On making ebook piracy inevitable

Simon & Schuster have announced that they will be delaying the ebook releases of at least 35 of their big name releases in 2010. Doyce Testerman has said pretty much what I have to say on the matter, so why don’t you go see what he has to say.

This decision, which I fully believe is grounded in nothing less than a toddler-like desire to cling to the once-profitable but entirely outdated publishing structures of the past, actually creates an environment where, from a ebook-pirate’s perspective, it is a good idea to steal from them, because there is no legitimate competition in that space.

via The Future, the Past, Willful Ignorance, and Simon and Schuster – doyce testerman.

Basically, Simon & Schuster (Stephen King) and Hatchette (Stephanie Meyer) are forcing users who want–or need–to read books via ebook format to either do without or turn to P2P networks and download pirate scans. For me personally, this means nothing. I haven’t bought a paper book in a decade. If it’s not available from Amazon or eReader.com, I simply don’t buy it. I have hundreds of books that I can read instead. But the author won’t get my money, either, and that’s a shame.

I think it’s worth noting that I just bought a copy of Earth by David Brin on eReader, even though I’ve had a pirate scan of it for years. Why? Because the scan sucks as a reading experience. It’s badly OCRed, meaning the line and paragraph breaks are in the wrong places and it’s rife with typos. Even though I could get the story for free, it was worth $8 for a professional presentation, and cleaning up the scan would have taken up far, far more than $8 worth of my time.

People will buy ebooks if they’re priced to provide a good value for the content, but you have to give them the chance in the first place.