An average of nearly 10,000 copies of every book published is downloaded from filesharing sites, according to a new study by Attributor. The study examined a sample of 913 popular titles and 25 filesharing sites. Fiction titles were actually among the least affected titles, with an average of around 6,000 copies downloaded per title; business and investing titles were the category most likely to be illegally downloaded, with over 13,000 per title.
The top two filesharing sites, rapidshare.com and 4shared.com, each accounted for around a third of downloaded titles, with the #3 site, esnips.com, accounting for a much lower 7.4% share of book downloads.
Extapolating to the entire U.S. book market, the study estimated that the illegal downloads represented between $2.75 and $3 billion worth of content, equivalent to around 10% of the market. Unaddressed is the question of how many of those copies actually represented a willingness to buy that was diverted to downloading, or whether, as some have argued, the increased exposure from the downloads actually contributed to increased sales.