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What tradeoffs are involved in using an eBook compiler or file-locking solution?

Many eBook sellers seem to just sell their file as-is and don't concern themselves much about potential crooks out there. Unlike selling physical books, where a stolen hardcopy book is an out-of-pocket expense, a stolen eBook doesn't cost you anything but a lost potential sale. Very few people who obtain pirated files for free would ever actually buy those files anyway, so they can't really be counted as a "lost sale" if they would never voluntarily buy any file they can't get for free anyway.

Often the best approach is simply making your product easier to purchase at a fair price than going to the trouble of trying to find a pirated copy elsewhere -- as comedian Louis CK recently demonstrated when he made over a million dollars selling unrestricted downloads of his latest comedy special for only $5 each, "clos[ing] the gap between how easy it was to steal it [versus] how easy it was to buy it."

In considering whether to use any eBook compiler or file-locking solution, you have a tradeoff of security vs. market scope to consider. You may lose more sales than the lost sales you intend to prevent, and is it even worth the added cost and hassle? You can secure your content at the cost of compatibility and the widest range of buyers, or you can serve the greatest range of buyers with the chance that a few of them might be dishonest and technically-skilled enough to share your content. Ask yourself a few questions:

  • How many of your buyers would be dishonest enough to share your eBook with others?
  • How many of those dishonest buyers are technically savvy enough to actually figure out how to do that (using peer-to-peer file-sharing software or the like)?
  • Is that number greater than the number of potential Mac or Linux users who might be shut-out by a Windows-only eBook compiler or file-locking solution?
  • How many of the people who obtain an illegal copy of your file would ever actually pay you for the file willingly if they couldn't steal a copy of it for free?
  • If you were selling a real, printed book, how much would it bother you if readers shared it with a friend after they were done reading it?

Finally, you might want to consider our PDF Stamping feature as a solution to deter filesharing in a way that's hassle-free for buyers while retaining full compatibility with all PDF reader software on all computer platforms.