Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Thursday, May 14, 2009

more on book piracy

Peter Wayner:

The kind of book I write, thick with equations that play to computer lovers, is also the first to be pirated. It’s a canary. O’Reilly Publishers, one of the top technical presses, reported that in 2008, the computer book market was the only segment to lose sales. According to the company, the category sold 8% fewer titles in 2008 than 2007.

I’m not going to write more books if the revenues will be wiped out by pirates. While authors like Cory Doctorow like to argue that the author’s real enemy is obscurity, there was no real uptick in the sales of my book when these pirated versions appeared.

I recently discussed the piracy problem on my blog and got few responses. Many of my friends from universities tend to take a vaguely Marxist approach to the piracy, perhaps because the bursar’s office shields them from the trauma of commerce. One person told me all of this theft was a compliment: I should enjoy the fact that my book was selected to be a part of the pirated file, “Great Science Textbooks,” and indeed, some of my fellow victims are very famous. But as Langston Hughes said, “I love Ralph Bunche — but I can’t eat him for lunch.”

More evidence for Ethan’s comment on this post. Also, here’s one of the places where Cory Doctorow dismisses the idea that piracy is a threat to authors.


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