A Problem For E-Readers: Hackers

E-readers continue to gain popularity and are sure to play a major role in gift-giving this holiday season. While it seems like a really convenient way to read books and magazines, not all publishers have been eager to move to electronic format. One reason why? Hackers. If savvy computer users can figure out a way to get past security copyright features, then the books can be distributed online for free. That's a problem that plagues music and movies. According to a report today, this is becoming a problem for the Amazon Kindle as well.

From the BBC:

An Israeli hacker claims to have broken the copyright protection on Amazon's Kindle e-reader, reports say.

The hack will allow the ebooks stored on the reader to be transferred as pdf files to any other device.

If only such hackers would use their genius for good instead of evil! But this is pretty awful news for the Kindle and its e-reader brethren. The last thing books and magazines publishers want is to end up in the same predicament as their peers in the music and movie industries who constantly worry about bootlegging. The digital nature of those mediums makes it pretty impossible to avoid anyway. But books aren't as susceptible to bootlegging problems in their native form. Could this news make publishers reconsider allowing the medium to go digital?

Maybe, but I doubt it. At this point, the e-reader revolution appears to be well-underway. Like with music and movies, publishers will likely join studios in prosecuting those who distribute or download content illegally. The potential upside also remains pretty great for publishers, as the costs saved by not having to print and ship the books is quite significant. With that said, I wouldn't expect hackers to suddenly stop making things difficult for e-readers. As a result, book bootlegging will likely become an ongoing problem for e-readers.