Manipulating The Reader (And Not In A Good Way)

I wanted follow up on my post from the other week, which ended up getting a lot of traction around the Internet (when your blog has been Reddit'd, you know you've made it). Again, it's a sad and disgusting thing that happened, but it's a reality that we all have to face. After I noticed the plagiarized book and contacted Aaron, my first question was if someone was stealing his stuff or if this was a promo stunt. After all, the cover image was the exact same, and who knows, maybe Aaron was trying something different. Had Aaron said yeah, he was trying something different and please keep it quiet, I would have said sure and left it at that. But he didn't -- he apparently had no idea that someone had stolen his book, and so here we are now.

And while what happened is disturbing, here's an even disturbing thing -- some writers, apparently, do this all the time.

On purpose.

I was talking to a pretty well-known writer friend of mine about what had happened to Aaron. He said he knew some authors who purposely repackaged their ebooks with new titles and bylines and covers just to get more sales and was it possible that Aaron had done the same, and if so would he admit it? I told him how Aaron hadn't known at all, and the conversation fizzled out from there, but still that statement of his -- how he knew authors who purposely repackaged their ebooks -- has stuck with me ever since.

Don't get me wrong, I like selling ebooks. The more ebooks I sell, the more money I make.

But there comes a point, I believe, when sales aren't the most important factor.

At least not for me.

I, after all, want to build a readership. Sure, I would like to sell as many ebooks as possible, but at what point do sales become more important than readers? Surely at some point a reader who purchased Book A will purchase Book B and see they are exactly the same. Both books would be in the same genre, and many readers generally read in the same genre, so you have to figure someone would eventually stumble upon these duplicate books.

Then again, with the ease and low cost of ebooks, many readers purchase and store up ebooks on their ereaders like squirrels getting ready for winter, and a good majority of those ebooks go unread (note: this isn't an ebook vs print debate, as just as many print books are purchased and go unread).

So, in that case, it's very likely that a writer who repackaged the same ebook might get away with it for quite some time.

But, again, what good comes from manipulating the reader besides selling a few extra ebooks? What if the second book -- the fake book -- is the one that catches on and readers really like? And what kind of hell will be brought down upon the writer when readers suddenly realize that writer has been repackaging the same ebooks just to make a few extra bucks?

If this is a new part of the game, leave me out of it.