There is one state of being for a particular book that makes digital piracy an inevitability: lack of availability.
Last night I was in the mood to read a certain kind of story. I had a very specific book in mind, a romance I had seen at the bookstore at least a year ago, snapped a photo of, and waited to buy until I was in the mood for just that type of lip-smacking ridiculousness. This book is not available in stores anymore (I actually looked for it a couple weeks ago)–in fact, it’s not even available new from Amazon. Used only. A print book was not an option, as waiting a week to get it in the mail was patently pointless since it would satisfy neither my mood to read nor be any guarantee that when the book arrived I would actually want to read it…or at any point in the future be in just the frame of mind to read it.
Unfortunately an ebook edition was also not an option, because the publisher had not made one.
Publisher fail. I don’t know why a digital edition doesn’t exist–if the author was savvy enough not to let the publisher have the digital rights, why hasn’t she exploited them? If the publisher has them, why haven’t they?
All I know is, I wasn’t able to get the book I actually wanted to read.
The thing is, another book wasn’t going to do. So I did a Google search for the book. “Title ebook.” I found an option for it. I even went to the site. It looked…legit-ish. Not actually legit, mind, not for sales of books, but for a pirate site it looked like it would give me what I was looking for and not a virus-infected .pdf of gibberish.
However, never having engaged in digital piracy, I couldn’t quite bring myself to sign up and download the thing (even though it would have been terribly appropriate as it was about pirates…SPACE pirates. I know). I have friends who have pirated ebooks whom I will ask about resources they trust and places they avoid. Last night I didn’t feel like making any phone calls or waiting for an answer to a text or email. I turned on the TV instead.
So not only did the publisher of this title miss a sale on this particular book, they missed a sale on any book, by not making their goods available. Not publishing an ebook edition in the hopes of forcing me to buy print instead backfired, becuase instead I will not be purchasing the book at all.
And this is a textbook example of how you make an honest reader into a pirate: don’t let me purchase legitimately what I want to buy from you.