There has been a lot of uproar about ebooks and all the potential piracy. I’m not saying there will be no pirating of ebooks, it’s already taking place. In fact pirating books has been going on since the year 1440.
If you’re thinking, “They didn’t have itunes back then,” you would be correct. 1440 is the year the printing press was invented and for the first time books became available to the masses. With this came consistency in spelling reform and the general public learning to read.
However, a book was still a luxury item. So, if you had one, you usually shared it with others after you read it. When it made the rounds through your network of friends in the village, you read it again and again and share it again and again.
Unlike music which people listen to over and over, most people will read a book once. After you reach the part that says, “The End,” the book sits on your shelf for all eternity. If it’s an amazing book you might read it twice and let a friend borrow it. If that friend likes it, they will pass it to a friend and so on… A year later you would get back a well loved book that had been purchased once and read by many. Just like those mp3’s that you downloaded. Someone at one point purchased it and shared it with many (the world).
Today when I read a great book and tell my friends they will reply, “Sounds good, let me borrow it.”
I follow up by asking, “Do you have an eReader?”
“Then, you have to buy a copy because my book is an EPUB format.”
Since my friends are afraid of eReaders at this point, it means the author just sold two copies instead of one and the ebook I purchased should have paid a higher royalty than the paperback.
Yes, one day the whole world will own eReaders and Kindle will get a clue and convert to EPUB and we will all share our ebooks just like before. But the same way cassette taps and CD burners and mp3’s brought an end to the music industry… wait there are still musicians making millions. In fact there are more musicians earning a living off their music because more people have access to the industry that is no longer controlled by the giants who want to remain in the past where they control all.
Let me start over. When we all have eReaders, there will be more and more books and combined media available to purchase and share. People will make a living writing and selling ebooks just the same way people still record and sell music today. Ebooks will not kill the industry, it will open it to the masses just like what we saw back in 1440 when we started pirating books.