I recently has an experience where a friend of mine at work got into conversation with a famous author and we ended up finding that the author was very frustrated and in financial trouble.
A very good book that was written by this author is out there for free in PDF format and is being distributed illegally. The royalties that this author receives are very low. Medical bills are on the rise and the family is in a bit of trouble.
It was very disturbing to see that someone whose skills/experience were probably 10 times better than mine had to go through something like this. So I began to wonder why authors are distributing their books through PDF if they already know that at some point in time it will be available for free over the internet illegally. Do the publishers force you guys to make it available in that format ? This will hurt the publishers also since their book sales will reduce.
So why introduce books in a format that will hurt the publisher and the author ? Only 2-5% of the consumers will ever need the book in this format anyway. So why are you making books available in PDF ? I dont understand.
I don't know that anyone "needs" an electronic copy (but then, does anyone "need" a physical copy?), but it sure is convenient to have one on my hard disk. It's always accessible, and searchable.
I'm not an expert on the matter in any sense, but there's been a discussion recently, with David Pogue on one side and Adam Engst on the other. So, at the very least it's not a clearcut matter where one side is definitely in the right.