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Will Piracy Be an Issue With eBooks?

By Borchers Carmella

People are increasingly turning to eBooks as opposed to reading physical books. But will piracy become a big issue with books, just like it is with movies and music?

With eBooks becoming even more widespread, there is some concern among book publishers that piracy will begin affecting the revenues of both authors and publishers. As it is right now, “pirating” a physical book takes a rather considerable amount of time. If someone wants to distribute an online copy of let’s say some romance novels, they would need to scan or photograph every page, put it together in a PDF document and then upload it to sharing sites. Although this form of piracy has been seen occasionally, it is usually limited to some expensive reference books such as some college textbooks and study guides, in addition to maybe a few very hard to find fiction books.

But with eBooks, the content is already in digital format, making it much easier to distribute pirated copies of a book. As such, there have been a few fiction books such as popular romance novels which have been distributed on piracy sites; however this form of piracy, for now, is largely limited to certain niches of books. The most pirated eBooks right now are reference materials (usually business guides and internet marketing courses) and adult content such as romance books.

However, with the increased popularity of digital book distribution, this could all change for online book sellers. So how do websites that sell other kinds of books like romance books online protect themselves?

While there are technological measures already in place to make copying more difficult, such as the use of proprietary formats that can only be opened with an authorized reader application, this can be easily circumvented by skilled hackers who can convert it to a different format and scrap all security features of the document. But in reality, not much hacking is needed to pirate an eBook. In the case of text on a screen, all that would be needed to bypass any form of security would be to take a screen capture of each page and then put the pages together in a new PDF document.

The best measure to discourage piracy would be to offer books at low prices, which will encourage readers to get them from legitimate sources, rather than spend time finding them on underground sites. Also, online book sellers could give incentives and promotions to their customers to keep them loyal. Furthermore, with the availability of different devices to read eBooks, book sellers need to understand that they should avoid using proprietary formats that will only work on certain platforms. Rather than reducing piracy, these can actually encourage it. Say if someone really needs a certain book, but it can only be read on a Windows PC and they have an iPad. Many would have no qualms about searching for a pirated version of it that is available in a platform neutral format, even though they were originally willing to pay for the book had it been available in a format that would have worked on the iPad.


Read more: Succeeding as an Online Bookseller


Carmella Borchers is the author of this article and is an avid fan of romance novels – particularly erotic books and erotic ebooks.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Carmella, Borchers "Will Piracy Be an Issue With eBooks?." Will Piracy Be an Issue With eBooks?. 28 Nov. 2011. 2 Aug 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Carmella, B (2011, November 28). Will Piracy Be an Issue With eBooks?. Retrieved August 2, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Carmella, Borchers "Will Piracy Be an Issue With eBooks?"

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