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Pogues Posts: The Problem With Digital Versions of My Books

From David Pogue’s latest NY Times piece:

The truth is, I try to avoid making electronic versions because they are instantly, and I mean INSTANTLY, pirated. On the warez (pirated software) Web sites, you can find every book Ive ever released in electronic form.

Can’t say I blame him. There’s a vast, huge amount of book warez floating around online, and almost all of the ones I’ve seen have been books which have been made available in digital form legitimately but have then been cracked and redistributed. There are, of course, also many books which have been scanned and posted, but I’d suspect these are actually the minority.

However, the answer of course can be summed up in two words: price and availability. Online stores for digital books are a pain in the ass, with formats that suck and – worst of all – they charge through the nose for the books themselves. The number of times I’ve seen a digital book which costs MORE than the Amazon discounted paper version is silly. Roll on the iTunes Music Store for books.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • James Wallis

    Price and availability? When the availability is a Google or P2P search and the price is free? People who are inclined to go looking for warez copies are never going to pay a penny if they can avoid it.

    I’ve never released a book in electronic format, because I got too depressed with the idea after seeing PDFs of printed ones appear on Kazaa within six weeks of us sending copies to distributors. Eventually I got so pissed off I sold my publishing company and found another career that didn’t involve creative writing.

  • http://cheerleader.yoz.com/ Yoz

    The thing I wonder about Pogue’s comment is: if all your books are going to appear online digitally anyway, surely that’s a reason why one *should* do digital versions? At least that way you get a little more control over how they’re presented. Depending on the physical/practical barriers to digitisation to act as a limiter against piracy is clearly not working for those kinds of books.

    James: I forgot to ask you yesterday (thanks again!) what you thought of Steve Jackson’s move to sell PDFs of his games. I have to say I disagree with your thoughts on this, though I bow to your deep and painful experience (and we may have had this argument before, but you know what my memory’s like and I invite you to stomp all over this).

    If someone wants a digital copy of a book, or an immediately-delivered copy, then scouring P2P/warez sites is an obvious route if there is no legitimate source available. However, iTMS is proof that a significant percentage of customers will take a legitimate, easier and more-expensive route if there is one. Some people just don’t want to pay, but others are primarily looking for the easiest and fastest route to what they want.

  • http://technovia.typepad.com Ian Betteridge

    James, I know exactly what you’re talking about, but I think the point still stands. The situation with music is exactly the same, and before the advent of the iTunes Music Store I heard the same points you’re making being made – that cheap will never compete with free. Yet the iTunes Store sells one and a quarter million songs per day, most of which would probably not be sold at all if the store didn’t exist.