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Old 02-12-2009, 09:57 PM   #1
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Hard data on ebook piracy versus sales

Saw this on Boing Boing today... thought it was interesting...

small excerpt:
Quote:
One of the absolute highlights of the O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing conference in New York this week was Brian O’Leary (Magellan Media), Mac Slocum (O'Reilly), and Chelsea Vaughn (Random House) presenting a panel called Challenging Notions of "Free", which presented a long-term, quantitative study of the effects of ebook piracy on book sales. There's a lot of hot air bandied about by people who argue that free ebooks generate or cannibalize sales, and it's a hard problem to study, but here at last are some good, crunchy stats and analysis to add to the argument.
Article can be found here --> http://www.boingboing.net/2009/02/12...n-ebook-p.html
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Old 02-13-2009, 03:51 AM   #2
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I am afraid not even my engineering degree helps me understand that data set!

Free ebooks are great. Ask Baen, they entice(for good reason) people into buying ongoing series by offering a pretty good selection of free ebooks online. Couple that with extremely competitive pricing (US$6 per book) and it is a winner all round Their sales model works for me and I would be sure others as well!
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Old 02-16-2009, 05:54 AM   #3
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Edit.

Last edited by dadioflex; 12-16-2010 at 05:11 AM.
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Old 02-16-2009, 07:35 AM   #4
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Um, yes, but when most people read on e-ink devices the volume will be up and the price lower, right? Of cause, it will probably be years, and years and years before MOST people read on e-ink devices.

Clara
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Old 02-16-2009, 11:06 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dadioflex View Post
Baen's attitude is great but when MOST people are reading on e-ink devices they won't be so keen to give away ebooks.
Since they make money on the ebook side now, I'm not sure what would make their approach less successful when more people are reading digitally.
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Old 02-16-2009, 12:11 PM   #6
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I haven't listened to the audio, but the slides talk about availability of pirated copies in terms of seeds and leechers, which implies that they're only looking at Bittorrent, which may not be a very good measure of availability. Perhaps I'm mistaken, but my impression is that most e-book piracy revolves around Usenet and IRC, plus there is (was?) the massive publicly-accessible FTP server run by someone in the Usenet e-book piracy community. OTOH, piracy via those mechanisms is obviously much harder to measure.
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Old 02-16-2009, 12:20 PM   #7
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who would want a pirated book, aren't most of them scanned images like with home scanners and such. Quality must be crappy
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Old 02-16-2009, 12:24 PM   #8
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I think ebooks are relatively safe from piracy.
the problem is that downloading a pack of 700 MB,can easily get you 700 books,compared to only 1 movie.
Quote:
the slides talk about availability of pirated copies in terms of seeds and leechers, which implies that they're only looking at Bittorrent, which may not be a very good measure of availability
It indeed is not. Seeing 30 peers, 60 leechers can mean 90 illegal downloads the whole day, or, it could also mean lots of users downloading and closing their upload as soon as they have their ebooks.
There's just no way of telling.
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Old 02-16-2009, 12:29 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ervserver View Post
who would want a pirated book, aren't most of them scanned images like with home scanners and such. Quality must be crappy
Actually most of them are txt files converted by machine (automatic) to specific ebook formats.
Their layout is very bad; and seldom you'll find good books online.
I have to say I do not own illegal ebooks; and all the ebooks I own I have purchased a pbook of;or are under Public Domain.

I'm a bit dissapointed in the ebook sector on bittorrent. It makes more sense to format your own books from scratch then download them.
Perhaps some users upload books you can download from mobileread (Public Domain books),but I haven't seen any yet.

Statistics like this are good into scanning the market to see if it's a good thing to manufacture devices that support open formats like txt,pdf,html, chm, etc...
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Old 02-16-2009, 01:46 PM   #10
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what?

Last edited by Blackguard; 02-22-2010 at 09:51 PM.
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Old 04-24-2009, 11:44 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ervserver View Post
who would want a pirated book, aren't most of them scanned images like with home scanners and such. Quality must be crappy
Actually, given that some of the people doing it will be vastly more experienced at this sort of thing than current publishers lots will be better.
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Old 04-24-2009, 12:04 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Ervserver View Post
who would want a pirated book, aren't most of them scanned images like with home scanners and such. Quality must be crappy
In Italy Pirates are giving away packages made of RAR files containing pdf, rtf, mobi, lit, html, epub and txt versions of the text, scanned and proofreaded three times by three different people before. Weekly a comprehensive database is published, with author's bio, synopsis, reviews and links.
Every package contains covers, wikipedia extracts and a preview of next installments.
And, of course, a link to the bookstore who sells the printed version of it.

They're better formatted than the average BoB book, multiformat, DRM free and available.

OTOH the "legit" offer consists of about 0 titles......
Can you figure what Italian e-book reader owners read?



Wrong! We just read PG books (liberliber.it has got italian books). And those works stay in torrents un-downloaded!
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Old 04-24-2009, 12:06 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ProDigit View Post
I think ebooks are relatively safe from piracy.
the problem is that downloading a pack of 700 MB,can easily get you 700 books,compared to only 1 movie.

It indeed is not. Seeing 30 peers, 60 leechers can mean 90 illegal downloads the whole day, or, it could also mean lots of users downloading and closing their upload as soon as they have their ebooks.
There's just no way of telling.
And if you want (and read) a single book, you have to download a thousand.
So you're accounted for 1.000 theft even if you intended to do just one.

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Old 04-24-2009, 01:02 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by llasram View Post
I haven't listened to the audio, but the slides talk about availability of pirated copies in terms of seeds and leechers, which implies that they're only looking at Bittorrent, which may not be a very good measure of availability. Perhaps I'm mistaken, but my impression is that most e-book piracy revolves around Usenet and IRC, plus there is (was?) the massive publicly-accessible FTP server run by someone in the Usenet e-book piracy community. OTOH, piracy via those mechanisms is obviously much harder to measure.
It's impossible to track this kind of thing once a file is out in the wild. Books are pirated through torrents from sources like Demonoid somewhat, but IRC, Usenet and darknet forums (using anonymous file hosts) are huge distribution points and there is no way to get accurate hard data on those sources for the most part.
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Old 04-24-2009, 01:51 PM   #15
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It's good that these things are started to be studied with real data. However, it's way too soon to be drawing many conclusions.

1. As pointed out, they only measured a very small portion of public torrent traffic. They did not measure Demonoid and other sources.

2. They compared sales of certain ebooks after they were offered for free and after appearing on P2P.

3. They have a pretty small sample set: 16 titles, only 8 on P2P.

4. They showed that for the average ebook, sales increased modestly after it was offered for free, and after it was available on bittorrent, and the change in sales did not correlate with how popular a book was prior to being available for free. We're talking average increases of 6.5%. But the range varied on the P2P titles from 18.2% up to 33.1% down.

5. With such a small statistical sample from only one specific genre, it's hard to draw any broad conclusions. It does seem that offering certain titles for free as a promotion for a limited time does help sales in the short term, but the long-term effect of piracy on sales (which such free promotions might facilitate since they provide a package of easily redistributable files without DRM) on those and other books remains unknown.

6. They provide the same cautions as I have when studying this issue: correlation is not cuasation, larger samples may uncover a trend that's not yet visible, and what works today with ebooks may not be true tomorrow due to so many other changing variables.
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