Author Tobias Buckell’s treatise on book piracy and what it means here in the now:
A certain book that usually sells about 5,000 copies, locked down and protected, seems to sell the same 5,000 copies as a book with a free giveaway and pirated. The difference, according to O’Reilly and many, will be that the second author sees a 5,000 copies sold book, and 5,000 downloads and wonders “why, I should really have had 10,000 sales!” But the truth might be more like, 5,000 people purchased each, and one of them got 5,000 additional reads.
Most of this analysis seems like it should fall under the rubric of “common sense,” but there’s obviously a pretty big lack of that in the traditional publishing channels right now. Some people will read your stuff, some people will pay you, and the best you can hope for is enough people fall into the second category that you can pay your bills.