Book Piracy : Deadly Low Prices

Book Piracy
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Purchasing pirated books is easy, especially in Indonesia. Just look at the side of the road you will see many kiosks selling cheap books. Nonetheless, the books’ quality is uncertain. The book is created by photocopiers and has paper covers on it. Well, there is price for quality, right ?

Many printing businesses, on the other hand, are willing to print pirated books in high quality, even with hardback covers. Simply give them the softcopy, and they will gladly print it for you. There are several ways to obtain the softcopies, ranging from search engines to Telegram and WhatsApp groups.

People pirate or buy pirated books since a number of reasons. The high cost of pricey books, the difficulty in obtaining books, and the impact on business profitability. On the other hand, many individuals think that information or knowledge should be accessible to everyone, hence book piracy is acceptable.

Is that appropriate? In the digital 4.0 era, information is the most valuable and sought-after commodity. Indeed, information or knowledge should be available to all, not just the one who has wealth. Downloading pirated books is one way for those lacking resources to obtain information.

Meanwhile, let’s take a peek at the writer’s perspective. Writing a book is not cheap or simple. According to Matthew Wayne Selznick, author of best-selling books on Amazon, writing a book requires hundreds of hours of thinking, researching, organizing, editing, and revising, not to mention the sacrifices of lost time with family. You might ask the novelist how much time and emotion it takes to write a single novel. According to some sources, writing a book in one hour consumes around 100 calories. By burning so many calories in one day, the author would undoubtedly require meals that is as costly. Finally, do not ask on how many cups of coffee and smokes they consume every day.

According to reedsyblog, it costs an author an average of $ 2000 to $ 4000 to self-publish a book, which includes editing, cover design, formatting, and marketing. These prices may rise further if you plan to sell the books you write; in order to compete with large book publishing companies, you will need professional editing and other services, which are not cheap.

In Indonesia, book authors typically get a royalty of 10% of sales. Meanwhile, 90 percent of the cash is spent on compensating industry workers such as editors, book designers, retailers, and others.

Pirated Books Harm Book Publishing Industry

Book piracy can decrease writers’ earnings, resulting in fewer authors; as a result, we may be short not just of writers, but also of knowledge. Furthermore, decreasing revenues will have an impact on many people working in the publishing industry. Independent authors will feel the impact more severely. Those who self-funded the book’s publication will be highly dependent on sales revenue. Because of piracy, authors are unable to get maximum revenue.

Smith and Danaher discovered in their Harvard Business Review article that piracy may affect content creators (in this case, digital material such as books or e-books) by stealing market share for legal sales. Additionally, piracy harms customers since content creators no longer produce high-quality material. In addition to writers and customers, the state or government suffers a financial loss as a result of piracy since the state does not earn royalties or taxes from the sale of pirated books.

Protection Against Piracy

There is already Digital Rights Management (DRM), a system used to prevent digital content piracy. DRM was initially used to secure digital music files (mp3, FLAC), however as technology advanced, it is now used to protect e-books. DRM controls or limits the quantity of content that can be shared from one user to another or from one device to another. DRM prevents unauthorized copying of material.

Nonetheless, Reimers (2014) found in his research that, while piracy is harmful to publisher revenues, the efficiency of piracy protection is not yet clear. While anti-piracy efforts can enhance E-Book sales, they have little effect on traditional book sales. The most efficient method of e-book protection is to remove pirates website from search engines.

Piracy is harmful to the author of a popular best-selling book; yet, new or less popular authors will benefit from piracy as a form of advertising word of mouth, raising customer awareness. Furthermore, because bestseller books sell more copies than other books, they will benefited more from piracy protection.

Seeing this tendency, several book publishers are now providing the first chapters or even distributing e-book for free.

Piracy Prevention

Just like Spotify and Netflix, the existence of such services lowers piracy rates. What’s the key? Providing material that is easily accessible to anybody and anywhere, available in a variety of formats, and, most critically, affordable, so that consumers perceived pirating takes more effort than buying it legally. On the other side, the government can lower customs or taxes on imported books and printing machines, which can significantly lowered the price of physical books and make them more accessible to the masses.

Anyaegbu et al (2016 )told that what matters most is how we, as industry stakeholders, work with the government to educate customers about the issue of copyright infringement. Only then will customers be informed of the consequences of purchasing pirated books; it would also be desirable if this issue of copyright infringement could be included into the education system’s curriculum. As a result, the future generation will be more aware of the problem of copyright infringement and will be more committed to fight it.


Anyaegbu, M. I., Adafor, M. R., & Nneka, U. (2016). Piracy and its Effect on The Book Industry in Delta State. Published.

Reimers, I. (2014). The Effect of Piracy Protection in Book Publishing.