(For the purposes of this post and discussion all references to piracy and pirating are referring to doing so online, with an internet connection.)
This post started out as a tweet and led me to a whole thought process that I thought I would put down on paper. The tweet I was going to make was something like “I saw someone today say they got something “less than legally” when referring to internet piracy. I like this term”. And I do. I intend to use this term in every day conversation as much as possible. Anyway, this discussion was on E-books. Books that are just computer files meant to be displayed on an E-Book reader (such as a nook, or a kindle) or your cell phone.
This thought process led me to the fact that people are now pirating books, much like they have music and movies for a long time now. I wondered why it took us so long to reach this stage when people have been pirating music for something like 15 years now. Movies have been available in high quality low file size downloads for around 10 years now. I also know that full DVD’s have been available for around 5-7 years now, and probably were before that, but weren’t quite as popular due to the expense of blank media. Which I guess is what all this really boils down to. The expense of blank media. Int he case of DVD’s that means blank dvd’s. For music it could be blank CD’s, though I think it was the introduction of the Ipod that made music piracy the house hold thing it is today.
Thinking about all this led me to wondering about why it had taken E-books so long to become popular? (Popular enough that people commenting on facebook mention that they are acquiring the books “less than legally”). I also do understand E-Books have been around for a long time, but they were mostly only able to be viewed on your computer screen. Not very handy. I think it really has to do with the fact that we had no convenient way to take the books with us on the go. That’s the thing that made the other items listed (music and movies) so popular, when you were able to get those technologies off of your computer and take them with you. (burn a CD of your mp3’s or a dvd of your movie, then later get an ipod) E-books didn’t really have anything like the Ipod. That all changed in 2007 when Amazon released the Kindle. Suddenly we had a way to take our pirated books with us where ever we went. But man $400 was a lot for something that was at best a novelty at the time.
Over the past couple of years though E-book readers have come down in price quite a bit. Publishers have realized that, hey, there might actually be a market for selling these E-books. We’ve also had project Gutenberg take a center stage as a result of the popularity of E-books. With the rise of their popularity comes the rise in e-book piracy. I know of a community that started just 3 days ago around the idea of spreading e-books for free.
When I first started writing this I was going to say, we got movies and music pirated pretty quickly once we figured out how to digitize them. Why did it take books so long to become something that is pirated just as frequently as books and movies? But actually looking back at the time line, it hasn’t been that long ago that we really started pirating those other media forms. I think it really comes back to the E-book readers themselves. Once we had those, at prices everyone could afford, the proliferation of e-book piracy increased exponentially.
But then that begs the question, why did we have an Ipod in 2001, but didn’t get an e-book reader for another 6 years after that?
What do you think?
Also now that we have e-book piracy, what do we pirate next? Is there anything left to pirate?
I would love to hear your opinion in the comments.