Website Selling Free Ebooks?

Two days ago, as I was perusing through my weekly Google alerts digest, I came across the website ThinkDoBecome, which was offering Other Sides for sale for $0.99, discounted from $9.99.

Think that discount is a bargain? Think again: Other Sides is available for free download on the Ergofiction magazine main site, and is $0.99 from Smashwords and Amazon. No where in the world is it priced at $9.99. Even the print version’s cheaper than that!

I searched the entire website, and found no contact details. The comment boxes didn’t work either. Even more suspicious. Eventually, I subscribed to the website and got a confirmation email from — success!

I sent a polite email bringing the unusual situation to the webmaster’s attention, and querying whether the site had some kind of distribution agreement with one of our publishers, because from what I could tell they did not have permission to sell Other Sides.

This morning I got the following reply:

Ms. Harte:
We purchased both the ebook (PDF) “Other Sides – 12 Webfiction Tales” and its resell rights from a 3rd party online however, in an effort to simply this issue we have removed the ebook from our online store and will no longer offer it for sale or as a giveaway.
Roy Edwards,
Managing Partner

I try to think the best of people. Maybe he was duped by some other person, and spent money on the PDF. Maybe. But incredibly unlikely. In any case, I replied with a polite thank you for removing the ebook, and recommended he never purchase from that “3rd party” again.

But the situation has continued to bother me. I know we’re small fry in the big picture, but that someone could go and make money off of our hard work — make money off of something we chose to offer freely — it just upsets me. But the straw that broke the camel’s back is that I just went over to the website again and took a look at some of the other products.

What do you know? Razor Wire Christmas by Justin Peters is available for free download from Plough, but you can buy it from ThinkDoBecome for an amazing $0.99 “discounted” from $6.99.

David Meerman Scott’s non-fiction free ebook on viral marketing (which you can download from his website) is also for sale, “reduced” from $9.99 to $0.99.

Many of the listings do not mention even author names, making it even harder to track the original authors down.

I’m sorry, Roy Edwards, but your website needs to go.

6 thoughts on “Website Selling Free Ebooks?

  1. I’m pretty sure what they’re doing would be against the TOS of whatever host they’re going through. Looks like it’s So, what I’d suggest is that you (and you might want to advise those other authors to do the same) get in touch with them; you may be required to fill out a DMCA, or it might be enough to provide the same info to them as you’ve provided in this blog post.

  2. Very odd, but I wouldn’t have a clue where to start on this one. Maybe try e-mailing Victoria Mixon of Writer Beware? Or make a post on Absolute Write.

  3. It might be unwise to go and use his search bar to check if your titles are there. If he is still collecting work to post, he could use the searches as a source of names and titles.

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 )

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s