The Dark Side of eBook Popularity?

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The Dark Side of eBook Popularity? Listen to this article


Welcome to another “State of the eBook”. We’ve got some quick news to review, and then a discussion of something that keeps publishers up at night; piracy in ebook-land. Is it an epidemic of music proportions or is it the straw-man argument that publishers use to justify high prices, digital rights management, and slow ebook adoption?

In eBook news:

Amazon Kindle has a price drop, plus a GSM version has been announced. Great news for everyone outside the USA!

Forrester Research has raised their sales outlook for eBook readers to 3 million units sold this year!

Despite Dan (and most of the internet) yelling at Amazon, they can still remotely delete books (though they swear they won’t use it unless ordered to by the court).

Techradar has an excellent, in-depth review of the Sony Reader Pocket Edition.

ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4

Finally, Simon and Schuster is promoting what they call the “vook”, or an ebook combined with video capabilities. It certainly has some potential, especially with how-to books, but what sort of device could play one? An Apple Tablet, perhaps?

And now, on to the discussion of the day, brought on by this NY Times article: Will Books be Napsterized? (Via Mobileread)

The gang on the Mobileread Forums has picked the article apart pretty well, mainly pointing out that Rapidshare is being used as a scapegoat, especially since there is no research or reference to bitorrent numbers, etc. What I really question whether the pirated ebook market is really that big. It seems like the rise of eBooks has coincided pretty tightly with the rise of Amazon’s eBook store, Sony’s Connect store, Barnes and Noble buying Fictionwise, etc. There isn’t really a “Napster for eBooks”, and the trend towards including wireless stores into Readers makes it easier to download books. Yes, books cost money, and pirated books are free, but there’s also a convenience factor. Hunting around for an ebook, determining it’s not a fake, and converting it to a format compatible with your personal reader is not going to appeal to the average consumer. And readers like the Sony Reader Daily Edition are being built with access to libraries and Google books, meaning a very large swath of free books.

It seems like the most glaring cases of piracy are books that aren’t available in ebook form, like Harry Potter. And Amazon famously pulled George Orwell and Ayn Rand after they were uploaded without proper copyright permissions.

Maybe it’s me, but I love buying books in all their forms, even the electronic kinds. I have a hard time even using the library because I want “my” copy of a book. So to everyone else out there: Do you download “pirated” ebooks? If so, what is the reason? Price, availability, lack of DRM? If not, what are your reasons why not?

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About the Author

Zek has been a gadget fiend for a long time, going back to their first PDA (a Palm M100). They quickly went from researching what PDA to buy to following tech news closely and keeping up with the latest and greatest stuff. They love writing about ebooks because they combine their two favorite activities; reading anything and everything, and talking about fun new tech toys. What could be better?