Confessions of a Book Pirate

Confessions of a Book Pirate
He lives in the Midwest, he’s in his mid-30s and is a computer programmer by trade. By some measures, he’s the publishing industry’s ideal customer, an avid reader who buys dozens of books a year and enthusiastically recommends his favorites to friends. But he’s also uploaded hundreds of books to file sharing sites and he’s downloaded thousands. We discussed his file sharing activity over the course of a weekend, via email, and in his answers lie a critical challenge facing the publishing industry: how to quash the emerging piracy threat without alienating their most enthusiastic customers.

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He does make some good points

Especially this one
"Just because someone downloads a file, it does not mean they would have bought the product I think this is the key fact that many people in the music industry ignore – a download does not translate to a lost sale."

This is the main problem with all online piracy. There is a massive assumption built into it, especially when talking about the costs, lost sales etc. That if you download something for free you would have paid full price for it otherwise. That's obviously rubbish. I could download all of Project Guttenberg for free, does that mean I was going to buy the complete collections of Shakespeare, Plato etc? No, of course not!

Does someone borrowing a book from a library mean that person would have bought the book? In fact does it mean that they won't buy the book afterwards? Think of it from the other point of view. If someone gets one of your books for free (online or from a library, or from a second-hand book store) maybe they are actually more likely to buy more of your existing books. The problem is, they might buy them from second hand books, they might borrow them from friends. These things do not show up in sales figures.

You wouldn't find me contributing towards sales figures for ebooks. I don't have an ebook reader. Well I have an iphone, but I choose not to read on it. I buy second hand books from Amazon marketplace, sometimes I buy new books from Amazon et al if they are cheap enough. I use my local public library. So I have a minimal impact on authors sales. But that doesn't stop me effectively being a customer of theirs. So if I was to download a copy of a book that's not a lost sale, it's a download of something I wasn't going to buy. If I liked it, if it was from an author I already like I'd probably buy the print copy as well later anyway. Maybe even when it first comes out. Or more likely when it's gone down in price a bit after the first week or so. That this happens only goes to show the customer that the profit margins for someone (probably the publisher) are large and if you wait you can save money. Why the assumption that customers should be paying full whack, paying out left and right for something? The market determines the value of something, especially when it not a necessity.

I haven't downloaded books for a long time, but that is what got me into Harry Potter. Downloaded the first 3 books. Read them in txt format on my pc. Loved them, bought the print versions, bought the print versions on release for the others, went to see the films at the cinema, bought the films on dvd and now even bought one on blu-ray and will no doubt get the complete set when the last 2 films (that I will also go and see at the cinema). None of which would have come about unless I'd got into it the way I did. JK Rowling, her publishers and Warner have done pretty well out of those illegal book downloads all those years ago.

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