Fri 22 November 2019
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Piracy Sends E-Book to #1
The publication of an unreleased book, 'Go the F**k to Sleep', on a torrent website has resulted in the book becoming the number one best-seller on Amazon.

A post from Crystal King highlights how digital publishing can be both advantageous and disadvantageous. A report suggests that a .pdf file of an unreleased book titled "Go the F**k  to Sleep" by Adam Mansbach and Ricardo Cortes gave pirates the opportunity to send the book to the number one spot on Amazon. It's reported that the book was so popular with those who read the file wanted either to own the book or buy it for others. In same post, Crystal King reports that the publishers tried to ban the distribution of the file. Should we be sympathetic to the publishers who are trying to ban illegal distribution or should be we considering that the success of this process is a worthwhile investment?

Publishers in digital media face an immediate problem that isn't transparent in standard publishing - piracy. In standard publishing, it is much more difficult to publish illegal copies of books due to the high cost of printing and the copyright laws binding manuscripts. At best, publishers only have to worry about a few details being leaked to news organisations and that's always considered free publicity. Publishers in the digital media are forever facing the threat of piracy where if a file falls into the wrong hands, it is all too easy to publish it on torrent websites.

Writers should be concerned about this risk. It's a major concern but it is possible to constrain the proximity of the risk by reducing distribution only to those people who you trust - close family, friends, publishers and agents. By making a list of all those who have copies of the file, you can ensure that, if the file does go viral through a torrent website, you can trace it back to the source and, if you so wish, threaten legal action using copyright law. It's important to know your rights here. Include a copyright in everything you write, even if it doesn't get published. Without your name and a copyright, it's a free pass to pirates.

A question underlining all this is whether it is necessarily a bad thing that the file was available on a torrent website. If the publicity of the book resulted in it becoming one of the bestsellers on Amazon, despite not yet being released, should the publishers necessarily think it's a bad thing? Yes, some people will read the book illegally and then never purchase it but there are those who will read it, tell their friends, buy them the book, buy themselves the book. By marketing the book correctly, the writers are now likely to achieve higher royalties than if this had never happened. There are positives and negatives to this situation. You have to decide as a writer whether it is worth the risk.
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