Piracy and the Concept of ‘Free’ in Book Publishing

Today I had the privilege of speaking to Kirk Biglione of Medialoper.com and Quartet Press in Pasadena, California about DRM and the current state of uncertainty in book publishing.  He led me to look into a man named Brian O’Leary of Magellan Media who has just published a manuscript called ‘Impact of P2P and Free Distribution on Book Sales‘ with O’Reilly.

First, I found this audio interview between Kirk and Brian about the findings in Brian’s book.  Essential listening.

I then tracked down this video of Brian’s presentation of his findings at the Tools of Change in Publishing Conference in February.  Essential viewing click the image below.

The text below summarizes the video.

As digital content has become more available and more commonly distributed in book publishing, fears of piracy and lost sales have grown. The rise of peer-to-peer file sharing sites has likely amplified these fears. While the debate over the impact of ?free? content has been at times heated, the discussions are more often than not characterized by a lack of hard data. To address this data gap, O?Reilly Media began a project in 2008 to characterize the ?free? universe, catalog and assess recent experiments, establish ways to measure the benefit or cost of free distribution and conduct some follow-on experiments of our own. O?Reilly is joined in this effort by Random House, which contributed data for several of its own tests. Come to this session to hear an interim report on the initial phase of this ongoing study, including a preliminary model of where and when free distribution works as well as what?s worth continuing to track over time.

Sean Cranbury is the Executive Editor of Books on the Radio. He's also Founder and Creative Director of the Real Vancouver Writers' Series. Sean is General Manager at the legendary Storm Crow Tavern and consults with literary arts organizations on digital communications strategies.

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