Friday, March 4, 2011

On the Galleycat List, and What it Tells Us

An article recently appeared in Galleycat, listing (ostensibly) the ten-most-pirated titles on Pirate Bay, a notorious torrent site.

It'sa good article, definitely worth reading, but I would like to pluck a bit of information from it for analysis, that is, the list itself:

1. 1000 Photoshop Tips and Tricks
2. Advanced Sex: Explicit Positions for Explosive Lovemaking
3. What Did We Use Before Toilet Paper?: 200 Curious Questions
4. Photoshop CS5 All-in-One For Dummies
5. What Rich People Know & Desperately Want to Keep a Secret
6. 101 Short Cuts in Maths Any One Can Do
7. Touch Me There!: A Hands-On Guide to Your Orgasmic Hot Spots
8. How to Blow Her Mind in Bed
9. 1001 Math Problems
10. How To Make People Like You In 90 Seconds Or Less

Much commentary has been made about the strange assortment of titles, about how little there is to tie them together.

Au contraire.

Searching for those titles on Amazon reveals some interesting data:

1. Not on Amazon at all.
2. $30 used, not available on Kindle.
3. $8.45 new, $8.03 Kindle (95%)
4. $26.39 new, $23.75 Kindle
5. $0.63 used, $11.99 Kindle
6. $24.95 used, not available on Kindle.
7. $11.06 new, $9.99 Kindle
8. $10.36 new, not available on Kindle.
9. $4.99 new, not available on Kindle
10. $4.49 new, $9.08 Kindle

The #1 title is a bit problematic, because the title does not appear ever to have been for sale anywhere online, at all. It looks like a resource that someone assembled from some site somewhere, and is using file-sharing to distribute.

But for the other nine, there is a commonality: Four of the nine are not available on the kindle at all. Given that kindle format is the most popular ebook format in the world, one can assume that these are not available for sale in ebook form. Of the remaining five titles, the price for the ebook version is no less than 90% of a paper version, and often much more than what a used copy is asking.

It can be inferred from these facts, that a significant proportion of pirates are downloading books from pirate sites either because they cannot get them legitimately at all, or else because the price is too high.

This leaves out the question of whether the books are available internationally, and where the downloaders are coming from; other analyses of book piracy have found that many pirated books are not available in the countries where their downloaders live.

I see nothing in the Galleycat article to shake my belief, that piracy is a symptom of a failure by the publishing industry to find a way to serve its customers the way they want to be served, at a price they are willing to pay.

2 comments:

Lisa Creech Bledsoe said...

Sorry, utterly distracted by the notion of trying to tie all of them together in one great big whammy spammy wonderlicious... book thingy.

And you're so right about publishers not giving people what they want in the way that they want it. But things are changing -- you are a part of that change!

Nobilis Reed said...

Thank you for commenting!

I do try to do what I can to change things... not easy from the author side!

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