As a follow-up to the story I posted a couple weeks ago on textbook piracy, there have been a couple new developments. There was a posting in the Used Book Blog this week updating information on the TextbookTorrents case, noting that the site had been taken down and disabled due to DCMA requests. There is another article on the subject of pirated textbooks that appeared in Friday's Boston Globe. The article has a fresh look at the topic, including interviews with students, faculty, and publishers.
It does sound like we are starting to hear many of the same comments about textbooks in digital format that we heard about music in the early days of file swapping and the rise of Napster. What is this telling us about the future of textbooks, textbook piracy, and business models for academic content in the future? What can we learn from the prior industry example and what might we do differently? Is there a middle ground where all the stakeholders benefit from the value they receive or provide in an economically sustainable way? How do we incentivize compliance over enforcement? If we do not find ways to answer these questions, I would suspect more book scanning and illegal textbook distribution will occur in the future.