Steve Layman, over at Anderson Layman’s, is a daily read for me with an incredible array of music, classic videos, and thoughtful presentations of literature and craftsmanship. But he’s highly overwrought after reading a post by Seth Godin, a proclaimed author and management guru. Godin puts the nails in the coffin to printed books and booksellers in his post and paints a picture of gloom and doom under the onslaught of e-books.
The jarring quote pulled out was:
There’s no real ebook piracy problem because most people don’t think books are worth stealing.
I like Seth Godin. He usually has some excellent insights and interesting observations. But here he’s wrong. Some quick research shows that e-book piracy costs US publishers alone billions of dollars a year. Publishers are even being offered software to catch these pirated versions at their source. Other publishers, like Penguin, have delayed release of e-book versions of their titles because of the high rate of piracy.
In the opening to the post, he writes:
..it’s hard to sustain daily losses for long, particularly when you’re poorly capitalized, can’t use the store as a loss leader and see no hope down the road.
For the record although profits are down, Barnes & Noble revenue rose last year and the Codex Group finds that people of all ages still prefer print. And let’s not talk right now about the differences in reading comprehension between screen and print.
He also writes regarding the structures that need to be built to support these new digital books:
…it’s up to us to figure out how to build an ecosystem around them.
Tough to do that when the medium you’re trying to protect has its own software and hardware limited durability and rapid obsolescence.
There is so much wrong with Godin’s assumptions in this particular post of his. Because I do respect him, I’ll just attribute it to temporary insanity. I do agree that e-books and p-books will find their own respective places and audiences. Film didn’t kill theatre and television didn’t kill film. And e-books won’t kill the printed word.
PS – If you’re interested, Eksmo, Russia’s largest publishing house, reports up to 95% of all downloads of ebooks are pirated copies.
Kindle that…or not…
And then there’s cat videos…