Bookmarked! Free Books; Pirated Books

Alan Giles, blogging for The Bookseller, yesterday wrote an article comparing Radiohead’s album experiment to the book industry. He points out:

But here’s the most surprising conclusion from “In Rainbows”; despite an explicit invitation by the band to legally download the album for free, huge numbers chose to do so illegally. Research by Will Page, chief economist of copyright organisation MCPS-PRS Alliance, and Eric Garland, c.e.o. of online media researcher Big Champagne, reported 400,000 such “torrents” in the first day, and 2.3 million over the first 25 days. Yet by any standards the album has been a huge commercial success. Page and Garland conclude that “torrents and legal downloads are complements, not competitors”.

He comes to an interesting close when he talks about the music industry’s attitude towards piracy in the 1980s:

.. the (then) record industry publicly argued that “home taping is killing music”, while recognising that hard-up students who had developed a love of music through illegally copying might become core buyers in later life.

It is worth pointing out here that piracy doesn’t affect the publishing industry as much as it does the music one. I’d be more worried about the lack of offline readers and the lower margins the publishing industry faces today than the possibility of copyright infringement. Though, on the other hand, I admit to downloading a copy of Breaking Dawn recently (ehheh!) after finding out that the Malaysian release was delayed for a week. The difference here being that I’d buy the book the instant it hit local bookstores – owning a paper copy is priceless and forever, and a lot more meaningful to me than a .lit file. (Special thanks to Sharon of Bibliobibuli for highlighting this article)

Other links worth checking out:

  • Some of my predictions regarding Pages Unbound’s close have come true: discussions about a replacement/clone site have sprung up in the PU forums. Interested writers contact Rose here.
  • The New York Times on why we capitalize our ‘I’s.
  • A long transcript answering the question ‘How Is the Internet Changing Literary Style?
  • Just found out about Yochai Benkler‘s book The Wealth Of Networks. Benkler explores the reality of making money through user generated content, though Nicholas Carr has a wager going on that the only reason volunteers still exist is because there isn’t really any way to make money off them. The book is available for free here.
  • Daniel Hall writes in The Economist about how technology is fragmenting the music industry, and – like many others – goes on to throw the gauntlet in the book industry’s direction.

If it seems that more and more people are seeing the parallels between both industries, then it is because they are. The Internet has disrupted many things for many people and the general situation we’re seeing on the ground now is mass confusion. Which equals opportunity. Exciting times, this.

PS: Alexandra Erin‘s not gotten back to me on the future of Pages Unbound, so I’m in the dark as to what her descicions are. Somebody help, please?

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Category: Bookmarked!