Piracy Good for You, Says Expert

To those who have been mugged the benefits are not readily apparent. In time however one begins to see that the rewards are many and significant.

Countless aphorisms teach us that adversity builds character and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. After you’ve been strong-armed and robbed, you will forever be alert, cautious and better skilled in self-defense.  Those who have been robbed, raped, fleeced or beaten will testify to the rewards reaped from their victimization. Victims of piracy, therefore, will glory in the prospects that one day they will look back at the theft of their property and recognize that it was a blessing in disguise.

At least that is the conclusion we must infer from a recent report by Dan Misener of CBC News quoting findings by a publishing consultant named Brian O’Leary.

As Misener explains, O’Leary distinguishes between “instances of e-book piracy (the number of pirated e-book files available for download) and the impact of e-book piracy (the actual effect on the business of publishing).” By selecting sample books and tracking their performance pre- and post-piracy, he can measure the true impact on sales.

“Back in 2009,” reports Misener, “O’Leary did this for one publisher, O’Reilly Media, which publishes technical books. Surprisingly, he found that sales actually increased after their books showed up on pirate sites. Piracy seems to have boosted sales. O’Leary says people may have been using the pirated editions to sample books before they actually opened up their wallets.”

Note that the report stresses the impact of piracy on sales but is silent on its impact on the author.  But if sales truly do increase after your book has been stolen, it follows as night follows day that you should be thrilled that your character has been improved by adversity.

So, authors,when it happens to you, lie back and enjoy it and repeat to yourself: “Every day in every way piracy is making me a better person.”

Read E-book piracy may have unexpected benefits for publishers

Richard Curtis

For a complete archive of articles about piracy, visit the Pirate Central page on the E-Reads website.

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7 Responses to Piracy Good for You, Says Expert

  1. If my sales increase, what adversity have I faced? The thing to repeat should be “Every day in every way, piracy is making me a richer person.” Out of curiosity, what’s your take on libraries and used book stores?

  2. Chris says:

    Tired of the same rethoric being used over and over and…

    Illegal downloading/sharing is not stealing, no matter how much people insist in summoning images of armed robberies and such.

    It’s an illegal activity that goes against intellectual property, sure. It should be prosecuted, of course (although not by the current means, by the way… the industry is stubbornly blind on this, but they will, eventually, notice it).

    But again, stop saying that someone downloading whatever book/video/music can be compared to the author being mugged in a dark alley. This kind of images is ridiculous and doesn’t call for simpathy or understanding of the current problem with intellectual property.

    Or, at least, if the industry as a whole believes illegal sharing is actually a theft, then they should work to provide PROOF of the economic consequences of it, rather than multiplying whatever number of downloads they want by the retail price of the content in case (a convenient way to cry how many “zillions” have been lost, purposely giving overly exaggerated figures).

  3. The original article cites nonfiction “experts.” Maybe piracy does improve the bottom line for some nonfiction books, which I seriously doubt, but it sure as heck doesn’t help those of us who write fiction.

    Most genre fiction is one read and done so the standard pirate statement that they want to sample an author before buying tends to be false, and in most cases, the reader pirates simply ask for free copies of the rest of the author’s books.

    Sure, some pirates can’t be stopped, but I’ll be damned if I don’t fight back by educating those who genuinely don’t know that it’s not only illegal to share ebooks, it also hurts the authors they enjoy.

    If there is some justice in this world, those pirates who want authors to close their eyes, spread their legs, and think of England while they’re being screwed may find themselves in jail one day with some guy looking for a new bitch.

  4. Malcolm Hume says:

    There have been studies like that for a decade by piracy proponents. Starting with the ones that said peer to peer file sharing would actually increase the bottom line for the music business. Mm-hmm. Riiiight. That worked out really well.

    The problem with these ‘studies’ is that they can’t show a cause and effect relationship. Yes, Avatar was the best selling DVD, and yes, it was also the most downloaded. So? I can just as easily say that people just steal what people want.

    These ‘experts’ are playing to an audience just like anyone else. And the salaried techies with their counterfeit .pdf’s of ‘learn C++ in 15 minutes’ tucked in nicely on their ideologically correct and ‘open’ Sony e-readers can all applaud, and turn to each other and nod sagely as their unreal world view is reaffirmed.

    They stare at their screens too much.

  5. Rowena Cherry says:

    I sometimes wonder whether piracy is like a Ponzi scheme. It may work well for those in first…

    However, what happens when all the world is accustomed to free books, and feels entitled to free and complimentary books?

    “Being read” is not enough. If there is no income, the IRS does not permit business expenses to be deducted.

    Meanwhile, someone has created an illegal e-book out of one of my paperbacks and put it on a subscription scam site. That cannot possibly increase my sales because I don’t own that cover art.

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