Yesterday in an article on The High Low, there has been stated that "One in every three people who download e-books on their digital readers do so illegally". Even though this statement at first seems shocking, I personally can't see this problem so black and white as a lot of authors and publishers do.
Don't throw rocks at me just yet. Downloading ebooks is illegal. You shouldn't do it. However, is this as much as a problem as this article implies? And why do so many people turn to illegal downloading?
I investigated the sources of this article a little further, coming to an article on the Telegraph site, which states: "One in eight women over 35 who own such devices admit to having downloaded an unlicensed e-book". Let's think about that. That means that 12,5% of females over 35 that own a ereader admit that they have downloaded at least one illegal ebook. There is absolutely no proof or further investigation about the behaviour of those who pirate. Do they just download one? Or all of them? If you take, for example, that they might have given in to downloading a book, maybe 3 times now on average. On estimate, I think about every owner of an ereader has about 100 books on it. Legal books. So, now 3% of those books are illegal, spread over 12,5% of ladies out there, we come to this conclusion: about 0,375% of all ebooks owned by women over 35 are illegal.
Look at that number again. Seems a lot less intimidating than it was on first sight.
In an age where music piracy is the order of the day, the pirating of books seems an impending thread to the publishing world. It doesn't feel like "stealing" on the internet. I will admit that I download songs. I actually never feel sorry for that, because if I wouldn't download them, I would listen them on Youtube, which is free but perfectly legal.
I think that one of the reasons that ebooks are getting pirated, and will continue to be so, is that the price of many ebooks is still too high. You just don't want to pay the same price for a few pixels, as you will for a beautiful hardback edition you can actually hold. Not trying to defend anyone here, I try to understand their motives.
It's too harsh to simply state: "That's ONE-THIRD of our sales flying out the window" (as said by a lovely lady on Twitter). There is no proof at all for being it 33% of all sales. I understand it's hard for authors to see their hard work being used without them getting any reward for it. However, the side of me that always thinks the cup is half-full wants them to look at it this way: if they're pirating it, it's worth pirating. There are people who want to read it. Readers are interested in your book. And if they really enjoyed it, they will buy a real copy, because you're awesome and they want to support you.
It might be naive to suggest that every pirateer will buy your book after downloading it, but I think this does happen. The problem is, you can't stop internet piracy. The music industry tried this and see what happened to them. After countless lawsuits The Pirate Bay is still up and running and probably doing better than ever.
Will ebook piracy become a problem? Definitely. Should we all start a massive witch-hunt for those who have downloaded one book in their lifetime? Please don't. There will always be enough book lovers to actually buy the book. I know I will.
I'm curious to see what you guys all think about this subject! Leave a comment below (: