Publishing Industry is discussing about piracy: as digital is becoming more and more important, publishers have to face issues that other industries know quite well since years. But is piracy an issue or can we consider it like a possibility?
This is certainly not a brand new idea. E-book piracy may have unexpected benefits for publishers, said Dan Misener in April 2011. In an interesting dialogue with the publishing consultant Brian O’Leary, Misener concluded: «So, if book publishers want to avoid some of the piracy issues that have plagued the music, movie, and television industries, what should they do? It seems to me that they need to better understand the real impact of piracy. They need to understand the motivations behind piracy, and they need to address the appetites of underserved customers.» There’s an important distinction to point out, O’Leary said: the one between «instances of e-book piracy (the number of pirated e-book files available for download) and the impact of e-book piracy (the actual effect on the business of publishing).» They are related, but different.
It was June when on The Next Web they asked: Does e-book piracy really matter? Going from best-selling apps to best-selling books they said: «E-books are by no means new, and our guess is if there was going to be an explosive increase in pirated e-book bestsellers – it would have happened by now.» Moreover, they made a disinction, too: «Pirated e-books will probably continue to be available in two main types. Books that are tied in closely to blockbuster movies like Twilight, or so-called spam books, where anyone can access royalty-free content, such as Wikipedia articles, and re-use them any way they want. Consumer awareness is the most important tool that can be used in the battle against spam books. A simple Google search can often lead readers to the exact same content online for free.»
What about today, now.
Harry Friedman, on Huffington Post, tells us why he is not worried by ebook piracy. Even if «It’s tough enough to make a living as an independent writer without some modern day Captain Hook hauling a skull and crossbones up over your work and stealing it from you», he’s not worried for ebook authors because of two things: he believes that readers like to reward a good author’s work and that piracy can be a chance to be discovered, for an independent writer. Obscurity it’s a quite bigger issue than piracy, it seems.
On the other side, as reported by Mercy Pilkington, Piracy Drives One Noted Author to Early Retirement: «Spanish author Lucía Etxebarria, whose works have won the highly prestigious Planeta and Primavera awards, has declared she is done with publishing, at least for now. She places the blame squarely on ebook piracy of her works.» But other authors think different: «”The way I see it is that if people read a freebie version of one of my books, and they like it, perhaps it might encourage them to buy a hard copy of it, or investigate other titles of mine that aren’t available for free,” said sci-fi author Storm Constantine». And some publisher, too.
What is actually difficult to get about piracy are numbers. «While it’s simple to assess the instances of piracy for a given publisher or series of titles, getting accurate numbers for the entire industry is much harder», remebered O’Leary, who did researches for O’Reilly Media.
PIRACY: IFBOOKTHEN HOT TOPIC
We will be talking at IfBookThen about piracy with Timo Boezeman, digital publisher and non-fiction editor for A.W. Bruna Publishers. In a series of articles he wrote for FutureBook, Boezeman states clearly his position, starting with titles. Fighting piracy is the dumbest thing you can do, he remembers to publishers last April: it will cost them not only time and money, but their image, too. And supposes that there are three reasons to pirate an ebook, not all tied to the idea to get something for free: convenience, speed and availability.
More: «Another common misconception is that every download is a missed sale. Most downloaders never even had the slightest urge to buy your product. So forget them, don’t even pay one second of your attention to them, but focus for the full 100% on the (potential) buyers that do want your product. That is the one and only good strategy.»
In October he goes deeper about preconditions that lead people to pirate an ebook or to buy one. «To my opinion, the main three are: title selection (as complete as possible), pricing (a good price, relative to the other flavours (editions) the product is available in) and convenience (don’t bully the consumer and make the purchase as simple as possible). If you meet those preconditions, then the legal alternatives will work out. If you don’t, or not optimal, they will barely make any chance.» Read Piracy and the three preconditions, the full article.
ABOUT TIMO BOEZEMAN
IfBookThen speaker profile
@boezeman on Twitter
O’Reilly Radar » Jenn Webb’s interview: Mindset over matter
FutureBook » Boezeman’s articles
ReadWriteWeb » Survey Finds E-Book Piracy Occurs Among a Surprising Demographic (May 2011)
Results of the Digital Entertainment Survey: one in eight women over age 35 who owns an e-reader admits to having downloaded an illegal version of an e-book.
Teleread » Is Amazon worried about ebook piracy? (October 2011)
«If Tobold wants to find people worried over e-book piracy, he should probably talk to the publishers. Historically, they’ve been the ones pushing for stronger DRM, more protection, and one format per sale.»
40k » The 99-Cent Debate (December 2011)
«It worries me that we are letting the wrong motives control pricing. The music industry did that while fighting Napster and resisting ITunes and lost the battle. If we are more reasonable from the start but yet all work together to set fair prices, not greedy ones but fair ones, we will all be better off in the long run.»
Wired.co.uk » Laurence Kaye vs Laurence Kaye: the pirate and the lawyer in conversation (January 2012)
Olivia Solon asked to the leader of the Pirate Party and to a lawyer specialising in digital law and intellectual property a series of questions about copyright, government policies, tools and business models for digital publishers.