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Wednesday, 19 May 2010 17:04

Author hopes e-books will fend off pirates


Best-selling Australian author Garth Nix hopes that the advent of more legitimate e-books may stem the flood of pirated books on the internet.

Speaking at the official launch of Borders' e-books and e-reader campaign today, Nix suggested authors would be affected less by e-books than other professions such as printers.  But he acknowledged 'the main challenge is getting our fair share' of the copyright pot, and that his books were already available from 'a flotilla of pirate sites.'

Nix, a former marketing and media relations executive, who worked closely with information technology companies through the 1990s before becoming a full time author, has a keen understanding of the way the technology sector operates.

Nevertheless he remained hopeful that more legitimate, well priced e-books might reduce the lure of the pirate sites. He was also hopeful that e-books would expand the overall market for authors, in much the same way as paperback editions of hardback books had.

Borders Australia and its parent company REDgroup Retail formally launched its e-books and e-reader initiative today, with a list of 2 million e-books available for download. (Buyers of the e-reader get 100 e-books for free, including titles ranging from Alice in Wonderland to Ulysses)

Of those 2 million titles however only 50,000 are 'paid' books, with an overwhelming 1.95 million being free books which are essentially out of copyright. Borders however has plans to grow its paid list to 250,000 titles.

The company also unveiled its Kobo e-reader which it will sell for $199. After weeks of leaks about the product there were relatively few surprises.

Competition for the device will be stiff with other products such as Amazon's Kindle and Apple's iPad and iPhone already winning loyal followings.

The Kobo device however is priced almost at an impulse-buy price point, although it doesn't have the brand cachet or pester power of an Apple device. Unlike the Apple or Kindle devices, the Kobo does not have wireless connectivity, and to buy e-books users much first download a free application onto their PC or Mac, then use that to buy the book and from there download it to the Kobo.

REDgroup Retail managing director Dave Fenlon was very optimistic about the opportunity for the device. He acknowledged: 'We are not a technology company - but there is a place in the market for an e-reader.'

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