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Should You Be Worried About E-book Pirating
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Unfortunately with any new and lucrative opportunity come great concerns. Very few people can say that they haven't shared or 'pirated' movies or music in their lifetime. If we were to express our piracy in costume, almost 99% of us would be wearing eye patches and calling everyone 'Matey'. Arrr, it's the truth. Over several years we have been bombarded with stories of the music and film industries' apparently declining sales and battles over copyright.
One solution to this concern is the implementation of digital rights management (DRM) codes placed on e-books to prevent sharing. Yet in the long run these sorts of prevention methods are counterproductive, treating lawful customers like criminals. Is it really worth penalising a fan for promoting our work? Many consumers resent DRM as it limits their ability to fully own and enjoy their e-book.
There is a growing body of evidence that authors and publishers who have abandoned DRM are actually enjoying greater sales of their works. As noted by bestselling author Cory Doctorow, it is practically impossible to prevent copying in this technological age. Instead, he markets his books by giving away the e-book version (under a commons licence that allows non-commercial sharing) to attract readers to buy hard copies of his works. It is worth noting that Cory has repeatedly had his novels on the New York Times bestseller list.
The bottom line is, with the correct marketing and pricing, people are willing to buy rather than steal. As a way to visualise this copyright issue, think of digital sharing as a person lending their friend a physical book. That friend does not want to buy the novel of an author they don't know, but accepts their friend's recommendation to read a book lent to them. As a result, the friend may become hooked on that author's work, creating a new fan and customer who will recommend the book to others.
Should an author be worried about the sharing of their work, or should they be more concerned about their work of art never, ever, seeing the light of day as it is rejected year after year? Personally I would prefer not to waste years in which no-one reads a word of what I have written, no-one follows my writing and no-one knows who I am. Initially, it is more important to reach an audience than it is to make money.
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