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The Critique Crypt => General writing chat => Topic started by: Ed on October 24, 2010, 06:13:35 AM



Title: Book piracy boosts sales?
Post by: Ed on October 24, 2010, 06:13:35 AM
Quoted text: Earlier this year book piracy surged after the introduction of the iPad. Although some publishers and authors fear that this will cause their revenues to dwindle, there are plenty of signs that the opposite will happen. This week, comic book writer Steve Lieber said that his sales went through the roof after pirated scans were shared on 4Chan, and he’s not alone.
This year has seen the definite breakthrough for digital books, which led to mixed feelings among publishers and authors. On the one hand digital distribution makes books more accessible to the public, but the downside is that unauthorized copies can also be shared more easily.

Looking at the music industry, some publishers are fearing the worst, but the million dollar question is whether or not these fears are justified. How big of a threat is eBook piracy for the book industry? Or is it an opportunity instead?


This week comic book writer Steve Lieber has shared his experiences with book piracy, proving that it also has its benefits. Lieber noticed that scanned copies of his graphic novel Underground were posted on 4Chan, but instead of putting his sales to a halt, they skyrocketed.



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The availability of unauthorized copies doesn’t only help writers who have yet to gain an audience. Well established authors have also noticed that piracy can do wonders for sales figures.


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Bestselling author Paulo Coelho has previously shown that giving away free digital copies of books can actually boost sales to quite an extent. He claimed that this ‘piracy’ has led to millions of additional sales over the years.

Link to article -- http://torrentfreak.com/b...sales-tremendously101023





Millions -- really? I don't know what normal sales figures are for these books, but 'millions' seems unlikely to me. The whole article seems light on provable facts and figures. I'd like to see less anecdote and more scientific calculation before I form a solid opinion. There are graphs in the author's blog -- http://www.undergroundthe.../pictures-help-us-learn/ -- but they're too small to provide any detail.



It would be interesting to know the truth.


Title: Re: Book piracy boosts sales?
Post by: fnord33 on October 24, 2010, 07:00:09 AM
Wow, Imagine that. People reading your book is a good thing. Who'd a thunk it? I've been saying this for years. The only people that can suffer from piracy are the ones who are rich enough not to notice. I seem to recall Jhonen Vasquez taking some flack for saying this a while back. IMO, all the Metallica wannabes who get pissed that people are paying them more attention than money deserve every cent they aren't getting. Where's the pretentious Mohawked jolly roger waving emoticon when you need it?   


Title: Re: Book piracy boosts sales?
Post by: Ed on October 24, 2010, 07:46:57 AM
I think Carlton Mellick III got a fair bit of flack for being pro filesharing, too.

F Paul Wilson is furious that some of his titles are appearing on torrent sites. I'm not sure what the truth of it all is, but I can understand professional authors who are seeing diminishing returns for their work getting pissed off at their work apparently getting stolen. I think it's much more complex than theft = monetary loss, in terms of digital mediums, though. My instinct tells me it's actually a very good marketing tool.


Title: Re: Book piracy boosts sales?
Post by: Pharosian on October 24, 2010, 10:36:07 AM
Amazon has been offering free copies of certain recently-published books (in addition to the ones in the public domain) for their Kindle e-reader. I have read several of those free books which then resulted in my purchasing additional books by the same author. In each case, I had never read anything by (or even heard of) the author before.

So in that scenario, book sales increased by allowing readers to "sample" an author first. People who like the author's work are more likely to buy follow-on titles; people who don't like what they see obviously DON'T buy more--but they were never going to buy copies anyway.

In the book arena, it seems that offering free downloads is a good thing for authors... at least for now.

If I were someone like F. Paul Wilson, I'd be pissed that people were ripping my titles without my consent, regardless of whether it turned out to increase sales. There's a sense of violation (in my opinion) when people take things without your consent and you have no control over it. The Amazon model demonstrates that offering some free content can be good for the bottom line--just as I imagine offering single song tracks can entice people to purchase an album--but that doesn't make pirating OK.



Title: Re: Book piracy boosts sales?
Post by: Ed on October 24, 2010, 02:28:30 PM
If I were someone like F. Paul Wilson, I'd be pissed that people were ripping my titles without my consent, regardless of whether it turned out to increase sales. There's a sense of violation (in my opinion) when people take things without your consent and you have no control over it. The Amazon model demonstrates that offering some free content can be good for the bottom line--just as I imagine offering single song tracks can entice people to purchase an album--but that doesn't make pirating OK.

Yep, I agree. I'd feel the same, too. Though, I think sometimes you're better off accepting the 'hit' (learning to live with the violation) knowing that it's actually doing you some good, rather than worrying about all the 'lost sales' that might never have been in the first place.

It's a very complicated issue.


Title: Re: Book piracy boosts sales?
Post by: fnord33 on October 24, 2010, 04:58:37 PM
You know what I hate? The fucking library. Those assholes have been encouraging and enabling intellectual property theft since 330 B.C. Somebody ought to do something about it. :tdoff:


Title: Re: Book piracy boosts sales?
Post by: starktheground on October 24, 2010, 08:11:23 PM
I wholeheartedly disagree with pirating. Even if it's a good marketing tool, it still is theft. What's the difference between that and walking into a bookstore and pocketing a paperback? And honestly, when I see a free download on my Kindle, I tend to avoid it. You have to wonder what makes it so invaluable that they are giving it away for free.  :scratch:


Title: Re: Book piracy boosts sales?
Post by: Pharosian on October 24, 2010, 10:00:02 PM
And honestly, when I see a free download on my Kindle, I tend to avoid it. You have to wonder what makes it so invaluable that they are giving it away for free.  :scratch:

Yeah, there's some dreck making the rounds for sure... It takes some diligence to read the reviews and figure out whether it's so bad nobody would pay for it, anyway, or whether it's a genuinely good book and it's being dangled as bait in hopes of future sales.


Title: Re: Book piracy boosts sales?
Post by: Ed on October 25, 2010, 03:03:33 AM
I wholeheartedly disagree with pirating. Even if it's a good marketing tool, it still is theft. What's the difference between that and walking into a bookstore and pocketing a paperback? And honestly, when I see a free download on my Kindle, I tend to avoid it. You have to wonder what makes it so invaluable that they are giving it away for free.  :scratch:

This is why it's such a complicated issue. Pirating digital mediums is not the same as walking out of a shop with a stolen paperback -- in that case somebody has paid printing costs, transportation, shop staff and overheads, whereas with the digital version it doesn't have these overheads, so the only thing stolen is the writer's intellectual property, which is a new concept for a lot of people.

The disturbing part for the rights holder is that a simple paperback theft loses them one sale and the overheads connected with it, whereas a digital theft can propogate into tens of thousands of copies, effortlessly. But that doesn't necessarily translate into tens of thousands of lost sales. Many filesharers will download terabytes of data that they'll never even look at, other people will download a whole series of work and only read the first chapter before giving up on it. Some would never have bought the book, like some people never go to the cinema and instead wait for the film to appear on video or tv, they'll wait to get it in the library, or second hand book shop, or borrow a copy from a friend.

I think for an established author it's likely to be a bad hit to their sales, though, whatever this guy's experience is. What's the answer, though? You're never going to stop it.


Title: Re: Book piracy boosts sales?
Post by: fnord33 on October 25, 2010, 04:30:55 AM
Shoplifting from a corporate bookstore actually benefits authors at least some of the time. I don't know about all major book stores, but the way that a lot of them take inventory makes missing books look like sold books. When they look at their inventory they just see how many copies they have vs. how many they ordered. So, if they buy 50 copies of a book and they all get shoplifted they assume that they were sold and order 80 more. It kind of makes sense since books people want are more likely to be bought or shoplifted.


Title: Re: Book piracy boosts sales?
Post by: starktheground on October 25, 2010, 03:46:18 PM

I think for an established author it's likely to be a bad hit to their sales, though, whatever this guy's experience is. What's the answer, though? You're never going to stop it.

Sadly, you're right. It seems to me that people should have more respect for the author, but I guess every reader doesn't see things the way I do.


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