How to prevent others from copying my self-published book?

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How to prevent others from copying my self-published book?

Postby tomtoms » Thu Mar 07, 2013 1:16 am

First, I want to say that this forum has been very helpful! I need your advise. I have put together a study guide and it has been selling well. However, I am very concerned that someone would copy my book, turn it into a PDF, and then send it to other people. This would destroy my business.

What can I do to protect my work and prevent someone from copying it? Any suggestion is greatly appreciated!
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Re: How to prevent others from copying my self-published boo

Postby TerryDMillerMBA » Thu Mar 07, 2013 2:12 pm

There is NOTHING to prevent this. There are measures you can take to slow people down who would do this, but there is NO sure-fire security.

That being said, just be glad that you have reaped the benefits thus far without any visible infringement.

(I am assuming you already availed yourself of any measures I made reference to earlier.)
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Re: How to prevent others from copying my self-published boo

Postby Raybo » Thu Mar 07, 2013 2:17 pm

When I was employed, I created several video courses with extensive student manuals. I sold licenses for companies who wanted to copy them for their employees. I also taught live classes on the same topics.

One time I was on-site to deliver just such a class and was talking to an IT consultant (from a big blue computer company). When asked what I was teaching, he said he didn't need such a class since he was learning it from a book. When he showed me the book, I was surprised to see it was my a copied version of my student manual. Neither his company nor the one where I was teaching had bought any licenses to copy the manual.

There isn't much you can do to prevent thieves from stealing from you. But, you can be vigilant and if you come across any try to shut it down.

When I mentioned to Mr. IT Consultant that the book was an illegal copy, he suddenly had a meeting to go to and left.
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Re: How to prevent others from copying my self-published boo

Postby Watty » Thu Mar 07, 2013 2:20 pm

tomtoms wrote:First, I want to say that this forum has been very helpful! I need your advise. I have put together a study guide and it has been selling well. However, I am very concerned that someone would copy my book, turn it into a PDF, and then send it to other people. This would destroy my business.

What can I do to protect my work and prevent someone from copying it? Any suggestion is greatly appreciated!


Could you link it to information on a website that they have to log into?
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Re: How to prevent others from copying my self-published boo

Postby KyleAAA » Thu Mar 07, 2013 2:25 pm

There's really not much you can do, as others have said. One way you can mitigate the potential negative effects: do you have a website updated with more information? You can include links to the site in your pdf. Even if it ends up getting widely stolen, you'll still get residual traffic to your site you can then monetize in any way you see fit. This is a pretty common technique.
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Re: How to prevent others from copying my self-published boo

Postby dual » Thu Mar 07, 2013 2:57 pm

tomtoms wrote:What can I do to protect my work and prevent someone from copying it? Any suggestion is greatly appreciated!


You cannot stop people from copying the book but you can make the real thing more valuable to users.

Some examples off the top of my head
    create a website with supplemental information and give buyers access to it.
    update the book often and offer buyers a discount on new versions
    insert a link into the book to your website and offer other products or services there.
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Re: How to prevent others from copying my self-published boo

Postby SimonJester » Thu Mar 07, 2013 4:16 pm

Create your own electronic version of the book and get it offered up through Amazon's Kindle service...

Here is the Amazon page for doing that:
https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/
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Re: How to prevent others from copying my self-published boo

Postby mollymillions » Thu Mar 07, 2013 6:35 pm

tomtoms wrote:First, I want to say that this forum has been very helpful! I need your advise. I have put together a study guide and it has been selling well. However, I am very concerned that someone would copy my book, turn it into a PDF, and then send it to other people. This would destroy my business.

What can I do to protect my work and prevent someone from copying it? Any suggestion is greatly appreciated!



As has been suggested, you can publish through an electronic system with DRM (e.g. Amazon Kindle) which would mitigate the risk of copying.

However, there is typically nothing that you can do to physically prevent someone photocopying the book and distributing it. The good news is that this is unlikely to "destroy your business". It could have an impact if the book is geared toward a specific, small market, and if pirated copies become widely distributed within the community surrounding that market. Though in such a situation your business could be impacted just as badly by people legally letting others borrow their physical copy once they are finished with it.

The only real method to combat this is through lawsuits after-the-fact, and this solution is likely to be more trouble than it is worth.
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Re: How to prevent others from copying my self-published boo

Postby LadyGeek » Thu Mar 07, 2013 6:37 pm

This thread is now in the Personal Consumer Issues forum (publishing).
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Re: How to prevent others from copying my self-published boo

Postby ossipago » Thu Mar 07, 2013 7:28 pm

People can crack almost any kind of DRM, including Kindle.

The best thing to do in addition to provide value-add for paying customers is to price low enough that it's not worth it to pirate. Some people with download it without paying anyways - with low prices you can catch the people who want the item but balk at the price.
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Re: How to prevent others from copying my self-published boo

Postby mmmark » Thu Mar 07, 2013 7:40 pm

don't forget to register your work with the copyright office. it's worth the $35.
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Re: How to prevent others from copying my self-published boo

Postby MathWizard » Thu Mar 07, 2013 7:44 pm

I sometimes get documents which have either COPY or CONFIDENTIAL in a watermark, where it is almost
invisible, but when copied is very dark, nearly obscuring the text. This would at least put an abuser on notice.
It appears as if photoshop has this at least for pictures.
http://www.photoshopessentials.com/phot ... copyright/
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Re: How to prevent others from copying my self-published boo

Postby Khanmots » Thu Mar 07, 2013 7:48 pm

Are you concerned about people obtaining an illicit copy of your book or are you concerned with getting those who would pay to pay. There's a difference there and often there's a vast difference in the two groups.

Consider Adobe Photoshop; there's a *lot* of individuals in their teens or 20s that have a pirated copy of the software and are using it to create avatars for forums or photchops to post in funny picture threads or whatnot. If Adobe were to somehow manage to make Photoshop un-piratable, these people aren't going to go out and spend four figures for a licensed copy. They'll move on to the next best thing.

However, there's a decent business case to be made for Adobe allowing this user-group to have illegit access, that by doing so the future employment base of graphic artists and web designers etc, is self-training in their tool and as a result will drive employers to select Adobe over an alternative (when 80% of your workforce already knows tool A, why pay them to attend weeks of training on tool B?)

In fact, there's quite a few vendors of software who allow their software (usually a version without "enterprise" features) to be used for home use for free. Avast and AVG for example are anti-virus companies that both do so. They do so since the IT guy is going to recommend for the company what he knows and uses, and they're focused on corporate sales and support and don't want to provide support to every redneck Bob, they'll let McAfee or Norton deal with him.

Point is that people using your material without permission likely isn't the real problem. People using your material who *would* pay for it if they couldn't illegitimately get it for free are. I'd be careful when attacking this problem because there are upsides from allowing the group that isn't going to pay for it no matter what to have access... in Adobe's case a huge user-base pushing employers to their product. In your case perhaps simply word of mouth or good will within the community you're writing for (can be especially important in some niche communities) or something else could be at risk.

Point is before implementing anything to try to restrict those that would pay but aren't, be careful to understand what impact you'll have on those who wouldn't pay... and how that will in turn impact you.

Of course... you may disagree and have a philosophical objection to anyone having access that hasn't paid in which case ignore what I've said ;)
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Re: How to prevent others from copying my self-published boo

Postby VictoriaF » Fri Mar 15, 2013 8:38 am

Self-publishing is frequently not for making money but for establishing a reputation and then selling one's consulting services. If reputation is the goal, then the more books are copied the merrier. Look, some people pay, and pay a lot, to have their books propagate.

See, for example, a recent Wall Street Journal article The Mystery of the Book Sales Spike on how people are paying for a campaign to bring their intellectual off-spring to the best-seller list.

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works for paper

Postby davebarnes » Fri Mar 15, 2013 1:15 pm

MathWizard wrote:I sometimes get documents which have either COPY or CONFIDENTIAL in a watermark
Which works for PAPER docs. Does not work for PDFs.
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Re: How to prevent others from copying my self-published boo

Postby nisiprius » Fri Mar 15, 2013 1:34 pm

I would at least be open to the possibility that having people copying your self-published book might be beneficial. I admit that I've never self-published a book. For a small author just getting started, copying is free advertising, just like word-of-mouth. It may be better to get paid for 1,000 copies sold and 99,000 copies stolen, than to get paid for every single one of 100 copies sold.

One interesting thing to look at would be the experience of Baen ebooks, http://www.baenebooks.com, a science fiction e-publisher that does not use copy protection on their eBooks and appears to have been reasonably successful.

The topic is much-debated and the amazing thing is that it is not at all clear what the effect of either piracy or DRM is on sales.
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Re: How to prevent others from copying my self-published boo

Postby freebeer » Fri Mar 15, 2013 1:50 pm

tomtoms wrote:First, I want to say that this forum has been very helpful! I need your advise. I have put together a study guide and it has been selling well. However, I am very concerned that someone would copy my book, turn it into a PDF, and then send it to other people. This would destroy my business.

What can I do to protect my work and prevent someone from copying it? Any suggestion is greatly appreciated!


As noted by others this WILL happen. Probably has ALREADY happened.

But your biggest impediment to more sales is probably discovery of your content by a wider market. Making a digital edition available at a good price on all channels, preferably in a format that adapts to all screen sizes (not PDF), is the best way to get the maximum benefit. Look at the potential upside of digital not just the downside in isolation. Some companies in the carriage industry fretted that cars would "destroy their business" and died. Others turned into auto industry suppliers and thrivef.

Tim O'Reilly said rightly that most "books don't have a piracy problem, they have an obscurity problem". I don't agree with TIm on every nuance of this (I think there's a valid role for lightweight DRM in some circumstances) but I think his basic points are right on: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonbruner/2 ... -the-book/ http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2011/0411/ ... -this.html .
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More from Tim

Postby davebarnes » Fri Mar 15, 2013 2:17 pm

freebeer wrote:Tim O'Reilly said rightly that most "books don't have a piracy problem, they have an obscurity problem".

When you buy an ebook through oreilly.com, you get lifetime access to the book, and whenever possible we provide it to you in four, DRM-free file formats—PDF, .epub, Kindle-compatible .mobi, and Android .apk ebook—that you can use on the devices of your choice. Our ebook files are fully searchable and you can cut-and-paste and print your choice. Our ebook files are fully searchable and you can cut-and-paste and print them. We also alert you when we’ve updated the files with corrections and additions
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