Deterring eBook Piracy

Nielson, a data research company that tracks sales of books, recently teamed up with Digimarc to conduct a study on book piracy. From the study, Nielson believes that publishers in the United States are losing around $325,000,000 each year from lost revenue due to illegal downloads of ebooks.

Following are a few other interesting findings from the Nielson’s book piracy study:

  • The majority of illegal downloaders are 18 to 34 years old, educated and wealthy (the digitally savvy generation).
  • Roughly 30% of illegal downloaders either obtain their content from friends via IM, email, or flash drive or from downloading from public/open torrent sites.
  • Illegal downloaders acquire, on average, 13 to 16 ebooks per year—only 3 to 7 of these ebooks are acquired illegally.
  • Men are more likely to pirate a book then women (66% of illegal downloaders are male).
  • 44% of illegal downloaders surveyed reported that they would be much less likely to illegally download ebooks if they believed it harmed the author.

I find this last finding fascinating. What is says is that many of these illegal downloaders don’t understand how obtaining an ebook illegally affects an author. They currently don’t think it does.

If you are concerned about book piracy, this finding gives you an answer as to something you can do to deter piracy. After all, piracy hurts all authors and artists.

When was the last time you heard a public service announcement denouncing piracy and telling people that piracy is harmful to the creators of the content? Maybe the book publishing industry needs to start sponsoring public service announcements about piracy to inform the public how it harms authors.

I know that movies include warnings on piracy and the consequences if you are caught pirating a movie. Here is what is usually presented:

Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to five years in a federal prison and a fine of $250,000.

Have you ever seen this warning in an ebook? I haven’t. Yet, you can use this warning in any copyrighted materials including books.

So, if you are concerned about piracy and in particular people pirating your ebook, I encourage you to put this warning in your ebook. Put it right in the beginning of the book either on the copyright page or a separate page all by itself. You could even add a line about how obtaining copyrighted materials illegally harms the author.

After all, if 44% of illegal downloaders would be much less likely to obtain ebooks illegally if they believed it harmed the author, tell them that it does. Your statements may deter these people from continuing to illegal download yours and other authors’ ebooks.

Related Posts:
The Game of “Life”
Napster vs. eBooks
Global eBook Sales are Within Your Reach

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Photo courtesy of Alejandro Escamilla.

The iPad and eBooks: Benefits for Publishers

Apple’s iPad launched this month. I think the iPad will be as popular as the iPhone.

The iPad presents three specific features that make life better for publishers of ebooks.

  1. The iPad uses the ebook standard format, ePub. This means that publishers do not have to publish their ebooks in yet another format, saving time and money.
  2. The iPad has a color-display, something other e-readers have not had to date. The iPad may be the gateway for children’s picture books to be embraced in ebook format.
  3. Apple appears to be implementing their own DRM to secure ePub files. This will eliminate the need for publishers to use a DRM middleman resulting in better profits in publishers’ pockets.

If you have not seen what the iPad is like. Take a look at this video introducing it.


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