Friday, May 21, 2010

Ebook piracy

Here's a short article on ebook piracy. In it, the deputy chief executive of Penguin is quoted as saying, “The only way to fight piracy is to publish digital content across as many formats as possible, through as many channels, at a fair price. If we go for exclusive or proprietary formats, we’re completely screwed.”

My issue with this quote is that I think what the big pubs see as a "fair price" isn't likely to be seen as a fair price (or, more accurately, a price worth paying) by a lot of readers. When you price ebooks at or above paperback prices, people tend not to like it. And if they've gotten used to reading on their Kindle or iPad, and actively prefer ebooks to paperbacks (as quite a few of us do now), then they might just turn to pirated versions. You might be better off pricing your ebooks a bit lower and seeing if that helps discourage pirates.

Also, a quote from the CEO of Random House Group: At current levels, Dame Gail said, the industry could cope with the pirates’ challenge, but when e-books reached a significantly higher level of overall sales, “that is going to be a huge cost for the publisher”.

Yep. And ebooks will be reaching a significantly higher level of overall sales. That is fairly clear at this point. You might want to figure out a solution to the problem now rather than later. Hint: Raising ebook prices to $14.99 probably isn't going to help discourage piracy.


  1. I just wish things weren't squeezed down to the price point being 99c, as you've experienced. I don't think that's a reasonable price for a whole book--maybe for short fic but not a whole book.

  2. I agree, Jody. 99 cents is too cheap for a full novel, IMHO. The good news is that Amazon is trying to fix this by offering 70% royalties for $2.99 and up, starting in June or July. Hopefully this will eventually result in readers accepting the "basic" indie price as $2.99, at least for full novels.