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E-Book Pirates: Middle-Aged, Wealthy and Educated

This is the final article in a four-part series examining the threat of piracy today and how Digimarc's Piracy Intelligence service helps publishers and authors fight back. Read the first and second installments.

In today’s publishing marketplace, there are generally two groups of e-book “pirates.” You have the “uploaders,” consumers who knowingly and actively pirate e-books (click for more on these persona types). And then, you have the “downloaders,” who are average consumers who purchase e-books and also steal illegal copies online.

And while there is little hope publishers can convince uploaders to change their illicit ways, it’s important for publishers to understand downloaders, because they are also their customers. The essential fact about downloaders is that they occasionally circumvent legal avenues because piracy ecosystems make it easy to illegally download e-books, supporting the “why pay for it when it’s free” mentality.

We conducted a study with Nielsen to understand what the typical demographic of downloaders looked like—and the results were surprising. You might expect that downloaders are teenagers or poor college students sitting in a dark basement looking at nefarious websites, but that’s actually not the case.

Nielsen surveyed over 595 individuals who had pirated material online. The results revealed that the majority of downloaders are middle aged, educated and middle-to-upper class. In fact, more than 70 percent of downloaders have either graduated from college or have post-college graduate degrees. These downloaders are more likely to be male, between the ages of 30- to 44-years-old, and have an annual household income of $60,000 to $99,000 or more, not exactly the profile of a typical strapped-for-cash college student.

On average, these downloaders acquire 13 to 16 e-books per year with three to seven of those being acquired illegally. The most common pirated genre is fiction, and the most common place to acquire illegal e-books is through public filesharing sites (e.g. cyberlockers and torrents). Although, some downloaders also acquire illegal content from friends via instant messaging, email or flash drives.

Ultimately, the downloaders are trapped by their addiction to convenience. The study showed that most downloaders would prefer to a get an e-book for free, but if they couldn’t find a free download, or it became too technically difficult to acquire, they would likely purchase it through legal channels.

Digimarc Piracy Intelligence identifies how, when, and where your e-books are being pirated online. Let us help you turn your target readers from illegal downloaders to legal buyers. Schedule a Demo Today

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