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OPLIN 4Cast #252: Ebook piracy

Posted in 4cast

Occasionally, the topic of ebook piracy generates some press, though not as often as you might expect. Last spring, for example, there was a flurry of interest around a British survey that concluded older women pirate more ebooks than music. The topic came up again last week at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Certainly if you search for “ebook” on a BitTorrent index site, such as Torrentz, you will find a huge number of files listed, and even if you weed out all the amateur pdf scans of books by specifying a commercial ebook format, like “ebook epub,” you’ll still see an amazing number of files being offered for sharing. But some people don’t feel that ebook piracy is necessarily a problem.

  • German book association decries e-book piracy (Associated Press)  “Gottfried Honnefelder, head of the group that represents publishers and booksellers, said at the fair’s opening news conference that around 60 percent of e-book downloads in Germany are pirated through Internet sources such as filesharing sites.”
  • Digital piracy casts shadow over ebook world (Agence France-Presse/Kate Millar)  “Thomas Mosch, of the Federation of German Technological Companies, believes it is a question of finding a balance and not scaring off well-meaning people willing to pay for legal content with over-rigorous measures. ‘You will never be able to do anything about 10 to 20% of piracy,’ he said. ‘But with 80 to 90% of people ready to pay, the publishing industry should be able to live.’”
  • Book piracy: a non-issue (TechCrunch/Paul Carr)  “Perhaps it was because ‘the kids’ care less about stealing books than they do about cracking the DRM on movies […], or maybe because the book industry learned from what happened to their audio and visual cousins. Either way, devices like the Kindle, Nook and iPad — and publishers willingness to embrace them — allowed a legitimate, and lucrative, electronic publishing industry to grow up before the pirates seized the initiative.”
  • Net pirates turn over a new leaf (The Sydney Morning Herald/Linda Morris)  “The publishing industry well understands the first step to preventing piracy is making sure all titles are available as ebooks in the formats they want at a price they can afford, Tim Coronel, publisher of the leading trade magazine Bookseller+Publisher, says.”

Publishing fact:
The German ebook market makes up only about 0.5% of all book sales, while in the U.S. ebooks currently comprise about 9% of book sales.