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Up to three million searches a day for pirated e-books
08.10.10 | Tom Tivnan
There may be as many as three million searches a day for pirated e-books and digital book piracy has risen 20% since the iPad launch earlier this year, according to figures released this week.
Internet monitoring company Attributor undertook a two-stage study of e-book piracy in September. From 17th–22nd September, it monitored the relative importance of file-sharing sites such as Rapidshare, Hotfile and Megaupload, creating "landing" pages and a site mirroring file-sharing websites to track how people try to illegally download e-books.
The report said: "We are looking for the 'Napster moment' in e-books—the point at which uncontrolled distribution threatens the legitimate revenue stream for publishers."
Using key words generated through Google ad words for search terms such as "free downloads" and "file download", Attributor reached a "conservative" estimate that the global demand for pirated e-books was from 1.5 million to three million searches a day. The geographic spread for Attributor's landing site showed the greatest demand for pirated e-books came from the US and India, both with 11% of searches.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the most searched-for e-book was Stephenie Meyer's Breaking Dawn, with more than 40,000 page impressions and 280 attempted illegal downloads on the Attributor landing site.
Apple users are more interested in book piracy, the study suggests. The global demand for book piracy increased 20% since the beginning of June when the iPad was made generally available, through the peer-to-peer sites Rapidshare, 4shared and Megaupload. And despite users representing only 1.18% of all web browsing, more than 5% of visitors to Attributor's landing site used Apple's operating system.
The study also suggests that the importance of Rapidshare, one of the older P2P sites, has diminished for book piracy after a programme by Attributor in 2009 led to a decrease in the availability of illegal books on the site. Yet there has been a rise in other sharing sites such as Megaupload. "This finding suggests that although one source is eliminated, other sources will emerge to meet the demand for pirated e-books," said the report.
Yet the report suggests that publishers can direct consumers to legal e-books. Attributor randomly assigned "download file" or "Amazon link" on the landing page. One in five (19.6%) of users clicked through to Amazon to buy the legal e-books.