Will Pirates Disrupt the eBook Party?

The NY Times published an article that asks if books will be “Napsterized.”  RapidShare is a major distributor of pirated eBooks and the company doesn’t seem to mind all that much.

In 1997 I was in college and remember the birth of illegal music sharing. A few students used applications like Hotline to download music and many were burning CDs for their friends. The vast majority of us were still buying CDs at local record stores.

At least part of the reason illegal music sharing took off was because there wasn’t an easy way to buy music online. The pirates were several years ahead of the music industry, which didn’t offer any alternatives to “free” music downloads for quite some time.

I think the average Kindle owner is more likely to pay for an eBook than swipe it on RapidShare. Companies like Amazon will have to make buying and downloading eBooks cheap, easy and convenient if they want customers to keep paying for them over the long term.

Do you think online pirates will decimate the book business?