Why an ebook piracy awareness drive is a waste of time and money
March 11, 2011 | 10:31 am
By Jason Davis
The UK’s Guardian site is running a story with the title “Authors demand drive to raise readers’ awareness of book piracy’s cost“. It’s basically a lot of authors and publishers whining about ebook piracy. They are demanding “someone” do “something” about it and let readers know that it’s bad – maybe via a publicity drive. From the story:
Crime writer David Hewson, author of the Italy-set Nic Costa novels, said a campaign along the lines of “People Who Love Books Don’t Steal Books” was urgently required – because readers who consider themselves his fans are downloading pirated copies of his ebooks and audiobooks.
Novelist Chris Cleave, author of The Other Hand and Little Bee, agreed. “I don’t blame anyone. They don’t do it [download books illegally] because they are evil but because they don’t understand,” he said. “In the music industry, when the price of music went down to zero – as it arguably now is because of filesharing – artists didn’t mind that much.
Whatthefu…? Let’s leave the minor details of the current health of the music industry, who would pay for the ebook campaign, and with what money, not to mention who would pay the slightest heed to it.
Some people clearly are not getting it, so I’m going to spell it out in terms that even those from the “old school” of publishing can understand.
1. Generally speaking, people will do what is easiest.
Sure there are exceptions to this rule, there are people who will pirate no matter what, and people who will go to the ends of the earth to pay – but generally the more roadblocks to legitimate purchase, the more piracy. Ask Apple. People are busy, and lazy, and they want stuff to be easy. We are talking about the vast, “general public” here, not the fringes.
2. Price is the biggest ebook roadblock
Again, with the same caveats as above, the higher the price of ebooks and more DRM, the more piracy. If it’s hard, they’re not interested. If they have to convert a format, they will rarely bother. Many people just aren’t going to bother to pirate a $0.99 ebook. If you want an ebook, a “One-Click” purchase of $0.99 is just less painful than the hassle of going to find a reliable torrent of it and downloading.
3. People buy more ebooks if the price is lower
This has been proved time and again. Yes, yes, there may be exceptions – and you may or may not want to go all the way down to a Konrath-esq $0.99, but there’s a big difference between $1-3 and the good old “agency” $7.99, $9.99 or worse. And that big difference is sales.
4. The “Agency Model” is promoting piracy, hurting sales
See all of the above. Oh settle down, all those who are squealing about how I can’t prove that statement. You’re right, no-one can. But I can use my consumer eyes (“agency” is almost always more expensive), logic, experience in the ebook market and personal observation.
Publishers, you can talk around it, “make your case” for agency, hand-wring about “giving back to authors” (honestly – don’t make me laugh) or just get over yourselves and grow your businesses.
Or, as I’ve said before, you can make it easier for the rest of us.
Via Jason Davis’ Book Bee site