Geek on the Cheap #133:Does iPad Spell More ePiracy?

Apr 12, 2010 | Posted in Geek on the Cheap


This weekend I read an interesting article about the iPad’s impact on eBook piracy. What?! The thing’s only been available for a week — how could it have had an effect on anything already? Read on, grasshopper.

In “eBook Piracy ‘Surges’ After iPad Launch,” the founder of TorrentFreak found that “unauthorized” eBook downloads of the top 10 paperback books in the business category increased by 78% on BitTorrent after the iPad launch. I have to say I was surprised. Not only that downloads jumped in such a dramatic fashion, but that business books are so popular.

Then I discovered in reading a study by Attributor that the most pirated eBooks — nothing to do with the iPad — fall into the category of business and investing . I’m not sure whether I find this amusing or ironic, since this is the category of reader most likely to be informed about the consequences of lost revenue. Apparently there is no Venn diagram of knowledge and ethics in the category of business and investing.

Oh well. I have to admit I thought a 78% jump in illegal downloads was extraordinary. If I were a business writer or publisher, I’d be — pardon the pun — seeing red.

Then I continued reading the article and my fears were slightly assuaged by the fact that “the absolute download numbers [of eBooks] are relatively small compared to those of music and films.”

Okay, but the purchase of books is probably just as small when you run the same comparison. Also, many books and eBooks are simply unavailable for download. So once they are available, will we see the same rates of piracy as we do with music and movies?

Maybe, maybe not.

As the TorrentFreak reminds us, “when the iPod was launched there were no digital download stores, making file-sharing networks the only option to get music easily.” So if it’s easy and relatively cheap, people will buy instead of steal, right?

Maybe, maybe not.

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