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Old 04-20-2010, 11:56 PM   #48
DMcCunney
New York Editor
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmaul1114 View Post
Well I think publishers are aware it doesn't stop pirates.

What I think they hope to do with it is kill the used book market, keep people from giving/loaning books to friends etc. and potentially costing them sales.
I doubt it. There has been a used book market for many years, and an assortment of specialty stores which only sell used books. I can't think of any attempts to curtail it.

What publishers have made attempts to stop is sale of remaindered copies.

One of the problems for publishing is that it has traditionally had a 100% returns policy. If books don't sell they can be returned for credit.

Other industries aren't so liberal, and the retailer will be expected to assume some of the risk, and won't be able to simply return any unsold merchandise. It's on them to accurately guess how many of what they will sell and order accordingly, because they may be stuck with the stuff that doesn't sell. That's why you get things like "overstock" and "clearance" sales: the retailer guessed wrong.

If a bookstore doesn't sell all copies of the book, the unsold ones are returned for credit. If it's a hardcover, the actual book is shipped back (and may reappear on someone's sale table down the road when publishers release them at a fraction of the original price to clear the inventory.) If it's a paperback, the covers are stripped off and returned. The bodies of the books are supposed to be destroyed, but an awful lot found their way into sales at really cheap prices. These were costing sales, as many folks just wanted to read the book and then toss it, and weren't concerned by the lack of a cover. And the publisher had already issued a credit for the unsold book. No surprise they were peeved.

Books sold by used bookstores generally have covers. Those books were already sold once, so it isn't a dead loss for the publisher, and books tend not to hit the used book store till sometime after release. By the time they do, chance are the book is no longer available new, and the publisher isn't losing a sale because there is no new edition to buy.

Quote:
They have to know the real pirates won't even be slowed down by DRM, but if they can lose less sales to the second hand market, people borrowing from friends etc., they'll ride DRM as long as they can and use piracy as their excuse/justification as it would be terrible PR to just come out and say they want to kill the used stores etc.
Sorry, but this doesn't compute. How does DRM on a ebook help curtail sales on a used pbook? If anything, I'd expect the reverse - instead of dealing with DRM restrictions on a ebook, look for a used pbook copy. You get to read the book at a cheap price, and the publisher isn't getting the money you might have given them if they hadn't applied DRM.

Quote:
Whether this costs them more money is hard to know, as there's no way to know how much DRM drives people to pirate who aren't people who would have pirated it anyway even if it was sold without DRM.

So we just can't compare money lost from creating pirates vs. money gained by stopping some used sales/borrowing, so we can't tell whether they come out ahead or behind.
I'm assuming piracy costs some sales, but I don't think the losses are significant.

Ebooks are a relatively new phenomenon. While they are growing in sales and importance, they are still essentially a niche market catering to early adopters. The majority of the book market is still paper. And I strongly suspect the majority of ebook readers don't get pirate copies. It's a mistake to assume your own experience is general and applicable to everybody else.

Folks who hang out here tend to be more savvy about such things. It's why we are here in the first place. We are aware of different ebook formats, know that DRM can be removed and can find out how, and know that formats can be shifted into things we can read if the device we use doesn't happen to support the format in which a particular title is issued, and can find out how to do it or where to get it done. We are aware that pirate editions exist and know how to find those.

Do you assume that all ebook readers are likewise? I don't, especially as the ebook market rapidly grows, and folks like Amazon and Barnes and Noble push their respective ebook readers and offer instant gratification. Why bother to worry about DRM or search for a pirate edition if, for instance, you are a Kindle user, and anything you want is probably available on Amazon at the touch of a button? The limiting factor will be time to read, not money to buy.
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