Rowling’s fear of piracy, spawns illegal Potter e-bboks.

Boingboing run this story yesterday. It seems that the newest Harry Potter book was available for download within 24h from the time it hit bookshelves. This is after

JK Rowling reportedly refused to release the new Harry Potter as an ebook, citing “piracy” fears.

Isn’t this funny? The author is super-paranoid, so she decides not to do an ebook at all. She releases the book and the next day there’s an illegal e-book circulating on the internet. Surprise, surprise! Welcome to the year 2005 😛 What if someone wants to read the book on their pda, phone or tabletop? We have these things now, you know…

And you know what… If she released the book in electronic form with some evil DRM, it would be probably harder to break and copy than the paperback. I would bet people would still scan/ocr/proofread the stuff – even to simply just to avoid the double jeopardy of copyright infringement + DRM circumvention. And she could make some extra money selling the electronic copies. But no…

She does not have to give it away under CC license like Doctorow does. But I guess this is a good example where having a little imagination really helps. Doctorow knows people like to copy stuff, and that people like e-books. So he caters to his readers – and gives them what they want. Net result – people like Docrorow, and buy his books.

Rowling on the other hand got greedy. She wants to squeeze every last cent from the franchise before the Potter mania fades away. I guess that’s reasonable – sooner or later people will get bored reading about the little wizard, or she will get bored writing it and the series will “jump the shark” (can a book series jump the shark? Or is that reserved just for TV series? Anyone?). But she fails to look ahead – she failed to predict the high demand for ebooks, and now her worst fears (“piracy”) came true. I guess it’s fair to say that an official ebook release, would certainly help to reduce the demand for illegal copies.

Doctorow is two steps ahead of most writers. He not only anticipates the technological progress (and growing popularity of ebooks) but also the new social trends which favor community interaction and sharing online. This is why I think Doctorow will be part of the literary future, while Rowling will pass into history as once popular writer, once Potter stories stop selling well.


2 Responses to “Rowling’s fear of piracy, spawns illegal Potter e-bboks.”

  1. Dan Copulsky Says:

    It does show she made the wrong choice, but it also shows she was right to worry about piracy.

  2. Luke Says:

    Yeah… But I find it ironic, that she wanted to avoid e-book format to prevent “piracy”, but the book started circulating in the p2p withing 24h anyway.

    There is no way to DRM a paper based book. So unless you ban scanners, and OCR software this thing is bound to happen.

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