Piracy NOT Evil?!?! [Sane Academic Publishers]

In another case of we’ve-been-writing-about-this-for-years-and-now-it’s-happening, Inside HigherEd has a report from the Association of American University Presses conference called Could Pirates Be Your Friends?

In a session titled “Is Piracy Good for Sales,” [Garrett Kiely] the Chicago press director did not suggest that piracy be encouraged or legalized. But he made a case for ignoring pirates — and even appreciating piracy that might, in some cases, boost the visibility of certain titles that otherwise would have languished behind a pay wall.

The University of Chicago Press has published hundreds of titles in e-book form, including a number of “trade” books, which are aimed at a general audience and are considered more likely to become profitable. But when the press recently analyzed which of its books were being pirated, it found that most came from the more obscure, less lucrative parts of its list.

“The majority of the titles that were infringed upon were scholarly monographs,” Kiely explained. “It’s very hard to find a correlation between the appearance of these books on these sites, and lost sales. In some cases you can’t help but think that . . . obscurity might be our biggest problem, rather than piracy.”

The cost of combating piracy — a tedious and sometimes fruitless exercise — may, in such cases, far exceed the cost in lost sales from having those titles available for free, he added. Allowing more obscure titles to change hands freely on the Web might even result in buzz, which could eventually translate to more sales, Kiely added.


Unfortunately, I suspect there are still about 159 panels on “how to combat piracy” that I’m going to have to suffer through/write about before publishers come to terms with their misguided attempts at stopping motivated readers from swapping their books.

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