Authors, as a group, tend to consider their eBooks almost as dearly as they would their own child; thus eBook protection is of paramount importance. This kind of concern often goes beyond proprietary and business concerns, and although some may consider it in a way irrational, it is also natural.
What’s not irrational, however, is the concern that piracy can have on the earning potential of an eBook. Books in digital form offer several benefits that do not come with traditional printed books. For one, it does save a lot of trees from being cut down to make paper. Another reason is that ebooks are much more convenient to distribute than traditional printed books. Unfortunately, ebooks are also easier to pirate so that the benefits of the work go to unscrupulous individuals instead of to the author.
Lending and Copying
In printed form, books have always been easy to loan out to friends, family members, and coworkers. You simply meet this person and then hand over your book. In the meantime, you can’t read the book you’ve lent out, but at least you still have other books to occupy your time and interest.
In their digital form, books are so much easier to “lend” to others. A book owner isn’t limited to lending the book to just a single friend, either. The ebook can be copied so that all the owner’s friends can have a copy of the book. The problem is takes place when you consider that in the age of Facebook it is very easy to accumulate hundreds or even thousands of friends, all of whom can then redistribute the ebook to all their friends. Factor in the effects of torrent sites and ebook sharing forums through which an owner can send copies to just about anybody—friend or not—and pretty soon everyone who’s interested in the book can have a copy of their very own. Meanwhile, the original owner still has his or her copy of the book, so from that person’s point of view, there’s no harm done.
Believe it or not, that first scenario isn’t even the worst that an author can experience when their ebook has been pirated. Ebooks can also be resold. Although in printed form this is quite a natural progression, with ebooks the end result is much more serious. Since they can be recopied an infinite number of times, they can be infinitely resold as well. And each one of those buyers may also decide to make money out of the ebook by reselling it as well. All these sales are going on, and not a dollar goes to the original author.
What Authors Can Do About It
Unfortunately, there’s not much an author can do about it. The author can report abuse to the site owners through which the ebook is being spread, and perhaps even legal action may be contemplated. These methods tend to require a lot of time and effort from the author, and many of them simply conclude that it’s not worth it.
Probably the best way to protect an ebook is by using secure DRM systems like Adobe Content Server 4
or a much more affordable option, like our own service. These systems can make it more difficult for pirates to take advantage of ebooks, and the additional security may cause them to just turn their attention to other ebooks that do not have the same level of protection. Such DRM systems aren’t impossible to defeat, but sometimes simply making it harder for “pirates” is enough of a deterrent.