Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sharing E-Books

If you’re a reader, you want to pass on books you’ve bought to friends and family. If you’re an author, you want the royalty that comes each time your book is bought, so you’d prefer each person buy your book. If you’re the majority of publishers or the store selling the e-book, you also want each person to buy the book.

Your viewpoint on sharing e-books depends on where you are on the book chain - supplier or consumer. So, it’s no surprise that Apple wants anyone downloading to its new iPad to buy books, but not share with others. To help ensure that, they’ve announced they will wrap their e-books in a digital lock called FairPlay, designed to deter piracy.

According to the Los Angeles Times, FairPlay is “a digital rights management software that once limited how many times digital songs can be copied onto different computers.”

9 to 5 Mac pointed out that, while digital songs are no longer protected by FairPlay, “Apple has been using Fairplay on video for a while now.  It never went away.  And now it will be in Books.”

Reuters reports that “Apple's FairPlay system is used to restrict the number of devices that can access content you purchase; it's usually set to 5 computers, iPods or iPhones, and so on.”

As an author, I’m okay with this. As a realist, I wonder how long before someone cracks the FairPlay software for e-books and puts the key out on the Internet. Hours?  Or minutes?
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36 comments:

  1. I don't really understand all of the hype around sharing. It's wrong but people do it- but people photocopy books too. Laws need to be passed, systems need to be established to prevent it. It will still happen but it is wrong.

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  2. How long it before someone cracks it, is another question altogether, but both as a reader and a writer, I am more than happy with the idea.
    After all, if someone puts in the effort to create something, why shouldn't the person get the rewards?

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  3. It's always difficult to prevent sharing. At least for paperback, I hope my books are fascinating enough that readers want to buy one for themselves even after sharing.

    Really Angelic

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  4. You should be more worried about the paying customers who won't buy an ebook with DRM than about the pirates who don't pay regardless.

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  6. Anton, if someone won't buy an e-book with DRM, you've lost a sale. But perhaps you've gained four sales that you would have lost since he now can't give those four people free copies.

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  7. Helen, I bet someone has already cracked it!
    However, the general population won't know how. It won't deter determined theifs, but it will stop most people.

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  8. I'm sure most people don't view it any differently than sharing a used paperback.

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  9. Before I started writing I didn't see anything wrong with sharing books - I never even thought about how it affected the author's sales. Now, of course, I see it differently.
    I can't imagine how this problem will be solved. So many people now believe that they have the right to download for free (ie music on youtube).

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  10. As a consumer, I can see both sides of this. I buy a lot of books, because I like to support authors and publishers, but I also share them with a few trusted friends and family members. I think sometimes just the thought of a restriction is worse than the restriction itself.

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  11. I hear ya. I, too, share books with my sister sometimes. It seems different now that there are many online sites that posts ebooks where thousands can go download them for free.

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  12. It seems like a pretty fair set-up, and I'm not sure that as a whole the population will be looking to crack the code. My feeling is that they'll generally just go with it?

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  13. This is a hard area for me. I really think we should just focus on the fact that people are interested in *reading*. Honestly, if someone has bought a copy, it's their copy to do with as they like. This goes for bound books, too--which end up being resold in second hand bookshops and on Amazon. As long as it's not an out of control problem, I like the idea of some sharing. Pirating is something else, though.

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

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  14. I compleely agree with Elizabeth on this one. My friends and I exchange books all the time. It doesn't mean any of us stop buying new ones.
    Karen

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  15. I'll have to agree with Elizabeth and Karen. My best friend and I swap books and audio books back and forth all the time. It doesn't stop of us buying. In fact, we actually buy more.

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  16. I'm right with you. Does it ever end? The limit of five is a good idea because we all love sharing things we really love. That's a little different from pirating thousands of copies.

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  17. Minutes. Trust me, it will not take more than a few minutes.

    Marvin D Wilson

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  18. What's worse? If I buy a book, read it, sell it to a used book store, and they resell it--what about that? Royalties once, publisher paid once, used bookseller pontentially the one to profit most as well as the buyers who get the books at big discount.
    Or even bigger discount-- borrow from libraries--libraries have been around for centuries -- How do authors and publishers feel about libraries anyway? Some books are helped, but how are wider selling authors helped by having books in libraries? Sorry--just rambling thoughts and questions.
    Lee

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  20. I don't find the limit of 5 to be too restrictive. I've used iTunes for several years and shared some of the songs with family, but have not bumped up against the limit. I lend books all the time and receive books from friends but I don't think any one book has changed hands more than two or three times.

    The FairPlay will probably have greatest effect on the used book market which doesn't give any money to authors anyway. If ebooks stay in print longer than printed books, will there be a need for a used book market?

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  21. I share, or pass along, books for three reasons: 1) I think a friend would enjoy it; 2) if I kept every book I read, I'd need to live in a airplane hangar; 3) seems a precious waste of paper to read a book and then throw it away.
    Ebook will take care of last two, but not the first. And which 5 is it—me passing to five friends? or a chain of five different people?

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  22. Because books were so expensive in Cyprus, we used to beg, steal and borrow. Then I found an online company that delivers here free of charge, so I am back to buying.

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  23. It's a sticky wicket. As a writer, I rely on my writing to pay the bills. As a reader, I get excited about work and love to share.

    Although I tend to buy books for friends and give them as gifts! ;)

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  24. I think 5 is fine. We all share books. And libraries would have exceptions. What make ebook piracy so dangerous to a writer's pocketbook is that one person can buy an e-book and give it to thousands in miliseconds.

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  25. What wonderful technolgical advances might be discovered if all the brains going into illegal activities such as virus inventions and piracy was put to solving problems instead of creating them?

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  26. Oh, the possibilities, Susan. No hunger. All hackers blocked. Clean fuel....

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  27. Helen, I have a different take on this--the four free copies I consider the price of doing advertising. In other words, I'm hoping the free copy readers will like my book so much they won't wait for a freebie for the next.

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  28. Hours or minutes indeed.

    Weren't CDs supposed to be "uncopyable" when they were created? :)

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  29. The publishing industry is going through huge sea changes right now and I feel like all I can do is hang on for the ride. It'll be interesting to see how all this pans out.

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  30. The way I see it, this is a question of moral. Even though it's easy to steal electonic material (music, movies, software ...), there should be a voice inside you telling you it's not an acceptable thing to do.

    I download music myself, to check out new bands. Then I buy the CD if I like it, or delete if I don't. In this way I think electronic download can benefit both copyright owner and the consumer. Guess you could get the same benefit for E-books, by providing a smal taste of it for free >:)

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  31. It is true that most of us have no choice but to hold on and go along for the ride. But even then, it's not a bad idea to be looking out the window and seeing what might be ahead.
    And that's what we're doing.

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  32. As an author I encourage book sharing. How much money do I lose on the royalty of one book? How much do I gain when I find one unlikely reader?

    And then there's the whole, 'literacy is a right, not a privilege' concept.

    Information is free.

    I think it's the same as having your book in a library. There are some people who can't afford books. They deserve to read too.

    I used the library a lot in the last year, because I was broke. I read more in 2009 than I have in a long time. I discovered how much I love Michael Crummy. I wouldn't have bought one of his books before. Now I will.

    In Canada we have the Public Lending Rights Commission, which distributes money to authors if their books are in Canadian libraries. (http://www.plr-dpp.ca/PLR/default.aspx)

    Why can't we have something like that for Kindle/IPad/Nook books with unlimited sharing capabilities?

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  33. It may come to that, Jenn. Currently, there are dozens of sites where you can go download all the free books you want (the pirating sites). Even with all the efforts to stop those sites, they will persevere. Whether they will become legit or stay "underground" is what's up in the air.

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  34. I didn`t realise there were DOZENS of sites. Then again, I haven`t gone looking for one. I`m really curious to know what kind of books the sites offer.

    I expect most people to want to buy my book, and some to borrow from a friend or from the library. I also expect some to download my book for free if it is available on one of those sites.

    If there are still people buying books, and downloading is kept to a minimum, I think it will be okay - just another form of (unintentional) promotion.

    There have got to be ways to fight those sites if they become the norm. The first thing that comes to mind is selling copies with stuff that wouldn`t come with the pirated version; stuff we can send directly to an e-mail address.

    It`s tricky, because I do want to publish more books. It would be nice to make a living that way, but it appears to be more and more unlikely these days (according to an article in Quill & Quire.)

    At the same time, I am part of something way bigger than my dreams of paying the bills without a day job. Literacy is power. There was a time when women weren`t taught to read. Those women only knew what their family chose to tell them, what their friends (who were picked by their family) believed.

    Access to books (even those not written by Shakespeare) is important.

    Maybe I`m naive. Or maybe I don`t expect to make a living because I`m Canadian. If you sell 5,000 copies here it`s a best seller.

    Should we expect to make a living as authors? Even with the way things are going these days?

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  35. Yet another reason to stick with real books.

    Michele
    SouthernCityMysteries

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  36. From what I've read about those sites, they're sort of the wild west. Anyone can go there and post books, so hackers who have e-books will offer them free to anyone who wants them. Rather like the old music file sharing sites where people were uploading and downloading files by the millions.

    Helen
    Straight From Hel

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