NYTimes Columnist Explains How He Torrented 'The Bourne Identity' Because It Wasn't Available… Then Sent A Check

from the leaving-money-on-the-table dept

Famed NY Times columnist David Pogue has a history of recognizing that some of the “fears” about internet “piracy” are overblown. So it’s great to see him using his NYTimes blog to explain how he ended up torrenting an unauthorized ebook copy of The Bourne Identity for his son. Apparently, due to royalty fights, Robert Ludlum’s estate remains a hold-out on the ebook front, so there simply are no authorized ebooks to buy — though Pogue tried pretty much every possible ebook store to see if he could track one down. Eventually, he did what many people do in such a situation:

Dudes: It’s 2012. You’re among the last big-name holdouts on the face of the earth. You’re worried about the royalty rate? How about worrying about the thousands of dollars a month you’ve been leaving on the table by not offering the books to the public who’s willing to buy it?

Eventually, I did what I’m sure thousands of frustrated Ludlum fans wind up doing: I downloaded the book from a BitTorrent site.

He notes that he then sent the publisher a check for $9.99. I am hoping that he will do a followup on whether or not they actually cash it.

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Comments on “NYTimes Columnist Explains How He Torrented 'The Bourne Identity' Because It Wasn't Available… Then Sent A Check”

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E. Zachary Knightsays:

Re: Re: Re: Weird

A Russian scientist and a Czechoslovakian scientist had spent their whole lives studying the majestic grizzly bear. Each year they petitioned their respective governments to allow them to go to Yellowstone to study these wondrous beasts.

Finally, their request was granted and they immediately flew to New York and then on west to Yellowstone. They reported to the local ranger station and were told that it was the grizzly mating season and it was much too dangerous to go out and study the animals.

They pleaded that this was their only chance. Finally the ranger relented. The Russian and the Czech were given cell phones and told to report in each and every day.

For several days they called in, and then nothing was heard from the two scientists. The rangers mounted a search party and found the scientists’ camp completely ravaged. No sign of the missing men.

They then followed the trail of a male and a female bear. They found the female and decided they must kill the animal to find out if she had eaten the scientists because they feared an international incident.

They killed the female and cut open the bear’s stomach… only to find the remains of the Russian.

One ranger turned to the other and said, “You know what this means, don’t you?”

“Of course,” the other ranger nodded. “The Czech is in the male.”


Re: Re: Re: Re: Weird

While it’s a good joke, you could stand to pare down the setup so you don’t lose your audience halfway through. Reading it out loud, the delivery works well, and in the great oral tradition of comedy I’m sure it’s well paced, but in writing I personally feel it’s a little labored.


Re: Weird

The Bourne Identity is available from the Kindle store here in the UK so I would find it strange if it weren’t available in the US.

Ah, but you’ve made the basic mistake of thinking that this Internet thing is a big international network that doesn’t care about borders.

A bit of digging shows different companies published the book in the UK than the US. It seems that HarperCollins (part of News Corp) was responsible for the UK publications, and Random House for the US ones.

That said, it seems that the e-book is available in the US anyway, and for $8.02. David Pogue should ask for $1.97 back, provided he doesn’t get done for “copyright theft”, attempted bribery (paying them off to not report him), encouraging and inciting “copyright theft” by publishing the blog post, trade mark infringement for mentioning the title of the book without a licence, maybe throw in libel and conspiracy to defraud for suggesting the book wasn’t on Amazon, and whatever else those creative people at the publishing groups can come up with.

Spaceman Spiffsays:

It should have been for $5.99

I don’t think ANY ebook should sell for more than $6.00. There is no printing/binding/warehousing/shipping costs to the publisher for an ebook, and that should be taken into account. In any case, there are a number of ebook publishers who charge about $6.00 for books, many of which are just as popular as Ludlum’s tomes, and the smart ones don’t DRM-encumber their books either…


This might prove to be a great idea to get some form of conversation into the fatcat’s thick skulls. Obviously they only understand quarterly reports, so if enough people were to send them a check for even part of the purchase price, it might show them that not everyone torrenting files is doing it because it’s free. I know it’s a stretch, but in the case of Game of Thrones, it might show HBO that there are consumers willing to pay for the show and support products they like.


this is exactly the situation that the lack of legitimate sources for something creates. the only worse one is, in my opinion, to have the item available for download but wanting to charge the same as a physical, shop bought equivalent. i still dont understand the mentality of those dictating whether something can be downloaded or not. what is it about control that is more important than maintaining a customer base, making sales and therefore money? it is becoming more and more of a priority for the industries to ensure there are more legitimate, sensibly priced alternatives available to try to combat piracy rather than keep suing, fining, jailing and disconnecting customers. until the industries do something sensible themselves without trying to get everyone else to do it (at their expense!) for them, something that customers keep asking them to do, all that happens is ‘file sharing’ gets forced underground, becomes more prolific and less gets legally purchased because those customers are totally pissed off with what they are being classed as. on top of that, nothing is more frustrating than to buy a disk only to find that the DRM on it prevents it from working correctly. how ridiculous is that?


Re: Compulsory License?

Isn’t this shituation (sp?) one where books in print can be assumed to be convertible to any format (like say, Braille) upon proper payment to the publisher or author?

Oh no no no no. Ludicrous! That would not work for maximizing profits. Plus, we want consumers to have to use multiple platforms of DRM locked-down non-transferable formats because we like to have our digital items dispersed among Amazon, B&N, Google Books, Comixology, Dark Horse, etc., depending on who carries the title we want. And we certainly don’t want the titles to be carried by everyone. That would be too convenient and consumer friendly. [Add emoticon here]

That’s why I have paid for both the digital and hard copies of “Bunch of Amateurs” by Jack Hitt, and am still considering busting the DRM or pirating it so I’m not still locked in to B&N’s tablet app. Problem is, damn kids don’t upload this type of book to P2P sites.


Re: Re: Compulsory License?

Found said “bunch of amateurs” on my first try (albeit as an audio book) on a P2P network. The best torrent source (that I know of) for eBooks is currently down due to a DDOS attack.
I don’t know what the rule are for advertising these sites on TechDirt, so I’ll refrain from telling what the site was that had the audiobook, but that site certainly kicks some serious ass, now that the demon has been (temporarily?)exorcised.


Seen this before

I want to pay for eBooks but refuse to pay the prices being asked , so i will read some of the millions of free eBooks out there, i am still getting my entertainment , i am still able to fill my kindle with really good books to read.

Who is benefiting? well that would be me and the site/author getting advertising for providing a link to the eBooks.

And if i come across a really good author i might just pay for his content. Just to encourage him to write some more.


Re: Seen this before

Exactly! Don’t pirate, just enjoy the free stuff that is out there.

If you want to support the “new economy” model, that’s how it works. It’s funny as heck to read all the people here going on and on about the new economy, and then they are all out there pirating the good stuff they refuse to pay for.

Two faced, that’s what it is.

Reed Kimsleysays:

Re: Re: Seen this before

“Exactly! Don’t pirate, just enjoy the free stuff that is out there.”

You really don’t get how you contradicted yourself here?

“If you want to support the ‘new economy’ model, that’s how it works. It’s funny as heck to read all the people here going on and on about the new economy, and then they are all out there pirating the good stuff they refuse to pay for.”

The new economy model is a description of what’s already happening, not a doctrine you “support.” And something that somebody offers to you as a favor is not something you “refuse” to pay for.

I’m shocked at how illogical and superstitious the other side is becoming. Even creationists have the Bible – what do anti-torrenters have?

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