Macmillan president Brian Napack addressed Digital Book World this morning on the “the cheery, happy pleasant topic of people stealing your stuff.” He noted, “Piracy is happening. The question is how bad is it in the trade publishing business?”
Napack said that “anyone who says that piracy isn’t an issue doesn’t understand,” showing a list of numerous NYT bestsellers, all available on some torrent site for free. Among Macmillan’s own examples, a search of Vuze (“a slick little thing if you want something for free” that searches all the torrent sites) showed 29 places to get pirated Sherrilyn Kenyon books, while one ebay seller is trying to provide a cd with 37 illegal Janet Evanovich books for $10.99.
The biggest surprise of the talk was Napack’s revelation that most of the pirated content they have found online comes from pre-publication versions of their books: This is shocking: The most common format that we found our books in are version of pre-publiation manuscripts… We found almost no legal versions of books that had been hacked. We’re developing very strict content handling standards (his point number 5 below).”
Napack asserted that “piracy happens when motivation meets opportunity” and focused his talk on explaining Macmillan’s seven-point plan–which he acknowledged is similar to efforts underway at other houses, and through the AAP as well. “We’ve made real strides,” Napack said, indicating they are “optimistic” that piracy can be curbed.
1. Target facilitators of piracy
2. Target pirates themselves, both those who download and upload
3. Pursue legislation
4. Create a viable consumer marketplace
(without restrictive DRM)
5. Protect content in-house
6. Protect content in the market
7. Engage in public education
One interesting less-explored lesson came from a story told to Napack by a colleague at a music label. “He told me ‘spend it while you have it,'” noting that they can’t afford to have staff people fighting piracy anymore.