Anyone who has delved into eBook security knows how complicated this subject is. After a few hours of searching even the experienced web marketer can be cast into a state of blog fog.
Let’s keep this as simple as possible! Besides providing information of value, there are two main purposes for most eBooks. The first purpose is to be a marketing vehicle given away in exchange for email addresses (usually with an auto responder.) The content will usually promote your products and services or promote affiliate products and services. The second purpose is to make money selling your eBook.
I have given away hundreds of thousands of eBooks that provided readers with valuable information while promoting my other products and services. I have also made loads of cash selling my eBooks and every single one has been a simple yet attractive password protected PDF file.
A PDF (Portable Document Format) file is one of the most popular formats and will get the job done quickly and can be secured. In addition you can easily convert a document created in MSWord to a PDF file. So a PDF file is a great choice for your eBook and will be the main format referred to here. More about this later.
Since the first digital book or eBook was created there have been concerns about copyright protection and eBook security. But copy machines were around long before computers so people could duplicate any hard copy book they wanted to. Using a copy machine to duplicate books is painstaking and time consuming work and creating multiple copies of books would be impractical. The difference with eBooks is they can be instantly duplicated and mass distributed with a mouse click.
Almost no matter what you do someone can steal your work. However, eBook security is about minimizing the illegitimate opportunities for unscrupulous and uninformed people while optimizing the buying experience for legitimate customers.
The ease in which eBooks can be illegally stolen, duplicated, and resold are not reasons to avoid the market. Consumers are turning in droves to eBooks to feed their need for instant information and the industry is growing by leaps and bounds. This presents a vast opportunity and knowledge is power so getting educated about security will give you the confidence to make the choices that enable you to enter the market with the most comfort that your work is protected.
eBook Security and Piracy
Every day, many people purchase eBooks and then share them for free with others. Most of them are unaware that this action is wrong and illegal while others don’t care. Sharing an eBook with a friend or associate seems innocent enough, but as time passes the sharing can increase quickly and the lost income can mount. While sharing eBooks is common practice, this is probably not the most damaging activity for the author.
What is worse is when some unscrupulous individual resells your work. They might sell your product exactly as is or change just the cover, title, author name, or make some editing revisions and then claim the work is theirs. In addition many eBooks are now pirated or plagiarized in whole or pieces for web content. Your work might even show up on a website available to the public.
If you are selling your eBook security becomes a matter of the prevention of lost income. You can lose thousands of dollars in sales by illegally distributed copies of your work. In fact, as many authors will tell you, unless you take some steps for protection, the probability is high that a large chunk of your profits, an amount you will probably never know, will be lost by thieves distributing your work.
There are a variety of ways to protect your work from copyright to sophisticated software methods. The question becomes: Do you want to protect your eBook and if so how much of a sacrifice are you willing to make to get protection? Most methods of defense are not expensive but many can be difficult to implement and enforce and cause you and your customer’s headaches.
If you are giving away your eBooks in order to promote your business, you might not care if people share or distribute your material. If you are giving away your eBook in exchange for an email address you might want to include links throughout or within your pages for readers to sign up for your newsletter or other email information. This will target people with interest that have not come into possession of your digital text through legal or acceptable channels.
If you want eBook security, start protecting your work during creation and upon completion. During creation, keep backup copies, be cautious about who you share your work with, and use secure job boards instead of email to post your work if you are collaborating with ghostwriters, graphic artists, colleagues, associates, proofreaders, editors, or others. Use NDAs (Non Disclosure Agreements) with everyone involved in the creation process. Then get informed by reading this article and create a plan to protect your work immediately upon completion.
How can you protect your eBooks from duplication, piracy and free distribution? Controlling the downloads and use of your eBooks on the internet is almost impossible without the use of some security-based management software or service. However there are many ways to assist in protecting your work from piracy including copying, free redistribution, or reselling. These include copyright, notices, file types, encryption, passwords, document tracking, IP tracking, use monitoring, locking pages, registration codes, no right click scripts, and other software methods.
Types of eBook Security
Password Protection – You can use password protection. The user can be required to enter a password to open the document. An eBook that does not require a password to open can still have a password that otherwise prohibits users from editing, copying, revising, or printing. I usually allow printing as there are still a very few people that print pages.
Key or Code Activation – You can require a unique code for each customer that must be activated upon purchase and that you can deactivate at any time.
Copy Protection – You can prevent coping and editing and make using more than one copy of your eBook at a time impossible for each reader and restrict the use per copy to one computer only.
Document Tracking – This usually ties to an IP address and tracks your eBook’s usage.
Encryption – This enables you to code or encrypt your content which renders your content unusable for anyone savvy enough to extract your text.
Disable Screen Capture, Printing and Right Clicks – You can disable screen capture to prevent any screen shots of your eBook that could be converted to text. You can also disable printing and right clicking pages to prevent your readers from seeing any page source codes.
Download Protection – This refers to the security of your download or thank you page where your customers get your product after purchase.
The Effect of eBook Security on Customers
The amount and type of eBook security you choose will affect your customers as well. Usually the degree to which you protect your work will equate to the degree of access difficulty to your product, problems that arise during distribution and use, and customer dissatisfaction.
I am guilty of overprotecting work to the point that customers complained about lost email containing passwords, expired passwords, protection software not working, license code difficulty, complicated instructions, incompatible file types and software, extremely slow download times and more. Learn from my mistakes and weigh these pros and cons as you learn about these eBook security options.
Copyrights and Notices for eBook Security
Just as a “stop sign” does not prevent a driver from speeding through an intersection notices cannot stop illegal copying and distributing of your material. However these signs can impede a great deal of people and there are several “Stop signs” you can use to promote eBook security. In addition to copyrighting your work there are several types of notices discussed below that you can post in your book.
Copyright for eBook Security
The first line of protection for eBook security and perhaps the easiest is to copyright your work. In some countries your work is copyright upon creation without formal registration although official registration legally shows you are the original author. This gives you added protection and officially establishes your ownership which is more easily enforced by courts should there be a dispute or any question of your works’ true ownership.
For additional help to protect your eBook from plagiarism, you can register your copyright. Visit your country’s copyright website:
Australian Copyright Council
Canada Copyright Office
China Copyright Office
India Copyright Office
UK Intellectual Property Office
United States Copyright Office
Or see the complete International Copyright Office Directory.
Usually for a nominal fee your works can be registered online or via a hard copy with your country’s Copyright Office. Upon official copyright registration should anyone plagiarize or steal your work, this serves to prove that you are the legally registered owner. In the case of litigation, in certain countries your official copyright might entitle you to legal fee reimbursement and statutory damages.
Learn more about intellectual property and copyright:
How to Type the Copyright Symbol
Statement of Protection
You can include a statement in the front of your book of published work protection such as:
Published by: Your Name and Your Publishing Company
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without express written permission of the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations with mention of the author for use in a review of this book. To request any permission, contact the publisher.
Reward Notice to Promote eBook Security
You can also include a reward notice in the front section. A reward notice informs readers that the eBook is not a free eBook and if they downloaded the copy or received the copy from anywhere other than your website or authorized websites they are in possession of an illegal copy. You can offer then a reward for providing you with information about where they got your eBook (other than from sharing with a friend or associate.) Note: Include a link here to your sales page so they can make a purchase.
Full Benefits Notice to Promote eBook Security
This notice informs the reader of special offers, additional information, membership, or other offers only available to bona fide purchasers of your eBook. You can include links that require the user to enter their name or email used when they purchased your eBook for verification. Note: Include a link here to your sales page so they can purchase their own copy.
Guilt Clause to Promote eBook Security
A guilt clause is a notice placed at the front about how your eBook is not distributed for free. This notice goes on to state that if the reader has not paid why this is wrong and/or there will be negative outcomes such as:
- the information within will not serve them due to karma
- the rights of authors should be protected to encourage their work and creativity
- karma: what comes around goes around
- the information they are receiving is invaluable and the pittance purchase price allows you to continue to serve them
- not paying you for your hard work is unethical
Note: Include a link here to your sales page so they can buy your eBook.
Consequences Notice to Promote eBook Security
You can include a notice of consequences for infringement such as :
Copyright infringement is an illegal act and we will vehemently pursue all legal remedies for any copyright violations of this eBook.
This includes filing Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaints and reporting web violations to All Major Search Engines and website host companies.
Note: Include a link here to your sales page here so they can purchase.
Peer Influence Notice to Promote eBook Security
Most people like to be part of a team, movement, or the majority.
Please join us and the majority of people in preserving the creative works of others by not illegally distributing this eBook but by sharing only the link below
with your friends, associates, and others where they may purchase their own legal copy of this eBook.
Note: Again, include a link here to your sales page for purchase.
These notices do not stop people from the ability to do wrong. But these notices might prevent some people who would otherwise not think about illegally copying, using, or selling your work.
File Type and eBook Security
PDF (Portable Document Format) files are one of the most popular eBook file formats. This file type was invented by Adobe Systems in 1993. The Adobe Reader is free making this a great file format choice for your customers. In addition you can easily convert a document created in MSWord to a PDF file.
You can include a link on your download (or thank you) page where your customers can download the free Adobe Reader or include the link in a follow up email.
A PDF file can be protected to stop someone from copying, editing, or making changes. This file can also be configured to require a password to open your document.
You can get the Adobe file creator here:
There are also a number of other sources for software to create PDF files. You want to get a creator that allows you to set up security with passwords for your eBooks to prevent copying and editing.
Transaction, Distribution, and eBook Security
When a customer visits your website or sales page, you will need some sort of ‘Buy Now,’ ‘Download Now,’ or ‘Add to Shopping Cart’ button and a merchant service or payment system that accepts your customer’s credit card or other form of payment. You want a safe transaction for your customers and fraud protection for you. I have been using PayPal for years because the name is highly recognized, they accept a variety credit cards and of forms of payment, and consumers have grown to trust them. If you do not already have one, sign up for a PayPal account now.
I have also used ClickBank for enabling affiliates to sell my products. If you want a force of affiliates promoting your eBook sign up for a ClickBank account now.
In addition to these payment systems you need security for your product download or thank you page (where customers get your eBook after they have paid) and you might want to protect your eBook.
eBook Security with Download Pages
Keeping Your eBook Download Page Out of the Search Engines
Consider how you will deliver your eBooks to your customers after purchase. This can be done with a download page (or sometimes referred to as the ‘thank you page’) on your website, a hosted download page (one created on a site that offers security), or you could email your product to buyers.
Note: Email is not considered a secure way to deliver unprotected digital products.
If you choose to create a download page on your website you need to include code to tell the search engines not to include the page in search results. You do not want people finding your download page and getting your eBook for free. This code is written in the header section of the web page you do not want in search engine results. The header section is between the tags. See sample code here.
Session Based Download Page for eBook Security
When an eBook is down loadable from a web page, all someone needs to steal it is the download link. You can periodically change the name or URL of the download page or secure the page. You can also create a session based download page. The links to your download page are unique only for that browser session so your eBook cannot be downloaded from the same page twice. Many services offer variations of session based download pages.
Creating a session based page can be a bit complex if you are not tech savvy. You might need the help of a programmer or web designer. I have not created one.
Software Protection for Download Pages and Distribution
A great program that provides eBook security for your download page is Digital Product Guard. Digital Product Guard will automatically protect the payments for your sales and secure your digital products so they can only be downloaded by your authorized customers. You can set a time limit on how long the download page is accessible. (This differs from a session based download page in the fact that the customer can return to this page until it expires.)
This program rates above average in complexity to install and you might need the help of a web programmer or site designer. Anyone familiar with HTML can set this up and be activated in about ten minutes. Once you have this system in place you are done. I have used this product for several years.
Digital Product Guard works with ClickBank and PayPal and to manage your payment process for you. Your customer receives a Thank You email and you get a detailed sales report for after each purchase. Customers can also be automatically added to a database or email auto responder so you can follow-up with them and let them know about additional products and special offers.
Product Lockdown is another program offering digital download security. This one also prevents anyone from downloading your product even should they find the download page unless they have purchased your eBook. The payment is verified before access is allowed to your products. You can assign a download limitation, in hours, so that after that time is up, the download link will expire and no longer be visible or accessible. Product Lockdown is also a bit complex for anyone not familiar with merchant systems.
Hosted Download Pages and Distribution for eBook Security
You can use a secure hosted download page for your eBook and usually this service is available with other services such as a shopping cart and transaction processing.
E-junkie will host your thank you page in a secure environment (or you can use their merchant services and set up your own download page. I use their download pages. E-junkie offers shopping carts and ‘buy now’ buttons for your website, eBay, MySpace, Google Base, Craigslist and so on. They work with PayPal, Google Checkout, Authorize.Net, TrialPay, ClickBank and 2CheckOut. Yes you can incorporate this system with ClickBank for affiliate selling.
You can sell more than one product and package products together. Your eBook downloads are secure and your customer gets an email with instructions and you can customize this response. There are a ton of other options. I have been using e-junkie for several years with no complaints.
You pay a nominal once a month fee and there are numerous packages based on how many different products you want to sell. E-junkie has no transaction limit, bandwidth limit, setup fee or transaction fee. Visit e-junkie for more information and set up an account if you want an easy way to secure your download page and sell your eBooks.
PDF Stamping for E-book Security
E-junkie also offers PDF file stamping. Each copy of your PDF eBook file can be stamped with the buyer’s name, email address and unique transaction ID. This discourages sharing and allows you to identify who shared your file if you do happen to see a copy out there.
Secure-eBook is another service I have used that enables you to sell in a secure fashion. Secure-eBook manages the entire purchase procedure for you. They work with most major payment processing services. Secure-eBook has several great options including:
1. Password protection and usage tracking
2. Download page security
3. Secure sample of your eBook with a buy now button for the reader to purchase the entire book.
Every customer gets a unique activation key. You can manage all your activation keys for your eBooks. You can also view a complete purchase history, activation history and see any aborted download attempts. You can perform searches by customer name, email, or activation key and you can disable activation keys. Be careful though not to accidentally deactivate an eBook of a paying customer. Many people own more than one computer and might have copied your eBook to another computer, laptop, or other device. So if you see several different IP addresses attached to the same book through document tracking or another method, this might not be a case of theft.
You can also take advantage of the power of a sample. Here is how the sample works:
You choose what you want in your sample. Including the table of content, some interesting quotes and testimonials and maybe a chapter is a great idea. You want to entice people to buy your book so whet their appetite. Your sample should sell your eBook.
Now when a customer purchases your eBook and shares a copy with friends, those friends who receive your eBook will not be able to view the full version but only your sample. Then every one of them can purchase the whole book from the ‘buy now’ button you include in the sample.
Word of mouth has always been one of the most powerful marketing methods. This is a way to get viral sales instead of lost profits by converting otherwise illegal readers into customers. You can also post this sample on the web for download and email a copy to anyone.
Secure eBook takes a bit of reading to set up. Once again though, when you are done the system operates almost completely automatically forever. Set aside a day to read all the instructions on the site and create a ‘to do‘ list for what you need.
For example you will need to create a sample from your whole eBook. This sample can be a PDF file. When you have everything ready, set aside a day for implementation. You might not need that much time to get this going, though I have found that allowing a bit more time than required keeps me from getting frustrated when learning new systems.
To create a secure transaction process, protect your work, and create a sample for promotion, visit Secure eBook and set up an account.
There are also software packages you can purchase for securing digital products as well as other hosted services. Personally I have tried several high end software packages for security. I am no longer using any of them which tells you something. I like to keep things as simple as possible for me and my customers and found that Secure eBook and e-Junkie work best for me. But we are all unique with different products and you might find a software package that works for you.
Document tracking can give you information about usage statistics and enable you to see who is using your eBooks, how they are using them, and additional information. There are several document tracking services that allow you to see who is accessing your eBook and if they are sharing or distributing copies.
User Login for Added Security
If you have a product download page on your website for the purpose of allowing customers to re-download your eBook (which can be needed in the case of a corrupt file, the customer’s computer crashes, or they lose the file – all known to happen,) you might want to consider using a log in user name and password for that page.
eBook Compilers for eBook Security
An eBook Compiler is a software program that converts HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), PDF, or text pages into a single executable file or some format. They are also referred to as eBook Creators or HTML Compilers. See more about an eBook creator.
Tom’s book templates can all be easily converted to PDF files to be secured and are designed to be easily read.