Category: college textbooks rising in price

Most E-books Pirated in Russia; College Students Fight Cost of Text Books

Most E-books Pirated in Russia

The other day I saw a comment on social media where a publishing blogger mentioned she had monthly stats in the low six figure range. The blogger concentrates all content in a small niche market that focuses only on one sub-genre. As a blogger, I was curious about those stats so I checked them out at a web site where this is all public information and what I found was interesting.

I get an average of anywhere between 15,000 hits to 20,000 hits a month here on this blog. I’m not certain how this works exactly, and I’m often surprised at some of the posts that get the most attention, but I don’t want to go that deeply anyway. If you notice, I don’t advertise here and I consider this blog a hobby. However, when I see another blogger doing something similar to what I’m doing, and that blogger is getting hits in the low six figures, I’m naturally curious.

As it turns out, the blogger with six figure monthly stats receives less than 10% of those hits from the US. The majority of the monthly hits this blogger receives are from Russia…well over 50%. The hits in between the US and Russia are scattered with third world countries. I have gone through periods with this blog where I’ve seen an unusual amount of hits coming from Russia, but they’ve never been constant. The majority of my hits come from the US or the UK.

The reason I find this so interesting is that I’ve always wondered how the e-book pirates discover the books and authors. I even once touched on the topic of digital publishing in Russia, but not in detail. In other words, how do they find them, how do they find the authors, and where do they scope out their information? According to this article, which is recent, most e-books are pirated in Russia:

 I believe that Yogi Berra once said that in New York City, everybody drives but nobody owns a car. Well, according to some recent Publishing Perspectives posts, in Russia almost everybody who still reads anymore reads e-books, but almost nobody buys them.

The numbers will surprise you:

According to a recent infographic, only 56% of Russians have read 1 or more books in the last year. Of those who do read, 70% read e-books. But of those who read e-books, only 15% actually buy them! (92% admit to downloading them from pirate sites, and 36% copy them from friends…who probably also downloaded them from pirate sites.)

Even though I will admit that I don’t fully understand everything there is about piracy, I have posted before about e-book pirates and those comment threads have been fascinating. To this day, I still get the occasional comment. This link will lead you to multiple posts I wrote on the topic, which I’ve always tried to do objectively. I’ve stopped posting about piracy because I’ve found there’s not much an author or publisher can do about it. But there are things related to piracy I’m still very curious about.

And one of those things is where they actually find books and authors. Do they go to Amazon? Do they scope out blogs where e-books in sub-genres are discussed, like the one I saw with six figure hits each month from a huge Russian following? And how much of the information on blogs like that is helping authors, or hurting them? Of course you can’t blame bloggers for who reads their content or piracy. They have no control over that. But if I found that most of my hits came from a place where there is a higher rate of piracy, and I were writing about authors and books, I think I would mention something on the blog to try and help authors. Or maybe even educate e-book pirates. I do know for a fact many who pirate e-books don’t take them seriously because they aren’t a tangible item. And teaching people that e-books are just as real as print books is important, too. I think that would be the only responsible thing to do, especially if I were providing links and detailed information about books and authors.

College Students Fight Cost of Text Books

This morning on a local Philadelphia news channel, the morning anchor, Sheinelle Jones, mentioned the rising cost of a college text book, which she said is about $200.00. Then she started talking about social media messages she’d received on the topic from college students headed back to school this month, and carefully discussed how some students are getting around this by finding digital books in places where it’s not allowed.

What I found even more interesting is that the news anchor, Sheinelle Jones, clearly flubbed her way through the entire piece because she didn’t have the faintest clue as to what e-books are, or how many people are reading e-books nowadays. She even questioned whether or not a large college text book could be created in digital format. I think this is very telling about how little the mainstream knows about e-books, even those like a news anchor who should know better…or at least be provided with basic information about e-books by her staff so she can report to her viewers with accuracy. After all, she’s speaking to an audience who knows more than she does in many cases and she’s being paid six figures to discuss it. I get paid nothing to author this blog and posts like this one, but if I flubbed that way in any blog post “they” would have my head from Goodreads to Amazon.

But the fact is that college text books are skyrocketing, and college students are fighting back.

Students also are getting savvier: 34% this spring reported downloading course content from an unauthorized website, up from 20% in 2010, says a survey released last month by the Book Industry Study Group, a trade association whose members include publishers, retailers, librarians, and other professionals engaged in print and electronic media. Also, 31% said they photocopied or scanned chapters from other students’ books, up from 21% in 2010. The study (from spring 2013) is based on ongoing surveys involving about 6,000 book buyers a month.

The price for new textbooks has been rising about 6% a year, says a report released this summer by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress. It is based on five U.S. higher education textbook publishers that represent more than 85% of college textbook sales. The 82% increase in textbook prices since 2002 compares with a 28% rise in the overall Consumer Price Index during the same period.

Aside from the significant cost of text books, there’s the convenience factor, too. I went to college at the Fairleigh Dickinson University Florham Madison Campus. It was formally the old Vanderbilt estate called “Florham.” It was vast in acreage and parking was limited. Lugging huge text books around in all kinds of inclement weather was not easy to do, especially when you have ten minutes to get from one class to another that is on the other side of the campus. Having my text books on my iPad would have been a lot nicer.

And e-books should be a lot cheaper because productions costs are gone.

Once again, the publishing industry needs to start paying attention how the world is changing.