Poet Simon Armitage fears that pirating of ebooks kill off authors. I suspect he is being overly pessimistic. Clearly there are similarities between the music and the book publishing industries. At the moment, however, it is relatively early days for the publishing industry’s careful toe-in-the-water with ebooks.
We have had, and still have, pirating of music on a big scale. It seems, though, that the vast majority of consumers are happy to pay for their media. The success of iTunes and paid streaming services such as Spotify prove this.
It’s difficult to see how we can completely eradicate piracy, even in books. The ebook genie is out of the bottle and all the Armitages in the world cannot put him back. It is up to the publishing industry to live with the problem and turn it to their advantage.
Piracy has been a cancer in the software field even longer than in music publishing. In some countries, the vast majority of Windows installations are illegal. In those countries, too, few consider paying for Microsoft Office or other software. In Western countries such as the USA and western Europe, it is the opposite. Most people are using legally licensed software and understand that they have to pay in order to provide the incentive for development and improvement. Despite all this, software developers still appear to want to stay in business.
It will be the same with authors. The typical book buyer is not the sort to indulge in piracy, especially in the more affluent countries. It is the more trashy end of the publishing spectrum where the greatest danger will lie. As with music and software, a modus vivendi will be achieved without putting authors out of business.
(Via The Telegraph)