If the pirates resell stolen goods, they should be subject to prosecution, punishment, and being shut down. Easy enough to find out who they are. Why isn't law enforcement on this? And where is Authors Guild? Useless outfit!
I don't know if this is any consolation, but most of those people who do that kind of massive downloading just download everything without reading it. It is highly unlikely that any of them would have bought the book or that they impacted your sales that massively.
I used to monitor some of those sites, and one of the ways you know that they don't read it is because they continuously upload and download prank versions of things. Books that have a hot title but are all gibberish, or perhaps not at all what is advertised - like a microwave manual masquerading as a Harry Potter book - continue to be distributed and it takes years before anybody notices.
Whatever you feel about the sites and the people and their activities, don't let it scare you or get to you.
It may not be a serious threat, but my books have been pirated by rapidshare and others, and I don't like it. Besides, there is a legal problem involved here. It's the principle of the thing. I don't like the fact that theft of goods from people's houses and their resale are prosecuted, but intellectual commodity theft is not.
yes, i've heard that many download like kids scooping up parade candy, but others wait for certain releases and even request them if they aren't available. an upload of a much-requested copy is followed by a lot of kudos. which is where this community vibe comes in. oh, thank you!! been looking for that for a year! we'll never be able to track it, but i do wonder how much of an impact these sites have had on what i consider the near collapse of the publishing industry. collapse is an exaggeration, but it's more than a downturn that's for sure.
some get around the legal aspect by offering a free download and a high speed download that cost a fee to make it look as if you're paying for the speed and not the download. and of course the free download rarely works. surprise.
Their attitude could be much more respectful and my experience is that they use "business" as an excuse not to be! But in the business world at the same level of connect, people are excessively respectful to others because they just might need them to remember it later. Not so in publishing. There are enough mss cluttering their desks to believe they have the right to treat the "unpublishable" poorly. Now with the rise of digital publishing, they should be, and are, worried.
This may be off topic a bit but I heard from a very reliable source formerly in the publishing industry that Google is set to launch an extremely competitive (to Amazon) version which is supposed to blow us away in a good way. Probably next year but something to look for.