Here is a fact I learned from reading Dr. Ian McGilchrist’s book, The Master and His Emissary, about how the brain’s two hemispheres work: human denial is processed in the left hemisphere. Another fact is that eBooks are being pirated at the rate of $315 million in the United States last year. Who is in denial about it? Why, the authors and publishers, of course. If things continue to destabilize, over half of all eBooks sold through the online retail chains will be lost to pirates by 2023. Of course, it depends on how motivated the thieving pirates are as opposed to we creators.
However, the right hemisphere of the brain tends to be able to visualize the “big picture.” In this instance, the big picture is that the most intelligent publishers are moving away from the black holes of pirate infamy in order to sell directly to the reader. You think this is just a fantasy? Let me tell you a real-life fantasy about the most popular and richest author on the planet: J. K. Rowling, of Harry Potter fame. Here’s another fun right hemisphere fact: Ms. Rowling is “knighted” in France and not in England. No, in England, she’s merely an “Officer” in the Order of the British Empire. My more logical left hemisphere, after knowing certain facts that I’ve researched, believes the U. K. probably snubbed her because she chooses to keep the money she makes and not lose it to “big publishing.”
This is the “theme of my article.” The richest author in the world has kept her wealth close at hand because she refused to play with the “big boys,” the big publishing and distribution giants. It is my contention that because of piracy, mostly caused by these same big publishing giants, more intelligent authors and publishers (who use both sides of their brains) will be moving closer toward the model of publishing which I am about to discuss in my story.
My left hemisphere is really bugging me. It wants me to categorize the ways in which an eBook author and digital publisher can escape these pirates who steal their loot, their intellectual property. Some of these methods are less successful and less profitable to the author/publisher than others.
First of all, let me give you my credentials in this area, so you’ll know I’m not some rookie off the bench. I am 72 years old. I am an award-winning author of 30 years. I worked and taught at Caltech in Pasadena, and I served on the Top Secret Crypto Board in the United States Navy. I also taught in the college classroom and consulted to business for another 20 years.
All right. Do I have your attention now? Here are the four major ways eBook authors/publishers can protect their eBooks and other digital property:
- Encryption and “locked box” technology.
- Password-protected eBooks.
- Online “secure storage” and encryption.
- Mobile publishing and “direct-to-the-reader” sales and marketing.
I shall not keep you in suspense, as this is a fantasy. Our “magician” is J. K. Rowling, and her method is “almost” the best. However, the true “winner” of the future, in my opinion, will be those authors who use method #4 on the above list. Yes, and I will explain why, using my right hemisphere to drill down and show how these methods compare and contrast.
Encryption and the Locked Box
I recently observed a wandering inebriant in the parking lot of Costco, my favorite shopping mart. On the back of his jacket, he had the name: “Gore.” In his hands he held his bedding. He was half-singing and half-proclaiming words that I could not understand. His was the crudest form of encryption. Obviously, I couldn’t get into his head to experience what he was saying. It was a locked box, so to speak, and only he held the explanation.
Another Gore, in the Presidential Election of 2000, had a locked box idea as well. He, Al, from Georgia, said he would keep all the “entitlement money from SSI, Medicaid, etc.” in a locked box so the government could not get at it. Sorry, Al, but they’re still trying to get at it, and they’re winning, last time I checked. They’re pirating our locked box!
Those two paragraphs were my right-brain talking to you. Can you see what I am getting at? Encryption is a “supposedly” secret scrambling of intellectual property (words) that can only be deciphered if you have the overall “key” to how the coded information translates into the common language of the reader. Frankly speaking, it is very expensive, and the most expensive types of cryptography are done by the government, mainly the military industrial complex. Not many authors and publishers I know can afford that level of encryption, and even with it, if one person can decipher the “key,” then you lose! In the Navy, we changed the encryption daily, and it was still not 100% secure technology.
You see, the first two methods listed, “encryption and locked box” and “password-protected” do not make reading easier for the buyer. They make it more complicated. The idea of eBooks is to make it the easiest for the reader, agreed? Plus, as for security of the intellectual property, in the long run, once a hack and translation of the code is made, the author/publisher loses. An example of this encryption-password method is the Canadian company, Bookchain.
Now we come to our French Knight in shining armor, J. K. Rowling. She uses method #3 in the list, “online secure storage and encryption.” Actually, because I have not seen the back-end of her website, I can’t really be certain she uses any form of encryption, but I would assume her web site has one of highest “secure socket layer” protections available to prevent hackers. However, her real intelligence comes from the fact that her Pottermore.com web site sells directly to the reader. She sells all her digital wares there: eBooks, audiobooks and DVDs. No wonder she’s a knight!
Our creative J. K. has competition. The largest distributor of eBooks and digital wares is Ingram. Guess what? They want authors and publishers to “switch” and sell direct to their readers. They are tired of the Amazonian way of doing things and the increasing piracy around the world. And they are moving on it. The “new company” they bought is in charge of that effort. Air.io is this company. Despite the denial shown by “big publishing,” Ingram Content Group wants to move in a new direction.
The Shameless Plug
So, what is the best way to create, market and sell eBooks and digital creations directly to the reader/listener? That’s where I come in, and I am the fourth and fastest growing method in this race to outrun the Amazons. Since I didn’t want to spend the majority of my time discussing the platform I invented, I am going to give you a link where you can explore it for yourself. Please use both your left and right hemispheres to come up with the best solution for your digital business.
The evolution of digital sales is direct to the reader. The biggest digital companies know this. The biggest and most popular authors know this. Now you can see why you don’t need to have encryption or a locked box/password to gradually break-away from the big retail outfits. You don’t have to do it overnight. In fact, you can “use” Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords, until you have a large enough mailing list of followers and fans to be able to finally “cut the cord,” the same way young people have been doing it to the big cable companies. It’s just a matter of evolving and using your “old bean.”