Book piracy is the biggest obstacle for publishing firms across the globe. Book piracy is described as an illegal and illegitimate reproduction of other people’s intellectual property for economic reasons, without prior consent or authorization. Forms of book piracy include local reproduction of fast-moving titles using newsprints or textured paper, abuse of publication rights, hi-tech reproduction overseas, circumventing the e-book version, illegal reprography, unauthorized or excessive production by printers, and translation without permission.

The effect of this illegal act is not limited only to the destruction it brings to the image and profits of the publishers, but also the immensity of economic, educational and intellectual losses it brings upon any country. Thus, book piracy is a crime that must be fought from multilateral fronts: from government, publishers, authors, marketers and other stakeholders. Since authors and publishers work more closely in the publication process, this article shares tips about the lean principle in fighting book piracy and bringing it to the barest minimum.

Go Lean

One of the major causes of book piracy identified by researchers is poverty. This is on the part of both the pirates and the buyers. Naturally, anyone will prefer to go for a product that is cheap, yet has the same content as the costly one. Talking about books, pirates don’t change the content; they simply adjust the packaging to make it affordable for buyers and profitable for the printers. There is a secret here. Most buyers are more concerned about the content of the book, not the package. Hence, it is important to go lean.

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The Lean Principle is a process strategy that is adopted by industries and entrepreneurs to create value with less resources. This can equally be applied to writing and book publishing. It is simply about maximizing customer value while minimizing waste. In achieving this, lean thinking changes the focus of management from optimizing separate technologies, assets, and vertical departments to optimizing the flow of products and services through entire value streams that flow horizontally across technologies, assets, and departments to customers.

Pirates capitalise on the waste created by publishers to build a flow and establish pull. Ending book piracy will then require the need to maximize readers’ perceived values and reduce waste. There are five steps in the lean process:

Identify Value (Who are your readers? What do they want?)

This step involves the specification of value from the standpoint of the end customer. A secret to the success of many businesses is the devotion to identifying and specifying the needs of the market and creating values that customers crave. Customers don’t buy what you sell; they buy what they want. So, the key to selling and winning competitors is to produce what the buyers want. It is also important to designate customers into families by what is valuable to them.

Depending on the economic situation of the country, most readers are more interested in the content of the book, while some are interested in both content and how it is packaged: the paper texture and book cover. The error most publishers and authors make is spending so much on the package, assuming it will make it more attractive to buyers. But the irony is that the more fashionable the book is, the higher the price of the book. Hence, the purchasing power of the customers is exceeded. This does not mean descending to the production of potboilers, or paperbacks with low quality. It is simply finding a way to cure the waste.

  1. Map the Value Stream (You may need to publish editions of the book)
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Having grouped your markets into families based on their perceived value, identify all the steps in the value stream for each product family. Eliminate, whenever possible, those steps that do not create value.

What is the secret of top brands in the business world? Defensive Branding. One of the strategies is to create products uniquely for each market group without reducing the content of the product. So, whether the buyers are boxed up or not, they could still afford the product. The essence of this strategy is to defend their share of the market.

As publishers, it is not advisable to produce only one edition of a book. Some publishers produce both paperback and hardback editions. The goal is to map the value stream for the book. Why will a reader buy pirated copies of books if there are original editions that go for the same price? This is a unique way of blocking out pirates’ share of the market.

  1. Create a flow (Avoid Scarcity)

After mapping the value stream and eliminating steps that do not create value, let the value flow smoothly. It is a waste if you have a quality and affordable product, but it is scarce in some places. You’ve just opened your door to pirates.  Book pirates take advantage of the scarcity of a book to launch their product.

Publishers must be effective in production, marketing, distribution processes and any other thing required to make the book flow to the readers in good quantity and at the right time. Appropriate editions should be distributed to the appropriate customers.

  1. Establish pull (Be Impressive)
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When products flow accurately, customers pull value from the flow. Establishing the pull is keeping the integrity, professionalism and service delivery of your publishing house which help to retain your paying customers, and perhaps increase them.

You should make your customers want more. Readers should be eager to buy books from your list because of the experience they get at the first time.

  1. Seek Perfection (Win the market)

As value is specified, and value streams are identified, wasted steps are removed, and flow and pull are introduced, begin the process again and continue it until a state of perfection is reached in which perfect value is created with no waste.

Waiting on the government to make laws in stemming book piracy may take forever. That’s the truth, especially in countries with slow legislative and executive systems. Nevertheless, you can wipe out pirates from the market by taking advantage of the Lean Principles. Rise up to the challenge and review your processes and strategies.