24Symbols founder Justo Hidalgo argues that his company’s business model is a counterbalance to piracy and will generate print sales for publishers.
MADRID: The history of books is like a long novel. It’s a legendary story that begins with storytellers who then gave way to proto-writing, clay tablets and codices and, finally to printed books — thanks to Gutenberg and the invention of movable type which started the publishing industry. Some characters are critical to a specific chapter of this novel, but then seem to disappear for good. Some others linger longer, adapting to the changing environment that evolving culture, technology and society bring to the table.
We are now in a new and exciting passage, a key one, where the advent of digital technologies is allowing readers to have access to culture and information in a way even visionaries like Jorge Luis Borges or Vannevar Bush could never have imagined. Along with the excitement and the opportunities, though, a non-trivial set of challenges is causing lots of discussion, concern and even fear. Is the book industry in jeopardy?
Pirates are Book Lovers: Engage Them
Piracy is growing in the e-book industry. While not at the levels of music or movies yet, it is said to have reached 35% of published books. This is mainly related to the lower prices of the e-reader devices, the multi-million sales of iPad, new tables and smartphones…all gadgets that can be used to read short and long documents and books. People want to consume content in digital form and they either cannot find it (for years, many books have not been digitized because of digital rights issues, or because of marketing-led blockage) or don’t want to pay a price they see as being nonsense.
But the publishing industry should look at their cultural and entertainment industry counterparts to understand that some decisions should not be repeated. Trying to avoid piracy by adding more and more constraints to the books via DRM technologies only encourages pirates, who see cracking DRM as both an intellectual challenge and a duel against “the enemy.” My take has always been that pirates are fans. They love music, or movies, or books, but they just will not allow “the industry” to lead the way they consume that content if they feel what is offered to them is inherently unfair.
I truly believe the answer to piracy is engagement. Tomas Boezeman made it clear in his post at FutureBook entitled “Piracy is good”, that he advocates for an “understanding-then-reacting” position. Spotify, the European music-streaming service that has just come to the United States, has proved from a user’s standpoint that it is possible to engage music lovers and decrease piracy by offering something easier to use. Instead of taking the burden of finding a good copy of this book in several peer-to-peer systems or cyberlockers, a service offering “one-click read” options to readers would entice many of them willing to pay a subscription fee. The thinking at 24symbols is exactly that: Why pirate a book when you can read it with just one click? Read more >>>