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Update: The Spanish Publisher Guild corrected their report this morning.
It was not my intention to find errors in the Spanish Publishers' Guild recent report on reading practices in Spain during the #edigital chat this morning (held Tuesdays, 16h CET, 11am EST, 7am PT). But there on the front page was this assertion:
“73% of the ebooks read were downloaded or downloaded for free from the Internet, only 36.9% of those polled said they had payed to download an ebook.”
So, I dug inside and found this, worded very similarly:
This one says, “One significant datapoint is the way in which digital readers obtain their electronic books (ebooks). 73.1% of the books were downloaded or downloaded for free from the internet; 37.3% got them from family members or friends, via usb, cd or mail; and another 36.9% downloaded them or downloaded them from the Internet by paying for them.”
The first thing I noticed was that 73.1% + 37.3% + 36.9% does not equal 100%. Something's not right.
So I asked the Guild where the numbers came from, and they said the question asked was:
“We asked “How do you obtain the books that you read in your electronic book [sic, perhaps they meant reader?]' From there we got the reported results
In other words, 73% of the ebooks read in Spain were not downloaded for free. That's a completely erroneous and faulty conclusion, stated twice in their report.
Instead, the truth is this: 73.1% of those polled said they had downloaded ebooks for free, 37.3% reported they had gotten ebooks from a family member or friend, and 36.9% had purchased ebooks for download. We don't know if other people polled obtained their books by other means.
As Ignacio Lirio pointed out, there's a big difference:
“73% declare they've eaten chicken <--> Chicken is 73% of the diet of the people”
Frankly, I'm surprised the number is not higher. Who, among ebook readers, has not downloaded a book for free? Gutenberg has 38,000 of them. I've certainly downloaded several myself.
I find this manipulation of data really unconscionable and asked the Guild to correct their report:
“I believe you have the duty to correct the erroneous conclusions reached on the cover of your report”
To date, I have had no response. I also asked for a comment for this article, but none arrived.
And why does the Spanish Publishers Guild want you to think that Spain is teeming with ebook pirates? I honestly don't know. Your thoughts welcome.
The FGEE fixed their report this morning, with nary a tweet. Nor did they rename the link or the document. I found out from someone who tweeted a French report about this post.
So, now that we can look at the numbers, what do they tell us about the way people in Spain get books, both print and electronic?
First, lets talk about the already familiar numbers: 73% of responders have downloaded books for free from Internet, 37% have gotten them from friends and relatives, and 37% have bought them. Since people obviously get books from various sources, they could check multiple answers, and thus the numbers don't add up to 100%.
And then we see something very interesting: 37% of ebook readers buy electronic books compared with 43% of those polled who said they had bought non-textbook print books. Those numbers are not that different. If we don't assume that 57% of the non print book buyers are thieves, why would we assume that of the non-ebook buyers?
And then look at this. 28.5% of those polled visited a library. (This is very low compared with the US, where the number is about 75%.). When you look at young people between 14 and 24, the number climbs to 60% who go to the library, for free! The poll does not explain how many people borrow books from their friends, but I suspect it's also a sizable amount.
Like Mark Twain said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics.”