images.jpegThat’s what a random survey of 100 Soho (a very trendy section of New York City) pedestrians said according to New York Magazine. I don’t know how scientific it is, but here are the rest of their ebook results:

How much do you spend a year on books?
Don’t buy books: 10
$0–$50: 22
$50–$100: 30
$100–$250: 18
$250+: 19

Do you have an e-reader like the Kindle or the Nook?
Yes: 10
No: 90

Would you download pirated copies of books if they were available?
Yes: 27
No: 68


  1. Yeah, those 68%!

    It’s always been my belief that educating the serious reader that pirating hurts them as well as the publisher and author is the way to go long term. A smart junkie doesn’t destroy her supplier.

    Most of the pirate sites I’ve helped bring down have been through tips from readers because they understand this.

  2. I don’t know about polls like this. It seems to me that the self-report honesty is a bit suspect. This is akin to the “do you beat your wife” style question.

    In fact, here is a poll that says that 80% of families did not buy a book during a one year period.

    I don’t know if this figure is any more accurate than the SOHO number, but I do expect it is closer to reality. Therefore, I’m not sure the SOHO numbers are accurate, and they probably can’t be used to represent the population as a whole.

    Then there is the whole technology barrier thing. I’d be interested in hearing more from the 10% who have a Kindle/Nook?/e-reader. What is their take on book pirating?

    Finally, a survey of teens indicated about 60% of them downloaded pirated music last year.

    Admittedly, teens may have a different take on this than adults, but I’m not sure that there is any reason to believe that the numbers would be substantially different for music than for books — as long as the desire for books and the access to electronic book devices was similar to mp3 players.

    This brings us back to the 80+% who didn’t buy a book last year. Of course, they won’t want/need to pirate stuff.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that, if you stopped a couple of Soho residents, no one is going to admit in front of their friends that they actually don’t buy books. However, they don’t really care about books, this makes it very easy to claim no interest in pirating.

    Finally, I don’t mean this post to be either pro or anti pirating. Rather, it is an observation that these numbers could be suspect.


  3. I downloaded a book off Scribd once to get a sample of it before I decided to buy or not, It was so riddled with OCR errors, it was unreadable. The ebook version was $6.99 and it was well worth it to me to pay that and have a nice, clean copy. The labour it would have taken to get the other one in any way readable would have been huge.

    Had the book been $40, like some of the Stephen King ebooks are, different story. Then, for some people, the labour might be worth it. I maintain that just like with music, people will prefer to buy it properly so long as you make it simple and affordable and convenient for them to do so. iTunes has done great with their 0.99 buy now button. Jut a buck, you in or out? Most people choose ‘in’ and get the song.

  4. I’ve started downloading pirated ebooks lately only because they’re the only ones available. Since the English publishers decided they don’t need the money of people from non-English countries, and thus added the geographical restrictions everywhere, most of the books I want are not available legally.

  5. I am now seriously considering downloading pirated ebooks. I have never considered this before. I have bought ebooks from Fictionwise/eReader since January 2003 and live in Australia. since April this year, I have been prevented from legally downloading ebooks from their site that I want to read due to geographical restrictions. This absurdity reached unbelievable proportions recently when I tried to purchase The Lost Symbol – the new Dan Brown book; it was available in hardcopy at local bookshops but I was unable to buy the ebook due to the restrictions! The publishers are forcing people into piracy due to this ridiculous restriction

  6. let me get this straight…
    you asked a bunch of people who DON’T have ebook readers (90%) whether they support pirating media and they said no ….
    that’s why they don’t have ebook readers!
    man you guys just don’t understand statistics…

  7. Susan — why not try other ebook sellers for your country such as Amazon Austrailia – even if you don’t have a kindle, you can download kindle pc for free.

    Bert, check Amazon for your location.

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