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Are We About To Enter The Age of Book Piracy? 494

theodp writes "The speed with which the 4MB e-mail hoax purporting to be the new cookbook from the Naked Chef streaked across the Internet suggests to Slate that a new, disquieting era for the publishing world may be in sight. Indeed, the latest Harry Potter tale made the rounds on the Web just hours after the book went on sale, its 870 pages apparently scanned in and distributed by rabid fans. The old argument that no one likes reading on a computer has pretty much eroded. Just because publishing people can't conceive of book piracy doesn't mean it can't happen."
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Are We About To Enter The Age of Book Piracy?

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  • this is old news... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    reading converted fiction ebooks on handhelds is better than reading them on paper.
    Lots of advantages like being able to read on the go or in bed with the lights out and than being awoken by the Handheld in the morning...
    • For sure. MemoWare [] has thousands of free ebooks for handhelds. Reading on a PDA instead of, say, a laptop also doesn't hurt as much when you fall asleep and drop it on the dog laying next to the bed.
    • Thomas McCaulay had this to say in 1841 when the issue of copyright extention was before the British parliament:

      I will only say this, that if the measure before us should pass, and should produce one-tenth part of the evil which it is calculated to produce, and which I fully expect it to produce, there will soon be a remedy, though of a very objectionable kind. Just as the absurd acts which prohibited the sale of game were virtually repealed by the poacher, just as many absurd revenue acts have been vi

  • Comics too. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eddy ( 18759 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @09:30AM (#6653996) Homepage Journal

    Not only books, but comics too. Already I've seen complete archives of all X-Men, Spiderman, etc. I think that might actually become a bigger problem, because comics are easy to scan and distribute, and their readers probably fit very well the profile of your typical "downloader".

    • Re:Comics too. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gatzke ( 2977 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @09:44AM (#6654069) Homepage Journal
      I cannot pay hundreds of dollars for classic comic books.

      Having these online so that people could read from the start of the series would be wonderful.

      Having them online so that you don't have to pay a couple of buck for a recent issue is silly.

      Plus, comics are about collecting. I doubt this would hurt the industry too much.
      • Re:Comics too. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by clifyt ( 11768 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @10:19AM (#6654206)
        "Having these online so that people could read from the start of the series would be wonderful."

        Never heard of trade paperbacks? I have several sets of comics I was too lazy to pick up every issue (that and I hate going into the comic shop where you are guaranteed that some 35 year old with middling education is going to try to convince you that both Star Wars and the Matrix actually contain intellectual philosophies) -- all of them in trade paperbacks.

        Too lazy to pick up issues 1 -20, but the story arc in paperback form. Sick of folks handling your precious copies? Get the trade paperback -- the only one actually went out of my way to collect was the Sandman (still need to find issue #4 to fill out the collection -- haven't looked too hard) -- but I won't let those out of my home.

        These don't exist for every comic, but they do for quite a bit. hit the comic section of the local Barnes and Noble and you will see what is newly available...and ya can probably find the rest by order.

        If I wrote something 15 years ago, one would think I was still entitled to copyright protection. Folks today think 3 years and not published in the 2 places they looked means its 'abandonware'. Then again, these are the same type of peoples as the 35 year old comic shop employee mentioned above so I don't put much credence in their logic.

        People that have never created something creative will always believe that it isn't real work and this stuff comes readily to ones mind. "It only took me 30 minutes to read this comic, heck, I'll be generous and believe that it could have taken up to 2 hours to write. " Intellectual properties are much harder to develop and need far more protection than any manual labour, but the /. crowd wants to literally put us further down the scale with the ditch diggers and that ilk.
        • by MickLinux ( 579158 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @03:45PM (#6655906) Journal
          I think that somebody has a problem, if it takes them 30 minutes to read a comic.

          I finish the Sunday Non Sequitor in just under 18 minutes. If it takes someone thirty minutes, they need to switch to an easier one. Maybe Ziggy would be a better start. That one only takes me 5.

  • article -1 Troll (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HBI ( 604924 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @09:30AM (#6653998) Journal
    Book piracy is too much of a pain in the ass. Plus, people want to own the book and feel it in their hands.

    Like someone wants to have a stapled stack of recycled copier paper in a fuzzy inkjet font. Even worse is the suggestion of reading it off the screen. The whole concept is just silly.

    In the case of music, I seriously doubt most people get the mp3 and then buy the CD. I would suggest in this case that anyone interested in reading an 870 page book would go out and buy it, or at least borrow it from the library.
    • Never underestimate what a cheap-ass will put up with to keep from paying for something.

      mp3s are basically the audio equivalent of "stapled stack of recycled copier paper in a fuzzy inkjet font," but that hasn't stopped them from becoming incredibly popular.
    • Re:article -1 Troll (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jesser ( 77961 )
      I like having a copies of (fiction) books on my computer while I'm reading the dead-tree versions. I do not enjoy flipping through previously-read pages trying to find something, knowing what side of the page it's on but not what chapter it's in.
    • Book piracy is too much of a pain in the ass. Plus, people want to own the book and feel it in their hands.

      You'd think so, huh? But this has going on for years now. In the beginning the only SF and technical books were available, but by now you can find anything that's reasonably popular.

      Reading of a CRT screen is doable, if you pick a good font and set your refresh rate really high (> 100 Hz), but it stays uncomfortable. A laptop is much better, and many PDA's are just as good as a real book.

    • Re:article -1 Troll (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Albanach ( 527650 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @09:53AM (#6654114) Homepage
      Books too can be too much of a pain in the ass

      Ever tried flying somewhere, awaw for a couple of weeks... DO you carry 10lbs of books or one memory stick / cf card / whatever your palm/pocket pc takes.

      Books are big, heave and inconvenient. Palmtops are small, multifunctional, light and their screens are getting better all the time. Battery life on all bar the ones with Pocket PC is good enough for a transatlantic flight.

      Anyway, the fact they are being distributed means there is a demand. Look at the facts, if someone can be bothered to scan an entire book and then distribute it with no hope of recognition or reward they must be doing it for the satisfaction of themselves and others enjoying their efforts.

      The book industry doesn't make every book available in an ebook format. Whyever not? It's not like they don't have the work in a computer? They can sell it for a bit less than a paper book, but he savings must be astronomical - no distrobution chain to run, no bookshops to pay... If they don't see the advantages they'll be left behind just like the music an video industries.

      • This idea ignores two very important concepts in the cost/benefit analysis: administrative overhead and the economies of scale.

        Just because the publisher already has the text "in the computer" doesn't mean that it won't cost them anything to publish it as an e-book: there are skills and tools necessary for that that are not present in the average paper-publisher's repertoire: they will have to hire or contract for such work to be done: an additional cost.

        The printed word is a mature medium. The idea
        • Re:article -1 Troll (Score:3, Interesting)

          by danila ( 69889 )
          I guess for the same reason as for opening online digital music stores. Because customers now want e-books and they will get them, whether publishers want them or not. Because eventually nearly all books will be sold digitally and with the Internet book publishers (just like the music publishers) risk to be left behind, unless they adapt their business models.

          The cost of e-publishing is not zero, but in some cases it can be very well approximated as such. And it is definitely much lower than paper publishi
      • Re:article -1 Troll (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 )
        I know that the problems of reading a large hardcover would be very well offset by a small paperback, and for only a two week trip, I would only need one novel, and only for the flights.

        I know I wouldn't put up with a tiny screen, and I think the palm-types otherwise would have too small of a screen and too coarse of a DPI to put up with it. I would think that you'd need to carry batteries and chargers around, and for intn'l trips, multistandard charger and that can easily add up. I suppose one added ben
        • Re:article -1 Troll (Score:4, Informative)

          by Jason Earl ( 1894 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:37PM (#6655593) Homepage Journal

          It's pretty clear that you have never actually read a book on a PDA. You should try it.

          Personally I have gotten to the point where I am not interested in reading books by authors I am unfamiliar with unless I can read the book on my PDA.

          First of all, the tiny screen on a PDA is not a problem. Small pages would be a problem in a book because it takes two hands to turn the pages. With a PDA turning the pages is a one-handed affair, and it is as simple as pressing a button. Most readers will even autoscroll for you if you so desire. Even using the largest bold font on my Visor Handspring I am still able to blaze through books with ease. In fact, if you read up about page layout you would find that narrow text columns make it easy for your eyes to find the next line.

          Secondly, the coarse DPI only matters if you are using a font that is designed for paper. I, for one, don't care if the font is jaggy as long as it is perfectly clear what the letter is. It's when you start anti-aliasing the fonts that they start to be problematic.

          Thirdly, my Visor Handspring didn't cost $300, it cost $80. Combined with a $30 CF springboard attachment and a cheap CF card I can comfortably carry around hundreds of books. My Visor is lighter than a paperback, and I can read it in the dark. Heck, the gizmo even helps me make sure I don't miss any meetings. Batteries aren't a problem as the Visor I have takes AAA batteries. I currently use rechargeables, but I have used standard batteries in a pinch. Even reading 3 books a week I still usually get a couple weeks worth of juice out of standard AAA batteries.

      • Look at the facts, if someone can be bothered to scan an entire book and then distribute it with no hope of recognition or reward they must be doing it for the satisfaction of themselves and others enjoying their efforts.

        Or, they are all just a bunch of cheap-ass losers...or the book sucked, anyway.

        It seems true book fans would rather buy the paperback after four months, than rip off their favorite author with a download. If it turns out that more people prefer to read the downloads and pay nothing, the
      • by SmackCrackandPot ( 641205 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @11:19AM (#6654499)
        Well, I can see two sides of this argument.

        If I'm going on holiday, then a book bought at the airport bookshop is far more convenient than a PDA. I'll still be able to read it on the flight and take it with me to the hotel swimming pool/beach. With a PDA or laptop, I probably won't be able to use it on the plane, while at the beach I'd be too concerned about it being stolen, buried in the sand, soaked by rain/drinks/the large guy jumping into the swimming pool/the little kids splashing about learning to swim, to really feel relaxed. Having any of these things happen to a $10 book is an acceptable risk. Similarly, when attending a conference I'd prefer to have a hardcopy of the paper than the author is presenting. If a cheap CD-ROM reader/LCD display with long-lasting life came along, then I would change my mind and say E-books would be a good idea.

        If I'm learning technical stuff at home or in the office, then saving as much space as possible is definitely a good thing. I'd prefer not to have to lumber a large book back and forth between office and home. If I need the information from a book, then I can either buy it brand new, second-hand, or borrow it from the library, copy the relevant pages and then sell or return it. Photocopying has the disadvantage of creating as much paper as was copied. Scanning the book electronically allows me to create my own virtual bookshelf, and make backups onto CD-ROM whenever required. Having the all the relevant chapters on a single CD-ROM is no bad thing. I would consider buying a technical book electronically, if it were possible.

        My preferences are based entirely on how much space is available, and how safe the surroundings are.
      • The book industry doesn't make every book available in an ebook format. Whyever not? It's not like they don't have the work in a computer? They can sell it for a bit less than a paper book, but he savings must be astronomical - no distrobution chain to run, no bookshops to pay... If they don't see the advantages they'll be left behind just like the music an video industries.

        As someone who works at a small publishing company... We don't regularly release e-books. The reason for this is that it takes a

    • I'm not so sure (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Chuck Chunder ( 21021 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @10:04AM (#6654158) Homepage Journal
      I own the Harry Potter book but I read the whole thing on my laptop.

      I like to read in bed and I found the 766 behemoth unwieldy (or I would if I tried it, I've found shorter books unwieldy).

      With my laptop I just stuck it on my bedside table, turned down the brightness, chose acceptable font and background colours in Acrobat, flipped the page 90 degrees and went full screen.

      A pleasant reading experience in a comfortable position with no book to support and reposition with every page turn.

      My only fear was that some joker might edit the book and interject with a spoiler part way through. With a song if a track is spoiled you can chuck it and still enjoy the track from other sources. If you get a book from an untrusted source and it spoils it then it could ruin your enjoyment of the book completely.
  • by Stiletto ( 12066 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @09:30AM (#6654000)
    It's copyright infringement, not a bunch of people sailing around with their swords in the air looting the natives and stashing thier booty (ARRGH!) []
    • It's Piracy (Score:2, Insightful)

      by DesScorp ( 410532 )
      That's the common term for it. You're annoyed at that? Tough. I'm annoyed at people that use cold, clinical words like "infringment" so that it won't sound as bad; the implication being that since they don't agree with the notion of copyright in the first place, they'll try to make piracy sound as harmless as possible.
      • by Sardonis ( 596687 ) <rsnel@cuSLACKWAR ... org minus distro> on Saturday August 09, 2003 @09:50AM (#6654105) Homepage
        That's the correct term for it. You're annoyed at that? Tough. I'm annoyed at people that use the suggestive and emotional word "piracy", so that it will sound very unethical; the implication being that since they argree with the abuse of copyright in the first place, they'll try to make copyright infringement sound as harful as possible.

        Freely adapted from the parent post.

        • by isorox ( 205688 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @10:02AM (#6654149) Homepage Journal
          Freely adapted from the parent post

          YOU PIRATE!!!
        • "...the implication being that since they argree with the abuse of copyright in the first place, they'll try to make copyright infringement sound as harful as possible."

          You see the effect all this piracy has had on you, you're even beginning to talk like like a salty brigand, now.

          Harrrful, it be, harrr, Jim lad. Harrrr.

        • The use of piracy to describe literary theft is NOT a new thing, in fact it is probably at least 300 years old. But of course you didn't bother to research your topic before blabbing your zealotry, did you? You are very clearly the one who is incorrect to not understand the definition of piracy.

          Quote from Oxford English Dictionary:

          ". fig. The appropriation and reproduction of an invention or work of another for one's own profit, without authority; infringement of the rights conferred by a patent or cop

      • And if you agree with copyright, that's exactly how you should call it.
        Unless you want to be a dope promoting the big publisher's propaganda [].

        Once again, the FSF tells it as it is...
      • It's Newspeak (Score:2, Insightful)

        "Piracy" has been fed into common usage via the media by the FUD-slinging industries that want to disguise their real motives for inhibiting legal media distribution. You're not annoyed at that?
        I'm annoyed at people that use overblown, emotional words like "piracy" so that it will sound of life-or-death importance; the implication being that most people can be mind controlled to agree with their notion of copyright infringement - they'll try to make it sound as harmful as possible.

        - Brian
    • The term 'piracy' has been used for illicit/infringing copies of books for hundreds of years. Give up the jargon battle, it wastes time and energy. Focus on the actual root causes instead of useless trivia.

      Same goes for hacker vs cracker.

  • by Hwatzu ( 89518 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @09:31AM (#6654005)
    It's been my observation that sites that distribute pirated books have far, far too many to read -- and many of the books there are obviously scanned through OCR, with no attempt made at legibility. And yet they're still offered.
    For most book pirates (and pirates in general, really), it's not about getting books to read for free -- it's all about having the book. To these pirates, if you don't have a bigger collection than everyone else, you're nothin'.
    • What's more likely, than the people distributing tons and tons of ebooks view it as some sort of penile extension, or that they, like all pirate sites, are merely trying to distribute as much of what they have as possible because the sites are shut down so fast that making a pirated work available everywhere is the only way to make it available somewhere at all?

      Lots of BitTorrent sites have collections of TV shows movies that have nothing do with one another. Dramas, comedies, reality shows, fan-subtitled
  • duh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tirel ( 692085 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @09:33AM (#6654010)
    I get all my books from #bw (hi guys!). sure, it's sort of illegal, but you could similarly get it for free from the library, and if I really like the book I buy it anyway.

    IMO, more interesting than the fact that book "piracy" happens is the fact that with todays "electronic entertainment systems" people are actually willing to read a book instead of playing repetative action games.
    • you could similarly get it for free from the library

      I have read this argument as a justification, and I don't like it. Quite apart from the technical difference (the library only has one copy of each book, and you can only use it for a limited time), if you download rather than going to the library, you will push the library's use rates down. Politicians will take that as evidence that nobody uses the library, and cut the library's funding.

      Now, the ideal solution would be an all-digital library, but pu
  • Scannned? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by waffle zero ( 322430 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @09:33AM (#6654013) Journal
    I was under the impression that some of the pdfs were made from the printer's source postscript file or something to that effect. I know a guy who pull D&D manuals off KaZaa that are perfect copies. I think he's the reason that the campus computer labs instituted printer quotas.
    • I also know these D&D manuals; there are insane amounts of RPG books available on IRC, and the most common ones use to appear on Kazaa. As far as I know they're not directly from the source, but either simply scanned in (the most common) or scanned in with the text transformed to actual text with an OCR program, then using the proper D&D manual fonts to create a very high quality digital copy of a book. If done by a skilled person with a decent scanner, the copy should be almost indistinguishable fr
  • Fake books (Score:3, Interesting)

    by marcopo ( 646180 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @09:34AM (#6654017)
    A couple of friends of mine who received a book purporting to be the new Harry Potter a couple of days before the original release have read it. Their conclusion is that while it would have benefitted from a good editor going over it, it was basically better then the real one (which they read a few days later), with more character developement. The fake also did not ignore the effect of hormones on behavior.

    It was also remarkably similar in plot, probably due to both authors reading fan discussions on what will happen for the last couple of years.

  • 'About to Enter'? (Score:5, Informative)

    by jonathan_ingram ( 30440 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @09:34AM (#6654019) Homepage
    Book piracy has been around for hundreds of years.

    In the 16th and 17th century actors and stenographers would conspire to rush off unlicenced copies of popular plays. The most famous example of this is the 'Bad Quarto' of Hamlet. This appeared in print several years before the authorised edition, and was based on the memory of two or three of the principal actors, with much filling from other popular works.

    In the 19th century the USA was the piracy centre of the English speaking world -- bootleg editions of every popular British work would be printed, with no money getting back to the original British writers. You can read many complaints from English authors of the time about this situation.

    Even if we restrict ourselves to illegal distribution through the internet, this is not a new phenomenon. The alt.binaries.ebook newsgroup has been around for many years -- the only thing which has changed is the mass availabilty of scanners which would have cost thousands only ten years ago. So, instead of having to manually type a book to copy it, we can now scan and OCR.

    Just as with music distribution, we need to emphasise that there is an incredible amount of *legal* book distribution on the internet. The standard bearer is Project Gutenberg [] -- creating free electronic copies of out of copyright texts since 1971.

    • ...based on the memory of two or three of the principal actors, with much filling from other popular works.

      There's that analog hole, again... Okay, here's the only sure-fire way to stop piracy: KILL EVERYONE. See, it's so simple.
  • by fdiskne1 ( 219834 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @09:35AM (#6654020)

    So instead of Kazaa, Gnutella and Napster, book piracy will be by email? God help us! Just when I'm trying to convince my higher-ups that emailing that graphics-laden instruction manual (10 MB) to everyone in the company is NOT a good idea.

    Hey! Maybe then they'll outlaw email and it will give us a chance to revamp SMTP!

    • Just when I'm trying to convince my higher-ups that emailing that graphics-laden instruction manual (10 MB) to everyone in the company is NOT a good idea.

      We've adopted a name and shame policy at my company. Once we see some huge mailshot clogging up the server (eg, last Thursday one bright spark attempted to send a 4MB attachment to 8,000 customers) we announce it like so:

      "To all staff; in case you're wondering why email/web/ftp access is slow, please direct your complaints to (INSERT LUSERNAME ). Despit
  • I've already seen people who are trying to do raw text versions of the Harry Potter books. (The link on Geocities is gone anyway.) What's there to stop people from otherwise OCRing (or for those with buckets of spare time, typing) large books such as the HP series?
  • Book Piracy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Hamfist ( 311248 )
    Is a very old thing. It has been going on for a very long time.

    An illegal translation of Harry Potter was being sold here (Chile). They regularly decommision tens of thousands of books at a time here.

    Books suffer the same type of overcharged price fixing as CD's, so most people here can't afford them. Does that mean that the poor are denied the right to read? Libraries are basically non existent here too. Book piracy is not bad in the developed world because of fairly good libraries and greater afflu
  • by Phoenix ( 2762 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @09:37AM (#6654032)
    Piracy against the RIAA is still ilegal, but considering the way that the RIAA screws everyone (the artists included), it's understandable.

    Piract against the Movie Industry is again ilegal but it can be rationalized when you consider some of the dodgy things they want to try and pull against the consumers.

    Piracy against the book publishing firms makes no damn sense. They don't screw the customers, price increases for books have been very slight and can be explained by the normal rate of inflation (my personal average is $1.50 over the past 10 years) and if you really want to read the book for free there is a *legal* way to do it. Just go to the local library and check it out

    There is no "robin hood" rationalization for this, there is no way to justify it, this is just a bunch of cheap fuckers who can't be bothered to fork over $18 on for a pre-order.

    In my opinion it's *now* a case of the consumers (the ones sharing the books on the web) screwing the authors. Remember, JK Rowling was a starving single mother when she wrote HP:ATSS...Think about *that* when HP #6 comes out

    • > Piracy against the book publishing firms makes no damn sense.

      Regardless of what they're pirating, they're going to spoil it all for the rest of us. The net's a less free place now that it was before music sharing got popular, and you can bet that it will be even less free in the future as governments continue trying to crack down on pirating.

      Pirating is a "Tragedy of the Commons" on a global scale.

    • by Crasoum ( 618885 )
      "If you really want to read the book for free there is a *legal* way to do it. Just go to the local library and check it out"

      Ironically this is the same place you can get movies, and CDs legally; the problem is people have to return them.

      You don't have to return pirated copies.

    • Piracy against the RIAA is still ilegal, but considering the way that the RIAA screws everyone (the artists included), it's understandable. Piract against the Movie Industry is again ilegal but it can be rationalized when you consider some of the dodgy things they want to try and pull against the consumers.

      This type of reasoning can be applied to everything that is bought and sold. Shady tactics of new and used car dealers, markups on retail items, $6 for a cup of beer at a baseball game, etc. Should ever

    • So, is it okay to pirate HP:ATSS or HP:ATPS if you're a starving single mother?

      I'd basically agree with your post (although maybe you should ask authors about whether book publishers are any less tyranical than RIAA, MPAA). However, if book publishers started enouraging the same attack on my free speech and privacy, on the internet itself, as the double A's do, then it's open season on them, too.

      It would be phenomenally stupid for bookpublishers to do so--there's always going to be a huge chunk of the

    • Piracy against the book publishing firms makes no damn sense. They don't screw the customers...

      There is no "robin hood" rationalization for this, there is no way to justify it...

      I agree that most books are moderately priced in the US, but what about text books? I just started my school's master's program and just one of my books last semester was over $100 ($80 - used). If it was available via this sort of service I would be tempted to say the least...

    • "In my opinion it's *now* a case of the consumers (the ones sharing the books on the web) screwing the authors. Remember, JK Rowling was a starving single mother when she wrote HP:ATSS...Think about *that* when HP #6 comes out"

      She was a starving single mother BUT NOT AN AUTHOR. It's wrong to assume that she starved as a result of writing books - she didn't write then.
    • What about books that are impossible to find elsewhere? For example, the "Night City" sourcebook for Cyberpunk. The only place I've found it for sale is on eBay, and a day before the auction closed it was going for $40 USD.

      I also like to try to find books to download before I buy if I can't find a decent review of them on the Net. For example, nobody seems to have read "Northrop Frye on Myth." Mind you, you can't download this one either, but still.

      I'm lucky I'm an English major; my "textbooks" can

      • "$40?!? My cheapest textbook is twice that amount!"

        You bastard!

        I bought a solid state physics textbook back in my undergrad days--it cost more than an equivalent weight of silver bullion. I haven't weighed any of my other textbooks, but I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't the only one worth its weight in silver....

    • Perhaps a very interesting thing is "rpg" book copying on the net.

      Roleplaying game books can cost upwards of $20 for a suppliment, $35-45 for a core book. Dungeons and Dragons, the big granddaddy of them all, only charges $30 for it's core books, but since you have to buy three of them, that's really $90, plus one of their settings for another $30-40, you're talking an investment of about $120.

      But even your typical GURPS suppliment (known for detail and low price) costs about $24 nowadays...

      So there def
  • Hopefully, no (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JimDabell ( 42870 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @09:38AM (#6654038) Homepage

    Hopefully, "book piracy" won't suddenly catch on. I suspect it will slowly rise, but a sharp increase will only prompt publishers to have a knee-jerk reaction and jump towards some kind of lock-down attempt. A slow increase will give publishers time to think about the most sensible way of altering their business model in the face of copyright infringement. Some have found that giving away electronic copies is profitable [].

  • Solution. (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Print all the books in X11 fonts. Those font suck so bad that my OCR program segfaulted when trying to read in a chapter.
    • Well, at least let the "association" that springs up to "protect" book writers have an appropriate acronym this time. RIAA/MPAA doesn't translate to something easily spoken...

      how about BwRAA... aka BRAA, or the Book Writers Association of America. Least that way they'll sound like the idiots they are.

      or maybe BITCH - Book Industry Technology Control and Harmonisation

      I'm sure people can come up with better names :)

      -- james
  • Although my method involves going to the local public library and signing them out.
  • by BillsPetMonkey ( 654200 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @09:41AM (#6654052)
    is the official reason the Harry Potter phenomenon is labelled A Good Thing.

    The other reason is that it also encourages adults to read. I've got few objections to literature being pirated on the internet, and although they wouldn't admit it in public, I'd imagine the books authors don't object much either. If you really love a book, you'll want a hard copy.
    It makes a change from all the "How To Drive a Woman Wild in 30 Seconds.pdf" crap circulating on Kazaa anyway.

    Would you object to your kids downloading Shakespeare's sonnets from th'Internet?
    Then what's wrong with downloading modern literature from a personal development point of view?
    • MySQL is making money right now selling its manual in a softcover form at It's the same information word-for-word that's posted on its web site and downloadable in several formats. There's no need to pirate this book, it's already freely available in digital form, yet the book still sells.

      Shakespeare's sonnets are in the public domain to begin with too, so those are posted in HTML all over the web just fine, yet books of his work sell anyway. It's the same story here too, people are willing to pay
  • I love books. Always have. I can hang out in a bookstore all day long. I love the smell of them (even the musty smell of older books), the feel of good books in my hand. When you find a book with really nice paper and binding, you've found a treasure. This even goes for paperbacks.

    There is no substitute for holding that book in your hands, and having the pleasure of turning the pages. It's slow, perhaps (unless you're one of those heathen speedreaders; reading was meant to be enjoyed), but it's a satisfying expirience.

    As much as I love computers and all things gadget-like, no electronic contraption with a small sreen will ever replace my books. And having a personal library is just plain damn cool.
    • I believe Dogbert said it best: "Pah!"

      I was once young and foolish, like you (assuming you're young). But then I grew up, and realised that my PDA was good for so much more than Tetris and passwords.
      Since i started reading books, I've realised that the medium doesn't matter; it's the book itself that's important. Since I started using my PDAs for reading, I've gone through so much stuff that was otherwise unattainable, it's unbelievable. This year, I've read (amongst others) the works of Mark Twain and Emm
  • by 403Forbidden ( 610018 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @09:43AM (#6654063)
    Books don't ALL cost 20 bucks (in fact much much less normally) and there isn't just one page that is good.
  • I download quite a lot of books. Now, most (if not all) are books I already own; this goes for fiction as well as non-fiction. I have also considered getting a scanner and OCR software to scan all those books I don't already have in machine-readable form (no good OCR scanning software for Linux as far as I've been able to tell, though). I also have several directories filled with papers downloaded from databases or from the authors' homepages.

    So, if I already own the books, and books are nicer to read on p
  • I remember seeing some articles about 2 or 3 years ago saying how they were working on ebook readers. The "paper" had dipole magnetics - if polarized one way, they would appear black; otherwise, they would appear white. The only time it needed power was to switched the paper -- IE, load a new book. Whatever happened to those?
  • by Hungus ( 585181 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @09:47AM (#6654086) Journal
    Baen [] has make a point of releasing its books free online. [] Their reasoning [] includes such as this "Losses any author suffers from piracy are almost certainly offset by the additional publicity which, in practice, any kind of free copies of a book usually engender. Whatever the moral difference, which certainly exists, the practical effect of online piracy is no different from that of any existing method by which readers may obtain books for free or at reduced cost: public libraries, friends borrowing and loaning each other books, used book stores, promotional copies, etc." and they note that "After all, Dave Weber's On Basilisk Station has been available for free as a "loss leader" for Baen's for-pay experiment "Webscriptions" for months now. And -- hey, whaddaya know? -- over that time it's become Baen's most popular backlist title in paper!"

  • With books, the price isn't so high - really. The price of printing out a whole book for convenient consumption would be high for most individuals already. And no one wants to show up anywhere with a huge pile of large black-and-white pages binded together, complete with scanning artifacts and no cover. The effort and time to wait for the book to print would be prohibitive also. And books still have the advantage of being easier to use than an handheld electronic device while sitting in, um, random place
    • I think you've hit the nail on the head with TEXTBOOKS, because of the factors you mentioned:

      1) weight
      2) searchability
      3) high cost

      and I would add:

      4) Most textbook purchases are involuntary
      5) Most students don't read the textbook from cover to cover - mainly they need the assigned problems, and whatever is necessary to complete them
      6) Many students are file-swappers
      7) College students are younger and not hung up on having a paper copy - no need for expensive & time consuming printing

      8) Laptops a

    • by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @11:12AM (#6654469) Homepage Journal
      Recorded books are actually a massive undertaking. They are a performance by an actor doing multiple roles (in the case of Jim Dale for Order of the Phoenix, over 150 roles). Each moment is glitch-free: he never ever stumbles or clears his throat. That's a combination of talent, editing, and multiple takes. Each reading takes multiple rehearsals, plus many hours more in the editing studios.

      I don't really know how long it took Jim Dale to get 23+ hours of Harry Potter laid down on tape, but it must have been months of work. I have no objection to seeing him get paid for that (and since the CDs are available for under $50, only a few bucks per CD, it seems quite reasonable compared to music.)

      Other recorded books are, of course, much more expensive. Overall I've found that Order of the Phoenix could have been priced much higher than they did based on demand, in any format. I assume this is an economic decision rather than a friendly one, but I know that it enabled married friends of mine to purchase two copies rather than one so neither had to wait.

      Now, that's just to point out that this is more than just a "golden voice"; it's a major effort by an actor with rare talent. If you want to put together an Internet project to read books aloud, I think that would be noble and interesting. For out-of-print books, you might check out AudioBooksForFree []. Just don't be too disappointed when your efforts don't sound nearly as good as the professional ones, and take more work than you expect.

      For copyrighted works, well, the publishers wouldn't be happy if you're competing with their efforts, especially if they have their own recordings. But I'd press you to think about the value of new books versus old; if you'd rather record a new, copyrighted book than an old one, maybe you'll see why that book has value to the one who paid to publish it.

      Disclaimer (too late): I am an actor and do recorded readings (and am unbelievably jealous of a voice like Jim Dale's).

  • ...because I seem to remember that text were some of the first things you could download off BBSs in a reasonable amount of time, even before porn .gifs became the latest fad.

    Sure it happened, and I'm sure it still happens, but compared to actually reading a book, e-books are terrible. Tell me when they make some good electronic paper, and maybe I'll change my mind...

  • Next thing you know, some group will buy up a bunch of books and loan them out to people free of charge. That's gonna really upset the book publishers.
    • The key difference is that a library can only loan out as many copies of an item as it has bought, and has to insist that the book be returned in a timely manner so it can be loaned to someone else.
  • Horrors! If the big corporations let people get away with reading anything freely, they might read more. This could definitely have a very negative effect on the literacy rate. You heard me right. If people read more, they might become more literate. Things can only get worse from there. Next thing you know, the people might start to think for themselves. This book piracy thing must be stopped. Nobody should be able to read text without paying for it.
  • by gspr ( 602968 )
    I find this a lot more odd than for example software piracy. I mean, books are SO cheap that the small price is worth it just to get a feeling of not breaking the law. Although software piracy is not justifiable, it is "explainable" with the high price of a lot of software. Book piracy, I believe, is not really explainable.
  • God I hope so (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CrazyJim0 ( 324487 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @10:14AM (#6654187)
    Why did man make libraries?

    To store all his information.

    Why will man not share his information?

    To hold power over other men.

  • When will the publishers realize that a little sharing (what most call piracy) is a good thing? They accept that promotional copies generate buzz, and more sales, but electronic copies, which don't cost them to distribute, automatically destroy sales?

    I've read all of the books in the Honor Harringtion [] series by David Weber, either through the library, or borrowing from a friend. When the latest book came out, my friend who introduced me to the series, had just moved to Washington (from Boston), so he too

  • In heavily regulated markets as exist in most of the western world, where authors are given copyright privileges and the government aid in the enforcement of those copyright privileges, it is often easier to wait for a book to be published in paperback than it is to copy the book without license. In fact, it would seem that publishers in the past have been quite aware that they have to compete with such copying and priced the paperbacks appropriately.

    In less regulated markets, such as those that seem to

  • by grimani ( 215677 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @10:21AM (#6654212)
    It's just not popular, a society we don't read nearly as much as we watch movies or play games.

    But believe me, any book you'd want is available in text format and pdf.

    I mean, seriously, a insane number of classics are already available legally from Project Gutenberg - how many people use that regularly?

    There's just not as much prestige in releasing a pirated book, when the most highly anticipated movies can make a group famous.

    That's just my 2 cents.
  • by libertynews ( 304820 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @10:24AM (#6654226) Homepage
    First off, I agree that it is Piracy and is wrong. But the effects may not be what you would first expect. Baen books has an experiment with their Free Library, [] where they are giving away some of their books and watching the results on sales.

    They are finding that sales actually go up on the author's other books! Having freely available books gives readers an introduction to authors they may have never picked up before, they tend to buy other books written by the same author. According to Baen the life-cycle of your typical book really isn't that long.

    This isn't to justify book piracy, but just as we have seen in the Music industry we may be dealing with a bit of exaggeration on the part of the publishers (and on the part of some authors who seem to have gone a bit rabid on the subject).

  • 1) Why would a "fan" want to consume ripped-off copies of his or her faviorite author's works? (What fraction of Linux or (Free|Open|Net)BSD users have paid for at least one box set?)

    2) Isn't the Harry Potter author already a multi-upon-multi millionaire? Has she been knighted or sainted, yet? Personally, because I am not a money addict, if I were a successful author I would release old instances of my work into the public domain. Why? Well, why not?

    Even if the Harry Potter books are good (I haven't
  • On April 24, 2000, the writer Harlan Ellison filed suit against an individual named Stephen Robertson, a Usenet company named RemarQ, and AOL over four of Harlan Ellison's stories posted on Usenet by Stephen Robertson.

    If I understand it correctly, AOL was sued only because that happened to be the service provider of the two who tracked down the identity of Stephen Robertson.

    Read about it here []

    Here's a 2002 story on zdnet about it []

    The following is from this article []:

    In April, 2000, Harlan Ellison w

  • 1) Everything that can be digitized, will be pirated. People just don't believe in copyright any more. The law, RIAA, etc can either like it - or stand in front of the stampede yelling "stop", and be stomped into mush. There is no third option. DRM will fail. Legislating will fail. Sueing will fail. Whining will fail. People just don't care, and they're willing to play the odds.

    2) The presence of freebies need not wipe out sales, in fact it can drive sales. I know I have bought music albums because I heard
  • To be honest, I have to put my vote with "no."

    I can go and search the thrift store for 25 or 50 cents per book. I can get most new books for around $5 on paperback, or up to $25 for a just-released-hardcover.

    In return, I get a product that I can read and take anywhere, and that is immune to intense magnetic fields (Of the kind that distort a CRT 3 feet away) from an NIB magnet I have. I can leave it somewhere for decades and not worry about it getting corrupted or erased. It doesn't need batteries.
  • Libraries (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fruity1983 ( 561851 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @11:05AM (#6654430)
    I get books from the library. I do own a few books that I routinely reference, but for most of my reading, I go the route that means I dont have to pay.

    Why would book piracy put publishers in a great deal more trouble than libraries? Someone still has to buy the books. Likely there are several groups of book piraters, I am sure they all buy their own copies.

    Oh, and I dont like reading on a computer. Maybe my CRT just sucks.
  • Yes (Score:3, Informative)

    by DoorFrame ( 22108 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @11:45AM (#6654663) Homepage
    About a year ago I started downloading books to my Handspring and carrying them around with me. It took a few days to get used to the constant scrolling, but once you get past that you've got a small device which you always have with you that you can read from at a moment's notice. No more sitting around on the train doing nothing... I just pop out the Handspring and I'm reading Harry Potter V, or Michael Chricton's Prey, or Ender's Game or older books like Fahrenheit 451 or Brave New World or 1984. They're all available online and the list is growing. Publishing is in for the same thing the music world is already fighting... as soon as people become accustomed to reading digital books the industry is in trouble.
  • Again (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dogun ( 7502 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @12:33PM (#6654980) Homepage
    I myself downloaded a copy of 'arry's latest adventure. It was good. I actually finished the entire thing before the hard copy that I ordered online showed up on my doorstep. I've reread the entire "Myth" series in the past month or two. (Nevermind the fact that I actually OWN the damned things but can't find three of the books.)

    I've said it before and I'll say it again. Book piracy is no big deal.

    Anybody who has the patience to read a book on their computer REALLY REALLY wants the book that they're reading. So much so, that they tend to either already own the book, but have lost it, left it at home and they're somewhere else, or something of that nature.

    Piracy of textbooks and, say, RPG manuals is another story, however. I think most people who acquire that stuff might actually have purchased the real deal, but because they don't want to shell out for a reference manual, as they already have it, they won't go out and buy the real thing.

    Book piracy may have a negative impact on sales, however. I think that would-be book pirates should be aware of that and restrict themselves to downloading books they already own or would immediately purchase if they saw it on a shelf, and then order it immediately online before making a real dent in the sucker, BEFORE deciding if it's worth finishing.

    I had the pleasure of meeting Joe Haldeman a couple years ago, and he explained the financial facts about writing.

    It's important to remember that most authors are in pretty bad financial shape - they don't make a whole lot on a book, or for that matter for shorts and articles. "Bridget Jone's Diary" and it's like are the exception, not the rule. Science fiction and fantasy - minus JK Rowling and a very small set of other lucky ducks - are probably the worst paying genres.

    So if you're planning on purchasing a book but find yourself downloading the book instead, whether or not it turns out the book is your style, buy it anyhow, unless you're that guy who sits for 3 hours in the bookstore trying to determine if the book is worth buying.

    Counter as you will, people.
  • Alarmist crap. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by qtp ( 461286 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @01:16PM (#6655233) Journal
    If this is going to be a serious problem, then it would already be one. The technology to "pirate" books via the internet has been around 10 or more years now, and reading extensive texts on a terminal hasn't really improved to the point that people would be willing to read "Anna Kerennina" or "Gavity's Rainbow" on a screen. Web pads and tablet PCs are unlikely to change that as long as bound paper is still available.

    My guess is that someone in the industry (think big, DRM friendly software vendor) has come up with a solution to sell, and is now looking to create a problem. The "Harry Potter" leak has all of the earmarks of a media stunt engineered to prevent the inevitable downswing of popularity that the trendy serial will (and already has) expirienced.

    Alarmist Crap.

    Keep your DRM, thank you.

    And no, SMTP works just fine for me, thank you. If you think you have something better, then release it and see if anyone switches.

  • by Brown Line ( 542536 ) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:38PM (#6655600)
    Book piracy was widespread in the 19th century. In particular, American publishers copied popular English works: the works of Charles Dickens, for example, were widely pirated in the United States.

    Closer to our own time, Taiwan did not sign the international copyright convention until late in the 1970s. Up to then, Taiwanese publishers routinely ripped off popular books and sold their editions for a fraction of the what the legal editions cost.

    My point is that book piracy is nothing new.

  • It's amazing to flip through the project Gutenburg list of books. Pretty much any English (and increasingly other languages) classic is available. Completely free because copyrights have long since expired, and legal. Who really wants to pirate "pop fiction" anyway?

You will never amount to much. -- Munich Schoolmaster, to Albert Einstein, age 10