Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Spanish Publisher Guild Misleads on Ebook Piracy

Nota: Se puede encontrar una traducción al castellano de este artículo en Canal PDA.

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:

NP_Barometro_HabitosLectura2011.pdf“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:

NP_Barometro_HabitosLectura2011.pdf

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:

Twitter / @FGEEenlinea: @lizcastro Se ha preguntad ...

“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:

Twitter / @ignaciolirio: El 73% de la gente declara ...

“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:

Twitter / @lizcastro: .@FGEEenlinea Creo que ten ...

“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.


Update:

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.

NP_Barometro_HabitosLectura2011(1).pdf

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.”

12 comments:

  1. Another article "straight to the point", Liz.

    Yes, the @FGEEenlinea's tweet was also misleading. It said: "El 73,1% de los lectores declaran haberse descargado gratuitamente de Internet *los* libros digitales" [73,1% of readers say they've downloaded *their* digital books for free] when they should have phrased it as: "El 73,1% de los lectores declaran haberse descargado gratuitamente de Internet libros digitales" [73,1% of readers say they've downloaded digital books for free], thus moving results from the particular to the universal -- and presenting us readers in Spain (*their* readers) as a bunch of pirates in the process. I wonder if this can be considered as defamatory.

    And why this? A hidden agenda? (But what for? Just silly self-victimism for its own sake?) Or rather incompetence? Probably a bit of both.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Liz, without the constraining 140 characters I'll be able to explain myself better.

    Although there's a component of intended misguidement and alarmism for alarmism's sake IMHO, there a point in the wording that you don't seem to notice.

    You're confusing %booksdownloaded with %peoplewhodownloadedbooks

    Specially in the 73.1%, 36.9% 37.3% bit.

    As I said earlier, my pet peeve with the 73.1%booksdownloadedforfree figure is that it doesn't differentiate between:

    1.- CreativeCommons content
    2.- Books that are not under copyright (e.g. backlist material at Gutenberg.org)
    3.- Giveaways of books under copyright for promotional reasons (charity, amazon, etc...)
    4.- Books under copyright downloaded without payment.

    As stated in the very same report, only 6.8% of spanish readers do have an electronic reader device. These are early adopters. Content is scarce to put it mildly so it's no surprise to me that people look for classics, freebies and so on for now (they're mostly getting used to read with an e-device).

    Hope this helps.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pingu, it's not me who's confusing %booksdownloaded with %peoplewhodownloadedbooks, but the Guild. That's exactly what I'm trying to show here. Indeed, I think they're confusing the two on purpose.

      And I totally agree with you that it would be much more informative if they separated out how many of those books downloaded for free are free books, and from whence they came, and how many are not.

      And I'm curious as to why they have misrepresented the data so blatantly. They do no service to their membership this way.

      Delete
  3. I'm reading straight from the report.

    I've even translated that part to you at twitter.

    You do state it twice correctly, yet on the third you jump to %peoplewhodownloadedbooks

    Mention 1: “73% [booksdownloaded] of the ebooks read were downloaded or downloaded for free from the Internet, only 36.9% [peoplewhodownloadedbooks] of those polled said they had payed to download an ebook.”

    Mention 2.- “One significant datapoint is the way in which digital readers obtain their electronic books (ebooks). 73.1% [booksdownloaded] of the books were downloaded or downloaded for free from the internet; 37.3% [ofpeoplewhodownloadedbooks] got them from family members or friends, via usb, cd or mail; and another 36.9% [ofpeoplewhodownloadedbooks] downloaded them or downloaded them from the Internet by paying for them.”

    I cannot relate to your twitter chat with them. But I hope this makes you see what I mean. It's a case of ellided subjects. Different ones. Used for representing % (which can be confusing) but it makes sense.

    Could it be clearer? Have a better wording? Indeed.

    But as I already said, this alarmism guarantees they'll make the front page (or at least front of the culture section) tomorrow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, it's you who are mixing up the data. As the Gremi pointed out in the email there was a single question: where do you get your books? Then people checked the boxes. People could check multiple boxes. That's why the numbers don't add up to 100.

      But the Gremi uses the 73% number as if it refers to the booksdownloaded and differentiates it from the 36.9% number which it says are people.

      But BOTH refer to people. It's 73.1% of the people who said they had downloaded a book NOT NOT NOT 73.1% of the books that were downloaded for free.

      Delete
    2. Ok, I see it now.

      I have a big headache and the wording in spanish sugests what I defended.

      I'm going with deliberate incompetence for the sake of alarmism then.

      Sorry for provoking a headache to you as well.

      Delete
  4. Oh... And the 37.3% figure and the 36.9% one are not exclusive between them.

    You can have people who've obtained them from both sources.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What you're not getting is that there was one question and three checkboxes: downloaded for free, gotten from a friend, and purchased.

      Delete
    2. That's why the confirmation from the Federación was important, because they told us that data came from just that single question.

      Delete
  5. Pingu, there is no ambiguity in the Editor's Guild's *tweet*, intended as a résumé of their report (link included), a tweet which I've explained in my previous comment. It is they who were aiming for first page, at the price of Spain's readers' reputation.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Statistics have never been the strength of FGEE reports.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I suppose they might purposely represent us readers as pirates in order to back up the controversial 'canon' that's been imposed on all Spanish buyers of electronic storing devices. If we're mostly downloading illegal contents, we need to be made to pay for it in advance: QED.

    ReplyDelete

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