When the music industry shifted towards the digital world, it became quite clear the Internet is a scary place full of pirates.
Now, with the digitization of the publishing industry, book publishers face many of the same fears.
But before we get to the impact that the sudden rise of eBooks have on piracy, let’s first have a look at traditional book piracy.
Traditional Book Piracy
- Studies by the National Book Development Board (NBDB) show that each year, some 300 billion illegal photocopies of copyrighted material are made worldwide, translating to 570,000 photocopies made each minute, and 1.5 billion books of 200 pages each annually.
- In some countries, such as Vietnam, pirated copies account for up to 90 percent of all textbooks used in the English teaching market.
- In Latin America, the publishing industry makes $5 billion annually while book pirates earn $8 billion per year.
- Not only textbooks are pirated. Pirate copies of local and international fiction are often available, sometimes even before the original title’s paperback release. When JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was released, pirated versions of the book was on sale in Pakistan the morning after the book’s release. And as these were sold at a 5th of the normal retail price, these pirate copies by far outsold their legal counterparts.
- Publisher’s Weekly has reported that publishers could be losing out on as much $3 billion per year due to online book piracy.
- However, the two most common ways people get books today, is borrowing them from a friend or getting them from the library.
- Over 2 billion books were "loaned" last year by libraries across the USA.
- That translates to lost sales of over $100 Billion per year.
- eBook Piracy
- During the mid-1990s, even before eBooks were sold mainstream, pirated eBooks became widely available via illegal file-sharing networks.
- Pirated eBooks are mostly created by taking paper books, scanning them in, and then using ORC (Optical Character Recognition) software to convert the scanned images into text.