Do You Buy Ebooks on Ebay? You May Pay for Free or Illegal Books!

Ebooks photo
Photo by

One of my special interests, as you can tell from checking the list of my articles, is finding free and legal books, movies, and audio online. Recently, I’ve discovered how, if you have a Nook or Kindle or even a computer, you can access free magazine and newspaper subscriptions (here) and thousands–in fact, millions–of free ebooks (here).

I do know the meaning of the word buy, although obtaining books for your computer, Nook, or Kindle by purchasing from Ebay is not appealing, because you most likely will be paying for books that you can get free elsewhere, or you may even be buying pirated books.

Ebay and Craigslist

In my articles about Craigslist (most recently here) I stress that Craiglist is a great online resource, but when you use it, you must be careful, because there is not much policing of the advertisements.

The same is true of EBay. I have bought and sold things on EBay for many years, but I know that you have to be careful there. So, this article is meant not to be a negative review of Ebay, the popular online auction site, but rather to be a warning to people who use it.

Paying for free ebooks for your computer, Nook, or Kindle

As I am writing this, there are 177 items on Ebay returned for a search for “Kindle books,” although at least one of those is a paper (“dead tree”) book with the word kindle in its title.

Many of them offer a CD or DVD full of classic texts, books now in the public domain because copyright has expired (currently in the United States, before 1923). Great, but if you check the authors and titles, you will see that you can download these texts for free, as apparently these Ebay sellers have; once again, check the three main sites for downloading free books (here).

There is nothing illegal about this. The books are in the public domain, so anyone who wants to sell or buy them is free to do so.

Paying for illegal ebooks for your computer, Nook, or Kindle

My experience has been that many offerings of digital material – ebooks, CDs, and DVDs – on Ebay are pirated, that is, illegal. I bought a CD of a Bob Dylan album once, and I got a home-made CD… in a plastic sandwich bag!

Other than the public domain books for the Kindle, many of the books on Ebay are illegal. You will find offerings of books by extremely popular, best-selling authors. I found one item that consists of six books for the Kindle by probably one of the most popular writers around, whose works sell millions of copies and are the basis for equally popular films. The six books are priced less than one of the books if bought legally through Amazon’s Kindle store.

Not only are these books violating copyright law, but they also violate Ebay’s own rules. According to one listing, “Upon checkout, we will email you a link for downloading your purchase.” (Those are not the exact words, but they are close enough.) Yet, Ebay specifically prohibits this kind of purchase. Anything sold on Ebay must be a physical item, such as a CD with the files on them.

To buy or not to buy ebooks on Ebay?

It might be worthwhile for you to purchase one of the huge selections of public domain books, because that would save the time to find and download them. Just remember, that you can get these for free. If you are so inclined, you could even sell them yourself, or you can copy the files from the disc to share with friends.

As for the pirated files… I’ll leave that up to you.

Sources: Personal experience

Check this index to my articles on “How to Read Ebooks for Pleasure and Convenience.”