Piracy threatens professional book publishers

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Professional book publications, which generate $13.91 billion in revenue annually, are confronting mounting losses from digital piracy, according to Simba Information. An article in the market intelligence firm's bi-monthly newsletter Professional Content Report, 'Professional Book Piracy Thriving in Cyberspace,' notes that several websites that publish textbooks and e-books for free are profiting through subscriptions and advertising while maintaining immunity from copyright infringement. This, argues Simba, makes these profiteers very difficult opponents.

Quantifying the loss associated with this piracy is a challenge but the Simba findings suggest that as much as $1.7 million in potential revenue is lost per title in the technical segment and about $1 million per title in the science segment.  According to the article, progress is being made through trade associations and cooperation between publishers; however, there remains a greater need of public awareness, government resources and collective effort to effectively combat book piracy.

'If piracy is next to impossible to fight, the question is how publishers should react to this situation,' noted Dan Strempel, senior editor of Professional Content Report.  'Do they treat piracy as part of the cost of doing business in the Internet age, or do they try and recoup piracy losses from paying customers by raising prices?  It would be extremely challenging for publishers to do the latter, considering the economic pressures in the scholarly/professional system. Until someone puts the "force" in international copyright enforcement, [publishers] might just have to learn to deal with it.'