Arrr… Pirates!

“It’s a game of Whac-a-Mole,” said Russell Davis, an author and president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, a trade association that helps authors pursue digital pirates. “You knock one down and five more spring up.”

— NYTimes
I think the key issue to literary piracy is the availability and ease of purchasing e-books. Some people don’t pirate music simply because it has become so easy to buy music legitimatly. So many people are uninformed on how to find pirated material (the less tech savvy) that reaching out and saying “Hey, 99-cent music purchases” was all it took to get them. Instead of chasing after the minority of readers who are pirates, why not reach out the majority of readers who aren’t and who are, for whatever reason, not buying as many books.
As the article says:

“If iTunes started three years earlier, I’m not sure how big Napster and the subsequent piratical environments would have been, because people would have been in the habit of legitimately purchasing at pricing that wasn’t considered pernicious,” said Richard Sarnoff, a chairman of Bertelsmann, which owns Random House, the world’s largest publisher of consumer titles.

Some form of subscription service, with ease of use and limited hoops to jump through might just make sales go up even if piracy doesn’t go down.

3 thoughts on “Arrr… Pirates!

  1. The problem with comparing to the music biz is that bands have another revenue streams–concerts, t-shirts, etc. The cheap or free music online drives people to those products. In the interview you posted with Reznor a few days ago, he said he’s not making any money from iTunes. I agree we need to find something that encourages readers to avoid the pirate channels, but I don’t think we’ve found one yet that protects the writer. Although, it might be interesting if writers start touring with live performances of their books. My show will involve mimes. Vampire mimes!

  2. Jaye, I agree that an iTunes for publishing would probably not be the best model, but I do think there has to be something developed or we’ll continue to see a slide in purchases.
    As for Vampire mimes, that should be the name of a band.

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