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Girl Pirates

Probably one of the most interesting panels at TOC was that of Mac Slocum, Brian O’Leary, and Chelsea Vaughan called “Challenging Notions of ‘Free’”.

For once, there were voices of reason about the possibility of pirates swooping in and streaming book content for free on the Internet. Why is book piracy not as big a threat as publishers fear? For three reasons: (1) In reality, it just doesn’t happen that often (2) There’s a long lag time between the point at which a book is released and its appearance on Torrent sites (3) Many book readers just don’t have the skills to access and take advantage of these sites – it’s easier to just go out and buy the book.

A fourth reason, which wasn’t really delved into that deeply, is that the quality of pirated content usually isn’t that great – scanned copies of galleys, for example, are going to be a pretty poor reading experience.

But it got me thinking about a rather unusual confluence of market circumstances.


•    It’s a pretty safe bet to assume that the majority of those accessing Torrent sites are younger.

•    It’s a pretty safe bet to assume that younger people have a higher comfort level reading immersively on digital devices such as Kindles and laptops.

•    It’s a pretty safe bet to assume that younger people are far more comfortable with technology and computers than older people.

•    As far as the book world is concerned, it’s a pretty safe bet to assume that the majority of teen lit is directed at girls – a look at Amazon’s teen books pages will tell you this.

So my question is, when we do see book piracy happening on the web, is it being done by teenage girls? In other words, is the book world going to have to be on the lookout for girl pirates?

Because as much as I wish people wouldn’t steal stuff, this idea is kind of awesome.

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