The same dynamic should apply to ebooks (books sold in various electronic formats), right?
Unfortunately, no. When you give or sell a printed book to someone, they get one copy and the most they can do is resell or give away one copy. But with ebooks, the one copy you give/sell can be copied hundreds, even thousands of times. So, instead of the author losing the royalties for a single resale, he or she potentially can lose thousands of dollars in royalties--and that's just from a single copy. Think about the impact on that author's income if hundreds of readers each give away copies that are passed on to hundreds of others. (Not to mention the losses suffered by the publishers and those they employ.)
Before you say, "But authors like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling make millions from their books. They won't miss it.", consider this: For every author who's a millionaire, there are hundreds of authors who barely make a living from writing, and hundreds more who write as a second income because writing alone won't pay the bills. If they made more money, perhaps they could quit their day jobs and write full-time (producing more of the books you love).
And before you say, "But my reading an ebook that a friend gave me won't make a difference.", consider this: There are pirate websites and blogs whose sole reason for existence is the sharing of ebooks, CDs, DVDs, and other copyrighted materials. Thre are literally thousands of people trading thousands of books, albums, and movies without paying for a single one. Collectively, that's many millions of dollars in income the artists never get. So it's not just you, it's many people depriving a lot of hard-working artists of the money they've rightfully earned.
Because it's not just you doing it, it won't matter whether you keep doing it or not, right? Sure it does! By participating in this illegal activity (breaking federal and international copyright laws and perhaps illegally trafficking in stolen merchandise across state lines**), you contribute to the problem and even encourage it.
So what can you do about it? Simple:
1) Stop selling/sharing ebooks. If you can't help yourself, and you just have to read the one a friend gave you, fine. When you're done reading it, delete it and buy a copy from a legitimate source. But whatever you do, don't share your copy with anyone outside your immediate family. Certainly, don't post them to the internet or sell them on eBay.
2) Point your friends who buy/sell/share ebooks to this blog, so they can be educated, too.
3) If you know of websites and blogs that share ebooks, report them to the AuthorsAg
Remember, the selling and sharing of ebooks without compensation to the publisher and the author is ILLEGAL and harms the industry as a whole. Do you really want to contribute to a publisher laying off employees or even going bankrupt (and perhaps depriving you of the latest work from one of your favorite authors?)
Unless we all (authors, publishers, and concerned readers) work together to stamp out the illegal sharing/selling of ebooks, the problem will only get worse. Think about it.
** WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this or any copyrighted work is illegal. File sharing is an International crime, prosecuted by the United States Department of Justice and the United States Border Patrol, Division of Cyber Crimes, in partnership with Interpol. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is punishable by seizure of computers, up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000 per reported instance.