This Christmas, Amazon’s latest version of the Kindle appears to have sold well in the US. In fact, Amazon have reported that they were selling a million Kindle Fires a week throughout December, and plenty of additional sales of their Kindle ebook reader.
However, it appears that the ebook industry may be facing similar online piracy problems as those that hit the music industry several years ago.
The infamous Napster scandal put music piracy on the map when the fledgling company offered free music downloads. It now looks like there are an increasing number similar websites offering free ebooks.
Amazon take 30% of the money for any ebook they sell in their store. Some of the major publishers also came to an agreement over book prices which saw the cost of ebooks escalate, sometimes costing more than the paperback version. However, this has led to controversy. The European Commission has started an investigation into the book publishers, along with Apple, for colluding to drive up the prices.
The high prices of an ebook is a concern for consumers. The stats suggest that many are now turning to pirate sites for their books, with approximately one fifth of all downloaded books coming from pirate sites. Some sites are proudly proclaiming how easy it is to convert any book into a pirated format and say that the Kindle offers no protection against the pirated books. Some books have been known to become available on a pirate site long before they were made available through a legal downloading site.
The publishers are trying to hit back at the growing ebook piracy, issuing legal threats to the pirate websites and putting pressure on internet service providers to shut them down. However, the long ongoing battle that the music industry has had with pirated music could be a sign of things to come for ebooks.
What do you think the ebook industry needs to do to protect itself from piracy?