Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ding, Dong, the DRM is dead?

by Raelene Gorlinsky

Well, maybe the death throes have begun, and soon the house will fall and crush it.

If you are an ebook user, you're already aware that many if not most small epubs and digital-first publishers do not put DRM (Digital Rights Management) on their ebook files. Ellora's Cave has never used DRM.

But the big traditional publishers, those who are mainly print and have just in the past few years gotten into digital, have always used annoying and customer-hated DRM. Despite all studies that indicated that DRM did not prevent intentional piracy, these publishers stubbornly cling to trying to control and limit how and where readers can view the ebooks they purchase.

Are your ebook purchase criteria like mine? The first thing I look at when considering buying an ebook is whether it is DRM'ed -- if so, I will not buy it. Or there is the growing popularity of  "honest" piracy to avoid DRM: buy the DRM'ed ebook, but then go download the non-DRM version from a pirate site. That way, publisher and author get their payment, but the reader gets a usable digital file. So DRM is actually supporting and encouraging use of pirate sites by customers who are willing to pay for the book but are getting more and more frustrated with non-customer-sensitive publishers.

Common sense,  business sense and good customer relations may finally be prevailing. Several weeks ago, Tor/Forge announced that they will drop DRM from all their ebooks by July 2012. Tom Doherty of Tor stated:

"Our authors and readers have been asking for this for a long time. They're a technically sophisticated bunch, and DRM is a constant annoyance to them. It prevents them from using legitimately purchased e-books in perfectly legal ways,  like moving them from one kind of e-reader to another."

The traditional NY publishers will be watching this, waiting to see if Tor/Forge detects any changes in sales and in piracy numbers, but it is predicted that others will soon follow this lead.

Hurrah! The witch is dying. What do you think? Will DRM be going away? Does DRM affect your ebook purchasing decisions?


lynneconnolly said...

I won't buy DRM'd books, either, but having said that, it's difficult, because Amazon uses DRM in its own format.
I will always try to get a book in a straight mobi format (.prc) for the Kindle, and upload it from my computer (it gives me a backup, too). I've started to use Barnes and Noble Nook products recently, and the big winner for me is the SD card slot. I can put my books on it, and move it from my Nook Color to my Nook Touch, and even to my phone if I want to.

Suzan Harden said...

Saying this as a writer, I think a reader should be able to read their copy of my book on whatever device they wish.

DRM is like telling the reader she can only read the book if she's in her bed with a black cat. What if she's at the post office, has a white cat, or (heaven forbid!) has a dog!