Anti-piracy firm Digimarc has taken a stab at defining the scale of the ebook piracy issue. They hired Nielsen to conduct a consumer survey on piracy, and found:
E-book piracy currently costs U.S. publishers $315 million each year in lost sales, and the Nielsen survey revealed that people who illegally download e-books are largely ordinary consumers, students and working professionals who access e-books from a wide range of digital sources, including online auction sites and via email from friends. The study highlighted the fact that 70% of illegal downloaders have either graduated from college or have a graduate degree. The most common age-range of an e-book pirate is between 30- and 44-years-old with a yearly household income between $60,000 and $99,000.
“When it comes to book piracy, you can’t prevent what you can’t predict. This is the challenge for publishers as they grapple with preventing illegal piracy,” said Devon Weston, director, market development, Digimarc Guardian. “Our new Nielsen data makes it clear these pirates don’t fit a typical criminal profile. They access digital content from a vast universe of web pages, social platforms and file sharing portals. Our aim is to break down the problem for publishers and help them develop an effective prevention strategy.”
Digimarc has a financial incentive to convince you that piracy is bringing about the end of western civilization; they sell anti-piracy services.
So this data comes from a highly suspect source, but even so it is the most accurate piracy data I have seen. Where most piracy stats come from analysts’ wild guesses, the figures mentioned above are based on a consumer survey.
Real people were polled about their media consumption habits. We don’t know what they were asked (and that is another reason to distrust the data) but or once we have real data on the issue.
And that data tells us that piracy isn’t much of a problem in the ebook realm.
That $315 million may sound like a lot but going by AAP figures ebooks were a four billion dollar market last year.
No one knows the true size of the ebook market, but we do know that the AAP said that their members earned $579 million from ebooks in the first half of 2016. That $579 million represents six months of revenue for about 40% of the industry. We can roughly convert it to retail sales by doubling it, and then dividing by 40% and then 70% (the latter roughly represents the industry’s share of the retail price).
That $579 million represents six months of revenue for about 40% of the industry. We can roughly convert it to retail sales by doubling it, and then dividing by 40% and then 70% (the latter roughly represents the industry’s share of the retail price).
When I ran the numbers, I got a market estimate of $4.1 billion.
And so Digimarc’s best estimate is that piracy accounts for less than 10% of the market.
In other words, it is nothing to worry about.
image by pasukaru76