What people who download "free" material don't realize is that many times the files are infected. Author P.M. Terrell talks about what she found in pirated copies of her books. Some pirates prey on readers' stupidity and/or sense of entitlement to harvest personal information, such as account names and passwords.
If you want free books, the easiest way is to sign up with a service such as BookBub, get on a writer's mailing list, volunteer to be a beta reader, or start up a review website. Seriously, authors are constantly giving away stuff. Or better yet, go to the library! Check the free sections at retailers! Don't risk your computer or phone on an unknown website.
The other factor to think about is just as it's easier to pirate material, it's easier for you to get caught. Recently, a couple of bloggers gave away a pirated copy of Teresa Mummert's White Trash Beautiful. Teresa talked about the incident on the linked post, trying to be gracious about not naming names, then one of the bloggers made the mistake of outing themselves in the comment section. *facepalm* So now the word about these pirates is spreading like wild fire through the internets.
Have I been pirated? You betcha! This week alone one of my books and one of Alter Ego's were put up on Google for free. I have to give Google credit. Both were down within 24 hours of my discovery without any effort on my part.
Here's the thing to remember if you're a reader: If you want your favorite writer to keep writing, pay for a copy through an authorized e-book retailer, or at least buy a new paper book once in a while. Contrary to popular belief, not all writers live in castles, a la J.K. Rowling. Some of us are just trying to pay for our kids' braces. Or the mortgage. Or even the electric bill.