The most popular Kindle books of all time are mostly written by women

Happy birthday, Kindle!

Nov. 19, 2017, marks a whopping 10 years since the debut of the Amazon Kindle. And whether you’re a die-hard ereader or you prefer to stick with physical books, it’s hard to deny that the Kindle has indelibly shaped the book world, allowing readers to carry a personal library around with them everywhere.

In honor of the Kindle’s 10-year anniversary, Amazon released new data from Amazon Charts, sharing some of the most popular Kindle books of all time, based on Kindle sales in both fiction and nonfiction.

Notably, the entire list of the top 10 most popular fiction books on Kindle star female protagonists, and nine of the 10 books were written by female authors. The only male writer on the fiction list is John Green for his novel The Fault In Our Stars. Also, for fiction, all of the most popular novels also have had movie adaptations (or have movie adaptations upcoming), and six of the 10 are entries in book trilogies. In other words, readers are finding characters they love and stick with them.

The results of the most popular nonfiction books are more varied. Readers devoured topics ranging from deep dives back into World War II to Cheryl Strayed’s hike through the Pacific Crest Trail to self-help on how to speak the language of love.

Check out the full list of results for the most popular Kindle books of all time below.

Top 10 Kindle books of all time (fiction)

1. Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James

Image: Vintage

2. The Hunger Games (Hunger Games Trilogy, Book 1) by Suzanne Collins

Image: Scholastic Press

3. Catching Fire (Hunger Games Trilogy, Book 2) by Suzanne Collins

Image: Scholastic Press

4. Mockingjay (Hunger Games Trilogy, Book 3) by Suzanne Collins

Image: Scholastic Press

5. Fifty Shades Darker by E L James

Image: Vintage 

6. Fifty Shades Freed by E L James

Image: Vintage

7. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Image: Crown

8. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Image: Riverhead Books

9. The Help by Katherine Stockett

Image: Berkley

10. The Fault in our Stars by John Green

Image: Penguin Group

Top 10 Kindle books of all time (nonfiction)

1. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Image: Random House

2. Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo, Sonja Burpo, and Lynn Vincent

Image: Thomas Nelson

3. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Image: Vintage

4. The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

Image: Penguin Books

5. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Image: Simon & Schuster

6. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman

Image: Northfield Publishing

7. Bossypants by Tina Fey

Image: Reagan Arthur Books

8. American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in the U.S. Military History by Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen, and Jim DeFelice

Image: William Morrow

9. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey

Image: Rosetta Books

10. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacksby Rebecca Skloot

Image: Broadway Books

Every editorial product is independently selected by Mashable journalists. If you buy something featured, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps support our journalism.

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A ‘cozy night,’ roasting chicken and a royal proposal

(CNN)Meghan Markle barely let Prince Harry finish proposing.

It was a “cozy night” earlier this month at the couple’s Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace and the pair were roasting a chicken, the American actor said. Or trying to roast a chicken, Harry said, correcting her.
“It was so sweet and natural and very romantic. He got down on one knee,” she said. “As a matter of fact, I could barely let you finish proposing. I said, ‘Can I say yes now?'”
The pair giggled as they fondly remembered the moment. Harry continued, “There was hugs and I had the ring in my finger. I was like, ‘Can I give you the ring?’ She goes, ‘Oh, yes! The ring!'”
“It was a really nice moment,” the prince said. “It was just the two of us, and I think I managed to catch her by surprise as well.”
Cozy nights have been a theme of their courtship, they said. To avoid the media scrutiny — which, at times, has been none too kind to Markle and her beau — they’ve avoided nights on the town, instead opting for evenings at home, away from the paparazzi and their prying lenses. In essence, they had to “reverse the whole process,” the prince said.
These were among the revelations — along with Harry’s belief that Markle and his mother, the late Princess Diana, would be “thick as thieves” — divulged by the royal couple-to-be in an interview with BBC’s Mishal Husain. The interview aired Monday evening, hours after the pair announced that they planned to wed following an 18-month romance.

How they met


Prince Harry & Meghan: The ring and the romance

Markle, who grew up in Los Angeles, said she didn’t think of theirs as a “whirlwind” relationship. The two met for a drink in July 2016 on a blind date, brokered by a mutual friend, whose name they would not reveal, but “it was definitely a setup,” Markle said.
They didn’t know much about each other. Markle wasn’t too familiar with the British royal family, and Prince Harry had never seen the television show, “Suits,” nor any other example of Markle’s work.
Harry recalled his first impression: “I was beautifully surprised when I walked into that room and saw her. There she was sitting there.”
He thought, “I’m going to have to up my game.”
Shortly after their first encounter, during which they shared their passions and the changes they’d like to effect in the world, they decided another date was in order.
“What are we doing tomorrow? We should meet again,” Markle recalled asking.
Prince Harry was about to head off to Africa, and Markle was busy filming “Suits.”
“We need to get the diaries out and find out how we’re going to make this work,” Harry thought at the time.

Getting to know each other


What you didn’t know about Meghan Markle

They had another date that month and then Harry was able to convince Markle to join him in Botswana a few weeks later. They camped out under the stars for five days, he said.
“Then we were really by ourselves, which was crucial to me, to make sure that we had a chance to get to know each other,” he said.
Added Markle: “We were able to really have so much time just to connect, and we never went longer than two weeks without seeing each other, even though we were obviously doing a long-distance relationship. We made it work.”
Markle, 36, said she’s glad she didn’t know much about the royals before meeting Harry, 33, as she’s been able to learn about them from him rather than from tabloids.
The family has been “so welcoming,” helping Markle to acclimate not only to life at Kensington Palace but to the royal family itself, she said. Certain four-legged members of the family have been particularly hospitable, the prince said.
“The corgis took to you straight away,” Harry said of the canines his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth famously holds dear. “I spent the last 33 years being barked at. This one walks in and absolutely nothing, just wagging tails.”
“They’re just laying on my feet during tea,” Markle said, laughing with the prince.
Markle has two rescue pups of her own, one of which has joined her and the prince in the United Kingdom, she said.

Diana’s ‘a part of this with us’


Prince Harry and Meghan reveal proposal details

The couple’s time in Botswana is represented on Markle’s finger, as the primary stone on her engagement ring was sourced from the African nation. The smaller diamonds on the side of the ring came from his mother’s jewelry collection.
Harry wanted to include those on the ring, which he designed himself with a yellow gold band, “to make sure she’s with us on this crazy journey together.”
“I think everything about Harry’s thoughtfulness and the inclusion of that and obviously not being able to meet his mom it’s so important to me to know that she’s a part of this with us,” she said.
Looking down at her ring, she said, “It’s incredibly special to be able to have this, which sort of links where you come from and Botswana, which is important to us. It’s perfect.”
Asked if Markle and his mum would get along, Harry said, “They’d be thick as thieves, without question. I think she would be over the moon, jumping up and down, so excited for me but then, as I said, would’ve probably been best friends with Meghan.
“It is days like today when I really miss having her around and miss being able to share the happy news, but with the ring and with everything else that’s going on I’m sure she’s with us, jumping up and down somewhere else.”

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An American’s guide to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s royal union

She’s not the first Yankee to marry a British royal, but the Los Angeles native will face some changes when she joins the famous family.

The special relationship between the US and the UK became even more special on Monday when Meghan Markle and Prince Harry announced their engagement.

Its exciting news for followers and supporters of the British royal family, but it will represent some changes for the couple.

Heres a guide to the impending union.

Are Americans allowed to marry into the royal family?

They sure are.

For the pair to get married they needed the consent of Queen Elizabeth II. The monarchs consent is required for the next six people in line to the throne, according to Channel 4 News. Prince Harry is currently fifth in line after Kate Middleton gives birth next year, he will become sixth.


Prince Harry’s relationship with Meghan Markle



The pair meet in London through friends and begin a relationship.


News breaks that the prince and Markle are dating.


Kensington Palace confirms in an unprecedented statement that they are dating. The prince attacks the media over its abuse and harassment of his girlfriend.


Markle is spotted in London amid unconfirmed reports she is enjoying her first stay at Kensington Palace since the relationship was made public.


Markle reportedly meets the Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Charlotte for the first time in London.


The engagement looks set when Markle graces the cover of US magazine Vanity Fair and speaks openly about Harry for the first time, revealing: Were two people who are really happy and in love.


Markle makes her first appearance at an official engagement attended by the prince when she attends the Invictus Games opening ceremony in Toronto, Canada although the pair sit about 18 seats apart.


It emerges that the prince has taken Markle to meet his grandmother, the Queen, whose permission they need to marry. They met over afternoon tea at Buckingham Palace.


The princes aides are reported to have been told to start planning for a royal wedding, with senior members of the royal family asked to look at their diaries to shortlist a series of suitable weekends in 2018.


Markle is spotted in London, prompting speculation she is preparing for an engagement announcement.


Clarence House announces the engagement, and the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh say they are delighted for the couple and wish them every happiness.

What are the strangest things Markle will have to get used to?

Prince Philip. Just kidding. There’ll be a lot of change. Increased security, for one, and more handshakes and fancy events. According to the BBC, one of the reasons Prince William waited a while before proposing to Kate Middleton was to give her a proper taste of royal life.

Markle will also have to become accustomed to not voting at least not in the UK. Initially, she is likely to live in Britain on a family visa, but even if Markle becomes a UK citizen it is royal custom to abstain from participating in elections. It’s unclear if she will continue to vote in the US.

Play Video
What Meghan Markle thinks of Donald Trump archive video

Members of the royal family also don’t discuss their political views publicly. For Markle, who has been outspoken about social and race issues, this might take some getting used to. Markle was anti-Brexit in 2016 and posted I’m with her a reference to Hillary Clinton on her Instagram feed during the presidential election. Were unlikely to see much of that in the future.

On a lighter note, as a member of the royal family, Markle will be able to eat swans. The Queen owns all mute swans in Britain it is illegal for commoners to kill them. The law dates back to the 12th century when the royal family particularly enjoyed eating swan and didn’t want the hoi polloi gobbling them all up.

Will she be allowed to keep her job?

In theory, there is nothing stopping Markle from still working she currently plays Rachel Zane on the American legal drama Suits but a number of reports suggest she will essentially retire. Vanity Fair and the Independent have reported that Markle will quit Suits and set up a foundation supporting young women.

Kate Middleton worked at her parents’ party supplies company for a couple of years until she got engaged to Prince William, then quit.

Will she be a princess?

No. Once she is officially betrothed to Prince Harry, Markle will have the title of Her Royal Highness, Princess Henry of Wales, but she won’t become Princess Meghan. The BBC says that is because she is not of royal blood. Kate Middleton isn’t a princess either, and nor is Camilla Parker Bowles although they are both duchesses.

Should Harry and Markle have a child, however, the infant would be a princess or prince.

Play Video
Key moments from Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s first TV interview – video

Has there ever been any trouble with an American marrying a royal?

Oh yes. In 1936 Prince Edward VIII wanted to marry Wallis Simpson, an American. Edwards plan to wed Simpson, who was in the process of divorcing her second husband, caused a crisis in the UK. The British government, in particular, did not approve of Simpson being a divorcee and allegedly having had lovers outside of marriage.

Edward abdicated the throne, and his brother Prince Harrys great-grandfather became King George VI.

Attitudes have changed since then, however, and Markle is unlikely to face the persecution Simpson endured.

The Marriage Equality Act of 2013 means a member of the royal family could marry someone of the same sex, while under the Succession to the Crown Act a royal can marry a Catholic which was once unthinkable.

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Is a bigger e-reader better?

Last year, Amazon introduced the ultra-thin and expensive Kindle Oasis. It re-imagined the Kindle E-reader design, wrapping an unusual cantilever chassis around the 6-inch electronic paper screen. 

On one side, it was 0.13 inches thick. On the other 0.33 inches. This fatter area housed the battery but also gave the Kindle a defined grip area. It also married with a special case that slipped into the space left by the thin part of the screen and connected both magnetically and electrically to the Kindle Oasis to add another four weeks of battery life. 

It was stunning, different and another step closer to the dream: e-readers that feel like you’re reading off a single sheet of paper.

The combination of the design, ergonomics and excellent screen almost made the Oasis worth $349. Aside from the price, I had trouble seeing how Amazon could make a better Kindle. And with less than a third of Americans choosing to read ebooks (the number jumps to over 40 percent when you look at college-educated and affluent readers), I wondered if they should even bother. But Amazon did it anyway.

Get ready for a big-screen reading experience. The 6-inch Paperwhite is on the left and the 7-inch Kindle Oasis is on the right.

Image: lance ulanoff/mashable

Viewed from a distance, the all-new Amazon Kindle Oasis is virtually unchanged from the first one. That impression changes quickly as you get closer. To start with, this is a much bigger e-reader. At 7 inches diagonally, the screen is a full inch larger than the previous Oasis, my Kindle Paperwhite, and the Kindle Voyage.

The back is different, too. Instead of a black composite material, it’s now a shiny, smooth aluminum body. There’s still a thick 0.32-inch grip and a 0.13-inch thin side, but unlike the original Oasis, this model’s back is one, continuous piece of metal molded around the battery (there is a 5.5-inch by 0.25 inch composite cutout for the LTE antenna on the LTE model, only) that tightly hugs the screen and control area (home for the two, physical navigation buttons) on the other side.

Buh-bye plastic, hello aluminum.

Image: lance ulanoff/mashable

There is no connector on the back because, even though the 7-inch Oasis can marry with an optional case in the same fashion as the first Oasis, it no longer electronically connects to it and gains no extra battery life. Fortunately, that larger Oasis chassis accommodates a lot more battery. Amazon promises 6 weeks of battery life on a charge.

The new unibody design is also why this is Amazon’s first essentially waterproof Kindle (2 meters of fresh water for 60 minutes).

It’s all good news, right? So why don’t I love the new Kindle Oasis?

Let’s read

Amazon’s product packaging is remarkable only for its laudable simplicity. Unboxing the new Kindle Oasis takes just a few moments and the device walks you through connecting it to your Wi-Fi network and Amazon account. Even at $249 (at the low end, my test model with Wi-Fi, LTE and 32 GB costs $349), the package does not include a charger, just the micro-USB cable. Also, am I the only one surprised that Amazon hasn’t switched these devices to USB-C?

The screen is sharp (300 ppi), bright (12 LEDs),  and energy efficient (reflective electronic ink).


I placed the Oasis on my desk and charged it overnight. The next day I picked it and started reading. Strike that, I tried to pick it up. The wider and somewhat sleeker body simply isn’t as grip-able as the smaller Oasis or my own 6-inch Paperwhite. I used two hands to grab the Oasis, flipped the reader over and tried to grip it again. In both cases, I was spreading my fingers to the sides of the device; I had four fingers on one side and my thumb on the thin side. I couldn’t pick it up. The best way to grip the Oasis is to slide your fingers under the fat side and let your thumb rest on top of the screen. Then it’s easy to pick up. 

Don’t get me wrong, the Oasis, which weighs just 7 ounces, is light and — thanks to the wide navigation area and the curve on the bottom between the thick and thin sides of the device — comfortable to hold.

It’s not, though, as comfortable to hold as my Paperwhite, which weighs just 5.7 ounces. But, hey, I do get that big screen.

A pretty face

The New Kindle Oasis screen is not only the biggest e-reader since the Kindle DX, it’s also the best. While sharing the same 300 ppi resolution as the last few Kindle devices, it’s faster, offers the best contrast (more like ink on white paper) and, thanks to a couple more LED lights, brighter.

Amazon also added more reading experience customization. Instead of eight different font size choices, the Oasis has 14 and the labels now reflect the real on-screen font size. I can also change the screen, through accessibility options, to reverse text: all white text on a black screen.


The Kindle Oasis is 0.13 inches thick on one side. The other side has the battery.

Image: lance ulanoff/mashable


The device has three buttons: two on the face and one for power on the bottom edge.


A larger device also means you can put more technology inside. The all-new Oasis includes Bluetooth connectivity, so you can play Audible’s audio books on your speaker of choice. The Audible experience, which Amazon owns, is also included for the first time in the Kindle Oasis. You do not need to be an Audible member to use it, but audio books will be cheaper if you are.

Setting this up was a little challenging because, initially, I couldn’t get the Oasis to see my Harman Kardon Invoke speaker. Eventually, after restarting both devices, I got them connected and then it was easy to play an Audible audio book.

Since I don’t think everyone in my home wants to hear what I’m reading, I also paired the Oasis to Apple’s AirPods. This worked on the first try and the audio sounded great.


You can read your books or listen to Audible versions. You pay for both.



At least it’s easy to switch between platforms.


Ebooks don’t automatically come with their audio versions. You will have to pay for the book twice. Fortunately, Amazon offers steep discounts for anyone who already owns either book format. In my case, I got a book for free from Amazon (Prime members get one free tome — from a preset collection — per month) and paid $1.99 for the audio book.

One of my favorite things about this Kindle update is that the book and audio book remain in perfect sync. I started playing Eliza Maxwell’s The Unremembered Girl through Audible and then switched to the print book. It dropped me right on the page where I left off in Audible. I also really like the simple Audible playback screen.

Just read

Reading with the Oasis is a pleasurable experience. I can use taps or swipes on the screen to turn or turn back a page or use the two physical buttons on the face of the device. The buttons are perfectly positioned for my thumb, but I did choose to swap the operation of them from the default. I like Page Forward on top and Go Back on the bottom.

Having those buttons there means I don’t have to move my other hand while reading. I have never felt so lazy.

As for the waterproofing, I tested it by placing the device under some running water. The water didn’t harm the Oasis at all, but it was fun to watch the screen react to it. Water makes an electrical connection, so the capacitive touchscreen, which uses the conductivity of our own fingers to respond, acted like someone was touching the 7-inch screen all over.

I read with the Oasis on the train, in bed, and at work, and started to realize that, while I like the large screen, I miss the lightness and balance of a smaller device. The Amazon Kindle is the only device where I can easily read for hours. One obvious reason for that is the reflective screen needs little battery life to generate a page of text and virtually none to hold it on screen. The other reason is that the previous Kindles have always felt so light and balanced. This Oasis felt a little unwieldy.

I’m not sure what kind of feedback Amazon got from readers that indicated that they wanted a bigger Kindle screen. Yes, it’s closer to a hardcover page size and, no doubt, a hardcover book is much bigger, heavier and more unwieldy than an e-reader, but I never had a complaint about my 6-inch Kindle screen.

Battery life on the new Oasis can be great (up to six weeks), as long as you remember to turn off the LTE and Wi-Fi and keep the brightness at medium. Fortunately, the device can manage brightness for you on its own — it has an ambient light sensor.


Battery life is rated for six weeks with 30 minutes of reading per day, the Wi-Fi and LTE radios off and brightness set to 10, which is a little below half power on the LEDs.

I did not have six weeks to test this, so I decided to see what happens if you push the Kindle Oasis hard on all fronts. I turned up the brightness to 24 and left the radios on. I did not use the device continuously, but by day five, the battery was spent. That surprised me a little, but I think there was another reason for this short lifespan. This is the first Kindle e-reader I’ve ever used that accidentally turns on in my backpack.

I don’t know if this is because the power button is on the top edge of the device (it’s on the bottom edge of my Paperwhite) and I had a habit of putting it into my backpack with the button facing up, or if the button on the Oasis is a little less stiff and therefore more easily pressed on. Whatever the case, on more than one occasion, I opened my backpack and found the Oasis shining brightly in the darkness.

Though expensive ($349 for the 32 GB LTE model, $249 for the 8 GB Wi-Fi-only version), the new Amazon Kindle Oasis is a nicely designed, useful device. I’m still not sure it’s better than the original Kindle Oasis. Even with Bluetooth and a better and bigger screen, this is not the device I want to hold and read with for six hours at the beach. It’s too big. If I really wanted a larger reading screen, I could switch to an iPad mini or Kindle Fire Tablet. 

For almost a decade, Amazon has delivered ever smaller and lighter Kindle e-readers that brought them closer and closer to that reading-on-paper ideal. The whole point has been for the technology to fade into the background so we, the avid readers Amazon targets with these devices, could focus on the words. The first Oasis was a bold and welcome leap in that direction. This new Kindle feels like a step backward.

Amazon All-New Kindle Oasis

The Good

Beautiful design Virtually waterproof Bigger, brighter, faster E Ink screen

The Bad

Too big Not as grippy Expensive

The Bottom Line

I’m sorry, when did we ask for a bigger Kindle screen?


People hoped Amazon would launch in this new country today, but they’re still waiting

Amazon has arrived in Australia! Sorta.

Image: David Ryder/Getty Images

For years, many Australians have only been able to window-shop at Amazon.

Now, the Australian iteration of Amazon Marketplace has seemingly launched in the country on Thursday afternoon, although it’s a very, very soft launch at that.

There was slight confusion, as the alleged launch time was dated for Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST). Most of eastern Australia, except Queensland, is currently on daylight savings time (AEDT).

But as the clock ticked, Amazon Australia’s website remained unchanged from its bookstore frontpage. 

Image: screenshot/mashable

While a random assortment of products like phone cases, printer accessories and an $82,000 hot tub boat started showing up on the site, they remained unpurchasable. 

People were left a little disappointed.

Unfortunately for shoppers, it appears like they may have to wait until Friday to get their Amazon fix. 

After all, it was only in April the world’s largest internet retailer confirmed it would expand its operations in Australia

Since then, there has been a close eye on Amazon’s movements in the country, alongside (very valid) fears from Australian retailers that the company’s expansion would wreak havoc on local business.

While the world’s largest internet retailer had a presence locally for some time, it was primarily to sell Kindle ebooks and Audible audiobooks. 

If Australians wanted to buy from Amazon, often they turned to third-party shipping services, which added slightly longer shipping and processing times.

With Amazon’s first Australian warehouse in Victoria’s Dandenong South, Australians should have access to the purported advantages (same day shipping, selection etc.) that have made the retailer stand out.

Another touted advantage is price. The “Australia tax” is a term used to explain the higher cost of goods and services paid by people in the country, but it’s still a matter of wait and see if Amazon makes any difference in this space.

It’s still very much day one for Amazon’s Australian outpost. Then again, as CEO Jeff Bezos has pushed to his employees, it’s “always” day one at Amazon.

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Pirated ebooks threaten the future of book series

With 4m or 17% of all online ebooks being pirated, novelists including Maggie Stiefvater and Samantha Shannon say theft by fans puts their books at risk

The bestselling American fantasy novelist Maggie Stiefvater is leading a chorus of writers warning readers that if they download pirated ebooks, then authors will not be able to continue writing because they will be unable to make a living.

Stiefvater, the author of the Shiver and Raven Cycle series, raised the issue after she was contacted on Twitter by a reader who told her: I never bought ur books I read them online pirated. On her website, Stiefvater later explained that, when ebook sales for the third book in the Raven Cycle Blue Lily, Lily Blue dropped precipitously, her publisher decided to cut the print run of the next book in the series to less than half of its predecessors.

This is also where people usually step in and say, but that’s not piracy’s fault. You just said series naturally declined, and you just were a victim of bad marketing or bad covers or readers just actually don’t like you that much, wrote Stiefvater, who had seen fans sharing pdfs online and was intent on proving that piracy had affected the Raven Cycle. So she and her brother created a pdf of The Raven King, which consisted of just the first four chapters, repeated, and a message explaining how piracy affected books.

But pirating book one means that publishing cancels book two Maggie Stiefvater. Photograph: Johnny Louis/Getty Images

The effects were instant. The forums and sites exploded with bewildered activity. Fans asked if anyone had managed to find a link to a legit pdf. Dozens of posts appeared saying that since they hadn’t been able to find a pdf, they’d been forced to hit up Amazon and buy the book. And we sold out of the first printing in two days.

Stiefvater revealed that she is now writing three more books set in the Raven Cycle world, but that the new trilogy nearly didn’t exist because of piracy. And already I can see in the tags how Tumblr users are talking about how they intend to pirate book one of the new trilogy for any number of reasons, because I am terrible or because they would rather die than pay for a book, she wrote. As an author, I can’t stop that. But pirating book one means that publishing cancels book two. This ain’t 2004 anymore. A pirated copy isn’t good advertising or great word of mouth or not really a lost sale.

According to the Intellectual Property Offices latest study of online copyright infringement, 17% of ebooks read online are pirated around 4m books.

Ebook piracy is a very significant issue and of great concern to publishers, said Stephen Lotinga of the Publishers Association, which works to take down and block pirated ebooks links and sites. As an industry we’ve not had the situation that the music and film industries have gone through, Lotinga said. But that obviously is 4m ebooks that authors and publishers aren’t getting paid for and should be getting paid for, and its a particular worry for publishers at a time when ebook sales are slightly in decline.

Last week, a poll on piracy from Hank Green, the brother of the bestselling novelist John Green, was responded to by more than 35,000 people. Just over a quarter (26%) said they had pirated books in the past, while 5% said they currently pirate books.

Samantha Shannon, the author of the Bone Season series, said that attempting to stay on top of pirated editions of her books was a Sisyphean task. I think all authors experience it to some degree, unfortunately. Its a reality of modern publishing, she said. I don’t often look for pirated copies of my books, as I find it too dispiriting, but I do batch-send links to my publisher now and again in the hope that they can remove some of them.

Shannon wrote on Twitter that the thing that’s really exhausting about piracy is that authors are often not allowed to be upset by the theft of their work. If we ask people not to do it, no matter how courteously, were told we should have more compassion or be grateful we even have readers. Outside the creative industry, people broadly dislike theft. Within the creative industry, it becomes a grey area where people aren’t sure.

Authors who ask you not to pirate are not attacking people who are too poor to afford books or people who genuinely cant access libraries, wrote Shannon but Lotinga at the Publishers Association said that those people were not often the perpetrators. Ebook pirates tend to be from better-off socio-economic groups and to be aged between 31 and 50-something. It’s not the people who cant afford books, he said. It’s not teenagers in their rooms.

Novelist Laura Lam wrote on Twitter: I’m personally not bothered by the small percentage of readers who pirate because they have no access to books any other way. But for readers, I think that’s a small percentage. I’m more heartbroken by those who can easily afford books but pirate anyway. Any sales lost via those readers will have a very real impact on my career.

According to a survey carried out by the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society, the median income of a professional author in 2013 was 11,000, a drop of 29% on 2005.

Lam said that she had a trilogy canceled by her first publisher three weeks after book two came out. That’s an instance where if even a couple hundred had pirated instead of buying, it had repercussions. Long-term, that publisher went bankrupt and I re-sold it to my new publisher, but it was still a challenge at the time. Not everyone gets a second chance.

Fantasy novelist Tom Pollock said that readers needed to be aware of the consequences of pirating In an economy based on market signals, the signal being sent if people pirate rather than buy or borrow is: Nobody wants this.

He added: There’s an argument that you sometimes see that a download is not equal to a lost sale, because that person wouldn’t have bought it anyway, and there’s varying evidence on that, but its very much a static analysis of a dynamic problem, because if you normalise the practice of pirating books, you erode incentive for people to pay for them, so eventually, people who would have bought them stop doing so.

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