Will eBooks become the next Napster?
Everyone has noticed how few music shops there are now. Where stores selling CDs, DVDs, and music-related items (often including books) used to dot main streets, now one has to go a long way to find one.
This was because of illegal downloading, largely facilitated by Napster, an online service devoted to peer-to-peer MP3 file-sharing that by-passed the traditional market. The site eventually ran into copyright difficulties, but not before the established industry was on the brink of ruin. It even affected Borders, because of an unwise decision to branch out into DVDs, contributing to the book chain's problems.
Now Yelena Shuster, on the highlow.com site, comments that the same problems now face the publishers of eBooks. According to a survey of 1,959 British consumers, one in three eBook readers illegally download books.
The copyright issue must come up a lot sooner, as downloading an entire book is a very different matter to downloading a single track, but nonetheless it's a prospect that's bound to send shivers down spines in the publishing industry.