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Innovation

Pirates say 'Amazon is our enemy,' tackles e-book industry

Could a file-sharing site become the traditional publisher's salvation?
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer on

E-book download website Torboox has caused disruption in the German marketplace by providing millions of unauthorized e-books to the public, but wants to go further and target Amazon's marketshare in the future.

Speaking with TorrentFreak, site operator Spiegelbest says that while the site offers unauthorized e-ebook copies, eventually, Torboox wants to bring publishers legally to the table. Only a few file-sharing websites, such as The Pirate Bay, have ever admitted to being disruptive, but that is exactly what Torboox aims for.

In Germany, e-books are only legally offered at a price determined by the publisher. This law eradicates pricing competition completely.

"German publishers can set the prices that Amazon sells ebooks for," Spiegelbest said. "That's why Amazon is trying to become a publisher itself by offering authors much better conditions than the publishers can."

Spiegelbest says that Amazon and Torboox are both exactly the same -- except the latter relies on donations to survive. Both hosts are not traditional book publishers, but between file-sharing sites and Amazon's market dominance, publishers are in a sticky situation.

Spiegelbest says that German publishers are trapped.

"We ourselves are not the born enemy of the publishers,” Spiegelbest explains. "We slash the prices okay, we steal their content if you want, but we see publishers as co-producers of books like the authors. For us it is not just hosting a book. That's not enough. There is a lot more to it. It sounds strange but we love books. We are in it for the books not for the business. Amazon is our enemy -- not life or death -- but for the sake of the quality of future books."

The solution for high pricing and adverse conditions for publishers? The operator says that offering a flat-rate service would not only allow publishers a slice of profit born out of piracy, but could make Amazon rethink its business model in the face of stiff competition.

"In the end the publishers have to talk to us. They have to find a way to make us legal. It is their job not ours. A flat rate will be 10 euros a month -- no limit. Licensing will again be the job of the publishers. If a publisher isn't wise enough to participate -- no problem," Spiegelbest says.

"The author gets the same as Amazon pays. If Amazon pays 80 percent we pay 80 percent. They get paid according to what the users read. Every read page is paid. You want money for your files, you get it. You don't want money for your files, we have them downloaded anyway. Be a wise man."

Spiegelbest believes that eventually, publishers will have little choice but to knock on his door.

"We have the concept. The publishers have the content. Together we can indeed battle Amazon. And Amazon is not monopolizing films, games or music -- why ebooks? For me the biggest problem is this: Will the publishers understand before they vanish? That's 50-50, no more."

Via: TorrentFreak

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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