Publishing Perspectives reports that figures from a publishing industry lobby in Spain purport to show that the piracy rate for e-books has risen from 40% in 2010 to 49% in 2011—that is, almost half of all e-book content available online in Spain is being distributed without the copyright holders’ permission. While some challenge the neutrality of the figures, newspaper reporter Antonio Fraguas Garrido, who has been following copyright issues for a while, points out that they are the only numbers anyone has so far been able to provide.

It seems to me that since English-language e-books have driven the e-book revolution so far, books in other languages have been slower to get off the ground. But as demand for legitimate e-books ramps up, you can bet demand for pirated ones will ramp up, too.


  1. Spain is also in the midst of an economic crisis.

    Last figures I saw were 50% unemployment among youth (a large demograhic for ebooks, one assumes).

    In this environment, people may well refuse to pay for non-essentials like food or shelter.

  2. It’d be interesting to compare that to printed books (not sure about the situation in Spain, but in a lot of Latin America pirate printers are everywhere, selling books in street markets. Some years ago the best-selling book in Chile wasn’t actually available for (legal) sale anywhere).

    It’d also be interesting to look at the question of how many books are available for legal purchase in electronic formats (my experience with trying to buy recent Spanish books is “very few”, meaning the only way to get them in e-form is to download scanned-and-OCRed copies).

  3. I am unable to decode the words that describe the extent of the alleged piracy. What, exactly, does this mean? “according to the industry, in 2011, 49% of e-book content available online in Spain was distributed without the proper copyright holders’ permission.”

    I think that they might be counting titles. That is, for every ten titles available at legal on-line book stores, there are 5 titles available at file-sharing sites. If they are counting titles, it is mildly interesting, but it gives no information whatsoever about the number of copies that are downloaded from file-sharing sites vs. the number that are purchased.

  4. I’m a spanish reader who is used to buy her books, but taking account of people around me (friends, family and co-workers) that’s not the usual, the numbers in the article are bullshit, but my opinion is they are too low probably.
    First, editors have started publishing electronically too late, many e-readers owners have learnt to search for e-books in communities dedicated to scanning (with high quality standards many times) and don’t even try to learn if the book is available in a e-bookstore.
    Second, learning to buy using Adobe crappy platform is painful, I’ve learnt, but trying to teach to other no so tech savvy friends was useless, I even had problems trying to create an account for them. Amazon started selling e-books in Spain in autumn last year, but the kindle was available much earlier, when the publishers were selling their e-books in epub DRM format, there was no bookstore-attached ereader (Sony is a popular e-reader too, but there’s no sony library in Spain) so you buy an e-reader and you have to struggle to buy ebooks, when this e-book communities work so well, provide technical help to anyone and there are more ebooks available than in regular bookstores.
    Add the economic situation, some e-books sold with lots of errors and no one to take responsability (I must say that’s not so common in Spanish books, I find much more crappy editions in the american books I buy), and so on.

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