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Pirating $.99 E-books – Is It Worth the Effort?

25 June 2011

Want to drive a stake through the heart of ebook pirates?

Lower your prices says Piotr Kowalczyk.


Two e-books, priced $9.99 and $0.99, start two completely different purchase processes. The price level is affecting how eager we are to get a pirated copy. In case of e-books it’s combined with, in my opinion, the biggest solution to piracy –convenience.

Digital goods (especially the ones under a magical level of 1 dollar) – music, e-books, applications – join a group of impulse purchase products. It’s not only because of a price. It’s because of possibility of immediate consumption.

. . . .

For a piracy site users all what’s there is free (or for a price of a premium account/features – which is another case). In fact they don’t really know how much they save, because they don’t know the price of the original copy.

The economics of downloading pirated content is that you download items in bulk. You download a folder with e-books, convert files to your primary format and upload to your device.

. . . .

You’ve just bought a Kindle e-reader. You have to learn how to use the device and download e-books legally – enough for a start. You probably keep in mind that there is always a possibility to use illegal sources. The only thing is that it’s a whole new world to learn. Some people, including me, don’t want to bother with it. I want to read books, not waste my time on file conversion and adding e-books to my virtual bookshelf in a way which is not most convenient.

Kindle owner is aware of the price. It’s $0.99, full stop. She or he has a choice: to get the book in less than 60 seconds and start reading it or look for the pirated copy somewhere else. How long would it take to grab it, download, deal with DRM and upload to Kindle? 5 minutes, 15 minutes? 15 minutes every time you’ve found a book you want to read immediately.

Link to the rest at Password Incorrect

Ebooks, Piracy, Pricing

4 Comments to “Pirating $.99 E-books – Is It Worth the Effort?”

  1. Piotr makes some good points, but there’s one thing he left out–those that pirate for the thrill of getting away with something. It’s no different than people with plenty of disposable incomes who shoplift. It doesn’t matter how difficult the theft is. The adrenaline rush is worth it to them.

    • Suzan – There is the thrill for some, but the more people you can slice away from the pirates and bring back to paying reasonable prices the better.

      • PG, I think we’ve both practiced law long enough to know that “reasonable” doesn’t apply to a huge percentage of the the human race. *grin*

        Personally, I’d think the lower prices on e-books would/should stop most people from pirating/dealing through pirates, but when someone can pirate a book and sell it through the same retailer as the legitimate author. . .

        Ironically, in this case, I don’t necessarily blame Amazon (or the other e-book retailers). How are they supposed to determine who’s the legitimate owner of such intellectual property when a great many self-publishers are not filing with the Copyright Office?

        • Suzan – I agree that Amazon can’t pre-screen for copyright ownership even if everyone files, but they can put together a workable method for dealing with complaints of copyright violations when someone squawks.

          As far as “reasonable” men and women are concerned, a long-time lawyer friend once said, “Thank God for human nature. Without it, all lawyers would starve.”

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