The rise of “digital libraries” will see authors ditched by their publishers, the novelist Joanne Harris has claimed.
The warning comes amid the growing popularity of sites such as the eBook Bike website, which allows readers to download titles for free.
Travis McCrea, owner of eBook Bike, is a Vancouver-based businessman who publishes hundreds of books for readers to access online in what he describes as a “digital library”.
But authors claim that many of the books available on his site have been put up without their consent — breaching copyright and depriving them of income from their work.
Harris, the author of Chocolat which was made into a hit film in 2000, has led the calls to have the website taken down.
She said: “(McCrea’s) current enterprise claims to be an online library, claims to pay authors, and also claims that authors are donating their books voluntarily.
“None of this is true, of course. There are many self published authors who are never going to make a living out of writing books and this site is taking away their last validation.
“This is not helping anybody. It means that mid-list authors who are already struggling for sales may be ditched by their publishers.”
Edinburgh author Alison Belsham’s debut novel The Tattoo Thief — which has been a bestseller across Europe — has been published on the site.
Belsham warned that the practice was “theft” and widespread, with multiple sites across the world regularly publishing books without the author’s consent.
She said: “I would like to think that no one I know downloads pirate ebooks, because it’s nothing less than theft.
“It’s hard enough as it is for the vast majority of writers to make a living from writing — to think that people are stealing something that you’ve worked so hard to create is absolutely heartbreaking.”
McCrea told Radio 4’s You and Yours programme on Monday that his site had been created “by authors for authors”, adding: “Mine is a digital library which holds a collection of ebooks. The website is not dedicated to copyright infringe.
“The website is dedicated to helping authors.” — Telegraph.