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Effectively Combatting Piracy

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KristieJ contacted me a week or so ago with a link to an article posted by Pamela Clare. Clare had found that her works were being pirated on various internet sites and this incensed her, rightfully so. The first thing that anyone has to acknowledge is that piracy will always be with us. It will never go away, not matter how much we rant, rage and fume. The second thing is that there are ways to reduce piracy and this post is about the ways we can go about reducing piracy.

There are four key ways to reduce piracy: Education, increased availability, price, and ease of use/interopability.

Education:

The best thing that authors can do (other than sending DMCA Cease and Desist letters) is to educate readers, both at their own sites and at the sites where the pirating is taking place. This is best done in a reasoned tone if at all possible. It is absolutely right for an author to be angry over pirating but if the goal is to reduce piracy, you must ask yourself what is the best tone to take.

Is the “angry you are the worst human being on the world” going to change behavior or is a different tone going to make a better impact?   It helps   inform people that while you understand their financial struggle, that in order for people to keep getting the books that they want, they must buy those books. It helps to inform people that failing to buy a book will result in an author not exhibiting sufficient sales to a publisher.    It helps to show people that you are not getting rich by writing but that you do this out of a passion for the written word, a passion that people who download seem to share but that downloading only hurts the entire ecosystem of publishing.

The most effective form of combatting piracy comes prior to the downloading stage. In other words, once you have to write the email on the sharing site or send out the Cease and Desist letter, you’ve already lost the battle.

Increased Availalibity:

I would argue that one of the greatest enablers of piracy is the lack of availability of the work. What if the music industry had decided to offer, for sale, music in a digital format? Napster was a two year phenomena but it changed the face of an entire industry because people were finally able to get music in the form that they wanted – individual songs in an alacarte fashion. Many music insiders look back at that and mumble “what if”. What if Sony or BMG had developed that program first. Would there have ever been any impetus for people to create a peer to peer sharing network?

According to one academic study, when NBC removed its content from iTunes in December of 2007, an 11.5% increase for pirated content of NBC works occurred. (The report is downloadable and has some interesting assumptions about pirating behavior). Anecdotally, this would seem to be confirmed. For instance, the English speaking countries (particularly the US) is one of the greatest consumers of scanlations, Japanese manga scanned in and translated into English.

The lack of availability forces the reader to make a choice. Either pirate or go without. Clare noted in her blog post that her books were only available on the Kindle. It’s a closed format available only to those who buy a Kindle or own an iPhone (and are willing to read on the iPhone) and only available to US residents. This is not something to brag about. One of the reasons that people will pirate is because they simply do not have access to the digital file either because of geographic restrictions, format restrictions, or other impediments such as the late release of the ebook compared to the print or the failure of a book to be in digital format in the first place.

I ask authors and publishers this one question. Why would you allow the only available digital copy to be a pirated one?

Price:

Pricing is also important in combatting piracy. Price the content higher than the general public believes its worth and the content will be pirated at a higher rate. An author or a publisher must do one of two things: a) convince readers that the content is worth a certain value or b) price the product in line with the consumer expectation. Kindle has gone a long way in convincing readers that $9.99 is the ceiling for ebooks. RAND has announced that $9.99 will be the price point for its books.

Ease of Use:

Never, ever make the free copy easier to obtain than the for payment copy. Digital rights management and the proliferation of proprietary formats is one reason why piracy continues to flourish. DRM prevents readers from actually owning their books. DRM makes criminals of ordinary people by forcing people to violate the DMCA and strip the DRM away. It reduces customer choice and actually removes control over the pricing and sale of the work and places it in the hands of the DRM provider.

One of the reasons iTunes was successful and why Amazon is seeing a market share increase is due to the ease of purchase. Piracy takes some technical know how. A casual reader isn’t likely to turn to piracy if a legitimate product is offered at a reasonable price.

Conclusion:

So to authors and publishers out there. Help us reduce the impact of piracy (because it will never be stopped) by giving us the tools to do so. Make every book released in print available worldwide to those who are willing and able to buy. Make it at a price that is fair (which may admittedly vary). Make it easy to purchase and to use from device to device. I am begging you, authors and publishers, to make give readers the opportunity to buy digital copies of your books through legitimate channels.

Readers, buy books when you can and look for every legitimate form of free if you can’t.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

80 Comments

  1. Kerry
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 05:29:00

    I have several of Ms. Clare’s works that I purchased from fictionwise. Legally. So she’s mistaken in saying the only legal e-versions are for the Kindle.

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  2. Shiloh Walker
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 05:32:50

    Great post, Jane.

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  3. Elaine
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 06:42:33

    Right now I would download Jewel’s My Forbidden Desire to my Kindle if it was available for the Kindle. It isn’t. I don’t want to read the book enough to drive 20 miles to Barnes and Noble to purchase the paperback. Perhaps I will remember the next time I am in Barnes and Noble, and perhaps not.

    Publisher fail.

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  4. rosecolette
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 06:44:23

    One aspect of electronic book piracy has me curious: How is this any different than loaning a physical book to multiple friends? Or releasing it into the wild, or signing it up for one of the many growing book loan sites, or donating it to a charity, or offering it for free at a yard sale, and so on. It is extremely easy to pay once and only once for a hardcopy book and have it come into contact with multiple people who will continue to read and pass it on without the publisher or author seeing an additional dime.

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  5. Louisa Edwards
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 06:56:56

    There’s a lot of good information here (for instance, I don’t think I quite understood what DRM was before) and I hope very much that the industry will start to take some of these ideas on board. My only concern is that, while you address yourself to the authors as much as to the publishers, it turns out I have relatively little control over whether and how my books will be offered digitally. Publishers are trying hard to secure electronic rights these days; mine did. I’ve asked several times if they plan to do an e-editon, and have been assured that of course they do. The details are harder to pin down. Short of retaining the rights myself (not always possible in contract negotiation unless I’m willing for it to be a make or break point, which I’m not) I’m struggling to find the best way to ensure my books are available as widely, cheaply, and easily as possible.

    Hmm. Maybe my best option is to become a huge bestseller so when I stamp my little foot and say what I want, it gets done immediately!

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  6. Jody
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 06:59:26

    Rosecolette, a reader can send a hardcopy to one friend. She can send a digital copy to 100,000 friends with no quality loss. Or the one friend she sends a digital copy to could send it to 10 friends, one of whom might upload it to a pirating site. Then 100,000 folks could download it for free. You can’t do that with a hardcopy unless somebody goes through the trouble of changing that hardcopy into a digital copy. The one single hardcopy could be lent to multiple people indeed but it would deteriorate after each reading until it was unreadable (it certainly wouldn’t make it through 100,000 friends) and could only be read by one person at a time, unless two people sat very close together :).

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  7. SandyW
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 07:03:59

    @rosecolette:
    Because there is only one copy of that book that you bought and passed on and it has a limited life-span. Sooner or later it comes apart or gets stuffed in a box and forgotten. Plus there’s the legality. You have every right to loan, give, or resell a physical book. Whether we agree or not, there is not a corresponding right to dispose of an ebook in the same way. Least of all to several thousand of your closest friends.

    Jane, thanks for this. Pro-active is much better than re-active.
    I will now wait for the inevitable pseudo-anarchists to show up, saying that art should be free to roam and authors might as well lie back and try to enjoy it.

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  8. Jane O
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 07:08:45

    One aspect of electronic book piracy has me curious: How is this any different than loaning a physical book to multiple friends? Or releasing it into the wild, or signing it up for one of the many growing book loan sites, or donating it to a charity, or offering it for free at a yard sale, and so on. It is extremely easy to pay once and only once for a hardcopy book and have it come into contact with multiple people who will continue to read and pass it on without the publisher or author seeing an additional dime.

    One difference is obviously sheer volume. There is no way I could lend my copy of a book to thousands of people, or even hundreds. And if I like a book I have borrowed sufficiently, I may be prompted to go out and buy my own copy so I can keep it.

    And I think the author is entitled to be as furious as she likes. Rants and hissy fits allowed.

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  9. Sandy James
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 07:19:41

    I could sit and worry about whether my ebooks are pirated, but I have to acknowledge that I have no control over that. I could prowl all the illegal download sites that start up as fast as you can get them shut down. I could obsess over the lost profits from the people who obtain my books without paying for them. But that would make me crazy (or crazier as the dh always says), and I choose to focus my attention on writing more books. If I’m given information about an illegal download site, I email my publisher. She’s ruthless in getting them shut down.

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  10. rosecolette
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 07:20:17

    Jody, I look at it with a book collector’s eye, that being I have pieces in my collection that have touched possibly hundreds of hands on their way to me (especially if it was a library sale purchase) and the publisher received one and only one payment. Ebooks, though they are gaining traction thanks to electronic readers and smart phone apps, are still a niche item. There is a section of the populace that will read an ebook over a hardcopy, a group that will go both ways, and then there’s everyone else. Some statistician could probably break down by age group and computer confidence. The physical book has a greater chance, imo, of being enjoyed by a more diverse audience — and hardcopies aren’t deleted if your hard drive crashes before you’ve had a chance to make a backup and/or Amazon gets pissy and locks down your Kindle.

    It didn’t make sense to me when the music industry flipped out over Napster considering how many people downloaded admittedly crappy sounding files only to run off and buy the physical CD. And it doesn’t make sense to me today that publishers are wrapping a steel claw around electronic books on the chance that it will end up on a torrent site, downloaded by hundreds of thousands, and be the end of the cash cow. (Personally, I find a person’s author tastes to be far more subjective than their music tastes.)

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  11. rosecolette
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 07:35:04

    Let me make this clarification: I do not support piracy or torrent sites, and any author who finds his/her work on one should definitely shut it down.

    I’m looking more at the paranoia (for lack of a better word) that I see growing in the minds of the big box publishers over one aspect of bookselling and trying to figure out through discussion how, regardless of volume potential, the electronic frontier is different than a book making the rounds through countless hands, a music CD being copied multiple times, or hey, remember taping songs off the radio? They are all somewhat similar. Once a creative work is out there, whether digital or physical, there is a loss of control over the item.

    Maybe the answer resides in a Google-esque library system where you can read an e-book online and after a certain amount of time the access is turned off. (Neil Gaiman did this with one of his books. You could read American Gods in its entirety for one month at the publisher’s website. He received many emails from readers who said they ran out and bought the physical copy.)

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  12. Jody
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 07:46:16

    Rosecolette, one of the differences between music and books is music is almost ALWAYS listened to over and over and books are not often read over and over by the same person, unless that same person happens to be an obsessive toddler with a Skippy Jon Jones fetish. We’re on reading #239 of one SJJ book and it’s about to fall apart. Which an ebook never would. So after reading #245 we’re going to have to buy a new copy. If we were to “share” that copy with somebody, it would no longer be in our possession, meaning if the toddler started asking for Skippy Jon but the book was elsewhere, I’d have to buy YET another copy in order to get any peace at night.

    That’s 3 purchases for the author and publisher. And two households that read the book.

    If I were to get a digital copy of the book and zing it to all my friends with toddlers who conveniently had e-readers (let’s just pretend that’s possible), then that is 1 sale for the author and publisher and a bunch of people who are going to love the book but have no need to purchase it, when otherwise I might have said, “You Have Got To Get This Book!” and they would have.

    (Come to think of it, I might have warned them away from ole Skippy Jon due to the whole 239 thing. But I digress.)

    As far as having a library that has touched hundreds of hands — that’s great, but everything in your library is YOURS and you didn’t send that same copy to 100,000 people while keeping it to re-read or re-gift yourself. It would be too much trouble to photocopy the pages. Not so with “sharing” digital files.

    I know that a lot of people prefer paper books for various reasons. That’s fine. Nobody is here to argue superiority of ebooks over paper books; the article was about combatting ebook piracy. The fact that a lot of people prefer paper books over digital doesn’t mean it’s okay to pirate the format that is less popular.

    If there were a way to create digital files that could only exist in X places at once, so that when you shared them they disappeared off your computer no matter what, that would be equivalent to sharing paper copies. But that’s not how digital files work, so the “sharing” rules won’t work the same either.

    I don’t know what the perfect solution is. I just know we haven’t found it.

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  13. Becca
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 07:56:28

    why should I pay $9.99 for an electronic book when I can get the paperback for around $8, and can resell, trade, or loan the book out when I’m done?

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  14. Nora Roberts
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 07:58:40

    ~Hmm. Maybe my best option is to become a huge bestseller so when I stamp my little foot and say what I want, it gets done immediately!~

    Let me know when this happens, and what kind of footwear you used. I’ll go out and buy it immediately in hopes of getting the same results.

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  15. BevBB
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 08:04:15

    The problem isn’t in control of the “copy” of the work. It’s in control of the device used to access it – whether we’re talking about a reader, viewer, player or computer of some type.

    Example – I have DirecTV with pay-per-view. In the past their policies on pay-per-view movies had been that they could be bought for a day. Well, once we also got the DVR through them with TIVO that system had to get tweaked because suddenly the user could pay to buy the movie for a day but record it and continue to view it for what was a relatively infinite amount of time. Still on the same device but definitely longer than a day. So, they changed it to the recording only lasting a day. And suddenly I noticed we weren’t recording nearly as many pay-per-view movies. What was the point? We barely had time to watch them before they were gone. Now their system has changed again.

    All this to say, these people are interactive – immediately – with what the customer wants and needs but they’re also in control of the device the customer is getting the device on.

    Is this a comparable thing? Yes and no. Is it like buying a book or a music cd? No. Is it comparable to what some of you are talking about wanting to do in a library setting? Possibly. The only difference is that in that case, you’re wanting to walk away with the device.

    And that’s where the problem truly arises. Where the disconnect in control arises.

    It’s not the ebook “file” that’s the problem. Several of you just said that many people could view one book and it wouldn’t be a problem. Well, if we truly wanted to get technical, there is only one original electronic file of any document, people. Yes, it can be replicated many times but so can a print document. However, a print document doesn’t also need another device to transport it.

    The problem are the devices that are used to transport the copies around and those are many and legion. And growing all the time.

    Look, I know that dedicated readers aren’t the answer but until someone comes up with a solution that allows for ebooks to be “contained” in such a way that they can be actually owned – individually – by the person buying them separate and distinct from any device and out of the control of the person/persons selling them, this is never going to be resolved.

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  16. Cybercliper
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 08:08:10

    I don’t have a Kindle and don’t know much about them or their counterparts. I do understand piracy – stealing. I had a similar problem with a small, but important program we developed. We tied the download to the computer internal registration number – a unique number to that computer. You could copy the program, but when paste, run, or download on any other computer was made, the program was created to scramble – it destroyed itself.

    Program movements and upgrades were handled after verifying the user was authorized to have the material. With all the programming capabilities out there, I’m sure something could be done to at least minimize pirating. But as with all things that ensure additional security and safety, some sacrifices will have to be made. I guess it’s a matter of what the industries and its customers are willing to trade.

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  17. Monica Burns
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 08:32:03

    Maybe the answer resides in a Google-esque library system where you can read an e-book online and after a certain amount of time the access is turned off.

    This is an idea that I’m baffled as to why it’s not already being done in blowout style. It seems like the perfect answer to piracy because it’s immediate for the reader, the publisher/author gets paid in a negotiated way. The reader could either subscribe for a small monthly fee or a one-time fee for one book (like iTunes, Rhapsody) I know there are some public libraries that are offering eBooks on loan and those as I understand it have a time limit on how long its available for reading, but I’m not aware of any eLibrary services on line (I live in a hole).

    You offer up the books, you pay a royalty fee and you plug meaningful advertising on your site. It could easily be a profitable venture. Damn, I need to talk to the network guru at home. He is not going to be happy that I’m thinking again.

    Good post, Jane

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  18. Louisa Edwards
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 08:32:34

    @Nora Roberts:

    Surely Manolos would get the job done!

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  19. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 08:40:29

    So to authors and publishers out there. Help us reduce the impact of piracy (because it will never be stopped) by giving us the tools to do so. Make every book released in print available worldwide to those who are willing and able to buy. Make it at a price that is fair (which may admittedly vary). Make it easy to purchase and to use from device to device.

    If only we authors had any control over this stuff. *sigh*

    why should I pay $9.99 for an electronic book when I can get the paperback for around $8, and can resell, trade, or loan the book out when I'm done?

    Clearly you shouldn't. I never resold or traded in my books, so they just built up in my house, collecting dust and sucking dog hair into their spine (how do they do that when they're closed on a shelf?). The fact that I have 300+ books in my purse right this minute, coupled with the fact that I'll never have to pack and lug those books from one house to another, dust them, find room for them, or deal with disposing of them is PRICELESS to me (and to date I've never paid MORE for an eBook than I would have for the paper version; in fact, I usually pay quite a bit less thanks to the discounts and microrebates at places like Ficitonwise).

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  20. Barbara
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 09:14:53

    Wonderful and very informative post, Jane.

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  21. Katharina
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 09:59:48

    Maybe the answer resides in a Google-esque library system where you can read an e-book online and after a certain amount of time the access is turned off.

    This is an idea that I'm baffled as to why it's not already being done in blowout style. It seems like the perfect answer to piracy because it's immediate for the reader, the publisher/author gets paid in a negotiated way. The reader could either subscribe for a small monthly fee or a one-time fee for one book (like iTunes, Rhapsody) I know there are some public libraries that are offering eBooks on loan and those as I understand it have a time limit on how long its available for reading, but I'm not aware of any eLibrary services on line (I live in a hole).

    The reason why this is still unattractive to me is the fact that such offers – at the moment – are limited to screen reading. IIRC, Avon is currently offering several books which can be read online for free. As much as I would enjoy trying out these authors, I certainly won’t do it as long as I can’t transfer the books onto my reader. And, IMO, this is the crux of the matter, because except for some libraries that offer ebook lending (and as far as I know they don’t exist in Europe yet) this whole “vision” hasn’t yet achieved a feasible, executable status.

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  22. Wendy
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 10:01:11

    One aspect of electronic book piracy has me curious: How is this any different than loaning a physical book to multiple friends?

    I love ebooks (going digital for my Harlequin fix has damn near changed my life) – but this aspect of them makes me crazy.

    I think most readers are good people. We’re not uploading books on file-sharing web sites. We’re not sending a digital copy of a book to our 100 nearest and dearest friends. But since the dawn of the printing press readers have shared and swapped books with other readers. We just have.

    Everybody keeps trying to convince me that ebooks are “just like” Dead Tree Books – but they’re not. I can’t swap them. I can’t trade them. I can’t donate them to the library. I can’t send the choice erotica I’m reading electronically to my sister without being branded a pirate, scumbag or criminal. So instead I read my ebooks – and either keep them because I love them….or delete them because I didn’t love them.

    Which seems like a massive waste me. Until this is hammered out in some way? Yeah, ebooks aren’t taking over the world. Sorry folks – they just aren’t.

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  23. Karen Templeton
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 10:25:41

    To reiterate what a few others have pointed out: Authors have no control over when, if, or in what formats their books are released as ebooks, or over the price. While your points are more than valid, they need to be directed almost solely at publishers, not authors. :)

    But as to price — and someone much more in the know as to the technical side of this, please feel free to correct me — but as long as there ARE so many different formats, is this somewhat expensive for the publisher to retool each file for the different formats? Is it really as simple as switching a file in Word by clicking “save as”? I mean, I’m assuming there are hidden costs we’re not seeing, right? Among those the $$$ and time spent to track down the pirates and send all those cease-and-desist missives.

    Speaking of which…while I abhor the idea of someone thinking it’s cool to upload any of our books to a torrent site, given Harlequin’s 37 percent increase in sales this last quarter I’m thinking THUS FAR the thefts are not impacting actual sales to any huge degree. Yeah, it’s disheartening when you see your book’s been stolen a hundred or a thousand or thousands of times, but I truly believe the number of people who would have bought the book anyway is a negligible percentage of those figures. At least, I’ve yet to see any erosion of my sales figures commensurate with the number of illegal downloads of my books (although, as always, YMMV).

    To my mind it’s a bit like those all-you-can-eat Chinese buffets, where people load up their plates because they can, but don’t eat half of what they take — nor would they have paid for that same amount of food under other circumstances. “Free” and “because it’s there” makes people a little crazed, loading up their plates — or hard drives, in this case — with far more than they really want or intend to use. I’m willing to bet that a big percentage of downloads don’t translate to lost sales; they’re phantom sales that would have never happened in any case.

    As far as I can tell, it’s nearly impossible to “educate” readers about the issue without guilting them, or making them feel bad whenever they read a book they haven’t paid for or bought used. And those who feel entitled to an illegally available file aren’t going to have a change of heart simply because someone tells them it’s wrong. So it’s the “on the fencers” that need to be targeted, those who perhaps turn to pirate sites because it’s less of a hassle than figuring out which format works with their device, or who do feel e-book prices are too high — issues that publishers can, and should, address.

    But pirating sites seem to be like roaches — shut one down and five more pop up. They’re never going to go completely away, anymore than pirated DVDs. However, as your post points out, there are ways to mitigate the impact before it mushrooms totally out of control.

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  24. Anthea Lawson
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 10:30:05

    @Wendy: This is all about to change. Google is planning on having books available “in the cloud” versus going with device-specific use. From the New York Times article on Google’s new Digital Book venture:

    “Mr. Turvey said Google's program would allow consumers to read books on any device with Internet access, including mobile phones, rather than being limited to dedicated reading devices like the Amazon Kindle. “We don't believe that having a silo or a proprietary system is the way that e-books will go,” he said.”

    This is a HUGE step toward addressing one branch of the thorny e-book issue. It will be very interesting to see where this goes.

    @Karen: As an author who has repeatedly begged their publisher to at least release a Kindle edition – with no results – I say hear, hear! It’s FAR more on the publishers to push the formats. Authors are not very powerful in the publishing world… Although if the Manolos change that, Louisa, let me know too!

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  25. Monica Burns
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 10:34:35

    IIRC, Avon is currently offering several books which can be read online for free. As much as I would enjoy trying out these authors, I certainly won't do it as long as I can't transfer the books onto my reader.

    Do you mean Harlequin? I know I downloaded several of their free books, which are in PDF format and I’m pretty sure I can read them on whatever computer I want. Now granted their free, and the ones I buy are protected. So I understand the frustration of not being able to transfer. I’m in the same boat in certain instances.

    And, IMO, this is the crux of the matter, because except for some libraries that offer ebook lending (and as far as I know they don't exist in Europe yet) this whole “vision” hasn't yet achieved a feasible, executable status.

    This makes sense, and it means one of us savvy romance reader/writer types need to beat the big guys to the punch. *grin* There has to be a way to do it that makes it a win win for everyone concerned. I’m like Kirk. I don’t believe in the no win scenario. *grin* However asking me how to do it execution wise is a WHOLE new ball game.

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  26. kirsten saell
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 10:39:54

    Price, I think, is the one of the biggest inequities between ebooks and print, and I don’t think looking at it on a per-sale basis is realistic.

    Say a mass market paperback sells for $6. Let’s say during that book’s lifetime, it’s swapped, resold, loaned, passed around maybe 7 times. That’s a per-use value of less than a buck.

    Say the publisher is “enlightened” enough to charge the same price for the digital version of that book, rather than more (which is about the dumbest thing ever, but it happens). In the hands of a conscientious consumer, that book will not get swapped, resold, loaned or passed around. Let’s be fair and assume that the consumer loans her reader to her mom for a few days, so that particular book gets read by two different people. The per-use cost of digital is then 300% higher than for print.

    So even if the digital version is no more expensive than the print, in practical terms, the consumer is still paying more for it.

    Add to that the insanity of DRM, which could conceivably render the book unopenable within 12 months–perhaps even before the original consumer has a chance to read it. Add to that the absurdity of hard-back priced digital versions of books (which is bogus to begin with), sometimes even after they’re available in mass market paperback. I can’t think of any sane reason someone would pay more for an ebook than for print–other than to strip the DRM and upload it to a torrent site and “share” it.

    Perhaps I’m naive, but I’d hope most people are happy to go the legal route when it comes to their purchasing–even in regard to things as intangible as digital files. But many publishers seem determined to clutter the legal route with every disincentive they can think up. When the illegal product is the same quality as the legal one, is more user-friendly, and free…

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  27. Suzanne Allain
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 10:47:44

    What if the eBook cost less than the paperback copy? Would you then think it was fair if you only had a personal copy, rather than a copy you could loan/re-sell/trade, etc?

    I read a lot of eBooks. I now purchase most of my books in that format. I like the instant gratification aspect; I can read it now, without having to get in my car and drive to the library/bookstore. And I can re-read it whenever I want (although I’ve lost a few because of DRM issues.) However, the ability to have the book instantly, reconciles me to the fact that it is not a paperback and therefore does not come with other advantages that a paperback has, such as loanability. (Sorry, I just made that word up.)

    And I have never run out and re-purchased a book that I first bought as an eBook. So the idea that authors should give away (or have others give away) their books in electronic format does not seem to me to be a good one.

    (oops – while I was typing this it looks like a few others may have said something similar. Sorry to be redundant.)

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  28. rosecolette
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 10:59:36

    (If this appears twice, my apologies. Having a few tech issues over here.)

    Jody, first off let me say I’m enjoying reading your thoughts on this. Second, there is now a list of people I’m buying Skippy Jon Jones for because I am That Auntie. Now, back to our chat! You bring up excellent points regarding the fleeting nature of print vs. the sturdier ebook, and you’re absolutely right that ebooks have the potential to last longer (as long as you backup your device or hard drive).

    Kirsten Saell stated the pricing point far more eloquently than I could so I’ll focus on the numbers game. Kirsten, I hope you don’t mind if I piggy-back onto your argument.

    People who buy Kindles who then buy only from Amazon are only reading Amazon’s format, so that decreases the potential wild numbers. Of those who do not buy only from Amazon and of those with different e-readers, Mobi and secure PDF have the greater posibility of being released as they’re more accessible.

    From there, extrapolate the number of people with readers whether it be physical e-reader or smart phone app; factor in that great difference in genre and author taste for books compared to something like music; from there, the number of these people willing to go out onto a torrent* site to look for a book, or ask friends if they’d forward a copy rather than legally purchasing; and of this group, those that are willing to keep the book in the wild by passing it along to others or by setting up their own torrent ID or by posting the book on a bboard/website.

    To me, the numbers for potential ebook piracy aren’t there yet. Print books, especially paperbacks, have the greater potential to be passed around because they are more readily accessible and don’t require an extra purchase of a reader or app. As print prices continue to rise this will change, first with more print books being passed around and then as e-readers of all stripes come down in price. (I have shoes that cost less than most major print hardbacks.)

    To more directly address Jane’s post, the answer may reside in how the music industry eventually handled mp3s: Accept that media will be shared, accept there is no way to control how or when, and tack on a few cents extra to cover the loss.

    *Torrent sites are like one night stands, if you don’t use protection you never know what “extra joy” you’ll be left with in the morning.

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  29. Katharina
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 11:07:09

    @Monica Burns:
    No, I am not talking about those wonderful free ebooks from Harlequin you can download in several different formats. I am talking about three (four?) Avon romance books that are available as online reads, meaning, you have to read them glued to your computer.

    Here is the link of said books, if you scroll down you can see the books that are 100% free.

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  30. Monica Burns
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 11:16:54

    @Katharina WHOA! I hadn’t heard about those! I love Loretta Chase. Thanks for the link. Obviously I’ve been living in a hole. *grin* But writing does that to a person.

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  31. kirsten saell
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 11:32:02

    And I have never run out and re-purchased a book that I first bought as an eBook. So the idea that authors should give away (or have others give away) their books in electronic format does not seem to me to be a good one.

    This is something that has worked in the past for authors like Cory Doctorow. But in the long term, it can’t be successful. It only works now because, at the moment, most readers have a very strong preference for print over digital.

    As ereaders become more popular, consumers who prefer ebooks over print (or who don’t strongly prefer print) will represent a larger and larger share of the overall market. Those who are already happy to read ebooks will never go out and buy the paperback because the first five chapters they read in digital hooked them–and there will come a time when they’re numerous enough that schemes like this will lose money for authors.

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  32. hanne
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 11:56:08

    I do wish they would stop that damned DRM. There are quite a few ebooks with DRM that I cannot read, because a) I don’t live in the US, so they won’t send me a kindle; b) I can’t afford any of the ebook devices anyway (though I definitely covet them – all of them); and c) I have a mac, and DRM-ed lit, pdf and mobipocket files are difficult (or impossible – I haven’t found any useful programs yet, at least) to read on my computer.

    My procedure for buying and reading these books feel quite ridiculous, to be frank – I buy the official version that I cannot read, and immediately proceed to download it from some torrent site – something which is illegal, even though I have rightfully purchased a copy of the book. It’s just easier than stripping the DRM – which incidentally is also illegal. I don’t particularly enjoy breaking the law, but I want to actually read the books that I buy, and I must admit that I want to own my own books, something which I do not wholly do if the file is dependent on a particular device or program of which I have no control.

    The authors in here may be offended that I use the torrent sites (even though I purchase every book I don’t borrow from friends), but I do delete all the torrent files the second it’s done, in a feeble hope that I don’t support the piracy too much. Hypocritical, I know – but people in general choose the easiest and fastest solution, and that is the single most important reason for why they should run screaming from the concept of DRM.

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  33. Karen Templeton
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 11:57:47

    A thought, though, re: buying print after having bought an e-version (and yes, this is somewhat off-topic):

    If you really want to keep a copy for a long time, you still pretty much have to have a hardcopy version.

    Because hard-drives crash and devices become obsolete, and you can’t count on being able to reload your book from the publisher — even if they offer the option — because Stuff Happens, like pubs going under or files corrupting. When all’s said and done, paper is still more permanent than bytes. ;-)

    Now, clearly none of us wants or needs to keep all the books we purchase. I probably give away 90% of the books I buy, and only buy my own copies of maybe 10% of the books I read from the library (although I’d buy more if I were more flush, but that’s something else again). An e-reader is perfect for those one-time-reads, and for schlepping a hundred books on vacation, and — in theory — whittling down Mt. TBR, but I’d never trust keeping an entire library on my computer or a dedicated device (which brings us back to the necessity of making it easier to legitmately back up your own books in various places). Yeah, houses sometimes burn down or get blown away, but nearly as often as technology farts.

    In my experience, at least.

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  34. Sunita
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 11:59:31

    I want to reiterate Karen Templeton’s (earlier) point that illegal downloads don’t reflect lost sales on a 1-for-1 basis. This doesn’t change the ethics of the issue, but it’s important to realize that unlike the music situation, where people were downloading single tracks or at most albums each time, a lot of pirated ebooks come in huge bundles. You can select out just the ones you want, but my guess that a lot of people with broadband don’t bother or don’t know how. There are now more sites that offer single-book or single-author zip files, but when you go to a torrent site and see that your book is part of a group that’s been downloaded thousands of times, it’s likely to be part of a package. That obviously doesn’t make an author feel better, because those unread books can still be uploaded over and over as part of the same package. But it should put the numbers into perspective.

    I *have* bought ebooks and then paperbacks (and vice versa), and I’ve bought a number of books in more than one ebook format because I switched from Palm (ereader/mobi) to the Sony Reader. It’s very frustrating. I totally understand why people buy in a particular format and strip the DRM; if I’d been using Microsoft-compatible readers at the time I probably would have done the same thing.

    My guess is the price will have to come down a LOT for the iTunes model to work. As Jane said, what worked in music is that people were able to buy single tracks for 99 cents in the US, and whole albums for less than the CD price. The single track demand isn’t an issue with books, so the eformats will have to be significantly cheaper and transferable across devices for the legit versions to challenge the pirated ones. And even then, the purchasing-power differences across developed and developing countries is going to keep piracy going. In India, for example, M&B is sold at less than the exchange-rate price. But they’re still very expensive by Indian standards. I imagine there are people that buy them, but traditionally a lot of people got them out of private lending libraries because you had to be seriously well off to be able to afford to buy them every month. If ebooks are priced the same way, they still won’t be affordable to everyone who wants to read them, and those pirated versions are everywhere.

    The pirating of ebooks is getting more and more extensive. I’ve only followed these sites for the last year or so. But at this point Harlequins are going up on those sites in the SAME MONTH as eHarlequin releases them. I saw Carla Kelly’s latest on one and I couldn’t believe it. It hadn’t even released beyond the advance sale at eHarlequin at that point.

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  35. rosecolette
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 11:59:40

    @Jody, first off let me say I’m enjoying reading your thoughts on this. Second, there is now a list of people I’m buying Skippy Jon Jones for because I am That Auntie. Now, back to the discussion!

    You, BevBB, Sandy, and Jane O bring up excellent points regarding the fleeting nature of print vs. the sturdier ebook, and you’re absolutely right that ebooks have the potential to last longer (as long as you backup your device or hard drive and yes, I do harp on that point).

    @kirsten saell examined the pricing point far more eloquently than I could so I’ll focus on the numbers. Kirsten, please forgive me for piggy-backing onto your post.

    Here is the matrix of why I do not believe ebook sharing vs. print sharing differ too much in the numbers game:

    People who buy Kindles who then buy only from Amazon are only reading Amazon’s format, so that decreases the potential wild number. Of those who do not buy only from Amazon and of those with different e-readers, Mobi and secure PDF have the greater posibility of being released as they’re more accessible.

    From there, extrapolate the number of people with readers whether it be physical e-reader or smart phone app versus those without readers; factor in difference of genre and author taste between those readers; from there, the number of these people willing to go out onto a torrent* site to look for a book, or ask friends if they’d forward a copy rather than legally purchasing; and of this group, those that are willing to keep the book in the wild by passing it along to others or by setting up their own torrent ID or by posting the book on a bboard/website.

    Monetary loss from ebook piracy is there in potential but I do not think it exists in numbers compared to print book sharing. Print books, especially paperbacks, are at present more readily accessible by a greater number of readers as don’t require the extra purchase of a reader, phone, or app. As print prices continue to rise or if e-readers drop in price, the numbers will most likely change.

    To more directly address Jane’s post, the answer may reside in how the music industry eventually handled mp3s: Accept that media will be shared, accept there is no way to control how or when, and tack on a few cents extra in the beginning to cover potential loss before the flock escapes the pen.

    *Torrent sites are like one night stands, if you don’t use protection you never know what “extra joy” you’ll be left with in the morning. See Adobe’s PDF vulnerabilities as example.

    P.S. to Monica Burns: I’ll beta test if you develop!

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  36. SonomaLass
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 12:00:36

    I don’t think most publishers agree to give away an electronic version of a book because they hope readers will rush out and buy a dead tree copy of the same book. Rather, they hope readers will rush out and buy other books by the same author, in whatever format. That’s why so many of the free books available are early books, or first in a series. E-book technology makes giving books away as a promotional device possible; the logistics of doing that with print books would be ridiculous. However, it seems foolish to me to “tempt” people with a free e-book if the rest of the series isn’t available in that format. That’s a recipe for piracy — I want the rest of this series, I can’t download it, but I can get it for free (like I did the first book) on this piracy site or using bit-torrent…hmmm, tempting….

    Jane’s central point here seems to me to be solid gold. Don’t put readers in a position where piracy is the easiest way to go. Do all you can to make books available in the formats readers want, at a reasonable price, in a timely manner (hate it when the e-release and the print release are widely different!). Customer service. And yes, that’s clearly a message that the publishers need to hear, because the authors don’t have the power (although I want to see video of Nora Roberts stamping her pretty little Manolos or Jimmy Choos).

    I also agree with Karen Templeton that a lot of the sales “lost” to piracy are phantom sales — people who take the free book because it’s there, but may or may not ever read it, and most likely wouldn’t have bought it anyway. I’ve found myself doing that with some of the free books like at Tor and Harlequin, taking books that I will probably never read, just because they are free (ooh, shiny!). There’s really no way to measure lost sales/sales that would have happened but didn’t. The music industry based their concerns on falling CD sales, but I think they have since learned that it wasn’t because consumers preferred free music, but rather that they preferred easy-to-access digital music. Some publishers get that already (*blows kisses to Samhain*); more should.

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  37. DS
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 12:17:20

    I don’t run out and buy the exact books that I have read in free ebook form, but I will buy sequels and other books by the author. Two free ebooks have results in a total of eight purchased books and I am waiting for others in the two different series. I loaned a dead tree copy of Colleen Gleason’s The Rest Falls Away (which I didn’t particularly care for) to a friend last week. She loved it and after finishing it downloaded the second one to her Kindle and is reading it now with the intent of reading the other four.

    With a Kindle one can have up to six devices (Kindles or iPhones) attached to the account. That is pretty similar to the number of devices that can be attached to an Itunes account. I share mine with the same friend. If I buy an ebook she can read it and vice versa. There’s three Kindles and an iphone attached to that account right now. We fund it with gift cards.

    There’s ways to make it seem ebook reading is less strait jacketed. And if for some reason Amazon decides to drop the current format, I have back up of my books and the python script that will strip the Kindle drm saved on a disc.

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  38. Anon
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 13:06:09

    My own little stubborn protest against ebooks being priced higher than I can buy the paper version (new and not used) is I will not buy the book AT ALL in any version, paper or digital. I won’t be downloading a pirated version either!

    I do email publishers when this happens, but while I know authors have no control over pricing of ebooks, I do also let them know why I am not going to be buying their book at all. It is only common courtesy out of my respect for their work. Knowledge is power. Authors do need to be aware of all factors in why sales may not be as expected.

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  39. GrowlyCub
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 13:10:09

    I’ve bought a ton of paperbacks after reading the e-versions and vice versa. Particular example, Scalzi’s ‘Old Man’s War’ which was a free download from Tor. I’ve since bought it and all the other books in that series in paper.

    I’ve also bought e-versions of keeper books where they are available so I can have them with me all the time on my Sony.

    The only thing I’d add is that I’d love, love, love to get a coupon for the e-version when I buy a paperback. I’d be willing to pay a buck or 2 extra to be able to download the e-version. For those who don’t re-read it could be a coupon for another e-book by that author/publisher.

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  40. Monica Burns
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 13:46:50

    @rosecolette I just asked the DH to run for political office the other night, he looked at me with an arched eyebrow and refused to respond. I’ll be interested to see what he say with regard to a new business venture. The last one was too much work for him. LOL But he does know a lot of IT people in his contract work for the state, perhaps a bug in the right ear. Of course, I’m betting Chrissy Brashear is the real woman for the job. She’s AMAZING and if anyone could make it happen it would be here. I idolize that woman’s business savvy.

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  41. Kerry Allen
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 13:57:42

    Is it really as simple as switching a file in Word by clicking “save as”?

    Having recently edited a file to make it Kindle-compatible, I can emphatically state NO. It is technically possible to upload a Word document and leave it as is, but the result is not something any reader is going to want to look at for more than one page (no paragraph indents, random heiroglyphics replacing letters, strings of garbage code that if left as-is render the remainder of the document unreadable, etc.). It took hours to clean up the file so it (I hope) looks acceptable. There are consultants who charge $200 per file to do the cleanup for you, and long before my eyes started to bleed from staring at the text editor, I would have enthusiastically forked it over if I’d had it to fork.

    I know nothing about the multitude of other ebook formats, but I would assume the transition to all of them is at least somewhat more labor intensive than click-and-done.

    Nevertheless, unless paper, ink, and shipping have become free since the last time I checked, I don’t believe the formatting expense justifies putting the same or higher price on an ebook. They shouldn’t go for pennies on the dollar, but $9.99 seems outrageous to me.

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  42. Alisha Rai
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 14:03:55

    What a great post and discussion.

    I’m interested to know though, what about the publishers who do get it right? I signed with Samhain primarily because, as a reader, I found their lack of DRM and huge assortment of formats and venues for purchase very attractive. Their prices are reasonable, and their quality, IMHO, is great. However, my debut novel was pirated FOUR HOURS after it was released. Do you think it was downloaded any less than a book which might have been released with DRM?

    I’ve learned to kind of report it and then ignore it, and concentrate on the wonderful, honest folks who buy legally. It is indeed impossible to measure sales lost to piracy. It’s hard, though, not to get discouraged when I see posters on sharing forums who are actively requesting other people to post my book for free when it’s in like, eight formats, and I’ve seen it at FW for less than $3 (for a 60k plus novel!) once all the rebates and whatnot is all said and done. That’s the price of a latte. At McDonalds. Heck, a Whopper Jr. value meal costs more. I know times are tough, but me and my family are eating mac and cheese too.

    There’s a lot of food in this post. I think I’m hungry.

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  43. kassa
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 14:33:25

    Great post Jane and I can't stress enough how much I agree with it on all points.

    There is a lot of talk about piracy on a lot of blogs/websites right now and every author claims the same thing. Think about what you're stealing from me! All the while providing links to the illegal download sites. Now, let me state upfront that I don't illegally download and frankly I have a TBR list in the hundreds so I'm not even tempted and never will be. However, what continues to surprise me are the poor counter-arguments that are used against such pirates.

    You should start off with the knowledge that anyone who illegally downloads is wrong and knows it. You don't need to tell the people they're doing something wrong. They know it. If the Metallica incident against Napster didn't show you exactly what this means, please look it up. Fans and consumers know it's free and wrong but they make the choice anyway due to the reasons listed in Jane's post. Continuing to rant against such people will only have them tune your complaints out and garner you nothing but support from those who aren't actually downloading.

    Second, be consistent. If you claim pirate downloading your book is wrong (and it is), then this goes for e-books, music, movies, TV shows and so on. I can't tell you the number of authors who have cried fowl on illegal downloads of their e-books and yet mentioned getting torrents of the latest TV series. So not being a hypocrite is also going to go far in getting your message across about how much piracy hurts.

    Third, don't make it easy! Linking to where anonymous readers can get your books for free is not going to help your cause. I've heard people comment casually that they wouldn't even know where to get free downloads. That, more than anything, is your best defense. Not having an easy way to pirate your books will keep people buying them legally. Linking to these sites does not “expose” them in any negative light. All it does is expose your readers to a source they may not have previously known about and now have easy access to free (illegal) books. If you want to inform friends/authors, do so privately. You may think it can't get worse but really, if you make it that easy.. it can.

    Fourth, appealing to the better nature of pirates isn't going to get you anywhere. As in point one, they know they're wrong so trying to get readers to sympathize with your mortgage payment likely is only going to remind them they have their own house payments to make and why their $6 can be used elsewhere and just get your book for free. Try making a point that the fiction of they enjoy so much will no longer be available if they don't support this with cash. People will pay for entertainment if the possibility of losing that becomes real. Remember, people are downloading illegally because it’s free, easy, and has no affect on them personally. Showing them how it *does* affect them is likely to be more affective than appealing to their better nature.

    Fifth, remind people that when you share e-books, it's completely different from sharing print books. If you email an e-book, you are creating a previously non-existent copy. Ask them if they can go down to Kinko's and copy that print book each time they want to send it to someone. You have to think of each e-book as its own print copy. Otherwise most consider it just sharing books like you would with print books, yet it's not at all.

    Perhaps others have made these points or similar but I see the same mistakes repeatedly as authors wonder why their message, which garners a lot of views and positive comments, doesn't affect things really. Think of it from the viewpoint of the millions who worshipped Napster and what was affective (short of court action).

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  44. Jules Jones
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 14:37:30

    I’m published with Loose Id. If you buy my books direct from their website, you get them DRM-free, and they’re available in a variety of formats, with no restrictions on which country you live in. Go to one of the distributors like Fictionwise, and there are even more formats available. Buying my books is as hoop-free as is possible for ebooks.

    And there are still more illegal downloads than legal sales of my books.

    I know full well that a lot of those are phantom copies that may never be read. But a lot of them are as a result of people explicitly asking for files of specific titles to be posted, because they want to read them but don’t want to pay for them.

    This has knock-on effects. I’ve been back in a full-time day job for a year now, and am at least one and probably two books behind as a result. The loss in income to piracy was not the main reason to go back to a 9 to 5 job, but it would have been a lot harder to make that decision were my royalties even 50% higher than they are, and the piracy levels are high enough that it may be making that much of a difference.

    I’m just one author. A lot of the people who’d rather pirate than pay would (and do) say that they don’t care if I give up writing, because they can always move on to another author. But this is the risk anyone who pirates is taking — that an author will cut back, or simply give up writing altogether. And it’s the honest readers who pay when they lose the potential books that never get written.

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  45. Jody
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 14:45:11

    To me, the numbers for potential ebook piracy aren't there yet. Print books, especially paperbacks, have the greater potential to be passed around because they are more readily accessible and don't require an extra purchase of a reader or app.

    I believe some authors have stumbled across illegal copies of their books downloaded thousands of times on single sites. That’s more than a paperback can be passed around by far and doesn’t take into account other sites, other sharing strategies and so on. (I don’t know how many reads it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Yummy Book; probably less than thousands.) Granted, if you equate every illegal download with every legal “sharing” of any print copy, the print sharing in total (taking into account ALL print copies) would be higher, but I do think ebook pirating numbers are already significant enough to be a concern; moreover, this is only stage one of people adapting to electronic reading.

    There are doubtless some folks who still insist vinyl is the ONLY way to listen to music, too.

    I have been way too chicken to search out pirated copies of my own books, so I cannot verify these “thousands” with personal experience. Perhaps other authors could chime in? I do agree that not all illegal downloads would translate to sales but I have no idea what proportion WOULD.

    Re: purchasing paper versions of ebooks. I don’t have that many keepers. However, I have a TBR…let’s call it a house…that is a bit shameful. If all those paper versions were digital so I could read them on my PDA or Sony reader, OMG, I’d be the happiest bookbug in the world! If I wanted a version with loanability (I LIKE that word) I’d see if paper was available at that point. I would read more of my TBR if I could do it on my reader. I already back up my library because I know technological snafus happen more often than houses burn down. But this discussion isn’t about whether paper or ebooks are BETTER, it’s about ebook pirating.

    The thing is, I know not all readers are like me. But…more and more and more readers will be like me. In fact, the most incredible thing in the world happened the other day. My MOM was intrigued by my Sony Reader, especially its ability to enlarge the font. I had to sit down to handle that shock.

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  46. SarahT
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 14:51:16

    Excellent points, Jane.

    Education: Educating the public is essential but I also think illegally downloading copyrighted material needs to be more severely punished than it is now. I don’t think authorities do enough, not against any form of internet crime. Maybe it’s impossible for them to do much. I don’t know.

    Increased Availability: Most definitely. Geographic restrictions only serve to encourage piracy. Firstly, there are many countries outside the US who have English as their first language. Secondly, I firmly believe authors and publishers underestimate the amount of interest non-native English speakers have in reading books in English.

    Price: E-Books should be cheaper than paper editions. It doesn’t have to be a significant savings but I do expect something to recompense me for the fact I can’t loan it to a friend or resell it.

    Ease of Use: I find all the different file formats confusing.

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  47. XandraG
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 15:00:46

    How about this – a free and open-source app to read .epub files on any internet-connected device, be it phone, ebook reader, laptop, desktop, netbook, or x-ray vision glasses. Better yet, make it a browser plugin that works with mobile versions of Firefox, Safari, and IE.

    In this way, the e-reading experience can remain as individual as the reader herself. Some readers like reading paperbacks in the tub, others in the can, still others in bed, propped up, while others have a special reading recliner. Some of us like reading on our laptops

    Every publisher selling books off their site should offer customers flexibility in their purchases – cheap, expiration-date access for “throwaway” reads, regular-priced files for keeping (and the option to upgrade the throwaways if one finds a keeper), a customer option to purchase an additional copy for a friend either at a healthily-discounted rate, or with a customer-loyalty credit towards more books, and book-club type subscriptions that grant automatic access to all new releases for bulk readers (perhaps on that expiration-date access basis, with the reader given a chance to upgrade anything that looks particularly good to her).

    In this way, the customer experience at an ebook-buying site becomes an attractive, appealing, value-added, and maybe even social experience.

    Nobody’s yet talked about the “whys” of illegal downloading. Until we really understand that, all we can do is react. Why do people seek out torrent sites to download? Why do they seek them out to upload? Why does someone purchase a physical copy and then painstakingly slice it apart and scan it all in, convert it to PDF, and upload it to a torrent site? I’d be very surprised if any of the answers to any of these questions would be true for a significant majority of people engaged in illegal downloading. And of course, how many of those illegal downloads would translate into real sales, versus how many people would just not bother buying at all.

    Kirsten writes:

    This is something that has worked in the past for authors like Cory Doctorow.

    Cory also encourages people to buy physical copies not for themselves, but for libraries or friends, thus tying some small philanthropy to the purchase. Also, since his ebooks are released under Creative Commons, he’s got several languages’ worth of fan-translations circulating.

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  48. Christine M.
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 16:23:18

    Speaking from a scanlation reader’s perspective (I read yaoi) here’s my two pennies:

    1. Titles whose English/French translation/publishing rights have not been bought I will download off the Internet, from various scanlation websites.

    2. If those titles become available in English/French and I actually enjoyed the art/story (and keep in mind that most of the time, in the case of yaoip mangas, the mangas are shrink wrapped and there’s no way to peruse them before buying them) I actually buy the paper copy. And (I’m speaking of the (yaoi) scanalation sites I visit) once rights for a title have been bought by a publisher, the websites usually take down the scanlated book. Which, I think, is ‘fair use’. But maybe that’s just me, who knows.

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  49. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 16:24:11

    With a Kindle one can have up to six devices (Kindles or iPhones) attached to the account. That is pretty similar to the number of devices that can be attached to an Itunes account. I share mine with the same friend. If I buy an ebook she can read it and vice versa.

    I think most sites are like this. Fictionwise allows multiple devices too, so theoretically I could share an account with the two girlfriends I swap books with (if they ever buy an eReader, LOL!).

    Every publisher selling books off their site should offer customers flexibility in their purchases – cheap, expiration-date access for “throwaway” reads, regular-priced files for keeping (and the option to upgrade the throwaways if one finds a keeper), a customer option to purchase an additional copy for a friend either at a healthily-discounted rate, or with a customer-loyalty credit towards more books, and book-club type subscriptions that grant automatic access to all new releases for bulk readers (perhaps on that expiration-date access basis, with the reader given a chance to upgrade anything that looks particularly good to her).

    This is brilliant and I agree that this SHOLD be the wave of the future.

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  50. kirsten saell
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 17:35:21

    Granted, if you equate every illegal download with every legal “sharing” of any print copy, the print sharing in total (taking into account ALL print copies)

    Well, to get up to thousands of reads, it takes purchasing more than one print book. It only takes one purchased copy of an ebook, to provide thousands of people with it for free. So in that sense, I’d think ebook piracy is more potentially devastating than sharing of print copies.

    You hear all this argument that people wouldn’t have bought the book anyway, so it doesn’t equate to dollars lost. That same argument could be applied to people sneaking into theaters through the fire escape–as long as they’re not taking a seat from a paying customer, no harm, no foul. Or people sneaking onto a bus that’s only half full. Yeah, you’re not costing the bus company anything other than the cost of your ticket–and heck, if you couldn’t sneak on you would have walked where you were going instead. But dammit, if you want the service or the product that bad, you should (within reason) be willing to pay for it. The only difference between my examples and ebook piracy is the risk of getting caught and the embarrassment of getting your ass kicked out in front of a theater full of people.

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  51. ReacherFan
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 18:58:51

    Educating the public is not a bad idea, I’m just not sure the ones that matter give a damn. There is the impression, right or wrong, because SOME authors get rich that ALL authors get rich. I know that’s like saying all pro football payers make the same money as Tom Brady. If I say, XYZ is a pro football player there is the fundamental assumption of wealth. Is publishing any different? Try convincing people that not everyone gets contracts like Lee Child, Dan Brown, Janet Evanovich, or Stephanie Meyers.

    You have a generation growing up for whom the concept of theft of ‘intellectual property’ is virtually a meaningless, obsolete abstraction. Be it software or music or books – it’s fair game and frankly, I’m not sure I read anything here that would convince them otherwise.

    Add to this a business relic, the publishing industry, that seems intent on a slow suicide by refusing to embrace technology and do long range planning for new business models, and you have General Motors all over again. As for Amazon and Kindle, no way in hell will I own one because of all the limitations on them. They might do well now and they want to be the Microsoft of epublishing, but their actions just encourage pirating. Their very exclusivity is an irresistible lure to those who feel corporations are greedy, sel-serving and corrupt.

    I’m not saying it’s right, it isn’t. I pay for my print and ebooks. I would not dream of doing otherwise. But if I, one of the most terminally honest people around (I don’t even pad my tax deductions) can understand why people are thumbing their noses at Amazon, DRM and have taken to buying pirated books, well, what hope is their for convincing today’s 16 year olds it’s ethically and legally wrong?

    And one other thing, ebook publishers are abusing their pricing as well. Recently Samhain, Loose-ID and Siren all pulled the same stunt. Take a poplar author, have them essentially serialize a novel into 3 parts, sell each part at top dollar and make 40-70% more than selling the story as a novel to plus novel. Now if I’m peeved, think what it would do to your average 16 year old reading a series! Even the epublishers seem determined to push people to pirate sites!

    What is the demographic of the people who by pirated ebooks? Is it mostly kids and teens? Is it spread over age groups? With Napster you had a very specific demographic, is it the same here? The broader the audience, the harder it will be to reach. It’s a crime with a low probability of punishment and an immediate economic impact. What you say may be true, but can you make anyone care when they’re saving precious dollars?

    Frankly, there are times when it feels like traditional print publishers, ebook publishers and companies like Amazon go out of their way to create the conditions that nurture piracy. It’s unfortunate authors become corporate roadkill along the way.

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  52. Evangeline
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 19:03:27

    Hang around the right internet spots (namely, celebrity gossip communities) and you’ll see a good number of requests for pirated books. I speak out against it, but am largely ignored. I think if more best-selling authors–I mean really big, like Stephenie Meyer big–were tapped to speak out against e-book piracy on a public forum, it would have a greater impact on consumers. After all, Meyer shut down writing Midnight Sun because the first 12 chapters were leaked. Can we imagine what it would have been like had it been the entire book? It won’t stop piracy, but I imagine authors–who actually fashion the book with their bare hands, as opposed to an actor who just shows up and reads someone else’s writing, and also the studio heads, whom most feel are “out there somewhere”–would convince consumers of the gravity of this situation.

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  53. Patricia Briggs
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 20:55:41

    When Bone Crossed came out, it was up on the bit-torrent sites within hours — and my husband informed me that at least one site’s counter read over 10,000 copies.

    I am more happy to think that most of the people who downloaded it illegally would probably not have purchased one of my books (Hanne, I don’t see that you are part of the problem — thank you for your honesty). I can’t see the kind of people who behave that way would really like any of my books. It still doesn’t make me happy.

    The music industry’s response to the computer revolution has done writers no good at all. The RIAA made copyright holders the bad guys when they went after grandmothers and teenagers for unholy $ amounts. And none of that money went to the musicians (there is, I believe, a class action lawsuit pending).

    DRM sucks. It means that the illegal product is Better than the legal one — as Hanne’s situation points out.

    The people who really get my goat are the ones who are selling ebooks on Ebay. On the bottom of one of the seller’s pages was a certification that she had the legal right to sell these books because she was the copyright holder. Odd, because I’d never given up those rights to her — and neither had any of the other writers she was selling. Sigh. And there are a growing number of them. I see things like — I am a single mother of eight children and trying to support myself by selling ebooks. I’ll send you a hundred titles for ten dollars — these are all legal copies because I say they are.

    One ebay seller told me that they had bought the distribution rights from a website that had gone out of business. Funny, I told them, Masques has never legally been released electronically. Another told me (when pushed) they had misread the big “Not for resale or distribution” message from fictionwise — this was the one with the claim that she was the copyright holder on the bottom of her sale’s page.

    My hope is to keep readers educated — readers are neat people, I know a lot of them.

    Books are a lot of work. Not just my work, but my editor’s work (and believe me, you wouldn’t want to read anything I wrote before my editor gets to work on it) the artist’s work and the countless people who bring the book from raw clay to polished (mostly) story. I’m happy to pay other people for their work — and have hope that most people see it the same way. Because I sell a certain number of books — I can call that my day job and write more (and better) than I did for the first ten years of my writing career. As a reader, I want to encourage some of the terrific writers around to write more books — more Nalini Singh, more Jenna Black, more Jim Butcher, Lois Bujold, Steven Brust. And I try to ensure that by buying their books.

    Hugs,
    Patty Briggs

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  54. KristieJ
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 21:01:16

    Excellent post Jane, and some excellent suggestions. As I said, because I don’t read ebooks, I wasn’t really aware of the wide scope of this issue until recently and how many authors were being affected. When I went to one of the sights, I was horrified at the number of books being offered up.

    One thing that has really shocked me, and amused me in an odd kind of way, is the rabid defense of piracy that has been left in comments on my blog and other blogs who posted about this issue too. These people are rabid in their defense – and – they don’t make a whole lot of sense. They called me self-righteous – ’cause I happen to think it’s wrong to download a book when the author sees no profit. Humf – imagine that.

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  55. kirsten saell
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 21:05:34

    I think if more best-selling authors-I mean really big, like Stephenie Meyer big-were tapped to speak out against e-book piracy on a public forum, it would have a greater impact on consumers.

    I don’t know that that would help. Yes, these authors are well-known, but they’re also rolling in money compared to midlisters and newbs (and 80% of the general population). There are people out there who would never shoplift from a mom&pop store, but think nothing of stuffing a couple items in their pocket at WalMart, either because they don’t think a few bucks lost here and there are going to harm a giant corporation, or out of active resentment for businesses that are uber-successful.

    When Metallica spoke out against Napster, they were painted as rich money grubbers who wanted to squeeze fans for every last dime, and as biased as that attitude might be, a lot of people find it hard to feel bad about stealing 5 bucks worth of songs from people who live in million-dollar homes and wear thousand-dollar shoes.

    I think a campaign that included bestsellers, midlisters and newbs would be more effective. It’s a lot easier to see the harm in pirating when it hurts the pocketbook of an author who still needs a day job to survive, or one who only manages to make 30 grand a year off their books.

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  56. Pamela Clare
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 22:36:26

    Jane, I just wanted to thank you for generating a constructive conversation on the issue. A lot of the people who’ve posted here make really good observations on the topic, as well. I grant my blog post was emotional, but I reserve the right to get ticked.

    I think there’s a lot more that publishers could/should be doing to make the product more available in formats and at prices that are reasonable. I also think publishers need to do more to address the issue of piracy. Right now, the book industry seems to be sleeping. They act if an author sends them specific information and links, but there doesn’t seem to be the same concerted effort that one sees with regard to pirated MP3 files, for example.

    One thing I thought I might be able to clarify: the difference between sending your friend a copy of an e-book you’ve read and letting them borrow a hard copy is that forwarding an e-book (or uploading it or downloading it) technically creates a NEW copy of that work. The one on your computer doesn’t disappear if you forward that e-book to your 20 best friends; instead you end up with 21 copies where previously only 1 existed. But if you loan out your hard copy, only one version of the book you bought exists. It doesn’t multiply like loaves and fishes. That’s where copyright infringement comes in; it’s not about multiple eyeballs seeing the same written words. It’s about the copying a work that you don’t have permission to copy.

    I also agree with the need for authors to be consistent. You can’t complain about piracy if you play the pirate, too.

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  57. Kaetrin
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 23:30:43

    Hear hear Jane.

    The music industry understands it. My hubby tells me that the PC game industry has just got it too – make the music/game/(in our case) ebook easily available legally, for a fair price and people will default to that rather than going to a pirate site.

    I think the same is true for DVD’s too – as the prices have come down, it’s much better to go to KMart or wherever and buy the movie than risk going to a dodgy site for a poor quality copy.

    I’m not really interested in the pirate sites. I’d rather buy the books legally. I think this is true of most people. It may sound naive, but I think the vast majority of people will do the right thing if you give them the opportunity (ease of purchase, fair price, availability, etc). But if they’re not easily available, then the choice is not to buy at all or to pirate – either way this equals no sale.

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  58. Miki S
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 23:44:02

    Maybe the answer resides in a Google-esque library system where you can read an e-book online and after a certain amount of time the access is turned off. (Neil Gaiman did this with one of his books. You could read American Gods in its entirety for one month at the publisher's website. He received many emails from readers who said they ran out and bought the physical copy.)

    That would be the end of my ebook buying (and I’m embarrassed to admit that I spent $2K on ebooks last year alone!) Why?

    Because I don’t always read right away when I buy. In fact, I recently read – for the first time – an ebook that I bought in 2004. And it’s from a site that stopped selling ebooks in 2005. If I’d bought the right to read online only, and they went under, I’d be S.O.L.

    Oh, maybe I’d get sucked in if it was the only game in town, but I’d only buy books I was willing to read right away – which mean lots less spent on books overall.

    And JMHO, I think there are those who download for free who could be reached by thoughtful conversation…and those who would only laugh. So reach those who can be reached.

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  59. kirsten saell
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 23:52:21

    the difference between sending your friend a copy of an e-book you've read and letting them borrow a hard copy is that forwarding an e-book (or uploading it or downloading it) technically creates a NEW copy of that work.

    Actually, you make three new copies–one in the sent file of your email, one in your friend’s inbox, and one on their computer. Those things are worse than freaking bunnies.

    make the music/game/(in our case) ebook easily available legally, for a fair price and people will default to that rather than going to a pirate site.

    The MO of traditional publishing on pricing seems to be to recoup in advance the potential losses to pirating by tacking on a “piracy loss surcharge”. Which again, penalizes the honest consumer for the behavior of thieves. And that builds up the kind of resentment that can make an otherwise honest person wonder why they’re paying through the nose for something they could get for free with no penalty at all…

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  60. rosecolette
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 07:31:39

    After a thinking this over last night a couple of things began to niggle. Using Ms. Briggs’ and Ms. Clare’s experience coupled with Mr. O’Leary’s findings as he explained at BEA and in the interview with Sarah over at Monkey Bear Reviews, I think I may have figured it out.

    Torrent sites service anyone with a computer and any country that has not seen placed ISP blocks — and even then there are ways around those blocks. 10,000 hits on a torrent site is 10,000 hits spread across multiple countries.

    Jody brought up an excellent point in that music is listened to multiple times but a book may be read only once. So where is the commodity for pirates when it comes to books? Counterfeiting.

    With today’s tech and with torrent sites overflowing with ripped versions of InDesign, Quark, and other publishing software, it would be incredibly easy to create a counterfeit copy of a book. Ebooks give you the cover art, the copyright info, sometimes even the back cover with barcode, the pages are sized correctly, and all that is needed is paper, a printing device, and a program to layout the pages correctly.

    Pirated ebooks meant solely for pure reading pleasure may not yet have the numbers to support concern due to e-readers still being considered a luxury item; however, they hold the real opportunity of being turned into physical counterfeit book just as you see with movies and CDs. And that will separate the true pirate from the person playing at Robin Hood or the reader who wants to pass along an ebook just as s/he would a physical book.

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  61. BevBB
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 07:35:38

    Wow, what a great discussion.

    @kirsten saell:

    Actually, you make three new copies-one in the sent file of your email, one in your friend's inbox, and one on their computer. Those things are worse than freaking bunnies.

    Okay, this is the misconception I was talking about yesterday. Way back when I was taking computer classes in the dark ages ;) we were taught as part of the philosophy of the new digital age that basically from the moment an electronic file is created it’s out there and available unless it’s protected. Locked down and encrypted in some way. Expect it, believe it and be prepared for it. That’s what information technology is all about.

    It’s not about how many times a file can be copied because that’s automatically infinite.

    It’s about access to that file.

    It’s about the devices and technologies used to control that access and who controls that access.

    Which is where digital rights management (DRM) comes in.

    The idea of copying is another misconception that is a holdover from the physical and the days of actually physically copying tapes, disks or whatever, whether we’re talking about films, music or simply computer discs. We are no longer working in the physical, though, are we? For the most part, we are downloading directly from the Internet. So, essentially, what’s meant by “copies” in this context isn’t about how many there exist but to how many devices a file can be downloaded to. Many of you have already mentioned that your accounts allow for “access” to a certain number of devices. You could conceivably download the same book an infinite number of times to those devices, couldn’t you? So the normal use of “copy” does not apply. It’s access we’re talking about. You have purchased access for a certain number of devices.

    You want my honest opinion? If product is out there in a file form for downloading to any device on multiple formats, it’s fair game for just about anyone who comes along. That’s not about right or wrong, rights or legalities. It’s about what is in terms of technology and access. The only way books are ever going to be truly protected are for them to be in dedicated systems with limited formats and rigid standardizations. Why? Because books are not complex computer programs. They are only text documents in the first place. We’re not talking about anyone having to break codes here. All they have to do is open files once they get past the locks, people. If they have the correct programs and most of them do, all they probably won’t even have to do any clean-up either.

    So, either publishers want to restrict the access just a tad or they want people to free graze. They need to make up their minds.

    And now you understand why I like eBookwise, a dedicated reader. It ain’t perfect, no. But the info tech in me respects the idea behind knowing things are locked down a bit more than they otherwise would be. Both for myself as a reader and for the authors I’m reading.

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  62. Suzanne Allain
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 07:52:34

    Pirated ebooks meant solely for pure reading pleasure may not yet have the numbers to support concern due to e-readers still being considered a luxury item

    Rosecollette: You do not need an eReader to read an eBook. I, personally, do not own an eBook reader, yet I read eBooks all the time. Anyone who has access to a computer, (which all people who visit these torrent sites possess) has the ability to read an eBook.

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  63. Monica Burns
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 09:57:21

    The MO of traditional publishing on pricing seems to be to recoup in advance the potential losses to pirating by tacking on a “piracy loss surcharge”. Which again, penalizes the honest consumer for the behavior of thieves. And that builds up the kind of resentment that can make an otherwise honest person wonder why they're paying through the nose for something they could get for free with no penalty at all…

    I think this is true of any industry, but most people don’t really see it. When insurance premiums go up, we’re paying for those who don’t have ins for one reason or another, the ones who follow to closely, etc.

    We see it in prices going up a WalMart, Sam’s, Penny’s, Macy’s etc. when they have to compensate their losses with things like equipment to secure high-end items, security to patrol a store. These are things we see, but don’t equate as “surcharge.”

    I’m not disagreeing with the fact that resentment occurs, but I think the publishing industry is doing what most business would do to cover their losses, they just don’t realize how visible the action is to consumers. I think it’s something people consider more with eBooks than they do when they have to hunt down that invisible sales clerk when trying to look at the cover blurb on a video game that’s locked up in a glass case. Then feeling like a jerk because you decide it’s not for you, even if the front cover was enticing. Perhaps publishing is thinking that eventually consumers will move past the resentment stage and still buy, just like those of us who buy from stores where the games are locked up (although I’m trying to remember if Game Stop has locked up games.)

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  64. rosecolette
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 10:01:19

    @Suzanne Allain: I went with a majority of opinion based on questions put to friends and relatives over the past year, several who’ve downloaded free ebooks from Tor and my own experience with Harlequin’s freebies. I won’t bore you with the details but will say that your ability to focus on the computer ebook is greater than those in my sample*, and I apologize for not taking into consideration that there may be and equal or greater number of people out there who read books on the computer than e-readers.

    *Admittedly, that group has access to both print and electronic and I would assume their particular level of focus would change if the only access to the book was by electronic download or if the ebook was a loaner equipped with a timed kill switch.

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  65. Suzanne Allain
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 10:22:38

    @rosecolette: I read on my laptop, so I’m not actually sitting in front of some huge desktop computer screen. I would love an eBook reader, but I’m going to have to sell quite a few legitimate copies of my own eBooks before I can afford one. :)

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  66. rosecolette
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 10:45:51

    @Suzanne Allain: I can’t help you on the ebook selling since I fell into the blog-twitter-was I reading an ebook?-IM-wait there’s a file open-huh group when it came to computer reading, and on a laptop too which makes me a wee embarrassed. But I can help out with a print purchase. And you write Regency! Ooooh shiny new Regecy book….

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  67. Suzanne Allain
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 11:10:24

    @rosecolette: Thanks, rosecolette. That’s sweet of you. I still prefer print myself; I’m just not finding a lot of what I like to read in paperback format. I like Traditional Regencies and a lot of them are being re-released in eBook format, and only eBook format. So I’m stuck reading them on my laptop.

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  68. kirsten saell
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 12:02:43

    Perhaps publishing is thinking that eventually consumers will move past the resentment stage and still buy, just like those of us who buy from stores where the games are locked up (although I'm trying to remember if Game Stop has locked up games.)

    The problem is when you consider value-added/value-removed for ebooks vs print. I mean, when you have to pay that surcharge at a store, you’re not forced to pay more for the games that are out of the case than the ones that are inside it. You’re not forced to pay more for a pay-per-view movie or a Netflix rental than you would to actually buy the DVD.

    And yes, there are aspects of ebooks that–to me, and to others–make them preferable to print, whether that’s instant gratification, ease of access, ability to enlarge the font, portability, whatever. But there are rights you give up when you choose ebooks, too, and those rights are easier to measure in dollars and cents than simply being able to buy a book at 3 in the morning without getting out of your jim-jams–the right to resell, swap, share, lend, etc.

    I mean, you can argue all day that a book is a book is a book, whether it’s delivered in ink and paper, or in bytes. But the nature of how you’re allowed to consume and dispose of an ebook is very limited compared to print, and consumers expect prices to reflect those limitations.

    And because people know–they know–ebooks are less costly to produce than print books (once you factor in the ongoing costs of PPB, shipping, warehousing and returns vs the one time cost of format conversion and the relatively small ongoing costs of maintaining a website and shopping cart), and that those costs only get smaller per copy as the number of copies sold increases–when that ebook sells for as much or more than the print version, the consumer doesn’t just feel resentful. They feel like they’ve been bent over a desk and cornholed.

    I’m an ebook author, and damnit, when I find an ebook that’s more than $7, I think long and hard about how much I want it. If it’s nudging the $10 mark, it’s pretty much got to have me salivating all over myself before I’ll fork that money over. Over ten bucks–not a chance in hell am I buying. And that’s from someone who prefers digital to print in about every way that matters.

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  69. Jules Jones
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 12:16:02

    rosecolette@60, you don’t have to print a copy on ink and paper for it to be a counterfeit copy. The pirate ebooks *are* counterfeits, and the pirate sites are counterfeiting sites, ripping off the people who did the hard work of writing and publishing a book. That ebooks are not physical objects does not mean they are not real books.

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  70. rosecolette
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 12:35:46

    @Suzanne Allain: So true. I was ecstatic over the re-release of Georgette Heyer’s catalog, including her mysteries, in print. Tracking them down used or in libraries was an all new level of frustration. I’d like to see Elizabeth Mansfield’s books reprinted or offered up in ebook, and Chesney’s Daughters of Mannerling series.

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  71. Suzanne Allain
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 12:51:02

    @rosecolette: Ooooh! You’re a girl after my own heart! I love Heyer and Mansfield. (And enjoy a good Chesney, too.) If you ever do get converted to eBooks (honestly, they’re not that bad with a decent reader software, like Microsoft Reader which is a free download) you should check out regencyreads.com. They’ve got a lot of the old Regencies for sale as eBooks. (And there’s a free novella there for download, too.)

    And I’m in no way affiliated with regencyreads. Just a devoted fan.

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  72. Evangeline
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 16:29:11

    @kirsten saell: Ah…but the people who pirate ebooks wouldn’t walk into a store and steal. They just happen to view books as a commodity they deserve to have when they want–like music. But the thing with music is that we–general we–know what goes on in a studio, behind the scenes on a tour, advances for records, etc etc because of MTV or VH1 and gossip rags. Most people pirate music not because they believe the artist or label doesn’t deserve their money, but because they’re tired of labels and artists forcing them to buy crappy music.

    Most people have no idea about the publishing industry. They see the exterior–Stephen King, Stephenie Meyer, JK Rowling, celebrities getting millions of dollars–and they assume being published is a cushy stay-at-home job. They have no idea that the majority of writers don’t make a living from their writing, that most do not get million dollar book deals, how royalties work, etc. 99% of consumers who wander into a bookstore have no idea books are typically released apprx the last Tuesday of each month. They want a book and they want it now, so they assume, like they do with music, that it doesn’t matter if they’re raiding for illegal books because writers are making a ton of money all at once.

    I for one think it’s that lack of transparency that’s creating this influx of piracy. We online are having this conversation, and are struggling to raise awareness, but where are the publishers? Why, if they are having this same conversation, are they having it behind closed doors?

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  73. kirsten saell
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 16:51:29

    They want a book and they want it now, so they assume, like they do with music, that it doesn't matter if they're raiding for illegal books because writers are making a ton of money all at once.

    Which is why I think having huge names like Stephen King or Nora Roberts or JK Rowling speaking out against piracy can actually be counter-productive–especially if they’re the only ones speaking out. It’s hard to feel sorry for Bill Gates when you get that illegal copy of some Microsoft program, too, because he’s certainly not hurting financially. It’s easier to have a Robin Hood mentality if you’re stealing from the rich–when you’re forcing some regular shmuck to go back to their day job, that’s a different story.

    I can’t count the number of people who ask me why I’m still slinging chow mein in the evenings since I’m published. Uh, dude, even if I was with a traditional publisher that pays advances, I couldn’t give up the security of that waitressing job until I had several books consistently performing for me. So yeah, the general public has no clue how hard it is to make a living writing fiction, or how tenuous that living can be, even when you’ve reached the point where you can do it full-time.

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  74. Nora Roberts
    Jun 04, 2009 @ 08:50:59

    ~Which is why I think having huge names like Stephen King or Nora Roberts or JK Rowling speaking out against piracy can actually be counter-productive-especially if they're the only ones speaking out.~

    But the reality is a lot, if not most people are only going to really tune in–whatever their opinion afterward–when it’s a recognizable name doing the speaking out.

    Jane X Author says piracy sucks is not going to get the same hearing as Household Name Author says piracy sucks.

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  75. Daj
    Jun 04, 2009 @ 17:08:28

    Jane, re: Availability.

    Now that geographic regions are being inforced for ebooks I have no other option than to be a pirate.

    Fictionwise have a quote on their site that says that this region coding effects less than 10% of their secure titles. What the FAQ doesn’t say is that the titles that are restriced are the popular titles by big name authors. The rest is junk anyway.

    In the past I have purchased ebooks if they were available, and read pirated versions if the ebooks weren’t available. I voted with my wallet. Now I don’t even have the option of purchasing ebooks I want to read.

    Until the industry works through this problem they are giving non-USA readers no other option than to be pirates. When readers find out how easy and cheap it is to be pirates, it becomes harder to attract them back as paying customers. The industry needs a global business model.

    Daj.

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  76. Daj
    Jun 04, 2009 @ 17:17:57

    @Nora Roberts. I have previously purchased your ebooks for my wife. Now, because of geographic restrictions I can’t. That sucks for you and me.

    So how can I vote with my wallet and ensure you get the sale?

    I won’t but paperbacks etc because I don’t want to support that side of the business for environmental reasons.

    Daj.

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  77. Writing Roundup, June 5 « Jen’s Writing Journey
    Jun 05, 2009 @ 11:16:51

    [...] Effectively Combatting Piracy DRM is a contentious issue in publishing. Many industry bigwigs seem to think that crack-proof DRM will stop piracy. But how well has that worked for the usic industry? At Dear Author, Jane presents her plan to combat piracy. [...]

  78. Book Bizzo #20 Bits ‘n’ pieces here and there - Book Thingo
    Jun 06, 2009 @ 04:06:25

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  79. BC
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 19:17:18

    @Alisha Rai:
    That is ridiculous. If more ebooks were $3 dollars, I’d never know what time of day it was or even what day it was. lol. That’s a $3 dollars difference that makes what they have legal rather than illegal. I wouldn’t care about the damn DRM being in place for that amount but alas, I’m still a print groupie. Yes, I contribute to the wholesale destruction of forests and it saddens me. However, I don’t want to pay $8.00 for an ebook that won’t work in a year. A $3.00 one I can accept but the $8.00, no. I’d even pay the fee to redownload the $3.00 ebook again.

    ReplyReply

  80. Writing Roundup, June 5 « Uncategorized « Jen's Writing Journey
    Jan 07, 2011 @ 18:42:22

    [...] Effectively Combatting Piracy DRM is a contentious issue in publishing. Many industry bigwigs seem to think that crack-proof DRM will stop piracy. But how well has that worked for the usic industry? At Dear Author, Jane presents her plan to combat piracy. [...]

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