(CNN) -- When Dan Brown's blockbuster novel "The Lost Symbol" hit stores in September, it may have offered a peek at the future of bookselling.

On Amazon.com, the book sold more digital copies for the Kindle e-reader in its first few days than hardback editions. This was seen as something of a paradigm shift in the publishing industry, but it also may have come at a cost.

Less than 24 hours after its release, pirated digital copies of the novel were found on file-sharing sites such as Rapidshare and BitTorrent. Within days, it had been downloaded for free more than 100,000 times.

Digital piracy, long confined to music and movies, is spreading to books. And as electronic reading devices such as Amazon's Kindle, the Sony Reader, Barnes & Noble's Nook, smartphones and Apple's much-anticipated "tablet" boost demand for e-books, experts say the problem may only get worse.

More at the link: http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/01/01/ebook.piracy/index.html

Nobody could have predicted this would happen...

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What no one can know for sure is how many of those 100,000 downloads would have paid anything for the book or just done without. It's very likely that the vast majority of people who visit sites like Rapidshare and BitTorrent would never have been customers anyway.

Of course, some books will be pirated, just the way some books are shoplifted, but it will be impossible to know how many sales are lost as a result.

Would you visit Rapidshare and get an e-book rather than buying it?

Pricing will also be a big factor in this. I do hope the book business doesn't become obsessed with how many sales are 'lost' rather than worrying more about how many sales are made.
Would you visit Rapidshare and get an e-book rather than buying it?

No--but I don't buy used books on Amazon, either. Most people don't share that ethic, I'm pretty sure.

What I see here is the recording industry's demise, all over again. I hope I'm wrong.
Is the recording industry really gone? There seem to be an awful lot of pop stars these days.

And it is different for books, as IJ says, we've always had libraries and we've always had used book stores. We've had remaindered sales and I admit I only read books as a kid because my Dad brought home paperbacks with the covers missing. It was only years later I realized what was going on.

The amount of books sold has always been only a small percentage of the books read. Maybe those percentages will change a little, but it`s possible the publishing industry will adapt.
The recording industry of the 1980s and '90s is pretty much officially dead, yes. Big profits from CD sales are a thing of the past: note the fate of Tower Records, or visit the CD section of WalMart or Best Buy and see it for yourself. The music industry is keeping itself afloat largely on the basis of performance revenue: the recorded product is essentially a giveaway used to promote the tour, which is a 180-degree inversion of the business model of even a decade ago. On the whole the change hasn't been a bad thing for musicians (unless you're a studio-only act of the Steely Dan variety, maybe), but I don't see how writers are going to make up the loss of royalties in performance revenue. We're not.

As for libraries, used bookstores, etc.--they're barely a blip on the radar in terms of scale. There are maybe 8,000 libraries in the U.S. that buy new books; not sure of the numbers on used bookstores, but let's say it's roughly equivalent: how many times have you walked into a used bookstore and found one of your books on the shelf? I have, once--and it was one I signed for the bookstore owner. There's just no basis for comparison to 100,000 pirated copies of Dan Brown's new book in the first week after its release.

I'm absolutely confident that publishing industry execs think they're adapting like crazy by embracing the dazzling new technology of the ebook, and I'm sure they have a long list of important ways in which they're not repeating the mistakes of the recording industry, but it sure looks to me as though they're following almost an identical path.
Using recordings to promote tours is an example of the pendulum swinging back to the way things were as recently as thirty or forty years ago, when musicians made their names and most of their income from performing and touring, and used the records as ways to show what you could hear at a peformance near you. The paradigm shifted to using tours to support the record, now has swung back to an uncomfortable and possibly unsustainable mix of exorbitantly expensive touring that will, I fear, start to erode live audiences. On the whole, it might not be such a bad thing for the music business in general for bands to have to play more gigs for less money each in order to make a living, but it's going to be hell for the musicians to adjust.

A saw a greeting cad recently that sums up my thoughts on publishing executives, particularly those on the business end, though the phrase "business end of publishing" may be an oxymoron.

Two dinosaurs are standing in the rain, watching the ark float away. One turns to the other ans says, "Oh, crap. That was today?" I don;t thnk these guys would recognize what could save them even if they did look for performance beyond the end of the current business quarter.
Actually, Jon, Steely Dan (Donald Fagen and Walter Becker) were in the Twin Cities a couple of months ago. They're touring:)
You do not buy used books on Amazon? So you do not believe in used bookstores or second hand books?
I like used bookstores, but I dislike Amazon's policy of selling used copies of my books on the same page as the new ones.
Lost dollars, new readers. Is the glass half ...
The demise of the music industry was as much about producing and promoting incompetent musicians, as it was to piracy. If the quality of artists out there was better, I'm sure album sales would be higher. If the music scene insists in promoting 'disposable artists' why should they be surprised that consumers view their products negligently. I was pleased to see that Janis Ian's website allowed you to download some of her stuff....after doing so, I felt prompted to buy one of her albums. I contacted Ms Ian applauding her for her approach and was delighted that in her reply she echoed my view that declining album sales were due to record companies not doing their job in providing worthwhile bands.
I don't want to spend 40 Australian dollars on an unheard of writer, not saying I wouldn't do it, but I'd be reluctant to do so. However if by word of mouth, good marketing, or having read free samples of his work elsewhere I'd be much happier at parting with my cash. To continue with the music analogy, I've downloaded 'free tunes' that have prompted me to want more, I'm happy to pay for quality. Don't let the music industry's huffing and puffing cloud the issue, most people {IMHO} will still pay for good books.
Well, we have free libraries here for sampling. The music industry has always guarded it's income jealously. I wish the same could be said of publishers.
Libraries buy books. Or at least they used to: a lot of libraries are taking crippling budget cuts as states try to deal with their deficits.


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