Copy Protection Does Not Mean More Sales
from the and-the-flip-side dept
David Pogue has an article in Scientific American saying the same thing, highlighting how his own attempt at copy protecting some ebooks didn't lead to more sales, but that freeing up his ebooks actually did increase sales:
I make most of my income writing computer books. To my great distress, I discovered that they are widely available online as PDF files. But when I griped on my blog, my readers challenged the assumption that I was losing sales.Now, there are two things worth pointing out. This particular story isn't entirely new. We wrote a similar story a year and a half ago when Pogue wrote nearly the same story for the NY Times. Also we tend to disagree with a straight "give it away and pray" sort of setup that Pogue went with here. However, that doesn't mean the point doesn't stand.
“First of all,” they said, “you’re counting a lot of people who never would have bought the book in the first place. Those don’t represent lost sales. And you’re not counting the people who like the PDF so much, they go buy the print edition or discover from the PDF sample that they like your writing.” One reader challenged me to a test: make one book available both on paper and as an unprotected PDF file. Report the effect of sales after one year.
I did that. The results were clear: Piracy was rampant. The book was everywhere online. But weirdly, my readers were also proved right. Sales of the printed edition did not suffer; in fact, they rose slightly year over year.
No matter what you think, morally or legally, about file sharing, if there are ways to embrace what your fans/consumers want in this manner and then make more money at the same time, does it really matter that you dislike the infringement? To put it another way: would you prefer making more with infringement, or less without infringement? Too many people assume that by cutting out infringement that leads to them making more, but there's more and more evidence that says that's simply not true.