Solution to Book Piracy

Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Some techie needs to code ebooks so if they're downloaded over X amount of times, advertisements start to pop up.That way authors still get paid for pirated work. You don't want the ads, don't share the book over X amounts of times. Or pay for the @#%^ book in the first place.

I don't know if this is even possible, but it SHOULD be. Is it? Who's a computer/programming geek? What do you guys think?


  1. I have no idea actually. It sounds like it "could" work but...

  1. I think it is possible, because some music downloads are coded so you can only download them X number of times. I'm sure a techie could also figure out how to get around that, though...

  1. JoLynne: That's DRM. It's a program that's supposed to stop piracy, but mostly it just ticks off people who bought the book. Pirates get around it fairly quickly.

  1. If there's money in it, there's a way to accomplish it. I agree with you. Years ago, they used to hang horse thieves. Not because it was such a horrible crime, but because it was so difficult to catch them. The extreme sentence was supposedly a deterrent.

    Give music and book pirates 20 years! :)

  1. No.

    Theoretically, you could encode a system that uses UDP ports for a direct connection between a computer and a central server, bypassing HTTP and thereby giving some sort of control on what is synchronous and what is asynchronous so you could figure out what has been "downloaded."

    Then you would have to change the ebook format to be executable in and unto themselves.

    Then you would have to convince everyone to use your new ebook platform.

    Then you would need to deal with the ramifications of creating a closed network system just for ebooks.

    Amber, I hate to sound like a jerk, but you are eight years behind this conversation. The ebook piracy war is over. You need to concentrate on building your backlist, so it goes like this:

    Book 1 published. Enjoy the sales, even if they are low.

    Then Book 2 is published. Yum yum.

    Then Book 3 is published. You make Book 1 either free, or discount it to almost free. Book 2 sales go up as people read Book 1 for free and must have Book 2 and Book 3.

    Now, how do I know Book 2 and Book 3 sales go up because Book 1 is free? Sometimes dramatically? Sometimes very dramatically?

    That's the pattern authors with a good track record in ebook sales report.

    With all that said, I have enormous respect for Rachelle and totally wish she was my agent. But she missed the point with her article on piracy, just as you missed yours.

    Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, bookstores, and direct are all ecosystems for selling and buying books. Pirated ebooks have their own ecosystem that only share a relation in the actual content. It exists no matter what. Put your efforts in controlling what you can control. Most book buyers use the legal systems for obtaining a book.

    There will always be a free version of your book out there, but book buying habits naturally overcome those difficulties.

    Hope this makes sense.

  1. Charlie: One of our towns famous stories was three men who died because of stolen strawberries. Two men picked strawberries and ran from the sheriff, the sheriff rounded up his debutees and gave chase. A gunfight ensued and three men were dead. True story.

    Anthony: I am worrying about writing my next book. In fact, i'm nearly half way there.
    I'm not going to get into a big discussion about who's right and who's wrong. We can both pull up data to support both sides of the argument. But there are people who NEVER pay for a book. Not anymore. And if you don't think that hurts authors, you're ignoring an entire side of the argument.

  1. Amber, you are completely missing my point, probably because I did not explain it well.

    I didn't say it wasn't hurtful. I said people need to focus energies on the systems that make money.

    The piracy ecosystem lives with or without you. To pay attention to it beyond publisher driven DMCA take down notices is putting effort into a system you can't derive any value from.

    I personally know of authors with extensive backlists that don't pay attention to any of this and make their monthly house payments from ebook royalties following the pattern I described. Which is not my pattern. They came up with it.

    It really bugs you that we exist in a entitlement mentality culture. That bugs me, too. However, electronic based piracy of intellectual property is a moving target. You as an author can not do anything about it, not a single effective thing. This is because any DRM based scheme you propose/implement does not address the root cause of the entitlement mentality.

    However, you can drive to the bank on the systems provided.

    In any case, the ad scheme you proposed will not work due to scale and the distributed nature of the interweb tubes which pokes holes in what constitutes a "download" and what doesn't.

  1. I think Anthony is right in this case. You have to look at the root cause of piracy, and that's not something you can fix with coding on an eBook - it's a problem with society itself, and it's certainly not limited to publishing and books and reading. Look at Wal-Mart and what it has done to our economy, especially to small towns. Ugh. Look at Amazon and what it has done to bookstores. It's all a similar mentality that cheap is necessary, and that probably goes back to our economic problems and war and issues with our government and how much our country runs on the greed for profit. Anyway, yeah, I could go on and on about this, but I don't think the problem is piracy as much as it is other larger issues from which it stems.

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