. . . to publishers, that is. Consider this a follow-up to last week's post about the Big New Kindle and its possible use for textbooks: Over at Snarkmarket, Tim Carmody makes an important and troubling point: "the only reason why publishers are really interested in electronic books is that they can use DRM to crush sales of used books beneath their foot forever." Probably true — but the publishers may be being shortsighted. If — sorry, when — someone cracks the DRM for any given textbook and converts it to a Kindle-readable format, the traditional used-book market won't benefit, but neither will the publisher.
Consider in this light this NTY story about digital book bootlegging. It's kind of an individual thing right now — as Stephen King says about the book pirates, "most of them live in basements floored with carpeting remnants, living on Funions and discount beer" — but if textbooks go digital then such bootlegging will become a full-fledged industry. Somebody will make money off it, but it won't be the textbook publishers.