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Dear Publishers, Don’t be Like Metallica

In his blog about fighting e-book piracy, Timo Boezeman makes some really interesting and important points. The first of which is that actively fighting piracy is stupid. I agree, as it’s expensive and hard to actually put a stop to. You also have to be careful from a PR standpoint. You don’t want to come across like Metallica did with Napster. I mean I am adamantly anti-piracy (my years in the retail end of the music industry made sure of that), but you don’t want to come across as a bunch of whiny rich kids. When people are having trouble seeing why piracy is wrong, a rich person trying to get sympathy about losing money is pretty hard for most people to empathize with.

He also touches on the industry misconception that every illegal download is a missed sale. Not true. Many illegal downloaders are people that would be hitting up libraries, used book stores or not even (god forbid) reading at all. I’ve been thinking a lot about this, and I’ve gotta say that the publishing industry doesn’t seem to function in the same way as the music industry…I mean before there was e-anything, there were libraries whose function it was to make books readily available to anyone for FREE, and used book stores, which are a bit of a point of contention in the publishing industry still exist completely legally. Although e-piracy is something that has to be taken into consideration, I really don’t think that it’s something that is going to be the downfall of the publishing industry.


Loan an E-book? NEVER!

Is DRM more costly than Piracy? It’s an interesting question, and one that Brett Sandusky takes a look at in this article. He looks at some common misconceptions surrounding piracy and DRM and also suggests some ways that getting rid of DRM might be a potential benefit to the publishing industry.

One thing that Sandusky addresses, which a lot of people don’t, is that there are potential benefits to getting rid or DRM. Now some of the possibilities that he considers are a little 1984-ish for my taste, like his idea that in order to lend a DRM free e-book to a friend, you’d have to enter their e-mail address and basic information (age, gender etc)upon lending, and then the publisher could use that information for marketing purposes. To me, that’s a bit of a gray area in terms of privacy, that I’d rather stay away from. But there is great benefit to the basic word of mouth that be generated through the loaning of books (in e or physical form) between friends and family.

I’ve gotta say, that with a little market research, publishers and the purchasers of e-books would likely be able to agree on a decent number of loans within the DRM of an e-book. All that publishers would need is a simple survey on their home pages asking their customers how many times they lend their average book? By conducting a quick survey, publishers can open a dialogue between themselves and their customers and they wouldn’t run the risk of coming across as trying to punish people who purchase their e-books through legitimate means. I think that customers will be honest and realistic in their responses, and appreciate being a part of the decision making process. Honestly, I can’t think of a book that I’ve lent out more than five times, but that’s just me.