Ars technica has a pretty good rebuttal to the recent piece in the London Times that offered the (seeming) common line of crap that you hear when old industries talk about peer to peer networks. You know what the line is in its general format: “Without the guarantee of making money through our tried, tired and tested revenue streams, authors will stop writing, culture with wither away AND IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT!” (There is often a “Think of the children!” added in there for good measure.)
Now, why isn’t it likely that authors are going to flee writing like bookworms from a server farm?
(1) It’s a pain in the ass to scan a book, cover to cover. Don’t believe me? Scan a decent book and then post it for all of us at The Student Bay. I bet you give up before you get halfway through your task. And I bet that you can’t scan in Communicative Action (ISBN-10 0807015075) in a searchable PDF format! (Let’s see if this whole reverse psychology stuff really works…)
(2) People don’t tend to read as many full books as they used to, and they sure as hell don’t read them on computer screens. Yeah, I said it: people are reading less than before. Personally, I blame reality TV and YouTube.
(3) Because there is a REALLY simply way of dealing with this problem (Note: This may not be political simple, but it’s pretty easy from a technical standpoint): When you spend the money on a book, you also buy a license to access a digital copy of the book. A SEARCHABLE and TAGABLE digital copy – it can sit on the publisher’s website for all I care, so long as the publishers don’t act like the goons I know they are and let me search all of my books, from all of the publishers, simultaneously and from one search point. I would prefer a Google-based search. This way, when I’m looking for that single bloody quotation so I can sleep at 5 am, I can find the quotation by throwing out search strings, rather than digging through a pile of books. The people that will buy books, the real audience that you’re catering to, will purchase rather than download if there is clearly added value to owning the book itself. Tactile + digital search = win for the book industry.
Source: Why (most) authors and publishers need not fear online piracy