I know most of you will not believe it, but I think my first experience with eBooks was in 1998 or 1999. The Harry Potter series was just starting off and the books had not reached India yet. Then one day, a friend got me a pdf file on a CD, and said that I HAD to read it as it was a brilliant book (It was Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, of course). I am so glad I did! At the time, I had no idea I was indulging in piracy, and I could not wait to find the next book online and read it.
This brings us to an important topic related to eBooks, one which gets a lot of publishers and authors up in arms today. EBook Piracy!
The publishing industry is going through a same phase with the rise of eBooks, which the music industry went through with the introduction of mp3s and file sharing. With eBooks becoming wildly popular, piracy has also increased manifold. Just take a look at the similarities: Both, the music and publishing industries have had a drop in sales over the past few years. Both blame piracy as one of the top reasons for this. Both also blame the digitization of their products for this collapse. Both industries now have an amazing platform to sell digitally, with iTunes and the Kindle, but both are resisting this and want to continue with their old way of doing business. And consumers in both industries are not willing to forego the benefits of digitization and go back to how things were.
Coming back to eBook piracy. Piracy of digital content is something no one has ever been able to stop. Music, films, games and books have all experimented with digital rights management (DRM) and have failed because the paying customers do not like restrictions. So, they have a major decision to make. Do you focus on the people who are robbing your content and may likely never buy it, or do you focus on the customers you already have, and are glad to pay for your products? I’ve seen so many indie authors spending hours trying to track down and shut down pirates, hours which they could have used to write books for the people who actually love them. One reason I’d like to mention here for the blatant piracy of eBooks is access. A lot of markets are still locked out of this revolution and are driving the demand for piracy. I am not saying this is right, but I do understand why it happens.
And this gets me to the second big revolution to hit publishing in the last few years, self-publishing. Since the time I started this blog a few months back, I have come in contact with so many wonderful indie authors who have been able to get their amazing books out into the world due to self-publishing and Amazon’s Kindle. No doubt, this has made life difficult for everyone including traditional publishers, self-published authors and readers. Traditional publishers have had to contend with the flood of content now available in digital formats. Indie authors are struggling to market themselves and their books and readers have to contend with the flood of subpar content in the online eBook markets. Also, with Amazon’s KDP, the market is now flooded so much free content, I am having a tough time sifting through the free books to get to the good ones. In fact, I am having a really tough time stopping myself from clicking the “Buy Now” button every time I see a freebie.
I just want to say that I am loving every second of this experience and being on the cusp of this major shift in the industry. In the end, as eBooks mature as a format, things will settle down. But, for this to happen, three changes are really important. One, traditional publishers will have to accept eBooks whole heartedly and rationalize the prices they charge for eBooks, which are currently on par with paperbacks if not more. Secondly, all the fluff of self-published authors who should never have published their books will need to fall by the wayside and make room for the ones who deserve to be there. And finally, every reader around the world will need to be included in this new world of publishing and literacy!
Publishing is never going to be the same again. There will be a lot of new winners and losers. But one thing I am certain about, the readers will win in the end and I am going to be waiting with a lot of anticipation for that day to come!
- Is Pottermore Going to Change the eBook Market? (geardiary.com)
- Print Sales Stronger than Ever Thanks to eBooks (lulu.com)
- Writing a Successful eBook – What You Need to Know (foodstaycation.com)
- Hachettes SVP admits DRM only a speed bump – but Hachettes unlikely to drop DRM anyway (teleread.com)
- Hachette UK succeeds in having its eBooks removed from pirate website (thenextweb.com)
- Indie Books and Bookstores… (amarketingexpert.com)