At E-Reads, Richard Curtis recently published excerpts from a series of e-mail exchanges with a self-described content pirate. The full set of comments is worth reading.
I’m naturally a categorizer, so as I read the various comments, I grouped them into four buckets: business models, digital rights management, copyright, and the likelihood that piracy has an impact on awareness and trial for books.
With respect to business models, here are a few comments that stood out:
“My best hint for you: don’t obsess with piracy, focus on selling.”
“Part of my money went to Dan Brown’s pockets. If you are interested in business, (ask) why many people go to the library, download books AND buy books. For centuries books have been bought by the very same people that go to libraries.”
“Most pirates buy content in a way or other …In fact many pirates are high spending people. And many music pirates are buying CDs, the real problem of (the) CD market is that CD is becoming obsolete. Digital sales (iTunes and alikes) are speedily increasing. Hulu is not yet available in my country but I am willing to try it as soon as possible.”
“Do you really think a guy who is scanning a book and uploading it is trying to avoid buying it at Fictionwise? That’s nonsense.”
And on the subject of DRM:
“DRM is a bad idea. It decreases sales, and believe me, it has never stopped pirates.”
“When people buy ebooks, they want to do things like read that book on any present and future device. So many people break the DRM (it is easy) but breaking the DRM is unlawful, so your customers have paid to be outlaws. This is not the kind of thing that discourage piracy.”
“Every time I have bought a DRMed book I broke the DRM for the above reason and I did feel fooled because I paid but I was out of law. Just imagine which is the effect on your law-abiding customers. They get a product that is worse than what I get when I pirate. Do you want to reduce piracy? Sell your books sans DRM.”
“By the way, I prefer to buy O’Reilly ebooks; they are not DRM’d.”
Although the “confessions of a book pirate” angle does not resonate with me, these viewpoints do. One person’s comments, admittedly, but data nonetheless. Thanks to Richard Curtis for the work he did to bring the dialogue to all of us.