11414Re: [Fantasy Fiction Dungeon] Today's blog about ebook piracy
- Jan 4, 2009I've combined my responses to a couple of different posts in this one
reply. (I hope you don't mind.)
Comment: Until there is an e-book reader that is actually convenient
and reasonable to use (Kindle is close, but who will pay $300.00?)
e-books are going to be a fringe market.
My response: I agree, but that's changing quickly. The quality of the
screen, the battery life, and the ease of use are already much better
than they were three years ago, and the prices will keep dropping.
(Probably under $50 in a few years. Look at DVD players, which were
over $500 a few years ago) I think within the next five years ebook
readers will reach the tipping point, where they're good enough and
cheap enough that people will buy them in droves for the convenience.
Look at iPhones. They're ridiculously expensive, but people buy them
because of what they can do. A few years ago, iPods were the same way.
But now there are lower-end models that are affordable, and everyone
seems to have one. eBook readers will be the same way.
Comment: People want to do what they want with things they buy.
My response: Of course. And they should be able to, within reason. But
I think being able to sell 500 copies of something they paid for one
copy of is unreasonable, yet some pirates are doing exactly that.
Comment: Educating people is never going to work as long as people
have the right to the product they bought
My response: That's exactly the point of the education, to open
people's eyes and get them to understand that what some people are
doing is wrong. The PETA ads and others of that type have opened
people's eyes to animal cruelty. Fur sales are down, and animal
testing of cosmetics has pretty much been abolished.
You know what they say about locks only keeping honest people honest.
If everyone thinks it's okay to share ebooks with everyone they know
(and some they don't), then the book industry is done for, because
eventually all books will be sold that way. The revenue stream will
dry up if books are routinely pirated. But if we can make readers
understand that they are hurting the book industry (authors and
publishers alike), most people (the honest ones) will stop posting
ebooks to websites for widespread distribution. The publishing
industry can take action against relatively few pirates, but not
against millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens who each upload a
Objection: I've seen e-books for $25, so they're not even cheap. I
guess the author and/or publisher figures people will pay $25 for a
hardcover, so why shouldn't they charge the same?
My response: I'm sure there are exceptions, but most ebooks are
significantly cheaper than the equivalent print book. Check out
Comment: E-books are not going to make large printing houses go away
from still offering the book in actual paper. The profit to cost is
still great enough to warrant printing of books.
My response: I agree that ebooks aren't going to make large publishers
stop printing books. The cost of printing and shipping them will do
that. In the past year, many of these publishers had to lay off
employees, merge with other publishing houses, and even cut mid-list
authors, because they were losing money or barely getting by. The
picture isn't as rosy as you seem to think. The publishers can't keep
laying people off to save money, because a certain minimum number are
required to do the job effectively. (If you've read any books lately,
you've probably noticed that the editing quality of some of them is
aready suffering, with frequent grammatical and spelling errors that I
never used to see from the big houses.)
As a result, they'll start offering ebooks as a cost-saving
alternative to print. Oh, they'll bill it as a way for consumers to
save money, but it'll really be to save them money. Costs will be ower
and profits higher. And they'll start promoting the hell out of ebooks.
Consider the various costs incurred by publishers: editing, designing
covers, printing (printing machines, paper, and toner/ink), shipping,
advertising, etc. All of these are incurred by print books. But with
ebooks, you can eliminate the printing and shipping costs. Everything
else should remain the same. We all saw what happened to the cost of
food and almost everything else when fuel prices skyrocketed last
year. A large part of the price increases was due to the higher cost
of shipping. (After all, trucks, airplanes, and ships all use that
Sure, fuel prices have dropped back to more reasonable levels, but for
how long? The next mid-East crisis or whatever can send them up again.
And fossil fuels will only get dearer as the supply diminishes. But
those are costs that go away entirely with ebooks (along with the
costs for paper and those multimillion-dollar high-speed printers).
The consumers won't be quick to switch--many of them won't unless
forced to. But eventually the only way they'll be able to find certain
books will be in electronic form, and they won't have any choice but
to do so. When that point is reached, it's just a matter of time until
all books are only offered that way.
And it's not a bad thing. All those back-list titles that are out of
print can be reissued, because with no printing costs (they've already
been edited and the covers designed), there's no reason not to offer
them if there's even minimal demand.
All this won't happen in five years, perhaps not ten. But I don't
think we'll see any more print books (except possibly special edition
hardbacks) 20 years from now. (Do you buy many albums on cassette tape
these days? I don't think video tapes will be sold much longer, either.)
Everything's going digital: TV, music, movies, cellphones, and now books.
--- In email@example.com, "jcherper"
> Until there is an e-book reader that is actually convenient and
> reasonable to use (Kindle is close, but who will pay $300.00?) e-books
> are going to be a fringe market. Right now I have a number of e-books
> (most tech books come with a PDF version) but I don't use the e-book.
> Too much of a pain to make notes, or study with. I might print out a
> chapter or two, if I am going somewhere and don't want the whole book,
> but otherwise it sits in the sleeve.
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