Pirated decks are ones that have literally been copied from their original form and made into a cheap knock-off. They do not contain the guidebook. Instead they “offer” you a QR code to download a digital copy of the guidebook. Pirated decks are fakes.
The people who create this do not have permission from the publisher, author, or artist to reproduce these decks. Most often they are made in China and getting the pirates shut down is very difficult. Not a single cent of your money goes towards the creator of the deck. In fact, that is money that is taken away from the author. I recall seeing one tarot deck creator state that her sales literally dropped in HALF when her deck became a victim of the pirates. Imagine what that is like to have your income be sliced in half because someone stole your work, made a cheap version of it, and sold it cheaper than yours. Then when customers are pissed that the guidebook wasn’t included they come to complain to YOU. That is what these authors are dealing with.
After this article was posted, I was honored to have Yasmin Boland, the author of Moonology, post the following message on my Facebook page. It simply drives home the fact that authors receive complaints from customers who unknowingly buy a pirated deck and then blame the author when they do not receive the book and the quality that they were expecting to receive.
Lets start with the obvious, if the price seems too good to be true then it likely is. Places like Wish are full of fake decks. In fact, I’d be surprised if Wish sold a legitimate copy of any deck. Ebay is full of pirated decks as well but you can find some real ones on there. Pay attention to the photos, the price, and the location. You’ll notice that the majority of these decks are coming from China. Let me add, there may be other countries, but this is the primary location that the pirated decks are originating from. (I have updated the article with additional information below the video.)
Is Amazon safe? Most of the time, yes, but there are pirated decks as well. These are from third party Amazon sellers. Pay attention to the price, the seller, and the photos. As I was working on editing the photos for this article I had a lady on Facebook worried that the deck that she ordered on Amazon was real or a fake. Even though she bought it on Amazon it was sold by a third party Amazon seller. The listing showed photos of the box front and back which helped me ID it as a fake instantly for her. When you know what to look for you will easily be able to spot the fakes. That is what I want to help teach all of you.
Are your local, trusted shops a safe place to purchase the real deal? Most of the time, yes. However, even brick and mortar shops can be susceptible to buying a pirated deck, especially if they didn’t know what to look for or they didn’t see what the box for the deck looked like before purchasing. I actually purchased my 2 pirated decks after seeing one of my local shops advertising that they just added Witches Tarot to their shop. I noticed right away that it was the fake. I sent them a message along with a link to Ellen Dugan’s page where she posted about the differences. The shop had no idea and immediately removed them from the shelves. A friend of mine said she bought a deck at her local shop and asked me why it didn’t come with the book. Again, it was a pirated deck.
So if your trusted sources aren’t always perfect, how do your protect yourself from getting ripped off? You do it by learning to tell the differences. In the following video I show you the side by side comparison of the very popular Witches Tarot and my favorite deck Witches’ Wisdom. My tips for visually telling them apart are very simple. Look for a QR code to download the guidebook. The legitimate decks will not have this. Also you will notice that the pirated decks do not have the ISBN number and barcode. The legitimate decks will. Now, with that said, some decks that are self-printed or published may not have this as well. If you are not sure if a deck is supposed to come with a guidebook then do your research. Heck, I have over 100 decks and growing. You’re welcome to ask me and I will be happy to tell you and show you if I have the deck. With that said, here is the video so you can see the differences.
If you have a deck that you’re not sure about then you are welcome to email me a photo of the front and the back of the box. That is how I will be able to ID it for you.
Just to add…
After publishing my video and article I received some excellent feedback that lead me to updating this article with additional information.
My deck says “Printed in China”. Does that mean it is fake? No, not at all. Many publishers send their decks over to China to be printed because it is cheaper. One of my Facebook friends pointed out that this is how they are getting their hands on the material to turn into pirated decks. On the flip side, “Made in China” would indicate one of the pirated decks. The 2 that I purchased do not say anything about China on them. However one of the decks that I looked up for a friend did say Made in China on it and it was indeed a pirated copy.
The publisher’s logo: This is another thing to keep an eye out for. If a deck has been printed by a publishing company then the legitimate copy is going to have the publisher’s name/logo on the box. This would include Llewellyn, Hay House, Blue Angel, U.S. Games, and Rockpool just to name a few. With that said, if it is a deck that the artist had printed themselves then it would not include a publisher’s logo. Example, my Crystal Guidance deck was printed through The Game Crafter. I did not have an ISBN number (or barcode) or a publisher’s logo because I was, at the time, self-published. These will still be the legitimate decks. The decks that are being pirated are the larger name ones with a large following that are printed with official publishers.
I plan on updating this article as new thoughts come to mind or new information is presented to me.