If a scanned book appears online for pirate download, it's no wonder: someone who had a hard copy just scanned every page.

But there are a lot of PDFs out there that look like official publisher's copy that was never supposed get out of the publishing house. How does this massive centralized nature of book piracy happen?

I assume that scientific books that get published online as PDF ebooks may have been "contributed" to a file-sharing database, but other books, in print-layout are more difficult to get access to in large numbers.

Is something in the publishing chain compromised..? Is it probable that publishers' computers were intentionally infected with viruses for this purpose?

  • I'm not an expert on e-books, but can't calibre convert e-books? I haven't checked how good the produced PDFs look, though. – CodesInChaos Nov 27 '15 at 14:47
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    I would love to know the answer but unfortunately this question has very little to do with SE InfoSec – Ulkoma Nov 27 '15 at 14:47
  • @Ulkoma isn't keeping your files safe related to information security? Maybe something in the publishing chain is compromised..? – Sparkler Nov 27 '15 at 15:03
  • @Sparkler that's a tangential application of security. The question as asked is about publishing and e-book format conversion. As a soon-to-be-author, I can tell you that publishers will pre-release print books on PDF so that it can be reviewed or to generate interest from certain people before publication - that's how they get famous people's praise of the book on the back when it does go to print. – schroeder Nov 27 '15 at 16:22
  • @schroeder my question has nothing to do with format conversion. From what I know, praises are usually received on a printed draft ("pre-release"). – Sparkler Nov 27 '15 at 16:59

A combination of things could contribute, with a particular book being some/all/none of these, or something else entirely. Here are a few of the ways books could "get out" into the wild

  1. People inside the company selling the books "on the side"
  2. People inside the company taking the book home for personal use and then giving it to a few family members or putting it online
  3. Review copies being sent out and shared by the reviewer
  4. Screenshots of the eBook - if you can display it, you can screenshot it. Like a scanned copy, but without the loss in quality
  5. "Ripping" the book - ie taking the proprietary copy and extracting the contents
  6. Someone hacking into the publisher's systems and taking a copy (possibly from a site providing review copies)
  7. The author releasing a copy (perhaps to friends or family)
  8. Some are simply free
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  • Good points, but they don't seem to support the massive centralized nature of book piracy, imho. In particular, why would samplers unite worldwide in submitting copies to file-sharing platforms? – Sparkler Nov 27 '15 at 15:39
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    They probably don't - they share with a friend, who shares with a friend, who puts it on a website, that somebody noticed and downloads it to put it on file sharing. Most people willing to pirate will give a pirated item to a few friends, and that's how they spread until they hit somebody interested in file sharing sites who adds it there and once it's in that system, it typically stays there. It's not just a bunch of reviewers who love file sharing – Jon Story Nov 27 '15 at 15:49

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