back to article British e-reader readers still not stealing books

Eight per cent of UK adults have paid money for an electronic book since Christmas, with the average reader getting through 5.75 titles by the end of January. The figures come from the Publishers Association, who got book industry researchers BML to ask more than 2,000 people about their electronic reading habits and found …


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  1. Anomalous Cowturd

    Don't tell Andrew Orlovski...

    He might fall off his very high horse!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, his heart might give up over that news..

      Wait, what was the problem again?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I got a kindle and usually "try before i buy" with music, but when it comes to books, im offered a free chapter and usually im so into the book by the end of the trial bit im happy to buy it!

    Well done to the publishing industry for working out what the music industry are still scratching their heads about!

    1. Mitch Kent
      Thumb Down

      Not there quite yet

      People still have to fork out more for an e-book than even a hardback sometimes...

      But its progress...

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

      Now if only they could sort out the typos. I've bought books recently from Amazon for my kindle and pretty much every single one of them had errors in them. I pointed out that one book in particular had so many errors that it wasn't even worth going through and giving a list and yet they still wanted to know where the errors were.

      Apparently Amazon seem to think it should be able to use it's own customers as unpaid proof-readers in order to remove typos that should never have been let through to start with.

  3. James Hughes 1


    Sounds sensible to me.

    Although some of the figures should probably be adjusted. I have 'bought' loads of stuff from Amazon since Xmas (well, just after, didn't get Kindle for Xmas, had to buy it myself), but have so far not spent a penny. Amazon keeps having book for £0.00, so that's what I read. Downloaded enough for a years worth of reading already.

    Great stuff.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ease of access

    Hmm, not so sure about that, for anyone with anything other than a ******* Kindle.

    With Amazon signing up exclusive rights to magazine subscriptions I can no longer buy magazines that I've previously subsribed to other than buying individual issues at double the cost. There's a fairly large range of stuff that is only available in Amazon's non-standard format, so for a lot of things it's likely to be easier for me to find a torrent than rent a book from Amazon, crack the DRM and convert it to a normal format.

    1. Jack 12

      other stores...

      It's still pretty easy to find e-books from other retailers, waterstones, wh smiths etc, and to get the freebies from project Gutenberg and Google Books. Once you've found and downloaded the book, getting it onto your device is as easy whether it was torrented or got at legitimately, the whole process is pretty easy imho.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We all knew it,

    but this proves it. The thing is, they still overprice the digital copy, and restrict it too much. And while it's overpriced and too controlled, don't hold your breath.

  6. Tony Green

    Free's still great though

    Of course not everybody who's downloaded books for free has been stealing them. With hundreds of thousands of legitimately free books available for download at there's enough to keep us going for a while. Or at least until the book industry finally stops DRMing what it makes available so we can't read the books without an "approved" reader.

  7. Desk Jockey

    Yep, but you can buy for free too!

    Are Amazon including the free books in their statistics as they show up in the account as bought. This makes sense because it means the account will transfer those books to any device you use to login into your account. Might skew the statistics though.

    I am indeed a happy Kindle owner and the best comparison I can find for the Amazon system is Steam for those people who know their PC games. You buy something once, it can be played/read on any device that you login to. Buying stuff is easy, DRM is not a hassle (for once!) and so consumers like me are happy to actually part with money for a good service. No system is perfect, but both Steam and Amazon really show how the music/movie industry (and whole chunks of the gaming industry) really badly went and missed the boat.

  8. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Good news for authors

    If there was the same level of piracy as in the music and movie industries then presumably authors would be reduced to the same levels of penury as pop and film stars

  9. Efros
    Thumb Down

    A lot more would be sold

    If they didn't insist on ridiculous prices for the electronic book. Every single one of the "Best Books of 2010" (in whose opinion I don't know but looking at some of them I wonder) is more expensive in the electronic format than the paper one. I have an ereader, and it will be confining itself to project Gutenberg until there is equity or better with paperback prices.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    agree up to a point

    I'm happy to buy e-books rather than steal them. I want my favourite authors to keep writing new books. Some publishers are being very pragmatic about their pricing (the latest Charles Stross and Walter John Williams books are both cases where the kindle variant is approx 20% cheaper than the paperback versions so I have bought them for my kindle)

    However I'm not going to buy e-books where the electronic form is more expensive than the paperback - are you listening Iain Banks ? And I'd go far as to say that I'll not be buying the dead tree versions of those books either. I'm not short of reading material so I can wait this one out until those publishers capitulate and price at sensible levels (or the dead tree form appears at my library or local Oxfam)

  11. Anonymous Coward

    I'll stick to

    Stealing the dead tree versions.

    <--- it's the one with the big pockets

    I mean how the hell are you supposed to wipe your arse on an e-book?

  12. Reality Dysfunction

    this is just bad words...

    I have an android smart phone...

    I download stuff using the kindle app...

    its all free stuff, which is probably true for a lot of the stuff in this report.

    where is the breakdown? i think that this may all just be **** ( aka advertising on how wonderfull ebooks are)

    If you cant give us a full breakdown don't bother posting the story

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Books, music, films...

    You said, "Booksellers have made it easier to spend money than steal, which is enough to push most users down the legit route."

    (And you might add, 'cheap enough, relatively'. Like iPhone apps, say?)

    Message here for the music and film industries about business models?

  14. john loader

    When is stealing stealing?

    I can't (yet) lend a Kindle book to anyone and will never be able to give one away I guess. But I've loaned paper books and given them away. Did the people who received them "steal" them? No so the ebook is better for publishers as is really 1 buyer 1 reader. Just reflect that in your price fixing Penguin et al

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "...when it comes to books, im offered a free chapter and usually im so into the book by the end of the trial bit im happy to buy it!" (Lynn Truss wouldn't like that bit of prose!)

    Don't you feel you are missing out though? Imagine a book with 10 chapters that costs £10. If you are allowed to read chapter 1 free, you still have to pay £10 to buy the remaining 9 chapters. That's a stiff price hike!

    A true Scot would read the free chapter and then move on to the next free chapter...

  16. Nick Kew Silver badge

    An ethical dilemma ...

    I've downloaded more than 5.75 books since christmas. All fully legal; all at no cost. Thank you Gutenberg.

    I have a problem with buying dead-tree books: lack of space to keep them. And at least until I make my millions and can afford a big house, I have a problem with paying *more* for a download than a printed&bound version. This seems to limit my choice of publishers to buy from.

  17. johnnytruant

    fans of Gutenberg

    Should also check out - an excellent source of free ebooks both new and old (Charlie Stross has some books on there, as does the excellent Peter Watts), and if you sign up for an account, you can even have them generate custom pdfs for your device. Can't beat reading in 10pt Helvetica.

  18. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah but...

    They just haven't discovered Gutenberg or alt.binaries.ebooks yet. Once the novelty of getting shafted for a book sans dead tree wears off, they'll head for the Dark Side soon enough.

    The relentless dedication and Teutonic efficiency of the ABE crowd makes Napster and p2p look like the War of Jenkins Ear next to ABE's Stalingrad.

    1. Desk Jockey

      VAT and profits

      Yep I would agree that the pricing is a bit twitchy especially as Amazon are trying to do some price fixing, but I wouldn't equate the book business pricing arrangements with the evil cartel arrrangements the music/movie industry likes.

      E-Books are subject to VAT, unlike the dead tree version, and there was a reasonable article on El-Reg last month about the fact that making an E-Book is actually no cheaper than making the paper version as most of the steps required are the same. In all honesty, when a new book is published, it is in both formats and at the same time so there is a good argument for saying that E-book should cost the same as the paper version upon release. Publishing old books with did not need all the editing work is another matter however.

      Final point is - how many obscenely wealthy book authors do you think are out there? JK Rowling, Dan Brown, Stephen King etc. Now compare that with the music industry. Most authors, even successful ones, do not make a lot of money. The average is between £7k-£20k a year apparantly. Crap bands on the other hand, can make millions on the back of one or two singles wrapped with an album if they are feeling nice! Save the P2P bit for those who don't deserve it, I don't include book authors (alive ones anyway) in that group. Book publishers are a little greedy, but no where near as bad as music/movie publishers.

  20. KevDyas


    Just need the Government to get their act together and bring the VAT on eBooks in line with that of paper books (0%!), that'll see the prices drop alot more!

    1. Matthew Collier

      I think you'll find...

      ....that if any VAT alignement is to be done, it will be 20% VAT added to paper books.... ;)

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