Publishers Can't Seem To Celebrate The Ebook Boom Without Slipping In Odes To Copyright

from the not-quite-right dept

The BBC reports on the success of ebook sales in the UK, which are up by 188% compared to last year. This is great news for authors and e-commerce. Ebook reading devices have become increasingly easy to use and the online shops for ebooks are getting far more user-friendly by the day. Although I’m not fully converted myself yet (still unsure about the digital right management controls and the unnecessary high prices), about half the books I read are ebooks and most other documents I read are on tablets and computers. The non-believers are slowly but surely being proven wrong and the market is speaking for itself.

The piece by the BBC, which praises the market developments for consumers and authors alike, includes an odd quote, which seems more like pro-copyright lobby-speak and out of place in the article:
"The huge increase in digital sales shows how rapidly readers and publishers are embracing e-book reading," said Richard Mollet, the trade body's chief executive (Publishers Association, ed.). "Whether books are enjoyed physically or electronically, publishers will continue to invest in exciting authors and titles. They can do this because of the stability provided by the UK's robust and flexible copyright framework. This is why The PA is at the forefront of calls to government to ensure that copyright is not eroded and that creators' rights are protected and supported online."
It is surprising in several ways that Mr. Mollet mentions the copyright framework. First, if this is true under today's system, why is his association actively pushing for stricter, less flexible copyright laws? Second, why is the current copyright framework more suitable for book authors and not musicians and movie producers, whose lobbyists are standing in line to complain about the current system? And why does the journalist bother to mention this in the quote at all, when the whole article is a praise of the market adapting to consumer needs?

Let's face it, the copyright system, robust or useless, hardly comes into the equation concerning the recent success of the ebooks market. Ebooks are among the easiest things to pirate. In fact, it is very easy to download zipped files containing thousands of digitized books. Ebook publishers are thus effectively—and successfully—competing with an abundant free supply of their goods.

Fortunately for books publishers, they have had several valuable case studies from which they could learn, namely the decade-long failed attempts of the music and movie industries to cope with the advent of the internet. After wasting gazillions on litigation and lobbying, these industries came to understand that the user does actually spend money on media when it is made easy.

In short, success of content business models depends on the user experience you offer your customers, not more or less strict copyright regulation. It also seems very hypocritical for content lobbyists to praise the copyright system when the market is doing well, and blame the same system when the market is not performing to their wishes.


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    nospacesorspecialcharacters (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 3:50am

    They can do this inspite of the stability provided by the UK's robust and flexible copyright framework.

    TFTFY - because the eBook markets' success has nothing to do with copyrestriction and everything to do with the people and companies who've developed standardised reader software and built affordable, portable hardware that have made them attractive!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 3:56am

    "Let's face it, the copyright system, robust or useless, hardly comes into the equation concerning the recent success of the ebooks market. Ebooks are among the easiest things to pirate. In fact, it is very easy to download zipped files containing thousands of digitized books. Ebook publishers are thus effectively—and successfully—competing with an abundant free supply of their goods."

    This cannot be stressed enough.

    An ebook is laughably trivial to pirate: the DRM is pathetic and they are so small (compared to movies and games) that you don't need a big fat connection to pirate them. Plus, the book industry doesn't have the same kind of copyright infringement fighting muscle as the movie/music/game industry, so some people might get the idea that they will never be caught.

    Yet, sales have almost tripled. Kinda destroys the whole "people just want everything for free" theory, together with the "you can't compete with free" theory.

    The sky isn't falling after all. It is a good time to be an artist.

     

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      average_joe (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 5:41am

      Re:

      This cannot be stressed enough.

      An ebook is laughably trivial to pirate: the DRM is pathetic and they are so small (compared to movies and games) that you don't need a big fat connection to pirate them.


      It's trivially easy to kill someone, yet the laws against murder serve as a deterrent. It's trivially easy to speed, yet laws against speeding serve as a deterrent. Just because it's trivially easy to infringe eBooks, that doesn't prove that copyright laws have nothing to do with the viability and success of the eBook market. It could be that because of the marketable right made possible by copyright, an author was able to get an advance that enabled him to have the time to write the book in the first place (my brother just got an advance and is writing a book that he otherwise would not have been able to write, so I know this happens).

      And while many Techdirt readers are no doubt big time pirates who would have no trouble downloading infringing eBooks, that doesn't mean that there's not others who don't know how to do it and who have no intention of finding out (because, unlike many of Mike's faithful, they realize that piracy is wrong). So it's not like there's perfect competition across the board, and it's hardly fair to call someone giving your product away for free and against your wishes as a "competitor." They compete, but not fairly. Why don't you pirates compete on equal terms? Put up your books that don't rely on copyright against those that do. That would show something. But pretending like pirates are legitimate competition is sad.

      I tell you what. Before you guys signal the end of copyright (and I know how important it is for you all to do this), why don't you wait until the point arises where works that were never copyrighted are freely exchanged while the authors who write them are adequately compensated? As it is, you're pointing to a system that is obviously based on copyright and trying to pretend like copyright isn't necessary. Prove it. If you create this alternative market that is so much better, the authors will come running in droves. But for now, just admit that you're on the fringe and you haven't proved yourself yet. Just admit that your view of competition involves competing against an author with his own work. Where's the legitimate competition? Where's the actual proof? You don't have it yet, and I suspect you never will.

       

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        dr evil, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 6:30am

        Re: Re:

        Trollin trollin trollin

        For the record - if you murder, the government prescribes PUNISHMENT, they do not deter you. And even then, not all murders are punished.. They tend to be reviewed case by case. Just sayin.....

         

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        Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 6:37am

        Re: Re:

        It's trivially easy to kill someone, yet the laws against murder serve as a deterrent. It's trivially easy to speed, yet laws against speeding serve as a deterrent.

        Citation, please. Can you show that laws are the deterrents?

        I don't kill people - not because of the law, but because it is wrong from a moral and ethical standpoint.

        On the other hand, I was driving faster than the speed limit on most of my morning commute. I was going 40 in a 35 zone, and went 65 in a 55 zone. I wasn't driving dangerously by any reasonable definition. I stopped for the school buses and slowed to the limit in the school zone. I didn't run any lights. Not for fear of the law - but because those would endanger myself and others.

        So, AJ, where's the actual proof that laws are the reason that people don't break laws?

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 6:43am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Shit the highways in Chicago have posted limits of 45 at places. Cops won't even look at you funny for doing 80 through them. Chicago must be full of pirates.

           

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        Donglebert the Lengthy, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 6:41am

        Re: Re:

        "It's trivially easy to kill someone, yet the laws against murder serve as a deterrent. It's trivially easy to speed, yet laws against speeding serve as a deterrent."


        Laws don't act as a deterrent. When people can see the benefit of not doing something, you don't need a deterrent.

        So people do speed.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 6:56am

        Re: Re:

        You make a lot of assumptions.

        All I said was that despite how easy it is to pirate ebooks, the business is flourishing. The data shows this, and I extrapolated (based on that data) that the old mantras of the IP industry might not hold water.

        Your entire comment, however, is pure, unsupported speculation on your part. It is more of a dig at the Techdirt community rather than a reply, really.

         

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          average_joe (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 7:17am

          Re: Re: Re:

          My point is that if you want to show the superiority of the noncopyright model, then compete with the copyright model fairly. You're saying, "See, copyright can compete with free!" But the competition you point to is pirates competing with authors using the authors' own works. That doesn't prove anything. The issue isn't whether authors can compete with themselves. The status quo is copyright. If you want to prove your side, then prove that free can compete with copyright. I haven't seen the pirates do this yet. Let's see some actual competition before we decide the pirates have won.

           

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            The eejit (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 7:24am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The IP model isn't fair to begin with, so why can't IP compete with everything else?

            Oh, wait, that would be rational in the marketplace.

             

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            Gwiz (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 7:39am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            If you want to prove your side, then prove that free can compete with copyright. I haven't seen the pirates do this yet. Let's see some actual competition before we decide the pirates have won.

            I know this isn't exactly the same thing, but some very important clues can be found in the open source software movement. We now have a flourishing, active community created from the ground up that is based on building what has already been created and with individual monetary gain being a very low priority. Pretty much the exact opposite of current intellectual property systems.

            Look at how fast it is developing, without the restrictions of copyright or patents. It is actually competing with the notable giants who rely on IP for their livelihood and is a actually a becoming huge benefit to society.

             

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              Gwiz (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 7:41am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              err...*based on building off of what has already been created...

               

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              average_joe (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 8:01am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I don't think you can accurately compare the two since the markets work differently. Just like I don't think you can accurately compare software patents to pharmaceutical patents. Let's see free books compete with copyrighted books. That would be the test. Nobody's stopping anyone from writing a book and giving it away for free. The internet's there to provide worldwide distribution at a very low cost. Seems like all the pieces are in place for free to shine. What's holding it back?

               

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                Gwiz (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 8:20am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                I don't think you can accurately compare the two since the markets work differently. Just like I don't think you can accurately compare software patents to pharmaceutical patents.

                I agree you can't really acccurately compare different markets, hence why I said there are important clues to look for as opposed to a direct comparison. It also becomes a question of why those markets are different and how much is the result of IP laws causing those differences or not.

                Let's see free books compete with copyrighted books. That would be the test. Nobody's stopping anyone from writing a book and giving it away for free. The internet's there to provide worldwide distribution at a very low cost. Seems like all the pieces are in place for free to shine. What's holding it back?

                And plenty of creators are using free when it makes sense. You've been around here for a while, Techdirt usually has a story or two every week of someone leveraging free to earn their income.

                Nobody's stopping anyone from writing a book and giving it away for free.

                Well, the current copyright system we have now itself inhibits this behavior really. Try releasing a new work directly to the public domain these days. It's a symptom of a broken system when you have to rely on copyright laws to protect your work from copyright laws.

                 

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                  average_joe (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 8:32am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Well, the current copyright system we have now itself inhibits this behavior really. Try releasing a new work directly to the public domain these days. It's a symptom of a broken system when you have to rely on copyright laws to protect your work from copyright laws.

                  I disagree. It couldn't be easier. Write a book, mark it as public domain, and put it on the internet. You can seed it in tons of places, making it super easy for everyone around the world who wants a copy to have it within seconds. Copyright doesn't stop anyone from doing that. Nothing is stopping free from legitimately competing with copyright.

                   

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                    Gwiz (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 8:42am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Nothing is stopping free from legitimately competing with copyright.

                    Umm. You are forgetting about the entrenched entities with the bottomless pocketbooks who seek to stifle anything where they are not getting a cut. If you truly wanted an level playing field for this experiment you would have to remove their influences also.

                     

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                Lowestofthekeys (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 8:25am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                I think he was referring to the mantra "you can't compete with free" that is commonly thrown about in response to adapting to newer business models.

                That phrase in general is more hyperbolic than literal.

                 

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                  average_joe (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 8:34am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  I think the mantra is backwards. Let's see free legitimately compete with copyright. Nothing's holding free back.

                   

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                    MrWilson, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 8:46am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Competition involves at least two players. You can reverse the phrase, but free competing with paid is the same thing as its inverse of paid competing with free. You're just playing semantics and syntax games.

                    Free doesn't work the same way paid does, so they're not completely comparable, though they do directly compete in some scenarios (Linux vs Microsoft servers). In other scenarios, paid is made possible by free (Disney building on public domain works). High schoolers buy printed copies of public domain works for class reading material all the time. That's free and paid.

                    But you also have the issue that there are different types of free, such as free as in beer, free as in speech, and free as in kitten. I'm guessing your trolling is "paid as in speech."

                     

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                    Lowestofthekeys (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 9:49am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Omg, you're becoming a pirate apologist!

                     

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                Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 8:36am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                There are plenty of people who give away their books for free, you just don't see them because there is no central market (and that's all you care about, a market). Hell, there is no market for them since there is no money trading hands, but these books do exist and they do fairly well. Yet the copyrighted books still had a 300% increase and still make money.

                The same can be said for video. There's plenty of damn good stuff on Youtube that's actually earning their creators a living. There's a huge amount of free, legitimate music out there, yet the pay movie and music industry is still making billions of dollars.

                Your argument just doesn't hold water, AJ.

                 

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            MrWilson, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 8:36am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Authors competing against their own works being distributed for free is the best possible way to show that you can compete with free.

            If we showed an example of someone giving away a "competing" product, for instance, a fantasy novel that doesn't get read as often as a copyrighted work that is a bestseller, you'd just point out that the writing of the free novel was terrible and amateurish.

            If we compare the author's competition with their own work, there's no room for you to wiggle by saying that one product is inferior and that explains the difference in popularity.

            Cory Doctorow releases his works via CC license for free online even before the print form hits the shelves and he still has NY Times bestselling novels. I've read much of his works for free and then showed up to his book signing and bought a physical copy because I wanted to support him. And he has a list on his website of school libraries and classes that would like a print copy that you can purchase a copy for if you want to donate after reading his works for free.

            Doctorow competes with his own works for free and does well for himself. There's your proof.

             

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            Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 8:37am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            My point is that if you want to show the superiority of the noncopyright model, then compete with the copyright model fairly.

            Can you define "fair" in economic terms?

            Does it include getting governments to pass laws preventing or slowing competition? Does it include forming cartels and trade groups of established companies to stamp out threats to the existing business model?

            The status quo is copyright. If you want to prove your side, then prove that free can compete with copyright.

            When the status quo can write the rules, sometimes the only option for competition is to break the rules.

             

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            John Fenderson (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 10:13am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I haven't seen the pirates do this yet. Let's see some actual competition before we decide the pirates have won.


            Perhaps a more reasonable discussion can be had when you stop with the assumption that the only people who could possibly have a problem with copyright are pirates.

             

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        Richard (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 7:18am

        Re: Re:Deterrence effect of laws.

        If the deterrence effect of laws was important then ignorance of the law would be regarded as a defence. It isn't.

        Think about it...

         

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          average_joe (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 8:04am

          Re: Re: Re:Deterrence effect of laws.

          If the deterrence effect of laws was important then ignorance of the law would be regarded as a defence. It isn't.

          Think about it...


          That makes no sense. You can't claim ignorance as a defense because then ignorance of the law would be rewarded and everyone would have the incentive to know as little as possible about their rights and duties. To avoid that perverse situation, ignorance of the law is not encouraged.

          That's got nothing to do with the idea that knowing you're going to be punished if you break the law encourages people not to break the law. Disallowing ignorance as a defense encourages people to know the law, and punishing people for breaking the law encourages people to not do so.

           

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            Gwiz (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 8:36am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:Deterrence effect of laws.

            Disallowing ignorance as a defense encourages people to know the law, and punishing people for breaking the law encourages people to not do so.

            While I agree with the first part of your sentence, the second part, not so much.

            Punishing people for what they think isn't immoral doesn't seem to encourage anything other than increased disdain for the law.

            Prohibition and the Drug War seem to refute your statement of conjuncture.

             

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            ltlw0lf (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 10:53am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:Deterrence effect of laws.

            That makes no sense. You can't claim ignorance as a defense because then ignorance of the law would be rewarded and everyone would have the incentive to know as little as possible about their rights and duties. To avoid that perverse situation, ignorance of the law is not encouraged.

            What about secret laws and secret government interpretations of the law (such as with TSA rules or interpretations of the PATRIOT act,) are citizens supposed to be aware of all aspects of a law that they have no legal access to?

             

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            Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 5:43pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:Deterrence effect of laws.

            80,000 new federal laws in 2011. Expecting anyone to know the law is a joke. Even lawyers don't know the law. Anyone who claims they do is lying through their teeth, and probably going to run for office before too long.

             

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        Cory of PC (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 8:28am

        Re: Re:

        "It's trivially easy to kill someone, yet the laws against murder serve as a deterrent."

        It's also trivially easy to forget to buckle your seat belt and litter, yet there are laws in place to prevent people from littering and to have everyone in seat belts. ... What is your point in that? I don't kill because of the law, but for my own moral and ethical reasons; I do wear my seat belt for safety and practical reasons; I don't litter because of different reasons other than the law. My point: I don't do certain things because of the law. I do and don't do certain things because of personal reasons.

        "And while many Techdirt readers are no doubt big time pirates who would have no trouble downloading infringing eBooks..."

        Aaaand you lost potential customers for saying such things (not like you have any customers that we know of). Honestly, what you're saying in this paragraph is... I don't know how to word it, but I kinda get something. Yes competition isn't perfect, but that doesn't mean it's going to be equal. People want to get a good deal for cheap, and what better way to give away free stuff? If businesses want to get more customers, they need to come up with a better deal that could compete with free. And giving it out "against their wishes"? ... I have no idea how to answer to that.

        "Where's the actual proof? You don't have it yet, and I suspect you never will."

        I don't have to show it to you since all you will do is ignore it (just like this comment), and continue to believe that's no better option for me out there. In fact, if people do give you something, I'll be willing to check it out and use it to see if I can get started in bringing my stories to life, make some money, and have good quality stories out on the market for people to enjoy instead of being harass by publishers and people like you.

         

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          average_joe (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 8:42am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I don't have to show it to you since all you will do is ignore it (just like this comment), and continue to believe that's no better option for me out there.

          That's not true at all. If free were so obviously better, authors would be going with the free business model in droves. As it is, they are relying for the most part on copyright for their business models. When you win the hearts, minds, and wallets with free, we'll all know it. That hasn't happened yet.

          As it is though, you guys are all pretending like free has won the debate. That's just not so, and the proof is that authors are still using the copyright model (Gasp!). It's true that "the stability provided by the UK's robust and flexible copyright framework" is providing us with new and better works. That there is piracy does not disprove that.

          Arguing that free wins because some people pirate copyrighted works doesn't hold much water. If you want free to win, that's fine. But let's see free to win legitimately and fairly. Let's see works provided for by the free model compete and beat works provided for by the copyright model. We don't have that yet. Copyright is still the dominant business model.

           

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            BigKeithO, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 9:34am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            What is your point? People can buy books, they can also download those same books for free. It isn't like copyright is the reason for that. For any given piece of media I can buy right now I can also download that same thing for free.

            So again what is your point? If copyright went away tomorrow suddenly everyone would stop paying? More like people could careless and would continue to get the media however they are getting it right now. People don't pay because of copyright.

             

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 3:56am

    "After wasting gazillions on litigation and lobbying, these industries came to understand that the user does actually spend money on media when it is made easy."

    The industries haven't come to realise this at all. The entertainment industry war on technology is still going strong. They will use stories like this as proof that rigid copyright works and they will push for even more rigid copyright laws.

     

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      Chris Brand (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 10:13am

      Re:

      I'm glad to see somebody say this. I thought I must have missed a Techdirt article - "Music and movie industries finally decide to actually try competing with free".

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 3:59am

    Now if only publishers would embrace error checking on their ebooks...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 4:34am

    Ebook sellers have a very short window under which the business model will flourish, before it will come crashing down. The sales may continue to grow, but the cannibalizing of the print side will be bigger than the gains made in digital, following the same pattern as music.

    Basically, they will trade a market of $X for one of about 10%x if they are like, as people are going to much more rapidly adopt the pirate way to obtain their content (or the old unlimited online lending library sites).

    It's pretty much end game for them... just a matter of 3 - 5 years.

     

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      Dave Cridland, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 4:46am

      That's possible, but seems not to be the case. The print market isn't dropping; at least, not by nearly as much as the ebook market is growing.

      In fact, it's looking rather like readers aren't changing from print to ebook, rather the ebook market is making buying books sufficiently simple and convenient that people are buying more.

      I'm certainly in this camp - for every print copy I don't buy, I probably buy dozens of ebooks, because I can read more often, carry them with me easier, and so on.

      On a recent flight, most people reading seemed to have a reader (generally a kindle) because despite the take-off restrictions, it means being able to carry more books, in a lighter-weight package than one.

      I don't think the copyright laws are having much effect here - though they are, of course, acting in the author's interests as they should.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 5:13am

        Re:

        "In fact, it's looking rather like readers aren't changing from print to ebook, rather the ebook market is making buying books sufficiently simple and convenient that people are buying more."

        Go back and look at the history of the CD. The new format for a short period of time looked like a major boost, as people kept buying the previous formats, and purchased the new format as well. Plus people were buying their previous catalog in digital to get better sound quality.

        It was short lived. They did that without piracy being a big issue, but it wasn't long before Napster came along and well, the rest is history. Current value of the recorded music world, INCLUDING the huge digital bumb, is almost 60% less than it was 10 years ago.

        Books are likely to get the same result but in hyper drive. It will only be limited by the speed that works are made digital. Remember, we are only at best 2 years into the whole e-reader thing, and plenty of stuff still isn't available as an e-book. Plus e-book piracy is still really in it's infancy, and I doubt it will be long before it's in full swing.

        My guess? Mike will hold up the book piracy sites as models of first amendment speech :)

         

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          silverscarcat (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 5:30am

          Re: Re:

          "It was short lived. They did that without piracy being a big issue, but it wasn't long before Napster came along and well, the rest is history. Current value of the recorded music world, INCLUDING the huge digital bumb, is almost 60% less than it was 10 years ago."

          I'm pretty sure you mean sales of CDs are down 60%, when all studies have shown that music has GROWN since Napster.

          1 billion .99 iTunes sales is still 99% of 1 billion dollars after all.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 5:36am

            Re: Re: Re:

            Nope.

            Total sales of recorded music INCLUDING digital is down 60%.

            Sorry to burst your bubble.

            1 billion is small numbers - the industry was 10-12 billion per year (or 100+ billion in a decade). 1 billion sales of recorded music is just a 1% item in that.

             

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              The eejit (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 5:40am

              Re: Re: Re: Re:

              You got a cite for that?

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 7:10am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                eejit, this is old stuff. Long since covered on Techdirt.

                Go look at the recording industry worldwide report for 2000. Then go find the same report for 2010 (IFPI, I think). Those reports include digital revenues.

                 

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                  PaulT (profile), Sep 25th, 2012 @ 1:32am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  "eejit, this is old stuff. Long since covered on Techdirt."

                  Indeed it has, including the hundreds of factors other than piracy that you always conveniently ignore when trying to pretend that the drop in recorded music sales is due solely to piracy.

                  Funny that, huh?

                   

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                Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 7:30am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Eejit, to help you:

                2000: The global music market was worth US$36.9 billion, with total unit sales of 3.5 billion.


                2009: Global recorded music sales for 2009 show a mixed picture. Trade revenues to record companies fell by 7.2% to US$17 billion, with the world's two biggest markets, the US and Japan, making up 80% of the decline. The worldwide fall in revenues outside the US and Japan in 2009 was 3.2%. Physical sales fell by 12.7% globally.

                (2009 includes 4.3 billion of digital sales).

                So they went from 36.8 billion to 17 billion.

                Hope that helps out.

                 

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                  Lowestofthekeys (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 7:59am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  You didn't factor in a few things that could have contributed to the dip in sales.

                  For one, there was the price fixing lawsuit which ended in 2002 and reduced the prices of CDs. There's also Itunes, which further reduced revenues by allowing the consumer to pick individual songs for purchase form the album.

                   

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                    Gwiz (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 9:06am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    And since digital music, there really hasn't been much need for container format upgrades or quality loss replacements.

                    Digital music doesn't suffer from scratches or overplaying. People aren't repurchasing their entire catalogs every seven years or so anymore.

                     

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                    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 10:30am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    All factors, none of which change the results.

                    Further, let's be clear: During the same time period, people came into posession of devices which hold tens of thousands of songs, from Ipods to various MP3 players. The public's consumption of recorded music and "holding" of recorded music is at an all time high, but the unit sales (no matter how you slice it) are way off. It only adds up if they have an alternate, non-paying source. Ding! Piracy.

                    My point in all of this is only that the music industry saw this exact pattern of build and then total collapse as they went digital. The small pickup as early adopters buy the digital product, followed by the discovery of easy copying and distribution, followed by a signficant portion of your marketplace going away.

                    If e-books end up selling at the threatened $2.99-$3.99 range, there will still be significant piracy, and there will also be significant losses compared to printed copy sales now (2/3 of the revenue would go away on each sale). Printing and distribution isn't high enough to justify that difference, so they will be suffering.

                    It's actually very likely that in the book market, piracy becomes an even more significant issue, because there is little in the way of "try before you buy" in fiction, humor, opinion, or much of the non-text book style non-fiction works. Basically, if you have it, there is no reason to buy it.

                    It's not looking good for the book market - and in the end, it's not looking good for authors.

                     

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                      Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 11:07am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      So both musicians and authors will become obsolete in the future. Fascinating.

                       

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                      Gwiz (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 11:35am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      Further, let's be clear: During the same time period, people came into posession of devices which hold tens of thousands of songs, from Ipods to various MP3 players. The public's consumption of recorded music and "holding" of recorded music is at an all time high, but the unit sales (no matter how you slice it) are way off. It only adds up if they have an alternate, non-paying source. Ding! Piracy.

                      Interesting conclusion. But it totally leaves out that quite a few people simply transferred their existing CD libraries to their MP3 players instead of repurchasing their music. I don't pay again for the music I already own every time I purchase a new player anymore.

                      My point in all of this is only that the music industry saw this exact pattern of build and then total collapse as they went digital. The small pickup as early adopters buy the digital product, followed by the discovery of easy copying and distribution, followed by a signficant portion of your marketplace going away.

                      Once again, I'm not convinced. You paint an incomplete picture. Lots of other factors going on at the time.

                      If e-books end up selling at the threatened $2.99-$3.99 range, there will still be significant piracy, and there will also be significant losses compared to printed copy sales now (2/3 of the revenue would go away on each sale). Printing and distribution isn't high enough to justify that difference, so they will be suffering.

                      The 2/3 of revenue doesn't really add up to me. At virtually zero cost for production and distribution for infinite units, what's stopping authors from charging $0.99 and selling a million units instead of the usual 2 or 3 hundred thousand unit traditional print run?

                      It's actually very likely that in the book market, piracy becomes an even more significant issue, because there is little in the way of "try before you buy" in fiction, humor, opinion, or much of the non-text book style non-fiction works. Basically, if you have it, there is no reason to buy it.

                      Perhaps the try-before-you buy model won't work for ebooks. But pricing to compete with piracy and making it as convenient as piracy will. I would think most people would gladly pay $0.99 for the "ease of use" instead resorting to piracy.

                       

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                        Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 9:33pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        "Interesting conclusion. But it totally leaves out that quite a few people simply transferred their existing CD libraries to their MP3 players instead of repurchasing their music. I don't pay again for the music I already own every time I purchase a new player anymore."

                        it would be a good argument if the music on those players was older than, say, 2002, and it would be a good argument if the average user wasn't under 30.

                        The stats don't add up, no matter how much you want to try to excuse it. Widespread piracy fills MP3 players, not people ripping their personal collections.

                        "The 2/3 of revenue doesn't really add up to me. At virtually zero cost for production and distribution for infinite units, what's stopping authors from charging $0.99 and selling a million units instead of the usual 2 or 3 hundred thousand unit traditional print run?"

                        Well, first off, let's see: the 99 cent sale won't generate 99 cents to the author. If it's anything like Itunes is for music, the author would be lucky to get about 30 cents out of it.

                        Further, your assumption is 1 million sales. That might be possible now, but a couple of years from now, it will be a few thousand sales at most (dedicated fans) and the rest will be pirated copies, lent copies, traded copies, and of course, virtula infinite library copies.

                        You don't make a very good argument as to why people will keep paying once the products are generally, widely, and easily available for free. It's the standard Techdirt argument for music piracy - it's unavoidable and everywhere. So why would any other digital business model be exempt?

                        "Perhaps the try-before-you buy model won't work for ebooks. But pricing to compete with piracy and making it as convenient as piracy will. I would think most people would gladly pay $0.99 for the "ease of use" instead resorting to piracy."

                        If I can get the book through a virtual infinite lending library or via a book share club or a trading site, why would I pay even 99 cents? You can't add enough value to the discussion to make it worth it.

                        Remember: We aren't just talking swash buckling nasty piracy through hidden networks, we are talking front line, open to the public, fully disclosed libraries and trading sites.

                        There is little to suggest that the "buy a book" model will have any legs at all.

                         

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                          Gwiz (profile), Sep 25th, 2012 @ 8:37am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          I can see your arguments, though I'm not so sure I agree with your conclusions.

                          If we are talking about the "hard-core, fill my hard drive with stuff I'll never consume" pirates, then, yes, your conclusions are quite possible. But I don't think you'll ever sway that demographic, no matter what you do.

                          I just don't think it's really that way for the average consumer. If you have connected in some way with your customers on a level beyond a simple business transaction, then I would think your fans would be more than happy to contribute in some way to your livelihood. I really don't think the average person is out there trying drive all artists into poorhouses.

                          I also happen to think that the legacy players are partially responsible for some of the problems we are facing. There is a growing number of consumers who refuse to contribute due to the behavior and attitudes of the legacy players. Most would gladly contribute directly to the artist, but refuse to contribute a penny to the old guard gatekeepers. This a problem that was brought upon themselves and legislation or enforcement won't fix it.

                           

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                          Gwiz (profile), Sep 25th, 2012 @ 9:07am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          I would also like to add that there are some pretty big culture differences between music and books you don't seem to be taking into account.

                          Music has traditionally always been free in one way or another to the consumer. From radio to elevators to MTV videos to sidewalk performers and everything in between there has been always free music.

                          With books, not so much. Sure there have been libraries, book sharing clubs and sharing amongst family and friends, but for the most part, purchasing books has always been the norm.

                          The ingrained cultural behaviors for ebooks to overcome will most definitely be less than it was for music, IMO.

                           

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                      Lowestofthekeys (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 12:54pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      My point is the music labels did this to themselves, plus they haven't collapsed at all, in fact in 2011 sales had gone up by about 3.2%.

                      That may seem paltry, but the fact remains that the market goes up and down. The problem is stabilizing so that you're not losing an obscene amount of money. The record labels ruined this for themselves by trying to control the market with price fixing and refusing to adapt to the digital age.

                      Let me ask you this...

                      Would the music industry be in the shape it is now if it had adopted newer technology to deal with digital music?

                      And, just as a sidenote, a few economists have speculated that the labels could have cashed in on early technologies like Spotify (which happens to be their 2nd biggest revenue stream next to Itunes). You could say that given the time for development, Spotify's revenues could have increased and maintained the labels the same way Itunes has.

                      Also, publishers are not on the verge of collapsing either. According to this link - http://musingsandmarvels.com/2012/07/18/bookstats-what-happened-in-the-publishing-industry-in-2011/ - ebook sales doubled between 2010 and 2011 while the overall revenues increased by .5 %.

                      Adjustments are going to be made and competition is going to increase because technology allows authors to get their own work out there.

                      Piracy is always going to be an issue the same way thatc rime will always be an issue, but there's ways to minimize the impact.

                       

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                        Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 6:35pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        "That may seem paltry, but the fact remains that the market goes up and down. The problem is stabilizing so that you're not losing an obscene amount of money. The record labels ruined this for themselves by trying to control the market with price fixing and refusing to adapt to the digital age. "

                        It's already been shown on Techdirt over and over again that price is not the issue here, until the price gets so low that there is no longer a supportable business model of any sort.

                        If you don't think so, go look for all the posts bitching about Itunes being expensive. These posts are usually from people who will spend $9 for a double expresso low fat latte cappuccinno smoothie. They think that $1 for music is an incredibly high price to pay.

                        "Adjustments are going to be made and competition is going to increase because technology allows authors to get their own work out there. "

                        The race to the bottom is already on, it won't be long before a big business model push will be to give away the books and offer the author up to play miniputt or wash windows or something. If there is one thing about digital goods that I have learned, it's that someone will always do it for free, and will drag the entire market down to their level as a result of their lazy, poorly through out marketing plans.

                        My guess is that the book market, 5 years from now, will be about 10-20% of what it is today. Part of that big hit will be when textbooks go digital and students can just share them around. The rest of it will be in the pulp / paperback area, which is a business model very likely to disappear quickly. Why buy a paperback when you can just download the book into your Kindle for the flight to Mom's house?

                        "Piracy is always going to be an issue the same way thatc rime will always be an issue, but there's ways to minimize the impact."

                        Just like music, when enough people (like posters here) think that it isn't a crime, no amount of attempting to minimize impact comes into play. There is just too much to overcome to make it work out.

                         

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                      Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 4:47pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      Have you never heard of libraries?

                       

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                      PaulT (profile), Sep 25th, 2012 @ 2:03am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      "Further, let's be clear: During the same time period, people came into posession of devices which hold tens of thousands of songs, from Ipods to various MP3 players. The public's consumption of recorded music and "holding" of recorded music is at an all time high, but the unit sales (no matter how you slice it) are way off. It only adds up if they have an alternate, non-paying source. Ding! Piracy."

                      Actually, this is a fine distillation of the wrong-headed assumptions you make, and why your conclusions are always vastly different from the truth.

                      Here's the assumptions you make:

                      - That every device capable of holding large numbers of albums must be filled or mostly filled to capacity.
                      - That the items these devices are filled with must be music rather than apps or other media.
                      - That the only way people can fill such devices must be related to either purchased music or piracy.
                      - That since sales have dropped, piracy must be encouraged by these devices.

                      Every one of these assumptions is wrong. For every filled device, there are many which aren't. I certainly know a number of people whose 16Gb devices hold about 4 albums worth of music. In other words, the fact that they're CAPABLE of holding hundreds of albums does not mean that they do, and if they don't then their capacity is probably not a factor in any piracy from that user. For those devices which are close to being filled, there's a huge number of LEGAL sources that have nothing to do with piracy - apps, videos, podcasts, synced Spotify playlists, etc.

                      Even if we assume that these devices are filled and only filled with music, there's a large number of legitimate sources they can come from, ranging from ripped CDs (I know my first act when obtaining an MP3 player was to rip the 600+ previously purchased CDs I owned) to legally free MP3s. In my case, the point where I stopped buying as much music as I used to was when I started listening to a lot of podcasts in place of music. Assuming that the content on these devices must be illegal is why you keep attacking paying customers.

                      So, by making these assumptions, you end up at something that differs notably from the truth, and you try to parley that into an attack on another industry. Of course, without pointing out all fallacies you make there, you make many of the same mistakes. You ignore the fact that libraries and second hand books make up much of the current consumption of physical books, that lower prices do not necessarily mean lower revenue, that the high prices of physical books are what stop people buying them currently in the first place, and many other factors. You push out "facts" that I'm sure you won't be willing to cite or back up in any way (the cost of printing and distribution as a proportion of current revenue, for example), and act as if you have all the answers.

                      To anyone not making the same wrong-headed assumptions as you, however, it's pretty clear that you don't.

                       

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              Big Al, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 6:14am

              Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Unfortunately you still equate the music industry as a whole with sales of recorded music.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 7:23am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                No, I equate the sales of recorded music with the sales of recorded music. Unlike some people, I don't pick and choose to try to create the impression that the sky is rising. That is sort of like suggesting the standard of living went up in a town because one guy won a 100 million dollar lotto, so everyone has a much higher average income this year.

                Figures don't lie - but liars can figure.

                 

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          Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 6:12am

          Re: Re:

          Go back and look at the history of the CD. The new format for a short period of time looked like a major boost, as people kept buying the previous formats, and purchased the new format as well.

          Majors did several mistakes at the time of the switchover from vinyl to CD format. One of artificially maintaining much higher pricing than vinyl even after CDs became cheaper to make and disribute than vinyl. The CD-replacement market got the major companies +20% yearly growth driven by back catalog re-sales for a few years, with little attention paid to cost efficiency. When growth faded again early 90s, before the internet, large players dumped 50% of their artists as an answer to tougher times setting in.

          The CD as an object never really got adopted in consumers hearts, compared to vinyl. The next market transformation to digital media-less formats happened outside of the music companies with people sharing directly with each other with no serious official outlets available in the meantime.

          When digital sales started to take off, it was on singles. Precisely on the segment that had all but disappeared on CD sales. The same segment that was facing distribution frictions with retailers not willing to bear the cost and risk of return-CD singles. Consumers started to be both more picky and impulsive on buying. Less CD-album-based-on-that-one-track-they-like.

          At the same time, major music companies were facing the reality of entertainment spending budgets getting spread across more alternatives than before with movie DVDs, games, ... this again before internet widespread digital distribution adoption, unofficial and official combined.

          Consumer pricing got again perceived as over-evaluated in the digital market, the removal of the huge media-less, trucking-less, retail-space less cost has not been passed over to the consumer. A whole class of music companies occupations made much less sense in that new economy too: pressing-related, retail salesmen and more. The natural bottleneck of limited retail-space and a physical sales-force effectively controlling the market is thus gone too. Rarely is it stated how much major's sales staff selection & promotion to retail chains and lack of sales-force from small players acted as the most effective de facto market gate-keeping.


          There's been quite a few forces at play for the music industry than just unauthorized file-sharing could possibly explain. Some but not all transposable to the move to e-books.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 7:16am

          Re: Re:

          "They did that without piracy being a big issue"

          What? Years after home taping started killing the music industry piracy wasn't a big issue?

          http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/b/bc/Home_taping_is_killing_music.png

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 7:24am

            Re: Re: Re:

            Home-sharing did kill the music industry, you didn't follow the news in your apocalypse shelter ? They have now been replaced by Zombies strolling around howling "Laaaaaaawwwwsssssss!!!!"

             

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          John Fenderson (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 10:22am

          Re: Re:

          They did that without piracy being a big issue, but it wasn't long before Napster came along and well, the rest is history.


          Napster (and piracy) is not the root cause of the problems that the major music publishers are having.

          Remember, we are only at best 2 years into the whole e-reader thing, and plenty of stuff still isn't available as an e-book.


          Actually, I've been reading e-books for over a decade, and if you're willing to pirate (I don't) then the vast majority of all popular books are available right now.

          You're right in a general sense, the book publishing world is changing just as the music world has changed. But the problems the major music publishers have are mostly self-inflicted -- there is no reason at all why book publishing has to suffer the same troubles. All they have to do is recognize the nature of the changes and adapt accordingly, rather than trying to force reality to fit their usual methods.

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 5:15am

      Re:

      "It's pretty much end game for them... just a matter of 3 - 5 years."

      Yah, they'll suffer the same fate as the music industry, which, as we speak, is on the very brink of imploding due to piracy!

      ...for about two decades now...in which they've been making insane profits...oh, and did I mention that those profits have been going up throughout the whole time?

      So, excuse me for not believing your outrageous predictions. It's nothing personal. It is just a matter of precedent: these kinds of predictions have always been proven wrong.

       

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      Donglebert the Lengthy, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 6:46am

      Re:

      Photocopiers will be the end of books. Mark my words.

       

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      Donglebert the Lengthy, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 6:47am

      Re:

      Photocopiers will be the end of books. Mark my words.

       

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      John Fenderson (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 9:08am

      Re:

      Interesting speculation. Can you explain the reasoning behind it?

       

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      BigKeithO, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 10:10am

      Re:

      I gotta call BS on this statement.

      My wife and I bought each other Kindles for Christmas 2 years ago and have never read more. The ease of use browsing the Amazon store makes all the difference. I could still go to the store and buy a paper copy, or just browse the store from my couch and find something to read.

      $0.99 books help as well.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 4:35am

    that's basically what it's about, when something is in your favour, it's good. when that same something is against you, it's bad. if only companies could see that copyright does more harm to customers than good to those companies, perhaps things might change. the key is to adapt to public opinions, nothing less, nothing more

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 5:26am

    I'll stick with my paper books until they no longer offer them. Just think. When I loan a book, I actually get to see face to face the friend I loaned it to. Sometimes we even have a conversation longer than 140 characters. Plus I don't have anyone coming to get me for copyright infringement just because I loaned my book to a friend. Plus a paper book is a lot easier to read. Way easier to research with, and just way cooler. When was the last time you met the most beautiful woman you ever saw and actually had something to talk about to her, just because you read the book she was reading in the park? Fantasy, not at all. The best way to meet women is with puppies (they grow up) and books.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 5:57am

      Re:

      Yeah while you're waiting for the extraordinary coincidence that two people are reading the same dead tree, I'll *pretend* I'm reading the same book, but I'll say I just started to read it, she can't tell the difference anyway since the ereader don't have a cover and she won't dsare to spoil the story either. Plus i can read the satanic bible on public transport without making people frown at me :p

       

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      Torg (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 7:17am

      Re:

      How's it easier to research in a format that doesn't even let you search for keywords?

       

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    trish, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 5:50am

    And why does the journalist bother to mention this in the quote at all, when the whole article is a praise of the market adapting to consumer needs?
    Because if the publishers make money, it's because of copyright. If they're failing to make money, it's the pirates' fault.

     

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    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 7:17am

    eBooks and DRM

    Oops - posted this rant on the wrong article (sorry David Byrne!)...

    As long as an eBook is DRM-encumbered, it is just leased to you - you don't own it! I don't care what lipstick they put on that pig, but if you can't move it, sell it, or lend it without interaction with the publisher or eBook provider, then you don't own it, and when their servers crash, you will likely be left with nothing but unreadable bits taking up space on your storage systems at worst, or unable to do anything but read it on the currently installed system, so when that crashes, you are SOL!

     

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      BigKeithO, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 10:13am

      Re: eBooks and DRM

      Bah. The actual ebook file is on your device, you don't stream it from a server when you want to read it or anything like that. The file system is fully accessible and the DRM is trivial to remove. If DRM is that big of a deal to you spend the 15 seconds per book to remove the DRM and sleep soundly at night.

      It really isn't hard. At all.

       

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        Chris Brand (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 10:20am

        Re: Re: eBooks and DRM

        Doesn't it strike you as a little absurd that the publisher pays the DRM company so they can add DRM to the book, I then buy it and then spend (some) time and effort to remove said DRM.
        Seems to me that it would be far more efficient just to buy only non-DRMed books in the first place. Also that way you help let the publishers know that they could save money by skipping the "add DRM" step.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    DanZee (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 7:46am

    Inevitable

    Well, it's all a fight by traditional publishers and record companies to delay the inevitable. Eventually, books will be written AND published by their authors (except for maybe a small group of future Stephen Kings) and promoted by retailers like Amazon and iTunes, cutting out publishers (and with it, the 90% of profits they take). With print on demand, anyone who wants a paper version could still order one. But publishers will be unnecessary.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 3:22pm

    An ode to copyright

    Copyright is a smurfy thing...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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