I just got a lovely message from a reader telling me how much she enjoyed books 1, 2, and 4 of my series, but that the site where she was reading them doesn't have book 3. This set off warning bells for me, and I asked her to share the name of the site, which turned out to be a pirate site.
Now here's the thing... It's not obvious that it's a pirate site. It's a place (sort of like Wattpad, but not Wattpad) where people can post their writing. Someone posted my books there and this reader came across them, and the very fact that she innocently wrote to me about it shows just how little she realized what was going on.
So, here's my suggestion. If you're reading for free online, be aware of the site. If you're getting a book there for free that isn't tied directly to an author's account (like Wattpad, where you can see who is claiming to be the author) and it costs to buy everywhere else, go in with open eyes. Consider what you're doing, and whether your favorite authors will be able to continue to write if people choose to continually steal their work instead of paying for it.
What's even more insidious are sites that are selling pirated copies, often for a dollar or two. Folks, if it looks too good to be true, it's probably a pirate operation. Also -- for the record -- you might keep in mind that many torrent and pirate sites exist to send malware into your computer or steal money from you in other ways.
PS - Please don't post anything negative about the reader in question, or it will be deleted. She didn't know, and given how sophisticated some pirate operations are, I'm not surprised by this and have no ill will toward her.
Do I have to buy a book to talk to an author at a signing?