At the Magellan Media Partners’ ToC session, Brian O’Leary told the attendees he’s looking to earn their trust, since he’s hoping they’d either join the research project he’s conducting on the effects of piracy on the book publishing business, or measure it on their own.
O’Leary’s panel, "The Impact of Piracy and PRP on Book Sales," used a number of data charts and details on the study he’s doing. O’Leary began the study after discussions with editors at O’Reilly Media—which puts on the TOC conferences—with the goal of finding out if there’s a way to measure the impact of piracy on the industry.
The data set is small—the work is focused on the incidences of piracy on three peer-to- peer (P2P) sites for a handful of titles from O’Reilly and Random House—and O’Leary said the study was approached from a standpoint that IP matters, there are incidences where piracy hurts sales, incidences where it helps sales and the research here is structured to identify which is which.
Early results point to the fact that the P2P threat may be overstated for book publishing, as O’Leary noted, with a low incidence of it and significant lag between content becoming available and the illegal availability of it. The lag time is, on average, 19 weeks.
Although O’Leary cautioned that it’s hard to draw big picture conclusions from a study focused on a small data set, he said the indications point to the fact that piracy needs to be “viewed on a wider spectrum”. Additionally, he said, the notion that only big books or small books are pirated might be off-base.
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