being uploaded to Torrent everyday. I can safely say that I have never ever downloaded a book illegally.

Here I’m talking about paper books. I really don’t know about other countries but in India such piracy is very rampant. If you go to the major shopping areas, you can see number of vendors just display the pirated books on the street.

And people buy them. Now I never thought much of it before but since I’ve started book blogging and interacting with authors and publishers I realize what a huge impact this makes on the book publishing industry.

Am I guilty of it? Yes.

I own only 2 pirated books out of hundreds that adorn my shelf. The first pirated book I bought was The Da Vinci Code. We were going on a family vacation to the North and as we were about to board the train I realized that I had nothing to read in this 20+ hours journey. So I bought one from the only book vendor on the platform and yes, it was pirated.

The second book was The Maximum City by Suketu Mehta. I wanted to read this book really badly and none of the bookstores I asked had it. This was way before the book became a bestseller. I got so frustrated from the repeated trips to the bookstore that I bought one from a guy who was selling pirated books just outside the bookstore.

Do I feel bad? Yes and no. Do I feel disgusted or angry towards people who buy pirated books? No.

Let me explain. Books are expensive and what I’ve mostly observed is that people who read regularly are generally college students. Generally. They don’t have the money to spend 300 bucks on a book when they can buy a new pair of shoes or a T-shirt. I know I never bought books when I was not working. I joined the library. But there aren’t many libraries here. We have those very tiny libraries where you can probably finish all the books in a year. There are a couple of big libraries but then it’s not always feasible to travel the distance.

We also don’t have library sales or second hand book stores, at least not in my city which is also known as the Oxford of the East. In so many years here I have found only one decent second hand bookstore (which I now love). I think Mumbai and Delhi are better whereas second hand books are concerned. But not every city or town has this luxury.

Will I ever be caught buying a pirated book now? NO. Never. That’s the reason why you’ll find me saying over and over again that I’ll wait for the price to come down or I’ll wait for the paperback to release. It would be easier to just go out and buy a pirated copy instead of drooling over the display books and wish I could have them. But my conscience wouldn’t allow it.

I really don’t know where I’m going with this but I keep thinking about this whenever I pass any of these pirated goods. So I just wanted to put my thoughts forward.

What about you? Have you ever bought a pirated book before? What do you think of it? Do you have a lot of pirated booksellers where you live? I’m curious.

34 thoughts on “Pirated Books!!!

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    1. oh you have no idea how tempting, especially when you want a book so bad and you can see it readily available on the street or to spend 1/3 of the amount you would normally pay.


  1. I’ve seen some book piracy here but they are mostly chinese romance novels. I don’t think I’ve seen any piracy English books though since we are lucky to have a few used bookstores (or rental bookstores) here. I own a few of those pirated chinese romance novels but I’ve to say their printing quality is bad. I’d rather not buy them unless I want to read them badly and I can’t find them in bookstores.


    1. Chinese romance novels? wow, sounds good 🙂

      But you’re right, the printing quality is bad, it’s not properly bound and sometimes there are pages missing too.


  2. When I think of piracy, I more often think of music and movies. I am aware of the online piracy for these and books as well. As far as I know, (paper)book piracy is not prolific in my area, but then it is nothing I have ever sought out either, so who knows? I’ve always had ready access to new and used bookstores. There are also the libraries. And at work we have a book table in which people put their books for others to enjoy. I am very fortunate to have the book resources that I do. I came across a book with a missing front cover once and hadn’t known at the time what that meant. It was years ago, when I was a child. I couldn’t tell you the name of the book or whether or not I even read it. I think it came in a bag of books that my mother’s friend passed along to my family.


    1. The front cover missing does not mean anything now I’m afraid, they can copy almost the exact same cover, but the quality is real bad.

      You are lucky to have such wonderful resources, here you don’t have to seek out pirated books, they are everywhere, literally.


  3. Piracy is a menace, I do agree and writing a book is real tough. So all the efforts getting sold on the streets, on just half the prices is indeed ridiculous. I buy books and read them, and do that regularly. At times we buy certain books with prices that does not match the Quality and at the end of the month when you take the stock ” That 500 on that Du#$% book was an utter waste ” would come up.I would say having acces to reviews and that too credible ones might cut down this to a huge extend.

    There are certain books that I had bought on the street, the original books being too pricey and not promising. One of them was “Shanttaram”, I made it a point to go buy another copy at Landmark and keep it for me , that’s out of sheer respect for the Author. The only reason, I wanted to comment is cause even I had the same experience with Maximum City, had bought it on the street and is Indeed a great book. Have posted something on the same not on my blog. I hope over the time, publishers must cut down the prices of books or they could come up with a concept like Mosebaer or something !!!!!


    1. Oh I had a very strong desire to but a pirated copy of Shantaram, it was ans still is so expensive, but I haven’t. I borrowed a copy from my friend.

      A concept like mozerbear would be awesome, mainly for those who buy books so regularly, even availability of second hand books or sales would be effective.


  4. I don’t think pirated books are a problem in the UK – I don’t think I’ve ever seen one. Pirated DVDs are everywhere, but I am careful to avoid them. I don’t think I’d be tempted by pirated books if they were here, but maybe if the source of cheap (free at the library) books weren’t available it would be a different matter. Interesting post!


  5. Wow. I’d never heard of this. It’s really easy to get cheap books in the US, so I suppose there’s not much demand for pirated books here. Out of curiosity, how much do books cost where you live? I realize now that I take books and book prices for granted where I live.


    1. depends, books published in India cost only 5$ or so, but sometimes its 11-15$ for imported books. Considering the standard of living here, this is not a small amount 🙂


  6. I’m not sure how many pirated books are on the market in the U.S., but I tend to buy my books from library sales mostly or the occasional bookstore trip…however, those books from the second hand store or the library could be from anywhere.

    Books should be more widely available and not at such high costs.


  7. I’ve never seen pirated books here in the UK. I certainly wouldn’t by a pirated film or cd though so I would apply the same to books. However faced with the option of not being able to read or having to buy pirated books – I know what I would do, it might be the wrong thing to do but I’d buy them. We’re lucky here because we have lots of clearance book stores where you can get books for cheap that were overstocked by the publishers.


  8. I plead guilty of this offense! And yes the last book I remember buying off the streets was last year, White Tiger!
    i remember the 1st book I bought was The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I loved it. I don’t buy books anymore. But i do think that the prices of some of the books are too high to buy them and still we do go and buy those alluring titles once in a while. For me a book in 200 – 300 range is good.. Anything more than that is SPLURGE 😀 But still sometimes I end up buying books like recently The Lost Symbol, which was selling at 465 Rs. God! That was a big buy for me 😉

    For regular readers, we dnt have any libraries that have the latest and the classics! We don’t have used book sales too! But how many in your locality will come and buy or sell the books?! I am not sure abt that! Many times I think it would have been great to get a book from a used book store… but I have none here! I dnt even have Landmark here in Mysore.. I have to travel to Blore which is much better in that respect! 🙂

    Someday, I will start a library of my own :-)!


    1. yup, 200-300 for me too, but I have bought for 500 too, max I have is for 550, I think.

      I’m waiting for the paperback of The Lost Symbol to release 🙂

      All the best with the library 🙂


  9. Hmmm. I must say I didn’t know you could buy pirate books… but since I mostly buy books from ‘proper’ shops, as opposed to some bloke on the street, I guess I probably haven’t inadvertently bought one.

    As a musician, I’m very aware of the parallel situation with pirated music, which really is a problem for up and coming artists…


  10. This post was really interesting! I haven’t seen pirated books here in Madison, but maybe I’m just not looking? I think you’re right though, at least for people who don’t have a lot of money, finding used or otherwise cheap books is important I’m not sure if I’d buy a pirated book of one that I really, really wanted. I’m inclined to think no, just because I’m usually pretty good about waiting for things that I want, but I’m not sure. Definitely something to think about 🙂


  11. I didn’t realize that books could be pirated. It’s too bad the quality is often poor and that, of course, the author (and publishers) don’t get a profit from pirated books.

    But, on the other side, to want to read so badly and if this was the only way to afford them, I can understand why many people would be tempted to buy them.

    I feel that if there was no such thing as pirated books, that means that no one wants to read!

    Seems to me that things should change so that there aren’t pirated books….make them more affordable in the first place…. make more libraries available!


  12. Just out of curiosity, how do the sellers get their hands on these books? Do they produce their own copies of them, or steal them off the back of a truck? Or are they used books?

    I have never seen anyone selling illegal copies of books around here. Our used book stores really bite (thank god for paperbackswap.com), but the library is excellent. Plus if they don’t have a book you want, you can order it from another library. So I’ve never really felt the need to buy pirated books, even if they were available. But if I was living in another country, it might be a different story. I know when I was doing my semester in France I was so sad without a book store to go to. 😦


    1. No idea where the books come from, I think there is a huge network of these pirated books. They do produce their own copies, they are not original or second hand. The quality is real bad and sometimes even a few pages are missing.


  13. I’ve never heard of book piracy, but I’m glad you brought it to my attention. I’ve heard of the same thing happening with movies and music, but never books. Good for you for taking a stand.


  14. Wow! I’ve never heard of book pirating, but it makes sense since every other type of media, if you will, has been pirated. While I would never do it myself, I agree with you about those who do buy such books. If libraries aren’t available, books are way too expensive for a tight income! Thanks for posting about this!


  15. I’ve never purchased a pirated book (to my knowledge), but I’m hugely guilty of buying pirated DVDs. This only happens when I’m living in foreign countries, and basically it’s because there is no other option. I didn’t think twice of it before, but now I feel pretty guilty about how many of them are on my shelves.


  16. Wow! I had no idea this type of thing was going on but I guess it only makes sense. I know bigger US cities like NYC have pirated DVD movies and even CDs but I’ve never seen the books–maybe because books are more accessible for us? No idea.

    When I was in Europe last month I was shocked at how expensive the books were. It really opened my eyes and made me think about International giveaways and such. I feel really blessed but I wish that we all had access to inexpensive books!


  17. I hadn’t known that book piracy was so rampant until I came to Mumbai.Railway Stations like Andheri and Bandra have so many pirated book vendors and student crowd throngs these make shift shops.
    I am used to buying books at books stores and like u, I wait till paperback is released or till my library gets it. I still remember when Chetan Bhagat’s Three Mistakes was released , within a week it was being sold in the local train for 50 bucks and ppl were buying it knowing that its a pirated copy and the original was not high priced either. That didnt stop educated working women from bargaining with the vendor. Their argument was , its a pirated copy so I ‘ll pay u 40 bucks . I just cringed at that.

    In Delhi too I have seen pirated books being sold but I never felt like buying them. Main reason being I had borrowed a book from a friend which was pirated and after around 350 pages I realised 25 pages to be missing when the story was on a really interesting stage.

    So I save and spend on originals rather than losing the joy of reading by buying mutilated books 🙂


  18. +JMJ+

    Hello, Violet! I find your post fascinating because, as far as I know, there are no print book pirates where I live (the Philippines)–which means that it’s not a lucrative product for pirates–which means that Filipinos aren’t big readers. =S

    On the other hand, movie and music piracy run rampant!

    Of course, this may also be due to books being more affordable in the Philippines. Whenever I visit my cousins in the States, I hardly ever buy any books because I know I can get them cheaper back home. When I lived in New Zealand for two years, I hardly ever bought books unless I needed them for school.

    This news makes me admire the people in your country for being such big readers! I do feel bad for authors who lose royalties, but how wonderful to have such a passionately literate populace!


  19. I’m also from the Philippines but I have to disagree about Filipinos not being big readers just because pirated books are unknown here. Two reasons that pirated books are not taking off here are 1) there’s no demand for them. We already have tons of bookstores that sells new and used books at prices low enough that pirated book vendors can’t compete with. For those who can’t afford, Filipinos are tech savvy enough to use the internet…


  20. Wow a nice post…!

    I am 19+Student+Mumbaikar+Book Addict…….so you get the point 😉

    I have around 250 books,of these 50 must be pirated and the rest mostly second hand paperbacks bought off the South Mumbai Streets..

    I hardly buy books from bookstores as that doesn’t quite suit my already suffering pocket 😉

    In my opinion,even if those books are illegal….knowledge is spread…which is not such a bad thing 😛


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