Ebooks: The Plunder of the Literate Pirate

Will ebooks face the same fate as the music industry? Harry Freedman doesn’t think so. In his article he raises some interesting points about how piracy of ebooks may actually help sell more of them. Similarly to the Rice and Duke university’s study I discussed in an earlier post, it seems that the idea of placing restrictions on online content may in fact hinder it. Freedman suggests that ” if independent ebooks are pirated it could be a good thing. Many indies promote themselves by giving books away…the book is still getting exposure”.  This is a very optimistic perspective but the problem is that is is only (potentially) a good thing for the people who already want their book to be viewed for free. He brings an interesting point of view though since he is a writer himself and is confident that the industry will not see any major harm from online ebook piracy.

I believe that looking at piracy of ebooks as a tool to promote books is genius and is an avenue that new or self published authors can look into for promoting their titles. The downside of this is in that the job of the publisher is to monitor content; they discern good literature from bad. Freedman does agree that “cheapness does not equate to value”. This makes this a tricky atmosphere to navigate since ebooks completely open up a new avenue for people both to steal content but also for people to disperse it to a larger audience. In the same way I believe that the right marketing department could definitely take advantage of piracy as a tool to sell books, for example, with a book with a lot of hype, pre-releasing a chapter online purposely and letting it get picked up. One thing about people who pirate is that there is a pleasure they have in knowing they didn’t have to pay, and setting out controlled free content may be a way to engage this crowd with prides itself on exclusivity and the fact that they a) either had access to it first or b) that they feel special or proud of their own cleverness.



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