Aug. 25, 2015Low level of piracy in ebooks
Music, film and software have long been targets of digital piracy, but ebooks have never been a big part of the problem. A recent report by the UK’s Intellectual Property Office shows that ebooks are the one type of digital media least likely to be pirated. A stellar 89% of the respondents are paying for their ebooks legally, which is positive but perplexing. So we’re taking a closer look at potential reasonings behind the low level of piracy in ebooks, and their correlation with broader trends in digital piracy.
Thanks to falling prices and easy access to subscription and streaming services, the total level of all internet piracy has decreased in recent years. Sweden now generates 92% of its digital revenue from Spotify members, while presumably slashing infringement of intellectual property. With cheap, accessible options like this, would-be pirates are losing the desire to illegally download and stream. The same goes for Netflix, which has significantly contributed to the drop in films and series being pirated.
Ebooks appear to be the rare category of digital content where most users actually want to pay for it.
Ebooks appear to be the rare category of digital content where most users actually want to pay for it. But what makes the ebook so different from other forms of media? One consideration is the demographics of who is doing the majority of illegal downloading. The highest rate of those involved in pirating activities are males under 35 (UK’s Intellectual Property Office). And as attention spans in younger generations are shortened and there are more distractions available online, this doesn’t come as a big surprise. Most average males under 35 will dedicate enough time for their favorite 30 minute program on Netflix, or might listen to Spotify while juggling a handful of other tasks. But reading a whole book is an entirely different level of time investment that many skip on a daily basis. On the other hand, aging generations are the ones who most likely have enough leisure time to read entire books. This group also lacks the knowledge and desire to engage in illegal downloading. It simply turns out that the mix between those who read the most and the ones who pirate seem to be a good cocktail for sparing the ebook business from high levels of piracy.
Another reason ebooks may remain largely below the piracy radar is the hassle of getting stolen content to a readable stage. Accessing free downloads is certainly not more difficult than accessing music or film, but there are extra time consuming steps involved. There is the pain of downloading the ebook onto your computer, followed by devising how to get it uploaded back onto a reading device. This makes the concept of downloading ebooks directly onto your reader for a very low cost seem much more enticing.
With the exponential growth of the ebook industry (in the EU and upcoming markets), the popularity of the ebook is spreading. The additional benefits of the ebook/ereader combination such as size, weight and cost are steadily proving to be more beneficial for consumers than buying paper books. Plus, the low level of piracy is advantageous for the publishing industry, who will see their revenue shift from paper books to ebooks in the coming years. Reports like the one from the UK’s Intellectual Property Office actually prove that publishing companies do not face the same piracy risk as other industries, and therefore do not have to fear the same drastic cuts in revenue as the music business experienced in the 2000’s. With all things considered, the digital publishing industry can expect a bright future with minimal roadblocks. And the ebook industry will thrive as advancements and technology move to exceed consumer expectations.