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Report: E-pirates ransacked Stephen King e-novella
Those capitalizing on the e-book business must be working on their damage-control speeches right about now. The kind of news they fear -- High-profile Author Gets E-book Pirated By Hackers -- has happened.
According to a story on the online news site ZDNet, Stephen King's novella "Riding the Bullet," which was exclusively released online two weeks ago, was attacked by hackers who figured out the encryption technology and downloaded the story for free. Most sites offered the King work for $2.50.
The novella quickly made its way onto several non-commercial Web sites, according to Len Kawell, President of Glassbooks Inc., one of the electronic distributors of the story.
Kawell told ZDNet that his company did all it could to keep hackers from stealing the story. The book was released using a 40-bit encryption key, the safest available at the time. Since then, the company has updated to a 64-bit key.
But there's still potential for hackers, Kawell admits.
"The reality is there's no such thing as an invincible copy protection system," Kawell said. "It's impractical to make it both invincible and usable.
"We have to look at this as a two-fold thing," said Kawell. "There's a technical problem and anti-piracy patrolling problem."
The news comes at a delicate time when authors and publishers are finally opening their minds to the potential of e-commerce.
"Riding the Bullet" set e-book records for downloads when it was ushered online on March 14. There was such a response that Web sites, including Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com, were swamped with requests, making downloading it nearly impossible for late-comers.
"Riding the Bullet" was written shortly after King's near-fatal accident in June of last year when he was hit by a car while strolling down a road near his Lovell, Maine, home. The story is a 66-page tale about a hitchhiker finding a ride.
"Stephen King's decision to publish his new short story in electronic format is a concrete declaration that the eBook format has arrived," Steve Riggio, vice chairman of Barnes & Noble.com, said when the book was released online. "We see a time in the not too distant future when virtually every book in print will be available in both physical and electronic formats."
King's optimism was more reserved.
"While I think that the Internet and various computer applications for stories have great promise, I don't think anything will replace the printed word and the bound book," he said in a statement.
Demand for King eBook makes download downright impossible
Amazon Borders Barnes & Noble Simon & Schuster
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