Pottermania, Piracy, and the (inevitable) E-book Angle

07.20.07 | Comment?

For those readers who don’t know me better, the links in this post are all directed to news sites or blog posts, not file sharing sites. 100% work safe.

Has any book in the last 20 years been as highly anticipated as the last in the Harry Potter series? I know Saturday morning my wife and I will be buying our copy–or possibly copies. I’m not sure either of us want to wait for the other to finish reading before starting, and as much as I’m on the internet I’ve very afraid of accidentally reading a spoiler. This is true even today–the day before the official release–since pirated electronic copies have already found their way to bittorret sites (NY Times).

Scholastic has invested quite a lot of time and money in security for this book. Security. For a book. On one hand, it’s pretty amazing in this day and age that it’s even necessary. On the other hand…it didn’t seem to do a whole lot of good. Okay, maybe it kept pirated copies coming out one month before release instead of one week. J.K. Rowling is on the record as being anti-ebook and won’t authorize e-book editions of HP. Most likely if she did authorize e-books, they would be heavily laden with DRM. And it would be pointless. As the latest round of piracy has shown, pirates don’t need electronic originals. They’ll scan each page as JPGs and compile them as a book. Then they’ll OCR the text and release text-based PDFs (TeleRead).

Instead of giving the pirates control of the open seas, wouldn’t it be better (TeleRead) for Scholastic to release their own e-book and capture at least some of those readers as actual sales? The horse is already out of the barn, Scholastic; why not at least charge for the spectacle?

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