Google Alerts alerted me last week to a site where Remix can be downloaded for free. I checked with a knowledgeable friend, and yes, the book is indeed available for download, not just there as an inducement to buy membership to their site. I’m surprised, as a) I’m not a famous author, and b) Amazon charges £0.49 or $0.99 for Remix – hardly prices worth evading. But then, the book has been in the UK top 100 for 209 days…
This got me thinking about ebook piracy, so I did some research, and these are my conclusions:
- Ebook piracy is happening now. DRM offers little or no protection.
- Many of the early adopters of the Kindle are middle-aged; they can afford it, adjustable font sizes are good for ageing eyes, and it’s an easy gadget to use even if you haven’t been brought up with computers and mobile phones from earliest youth. This age group is less likely to use pirate sites.
- Younger readers aren't buying Kindles at the moment, thinking them overpriced and that the technology will only improve. This doesn't mean they don’t download pirated books and read them on their computers. Or smart phones, a recent development.
- As e-readers get cheaper and more common, people used to downloading their music for nothing from torrents will expect to do the same with e-books. A quick search shows you can download the BBC list of top 100 books. It's in pdf format, but it's easy enough to convert to epub or other formats.
- Publishers are encouraging piracy by their determination to maintain high ebook prices, causing resentment among e-reader owners. One reason they give for high prices (and low digital royalties for authors) is they need to spend money to prevent copyright infringement; but it’s not clear quite what they are doing, beyond giving more money to their legal departments, and hoping e-books are a passing fad.