The Lucrative Business of Book Piracy in India

Book Piracy

Books are a reservoir of knowledge. Being a writer is not an easy task. It takes many sleepless nights, a focused mind, loads of inspiration and a lot more to come out with a book that can leave a lasting impact on the mind of its readers.

The two things that have stolen the joy of writing is the electronic books, commonly called e-books and book piracy. Both the mediums have really hit very hard to the writers.

In this blog, we will talk about the latter i.e. the menace of book piracy.

Book piracy means the illegal reproduction of books or adoption of unfair practices such as unauthorised printing by competing printers.

According to reports, in India, about 70,000 books are published by about 15,000 publishers in 22 languages. According to Havoscope, in 2011, book publishers in India lost up to $387,000 (20 Million Indian Rupees) due to book piracy. Half of this amount was estimated to have been lost in the first three months of 2012.

Book piracy in India depends on two factors primarily. Firstly, the price of the book and secondly on its popularity. According to a study conducted by Ministry of HRD, Govt. of India, there are three types of print piracy prevalent in the country.

The most popular and prevalent type is reprinting a book illegally. The second type of book piracy falsely uses the name of famous authors and the third type of pirated book is to produce the translated versions of foreign language books in other languages. The book pirates do pay taxes on the generated profits and revenues and therefore, the authors do not get any royalty.

Book piracy in India also exists in the form of mass photocopying, especially around the schools, colleges and universities. Book piracy is becoming a lucrative business day-by-day as not only the text but the book design, cover, colour and even barcodes and holograms are also copied in order to dupe the readers.

The piracy of copyright negatively impacts the authors by stealing away their legitimate dues. A lot of publishers and booksellers also gets hit economically because they have invested a lot of money in bringing out copyrighted issues.

The favourite among book pirates is textbooks as they fetch big bucks. The print orders for school books come in bulk and the demand cannot be fulfilled by both private and government publishers. The demand reaches a peak when the school reopens and there is always a shortage of books and this is where pirates hop in for rescue.

According to authentic sources, March and April are the best and the busiest periods for all pirates. The authentic books are photocopied at presses and cost is not more than one-fourth of the price of the original book. In the past, such pirated editions were of poor technical quality and as such could be easily identified.

However, with the availability of vastly improved inexpensive book reproduction technologies, the pirated book versions closely resemble the originals. Such books are sold through small booksellers, who do not care about the sales laws and business ethics.

According to International Book Publishers, Asian and Latin American Countries top in book piracy rates. The inter-American Publishers Group estimates that globally about 50 billion book pages are illegally reprinted every year!

Book piracy has become a child’s play with the advent of new technologies. Reprinting the book illegally requires simple things like an original book, a scanner, a computer with optical recognition programme and a small rotary press. The modern technologies have made it very difficult for anyone to distinguish between the original and the pirated books.

Engineering and medical books are very expensive and consequently extensively photocopied in colleges. The teachers also use a photocopy of the same and circulate among the students. Medical students depend hugely on photocopies of books, as medical books are mostly authored and published in foreign countries; such books are expensive in India.

In India, illegal reprinting of books, and photocopying jeopardise the legal sale of books and decreases government revenues. The main reason for this menace is the high cost of books and the poor economic background of our students.

Under section 63 of the Copyright Act of India, selling and buying photocopied books is a criminal offence.

Eliminating book piracy will just not be easy; laws alone would be ineffective and inadequate. There are certain copyright acts protecting the rights of authors and publishers, but despite all these measures, piracy is in full swing.

The country needs a well-chalked out plan to effectively combat book-piracy in the country.