From a story on TechDirt.com:
“Upset that students might actually try to learn something without first paying ridiculous sums for textbooks, some textbook publishers are complaining that students are sharing scanned textbooks over file sharing network. Of course, the reporter had trouble finding a single student who was actually doing this — and most students seemed to think it would be something of a pain to read a textbook that way. Instead, many believe that this is just the textbook publishing industry’s way of explaining away the fact that they keep raising prices every year for no clear reason. Next thing you know, the textbook companies will start going after libraries for “sharing” books for free… “
As a book author (okay, I’ve only written one book but that still makes me an author 🙂 ), I myself have been wondering about the threat of piracy on the industry. This article focuses mostly on schools and textbooks but the problem itself is still widespread. And this is probably even more true today considering many books can be purchased in electronic form (usually PDF files). I haven’t found a pirated copy of my book (yet!) but have seen some other books floating around. This leads me to wonder if some form of DRM should be implemented on such documents. Although, i doubt it would prevent pirating, it would at least hinder it.
This brings on another topic, book pricing… The article states that textbook pricing has been going up because of piracy. In my opinion, this is somewhat of an oxymoron. The reason most pirates will cite (whether it is for book or software) is that the price it too high, so do publishers really think that increasing retail prices will help the issue? On the other hand, people might argue that it is because authors want more money. But to face the facts, being a book author works in similar ways to the music industry. As an author, I may only get about 5% of the retail price of a book back in royalties (minus advances, reserves and whatever reason the publisher can find to withhold funds). Sure, a price increase will bring in a little money for the author. But, in the end, when you look at the numbers, it’s the publisher that rakes in the dough.