Self Fulfilling Prophecies

One of the biggest problems that stems from the perception of piracy is individual’s knee jerk reactions that hurt no one more than themselves.

Wizards of the Coast pulled their D&D books from online format after finding they were being pirated. Currently there is no legitimate way to purchase ebook formats or PDFs of Dungeons and Dragons because WotC was frightened of losing money. Now those who want (or need!) D&D books electronically are being forced to pirate it – even if they don’t want to. There is a Compendium available, but it contains the rules and is website based, so there is no convenient way to get your D&D books – which, I might add, are fairly a bitch to tote around.

Harry Potter was just released on Pottermore after years of J.K. Rowling dragging her feet because she worried that they’d be pirated. The books have been on torrenting sites for years – and now they’ve finally released at $7.99 a book or $57.54 for the complete collection. That is extremely expensive for an ebook, especially when the paperback box set is $50.85 at

Both WotC and J.K. Rowling have responded negatively to the idea of piracy and punished legitimate fans for it.

Fans that have been demanding, for years, that they respond to their desires and allow them to pay for their hard work and amazing product. In the process, the merchants have only hindered them, and punished them, and demanded that they, in return, purchase products in a manner that consumers don’t want to purchase through.

Currently J.K. Rowling is only allowing her ebooks to be purchased directly through her website – something that is not likely to change any time soon. This limits consumer’s ability to find and buy her product, even though Amazon & Barnes & Noble do have links to Pottermore. There will be some that decide that with the price barrier, and the distributor barrier, it is too much. They might decide not to purchase the goods, or perhaps they will pirate copies as a last ditch effort.

Responding to ‘piracy’ like this hurts legitimate consumers, and it hurts artists. It limits people’s exposure to new media, and it puts customer’s last.

I’m very pleased that J.K. Rowling finally allowed her books to come out in ebook format, and I have no doubt that she will make a lot of money off it. I have every faith that it will be a successful endeavour, and I only worry that if it’s not – will she blame herself? Or will she do like WotC and blame piracy, punishing her dedicated fans in the process?

There are many reasons why this would fail that have nothing to do with piracy. Fans might not be interested in paying $8 for an ebook of a novel released 5 years ago. Fans might not be interested in purchasing through Pottermore, as opposed to their usual retailers. Fans may not realize that the ebooks are available. Or some fans may have already pirated the books long before they were legitimately available.

[Image Source 1]

[Image Source 2]


  1. Lori says:

    I’m not a huge fan of ebooks – there is something great about the feel and smell of a book I miss when trying to ready one. But….If there ever were books that should be ebooks, it’s the D&D manuals. It really gets crazy lugging them to a game..and you always forget the one you end up needing!

    I really hope WoTC changes their policy on this one. How about doing it like the ultraviolet movies are – you get the code when you buy the physical book?? So you’d be able to get a free ebook version of the book you bought as well – that would be perfect to me.

  2. Gareth says:

    This is precisely why I started pirating, and still do. Between the lack of money when I was around 15, and the pain that is going down to EBGames to pick up a video game, installing it, keeping track of the disk, swapping disks, losing my game if it got scratched etc. etc., I found it easier and easier to just keep .iso’s of my games. I had .iso’s of my Fable: The Lost Chapters, even though I literally owned three copies of the game (Don’t ask, I have a problem when it comes to Fable)

    Then I heard about Steam, and it honestly sounded too good to be true. A service that charged less, managed everything for you, wouldn’t get lost, and was legit? I swore up and down that I would be forever a pirate. Businesses were never that easy to use, and always seemed like a price gouge. Since I got Steam a couple years back, I can’t remember the last time I pirated a game. I have 150 games in my library. But I still pirate books, movies, TV, songs for this very reason. In America, I used Netflix, and my uTorrent was quiet. When I went back, I couldn’t.

    What we need is a unified system. A device where we can log into our various ebook accounts, download them all onto one device, and then be able to tap our ebook readers against a shelf, and through NFC, buy and download that ebook right there and then, with the physical store getting a small cut. That kind of thing would solve alot of problems

    • M. Keep says:

      I’ve switched to ebooks lately and have been loving it. I’ve paid more, and bought more books than I ever have before. Especially since indie books are so reasonably priced!

      Everything should be digital. I don’t want to leave my computer. EVER!

      Also I read a thing the other day that All Romance eBooks had a disproportionate amount of complaints about DRM books, and people admitted they’d be more willing to pirate things if something had DRM.

      Problems with downloading and accessing DRM files are responsible for more than half of our customer service complaints. Since DRM products represent less than 8% of our sales, this is quite disproportionate. Customers who download a DRM file were almost 12 times as likely to require customer support than customers who download a non-DRM or open format book.

      The second most frequently received customer complaint was around territory rights issues. Readers feel strongly that eBooks should be available worldwide. Many self-disclosed that the inability to purchase certain titles has driven them to piracy.

      • Gareth says:

        This is where the need for a unified system comes in. I have about 20 books on Google Play, and 20 on Amazon. After trying to get all of my Google Play books onto Amazon (Download them through Adobe Digital Editions, find the epub file that it creates, import it into Calibre, download the right plugins to remove DRM that are hard to find, Remove DRM, Transfer to Kindle), for the fourth time, I just turned straight to torrents for my other reading needs. However, if any book I purchased on any website were just THERE on my Kindle, they could DRM it all they want, because it wouldn’t stop me from reading it

        • M. Keep says:

          I just want to have epub files. I really like Smashwords for that reason, but they’re more niche and only focus on indie authors, so you can’t get big names. It’s very frustrating.

          I read a few days ago about someone who wants everything done by cloud hosting, and you’d have to constantly be downloading new chapters. It’s like… why do you want to punish paying customers so much?

          • Gareth says:

            I kind of like the idea of that, not for one written books, but for interactive stories. Imagine if an Author could write three chapters, gauge the response of the fanbase, see who wanted what, and then write the next few. Or involve little clues in the book, with a game that to get the next few chapters someone might have to go pick up a clue in the real world. Like an AR game

          • M. Keep says:

            We have people who do something similar on Darknest. They write what we termed Reader Driven Stories, and they have members vote on what they’d like to see next. While not exactly something I’d necessarily do, it’s very popular and readers seem to really love it.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: