Thursday, January 14, 2010

Illegal Downloading of E-books Is a Growing Problem

As far as illegal downloads go, 9 million copies is small potatoes in comparison to how many illegal music downloads are still occurring every year. I get that. But I am still impressed with the fact that 9 million copyrighted books were "stolen" via the internet last year. (I wouldn't feel badly if they were all titles by Dan Brown and James Patterson, but that's another story.)

According to this Washington Post article, the bulk of the downloading pertained to some 913 titles, each of which was illegally downloaded about 10,000 times:
The study, conducted by the online monitoring and enforcement service Attributor, highlights the drain from piracy on publishers revenues and the need for more effective protections online for copy-righted material.
The study examined 14 categories to capture a representative sample of the industry, including business and investing, health, mind and body, fiction and reference. Business and investing titles suffered the highest number of illegal downloads, averaging 13,000 copies per title, with a potential loss of more than $1 million on each title, Attributor estimated. Popular fiction titles averaged about 6,000 illegal downloads each.

"Freakonomics" by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, for example, was pirated 1,132 times from just one of the hosting sites. Attributor would not release total individual numbers. In fiction, "Angels and Demons" by Dan Brown was pirated 8,177 times from one site.
I have also linked to the study so that you can see the details for yourselves, including a listing of the sites responsible for allowing the bulk of the 9 million illegal downloads. I'm going to visit some of those sites (if the links are real) just to see what's going on. I suspect that the industry is watching them closely, too, and I wonder how much increased traffic the sites will receive now that they've been "outed." This is one of those Catch-22 situations for publishers.


  1. If only. If only there were a way to read a book without having to buy it.

    If only we had a system for that in this country.

    If only there were a place one could go and maybe choose a book, take it home, read it, and then take it back -- all without paying for it.

    If only.

  2. Nah, never happen. Oh, wait a second, I have a great idea...

  3. There are options of 'renting' a book or content.

    The common perception about ebooks is that they are overpriced. But one option to counter this issue is a micropayments or “rental model”

    A micropayment model connects publishers with customers and others who would normally not make an actual ebook purchase and can rent out access to a particular title or series for a limited period of time and price it nominally.

    Read more

    Hope this helps!

  4. That's a very interesting business model, Ishani. I love the way this is all evolving at warp speed and I can't wait to see how it all shakes out.

    Thanks for the link.

  5. I think that's what Gold Digger was sort of sarcastically saying, too, Linda.