E-books and piracy

The computer book market is one place where e-books are fairly common and popular, with a number of publishers releasing titles electronically. New York Times columnist and technology author David Pogue posted his concerns about the threat of piracy with e-books, citing his experience and suggesting that the piracy issue was a real one for e-book authors. In response, Adam Engst – also a computer book author suggests that Pogue’s instincts are wrong – and that ebooks can be an attractive and profitable avenue. Amongst other things, Engst discusses the Steven Poole example (which I cited here a few weeks ago):

We dabbled with voluntary payments a while back with what we called PayBITS, and came to the same conclusion – it’s fine for an author to ask for a voluntary payment every so often, but it works best for very well-known creators, and only infrequently even then.

What I don’t quite understand is why Pogue chose to quote Poole’s description of the failure of his voluntary payment experiment without also acknowledging that Poole touches on the obvious solution:

A reasonable outcome, perhaps, would be something like an iTunes for books, where people choose to buy (DRM-free or at least DRM-lite) copies because it's still easier for most folk than hunting down a torrent. 

It’s a longish post from someone who actually publishes electronically- definitely worth a read…

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1 comment so far

  1. […] | I’ve always maintained that the e-book piracy scene is relatively small, although (as David Pogue suggested recently) it can be significant in certain market segments. One of those is textbooks, which students are […]


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