Avast, book piracy!

An Attributor study has found that, in the past year, publishing has probably list $3 million to book piracy. PW says:
From the four sites that make digital download data available--4shared.com, scribd.com, wattpad.com, and docstoc.com--Attributor found 3 million illegal downloads in the final quarter of 2009 of the 913 books followed. The company estimates those four sites represent about one-third of all book piracy. (Attributor calculated the share of piracy based on 53,000 book takedown notices sent out to various Web sites in the second half of 2009).
While most of these titles were in the business and investing area (very ethical, investors), there was still a considerable fiction contingent. Read the full PDF of the study here, and start to panic: the end is nigh!


  1. The theory seems to be:

    a) Everyone who downloaded would've otherwise bought the book.
    b) Nobody who downloaded also bought the book. (How many copies of copyright-free classics sell every year?)

    This study was funded by a company whose business model is based on paranoia about piracy. Third party businesses gave away 1,604 free electronic copies of 1,604 downloads of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? Holy shit! I hope they give away a quarter of that many copies of _my_ next novel.

  2. Yeah, I'm not that worried about it. Pop music piracy is so common that some say "everybody does it." But has the pop music industry gone under? Hardly. I think Lily Allen did some whining a few months ago and threatened to "retire" because her album sales were supposedly damaged by illegal downloads. But then she realized that she was still getting stinkin' rich off of her songs and kept on.

    And considering the huge number of readers (including those who like their e-readers) who believe that nothing compares to a paper book, I'm not concerned about book piracy.

    I have a different perspective, too, because I work at a church that has a large book club. Those retired people gobble up newly printed paper books like crazy, and as far as I know, not a single one is even interested in the concept of an e-reader. The forecast probably looks scarier from the perspective of someone working on the cutting edge of the industry.

    But from looking at the music industry and then thinking about how a digital format for books is so very different from a paper format (while CDs and mp3 downloads are both digital and sound the same), I feel confident that the end is not nigh for publishing.

    I'm a new writer, not yet published, so I hope my optimism is not disappointed!