Sunday, May 30 2010 @ 12:01 PM PDT
Contributed by: Richard Pitt
According to this, publishers could be losing out on billions of dollars due to online book piracy. Do you really think so?
"Lies, damned lies, and statistics" - Mark Twain, Benjamin Disraeli and me.
What would happen to the economy of the US (where this study focuses mainly) if book publishers suddenly got an extra $3 Billion in sales every year - and of course that $3 Billion was not spent in other sectors of the economy? If it wasn't spent on junk food, text messaging, cell phones, luxury cars, coffee what would happen to those industries? This is "discretionary cash" - and it would still be spent on other stuff than books most likely - or maybe some of it actually did get spent on books but this study didn't take that into account.
Would the people who downloaded these books have purchased them if they were not available for download? Some, maybe, but more likely they'd just wait until they could go to a bookstore and thumb through a copy - or read the sample chapter at Amazon - or borrow a copy, or buy something else.
Did the people who downloaded these books read them front to back? Probably not - they read enough to know they either liked it or didn't. If they liked it there is an excellent chance they went out and purchased a copy so a sale was gained. If they didn't then there really wasn't a lost sale now was there?
Did any of the people who downloaded these books subsequently go and purchase their own copy? Or tell others that they should do so?
Eric Flint, an author who publishes through Baen Books, has been offering his and other authors' books freely online since 2000 and he's convinced (and so are Jim Baen and the other authors who participate in the Baen Free Library) that these freely offered books online have lead to sales more than enough to justify continuing the site, now into its 10th year.
Government has balanced copyright by allowing for physical libraries and their lending practices as well as the doctrine of First Sale which allows you to lend a book you've purchased to a friend. In fact there's been a "study" of the impact of this and it's estimated at $100 Billion/year (laugh)
Publishers give away books to get publicity. Authors find that word of mouth makes sales. Somewhere in all this there is a lesson to be learned and it has to do with the reality of the marketplace that the publishers are now trying to lock down and change completely.
Think about it - the same principle applies to music and video downloads.
Yes, there are some people who will download but NEVER purchase these items, just as there are some people (likely some of the same ones) who would shoplift a copy instead of purchasing it - but that is NOT the majority of people and the fact that media sales are even continuing today shows this is so. The average person today is honest - and they want to support those who entertain them.
On the other hand, like me, many people will not purchase items that annoy them in the process of purporting to entertain them. DRM probably causes more people to download than it stops.