Publishing

Fighting against the piracy of engineering and architectural books

Valentín J. Alejándrez, Associated Partner and Publishing Manager at CINTER, shares his experience with us as an expert in the impact of digital piracy within the publishing sector.

...for certain titles, we might calculate the losses to be up to 15%.

CINTER is a Spanish publishing house dedicated to spreading specialized engineering and architectural knowledge among industry professionals and the general public. Supported by three main pillars, CINTER is dedicated to editing titles and publications, educating professionals and organizing congresses, seminars and workshops.

CINTER’s titles have been pirated for years across dozens of digital platforms. Valentín J. Alejándrez, at CINTER’s director, shares his experience with us about being a direct victim of this illicit activity, explains how he has combated digital piracy, and provides us with insight into the panorama of the illegal trafficking of books online.

What would you say is the reason why CINTER’s titles are so pirated?

CINTER’s principle goal is to edit engineering and architectural academic books, and to make them necessary, accessible and above all, useful.

Necessary in that CINTER’s main purpose is to close gaps within the academic publishing arena, accessible in the sense that we offer the books at affordable prices for all budgets, and useful in fulfilling their purpose as technical and humanistic resources for engineering and architecture professionals.

Perhaps this functionality that we aim to incorporate within our textbooks is what makes them interesting for students, professors, and professionals alike. The titles with more demand are the ones that end up being the most pirated, evidently.

Do you consider the protection of your current titles and new releases important?

Of course I do. Not only because of the negative impact that digital piracy can have on revenue, but above all for a fair distribution of income within the book chain.

When I place a price on a book, I take into account the market structure, the authors, translators, designers, layout artists, illustrators, transport services, distributors, and the point of sales, bookshops. All of these stakeholders are part of the success or failure of each book. It’s unfair when somebody outside of this production chain earns money from ads promoting illegal pirate copies, or even fake versions of a title. Internet users on these platforms must be  aware that with every file they download, they are contributing to the survival of these mafias.

Were you aware that your titles were within reach of so many users, and the breadth of the problem that this entailed? Indeed, my worries regarding piracy began to form long ago. Before the birth of the digital era, the usage of photocopied textbooks was (and still is) very common within colleges and universities. Not many people addressed this particular issue within universities, and the faculty’s tolerance regarding the matter  set the stage for piracy within the publishing sector, and even spread to the world of professionals, where it was not (and still isn’t) frowned upon to make use of pirated material.

I’ve see cases where large companies distributed scanned copies of books among their employees – and not just a few copies, but any number of copies that an employee might request.

Nowadays with digital books, distributing pirated material is much easier, and pirated files are shared via e-mail, CDs recorded with entire collections of books, or various platforms whose supposed purpose is to share information, etc.

What drove you to use a content protection service for your titles?

Actually at first I tried to fight piracy on my own, but it didn’t take long to realize the magnitude of the problem, and this is when I started to look for professionals that could help me. The motivation doubled:

On one hand, we aimed to prevent anyone from damaging the rightfully-deserved revenue of CINTER’s author and the publishing houses themselves. On the other hand, we needed to make it clear that our content is subject to copyrights and is not free access content.

Our titles are difficult to edit, from the author’s initial labor to the very last editorial task. This is why I believe that it’s fair and just to receive compensation. It’s disheartening to see that there are individuals that access content illegally and profess unawareness to the fact that these titles are not public content.

What would be the impact to your business if you did not protect your publishing content from digital piracy?

It is difficult to measure, but for certain titles, we might calculate the losses to be up to 15%.

How do you believe the elimination time of fake titles online affects sales?

Instead of calling them “fake titles” I would call them “illegal titles,” because in some cases they are an exact copy of the ones we legally distribute online, however they do not contribute anything to the participating stakeholders within the productionchain, but do contribute money to the “mafias” who profit from the ads offering free books.

The elimination time is important, but for those of us who edit vocational and professional books, rather than new releases, will always fall back to the typical numbers once the illegal copies are eliminated. I think that new releases are the titles that are more affected by long elimination times. 

What is it that you value the most from Smart Publishing Protection?

Their effectiveness, level of customer support, detailed periodic reports and their dedication to spread consciousness around the issue.

Would you reccomend Smart Publishing Protection’s service to other publishing houses?

Certainly. In a situation like the current one, regardless of laws, I believe that publishing houses need help from professionals who are able to fight back (using the same level of technology) against those who intend to illegally collect profit at the hands of the hard work of many professionals.

Interview: Valentín J. Alejandrez, Associated Partner and Publishing Manager in CINTER