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Holy Book Burglary, Batman!

Gary Miller

The Internet giveth, and the Internet taketh away. That’s the lesson I learned while recently probing the Web for signs that my short story collection Museum of the Americas has made an impact. I found some great news at goodreads: a number of extremely positive customer reviews for the book. But then I noticed an odd-looking blog post advertising free PDF downloads of the book. Uh-oh.

A quick skate over to a linked paged indicated that MOA was indeed available for free download, and that over 200 copies had already been nicked. It was a bit of consolation that the number was considerable, at least as far as my current sales were concerned—and that thus far, those readers had rated the book as a 7.3 out of 10.

Although my fictional soul is relatively pure, I do work as a marketer, so I started coming up with some taglines to support this new market. “Loved moderately well by people who steal books online” seemed like a winner, as did “If you steal only one book online this year, make it Museum of the Americas.

Then, of course, I started to get a little irritated. Somebody had ripped off my book! Of course, I immediately realized that intellectual property theft is something my musician and visual art friends have been dealing with for years. I figured that even though I was now part of club, but I wasn’t going to go down without a fight. I copied the URL of the offending site and sent it off to my publisher, who, I envisioned, would exact swift and painful revenge.

Of course, I should have known better. It’s the Internet, right? Half an hour later Donna from Fomite Press sent me back an email. In fact, no one had stolen my book. It was simply being used as clickbait for a scam. “Sure, you can download a free copy of Museum of the Americas. But you need to register first, using your credit card number and other identity-theft-worthy data.” It was the dreaded bait and switch!

And then the whole crystal palace of fraud came crashing down. My book wasn’t popular with thieves. They hadn’t downloaded 200-plus copies or rated the book a 7.3 out of ten. But then again, I guess somebody deems it clickworthy. I guess it’s time to dream up some more taglines.