Just how easy is it to pirate library-loaned ebooks? That was my question as I embarked on the journey of checking out an ebook from my local library.
At home, I headed online to the library’s ebook catalog and found out some interesting things.
Netlibrary and MyiLibrary allowed me to read ebooks on their website, but not download them to my computer. In other words, when I went to my library’s ebook page, I could choose which service I wanted to “check out” a book from. When I choose MyiLibrary or Netlibrary, I these sites only allowed me to access books directly on their website. Hence, I had to read the book on the Internet through my local library’s website. These sites also restricted copying or printing of their books to 10 pages at a time. So, in essence, I could only personally use portions of the books.
The third provider, Overdrive, was set up so that I could download ebooks directly onto my computer for a three-week period.
Overdrive stated that I could download a PDF version of the ebook to my computer. I did this, but discovered that this PDF version could not be read by my standard Adobe Acrobat Reader. Instead, I had to download a special Adobe Digital Reader from Overdrive. This Digital Reader allowed me to use the book on one computer, unless I registered the Adobe Digital Reader, then I could use it on multiple computers. So, while I could burn the ebook I checked out from my local library to a disk, I would need the special Adobe Digital Reader installed on a computer to read it.
I also discovered that the PDF ebook that I downloaded from Overdrive had a built in expiration date. The day after the due date, the book “expired” on my computer. The file showed up as “expired” and I could not open it.
What my experience showed me is that ebook loans from my local library are not as easy to pirate as I had suspected. It is comforting for me (a publisher) to know that Overdrive, Netlibrary, and MyiLibrary have all implemented systems to make pirating difficult; requiring a level of technological savvy beyond your average reader’s ability to accomplish.
My conclusion is that publishers should not overlook this avenue of book sales. As ebooks become more popular, libraries will increasingly spend more money on ebook purchases and ebook services. Don’t be left behind.
[P.S. Want to know what my experience with downloading an ebook reader for my “borrowed” ebook was like? Check out the cartoon over at http://www.bradcolbow.com/archive.php/?p=205, it depicts my experience to a tee.]