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How Publishers Are Cutting Their Own Throats With eBook DRM 355

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-not-even-that-sharp dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Sci-fi author Charlie Stross has written a post about how the Big Six book publishing companies have painted themselves into a corner in the rapidly growing ebook industry. Between user-unfriendly DRM and the Amazon juggernaut, they're slowly pushing themselves out of business. Quoting: 'Until 2008, ebooks were a tiny market segment, under 1% and easily overlooked; but in 2009 ebook sales began to rise exponentially, and ebooks now account for over 20% of all fiction sales. In some areas ebooks are up to 40% of the market and rising rapidly. (I am not making that last figure up: I'm speaking from my own sales figures.) And Amazon have got 80% of the ebook retail market. ... the Big Six's pig-headed insistence on DRM on ebooks is handing Amazon a stick with which to beat them harder. DRM on ebooks gives Amazon a great tool for locking ebook customers into the Kindle platform.'"
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How Publishers Are Cutting Their Own Throats With eBook DRM

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  • I hate DRM. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Firethorn (177587) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:17PM (#38209634) Homepage Journal

    DRM on ebooks gives Amazon a great tool for locking ebook customers into the Kindle platform.'"

    Which is why I'm not buying books from Amazon or B&N at this point. Either it's without DRM, or I'm not buying it. Baen's Webscriptions for me, at least at the moment.

    • Re:I hate DRM. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by inflex (123318) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:30PM (#38209750) Homepage Journal

      At least a lot of non-Big6 writers are publishing without DRM on Amazon (and other platforms).

      There's a new thread almost weekly on places like Kindleboards.com about DRM and it still always goes the same way though, lots of arguing on either side. In the end at least, more and more writers are explicitly choosing NOT to DRM.

      We have several books out under a few pen-names, none of them are DRM'd and we're not the only ones ( http://elitadaniels.com/ [elitadaniels.com] ).

      • Re:I hate DRM. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @07:37AM (#38212538) Journal

        What I don't understand about the whole DRM mess is this: Why hasn't somebody brought up the bigger question which is why force a tech THAT DOES NOT WORK and ONLY pisses off the people PAYING you?

        Look at all the DRM bullshit they put on video, has that stopped a SINGLE video from showing up on TPB before it was even released? NO! yet they expect me to jump through hoops and either take DRM that doesn't work on my system or buy a DVD, rip said DVD, transcode said DVD into a format I can use.......or I can just go to TPB, see where this is heading friends?

        Frankly the ONLY DRM I've seen done "right" is Steam, just give me my game Valve and get the fuck out of the way, thanks. They give you value for your money, have a nice little chat client that makes it easy to get everyone together for a match, have the easy gift thing for dealing with my boys, don't bitch if I need to back up or move the folder, its all easy peasy. Why the fuck can't the other bunches learn?

        I agree with Gabe from Valve, piracy is a classic case of you not serving the customers. Just like in TFA the stupid publishers are so hung up on piling on the DRM which has NEVER worked, will NEVER work, not in a bazillion years, because the pirates are ALWAYS smarter than them, so in the end the only one the DRM bites in the ass is the guy actually trying to pay them. It is like the media companies are all run by the PHB from Dilbert...argh!

        • Re:I hate DRM. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by dbitter1 (411864) <slashdot&carnivores-r,us> on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @09:15AM (#38213018)

          What I don't understand about the whole DRM mess is this: Why hasn't somebody brought up the bigger question which is why force a tech THAT DOES NOT WORK and ONLY pisses off the people PAYING you?

          You must be new here. Some of us have been saying it for 30 years, going back to "copy protected" floppy disks... and our voices are hoarse by now.

          Now get off my lawn...

          • by Daetrin (576516)
            Not 30 years in my case, but i worked on a software project in 2000-2001 that used Macrovision's DRM. It was a pain in the ass to deal with and i argued that we could come up with our own simple CD check in a couple days that would accomplish the only practical goal of DRM, keeping joe six-pack from making twenty copies of the game and handing them out to his friends. (And that notably wouldn't require us to pay Macrovision $1 for every CD we shipped.) I didn't argue it very loudly though because management
        • by gfxguy (98788)

          Publishers are following in the footsteps of all the other content providers and making exactly the same mistakes.

          First it was the audio industry that whined cassette tapes would destroy the industry... instead people found new uses for music - portable, in their car (yes, they had eight track... I won't go there). The music industry thrived despite the predictions of death by the RIAA.

          Then it was the MPAA's turn... video tape would destroy the film industry. Instead, it opened up new revenue streams and

        • by shentino (1139071)

          My opinion on pirates is that, right or wrong, they are simply unstoppable and see ANY form of copy protection as a challenge. They crack stuff just for fun.

          Using DRM to stop a pirate is like using a stinkbomb to blow up a castle. No damage except to the noses of innocent bystanders.

          Pirate's gonna pirate no matter what you do. It's time for publishers to accept that as reality and quit fighting a battle they can't win, and start worrying about giving its customers a better deal than the cheapskate pirate

    • Re:I hate DRM. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Guspaz (556486) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:34PM (#38209782)

      Most of my eBook purchases are from Baen. Cheap prices, free books, any format you could want, and no DRM? What's not to like?

      For those who are curious about the "free books" part, Jim Baen and his authors discovered that giving away the first book or two in a series actually increased sales, and ended up putting a huge number of their books up for free download. And by "free" I mean "just like ones you pay for, DRM-free in all formats." Their free library's site can be found here:

      http://www.baen.com/library/default.asp [baen.com]

      And the books themselves can be downloaded from here (and also indirectly at the above link):

      http://www.webscription.net/c-1-free-library.aspx [webscription.net]

      This sort of behaviour from content creators and publishers should be rewarded, so go check out some of the free books. There's so many to choose from, from so many authors, you're bound to find something you like! And if this post reads like an advertisement, well, I think they deserve it.

      • Re:I hate DRM. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by LordLucless (582312) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @10:03PM (#38210012)

        Seconding that.

        I got onto the 1632/Ring of Fire [webscription.net] series, and the Honor Harrington [webscription.net] series through the Baen free library.

        As validation of their model, I've since bought all of both series as ebooks from them (actually under the webscription model: 5-6 books, including the one I was looking for, for $15). I've also bought half of the Honor Harrington series as audio books through Audible, all through a couple of $5 loss-leaders.

        • Re:I hate DRM. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @11:29PM (#38210552) Homepage Journal

          WHOOT!! The model works.

          My history with the Baen books is quite different from your own. But, I've been an avid reader, all my life. I exhausted my elementary school's library, then my junior high school's library, and then got a library card at the city library. It took years, but I finally read everything there, that I wanted to read. In the meantime, I read everything in my high school's library.

          When I couldn't find FREE reading material, quite naturally I started BUYING books. Of course, a number of trilogies and anthologies were missing parts in the various libraries, so I had already bought those. Most of which, I donated to the city library when I was finished with them!

          Yes, the model works.

          If an author wants to be read, he must have an audience which loves to read. You can't capture an audience if you are not willing to give them good introductory material. The average school kid can't afford to buy books, and when he can afford to buy a book, he isn't going to UNLESS you've already taught him the value of reading.

          Authors should look at Bill Gates for inspiration. Gates put his operating system within reach of every school kid in America for FREE. That is exactly why Microsoft has a monopoly today!

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Mathinker (909784)

            > The average school kid can't afford to buy books

            As a parent, I have to say that I believe, in the case that economics enables it, that's exactly one of the things a parent is for.

            (I have to admit feeling a bit like a drug dealer, however, since I instituted a "first N books fully subsidized, all books afterwards X% subsidized" strategy --- I feel it's important that a child who's old enough can get experience planning how he spends the pocket money he has).

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by neyla (2455118)

              I don't think the comparison is fair. Because subsidies for behaviour seen as useful, is common all trough life, including as an adult. The thing with "first hit is free" for drugs is that's it's subsidising *bad* behaviour.

              The government has multiple ways of making wanted behaviour cheaper, and/or making unwanted behaviour more expensive. Thus if I buy a book as an adult, it's VAT-free, whereas if I buy alcohol as an adult it's 25%VAT and carries an additional alcohol-tax.

              These, and other strategies, chang

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Thanks for jostling my memory, I had forgotten to donate to Project Gutenberg in a while.
      This, instead of a retail purchase, oh mighty purveyors of bill C-11.

    • Re:I hate DRM. (Score:4, Informative)

      by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @11:19PM (#38210478) Homepage Journal

      I post this link at every opportunity. All authors and publishers should read this, and give it serious thought. DRM is the stupidest thing since the square wheel!

      http://www.baen.com/library/default.asp [baen.com]

  • by MarcoAtWork (28889) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:19PM (#38209652)

    ... pricing an e-book $13 when the paperback is $6 is a much more visible issue for the average e-book buyer, at least judging from the various comments on amazon's message boards.

    • The price is too high.
      I can't lend it to somebody.

    • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:24PM (#38209696) Homepage Journal

      It all ties together. Booksellers, whether retail outlets like Amazon or the publishers themselves, want to charge paper-book prices for e-books. They see DRM as a mechanism to enable them to do that. The alternative, which is to sell e-books for reasonable prices (i.e., prices which reflect the fact that printing and distribution costs for e-books are effectively zero) and thereby sell more books, is so far mostly the domain of the self-publishing and small-press world.

      • by whoop (194) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:40PM (#38209830) Homepage

        This pricing system is nothing new. All the modern Call of Duty games stay at $60 on Steam. The latest version rarely goes on sale, if so it's only like $10 off. Publishers of any sort only want to be paid what they think customers should pay.

        Then, some indie mucky-muck makes something like Minecraft, Angry Birds, etc, charges so little, and sells millions. It's not fair!

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:54PM (#38209954)

          Valve gets it because they've seen the data to back it up: 10% drop in price? Expect a 35% increase in revenue. Not sales, revenue. 25% discount, 245% increase. 50% discount, 320% increase. Crazy 75% discount? 1450% increase in revenue. Valve's own record, AFAIK, was when they dropped L4D by half and saw a THREE THOUSAND PERCENT increase in sales. And apparently the best sales bump ever was a third party game that went on discount and saw a 36,000% increase in sales over the weekend. These are numbers that bean counters would drag their dicks through a mile of broken glass just to LOOK at, much less claim. Yet out there in digital land the average product is priced equal to (if not more than) it's meatspace counterpart.
          Insanity.

          • by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @11:19PM (#38210476) Homepage Journal

            Not just insanity. Immorality. Especially when they get laws passed as an end-run around your rights, making it illegal to space-shift what you already bought (something that's supposed to be legal).

          • by yuhong (1378501)

            I think the problem is probably that the legacy MBAs think they can get even more profit by using artificial scarcity to hike prices. In fact, I think the legacy MBA culture of greed is closely related to rent-seeking.

          • by wvmarle (1070040)

            When it comes to discounting, psychology plays a role too.

            I recall my brother-in-law once tried to run a small shoe shop. You know such a 3x3m shop in a mall stocking mostly cheap shoes, the low-to-mid end $150-250 a pair made-in-China stuff they bought on the wholesale markets across the border in mainland.

            They were selling shoes at well about $180 a pair, but sales were not good enough, and they found their margin too small. So what did they do? They discounted the shoes: "30% discount! Original price $

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:47PM (#38209894)

        Courtesy of the author of the original post is this nifty article [antipope.org]. Note especially the comments in point one:

        In particular, about 80-90% of the cover price of a book has nothing to do with the paper and ink object you buy in a shop; indeed, using current production standards, ebook production requires nearly as much work as paper book production. (Paper and ink are dirt cheap; proofreaders and marketing teams aren't.)

        Now, you might argue that lower prices would lead to more sales and hence greater overall profit - but that's a very different thing to arguing that "printing and distribution costs for e-books are effectively zero", and hence implying that they're a significant chunk of the cost for the dead tree version ...

      • by Forbman (794277)

        I think you meant "hardback prices" for eBooks...

      • Let me correct you on this - Amazon does NOT want to do this. In fact you will note that almost all of their book prices specifically state that they were set by the PUBLISHER and not by Amazon. Why? Because Amazon WAS selling books at pretty reasonable prices aka under $9.99 for even new best sellers and then Apple released the iPad and gave the publishers the ability to set pricing - which they then demanded from Amazon. Amazon tried to fight this but in the end knuckled under and we have the Agency Pricing Model that we have now - and we have Amazon acting as a publisher for many smart writers. Amazon doesn't like this but they have no choice, in fact someone is suing Apple and the publishers for this now.

        End result? I no longer buy many books and I think this industry will be learning a very hard lesson just as the music industry did. In fact it will be WAY worse since books are WAY smaller (say 4megs with multiple formats) and because books aren't read over and over quite like music is. A real shame too since I and many I know were buying books more and more frequently prior to this truly stupid move by the publishing industry.

        P.S. MacMillen was one of the big publishers leading the charge and on their blog, I shit you not, they actually tried to defend their pricing by stating how expensive PRINTING presses were! The mind boggles - these dinosaurs aren't long for this world...

    • by slashmydots (2189826) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:33PM (#38209770)
      I think you're looking at used book prices. People will let those go for absurdly cheap for some reason. Have you seen some popular top seller/NYT top books? They're $30-50! Printing material can't cost that much! In fact, I've done covers for books and I know what they cost to print and they're exaggerating it. The ebooks tend to be a lot cheaper for big titles.
    • by errandum (2014454) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:35PM (#38209790)

      No one is forcing you or anyone to buy the e-book, I, for one, only buy kindle books when it's worth it (I payed 10$ less for A Dance with Dragos, 7$ less for the latest Dreaden Files and more or less 8$ less for the Inheritance e-book.

      But then I bought The Lies of Locke Lamora on paper.

      And even though I don't regret it, I might not do it again just to save 2$. The convenience of the whole Amazon infrastructure combined with instant delivery anywhere in the world for free, not to mention the lousy quality of pocket paperbacks...

    • by Guspaz (556486) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:39PM (#38209822)

      Not all eBooks are so expensive. Baen prices theirs at mostly $4 to $6, with a whole lot for $0. Yes, their ARCs (advanced reader copies) are $15, but those are a special case for hardcore fans (basically pre-release manuscripts direct from the author before they've been edited), and if you don't want to pay the $15, just wait for it to get edited and published and the cost will be in the $4-6 range as expected.

    • by yodleboy (982200)
      absofreakinlutely. I can tell you i've NEVER decided not to purchase an ebook from Amazon because of DRM. I load them on my kindle and they work. What HAS stopped me is seeing a book (not even a recent book at that) selling for $10 or $15 bucks when the paperback is sitting on the shelf for $5. I don't care if it has DRM or not. At those prices I won't buy it.
    • by elexis (2503530) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @10:08PM (#38210036)
      ...except in Australia, where buying almost anything at all digitally/overseas and having it Fedex'd over here is still significantly cheaper than buying retail. I will definitely buy that $13 ebook since the paperback is $40+
  • I sense a pattern. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cmv1087 (2426970) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:21PM (#38209670)

    Why does every aspect of the publishing industry seem to fail at grasping the advantages of limited or no DRM and digital products?

    • by errandum (2014454)

      Limited is not the same as no DRM. There should be some measure of DRM, in my opinion, just to dissuade the most basic of copies. But DRM should never inconvenience those who pay for the final product.

      I have yet to see how Amazon's DRM does that, the books I buy work on my Phone, iPad, Kindle and any computer I own(up to 6 devices can share the same book at one time). It's anything but restrictive, in my opinion.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      Why does every aspect of the publishing industry seem to fail at grasping the advantages of limited or no DRM and digital products?

      What purpose a publisher would have in the business landscape if the authors would (self-)publish exclusively in e-formats and DRM free?
      (maybe they do grasp the situation very well, and they are just fighting for their life?)

  • and it's on the publishers. Tens of thousands of books are available on usenet alone. I regularly buy non drm'ed books, mostly from Baen. I'm not going to buy any DRM books. Not gonna do it. Especially not when they cost damn near what a paper book in a brick and mortar store costs. That's just wrong and I will not bend over and take it up the ass like that. Especially when so many pirated books are available free and easy.

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      I have the same problem with buying music. Most of the time the album on iTunes costs more than buying the actual CD in the store. That's just crazy. Sure you can save quite a bit if you only buy singles, but personally, I'm not that interested in supporting musicians who can only turn out a single song worth buying on a whole album. The prices really need to come in line with what this stuff is really worth. Also, if they lower prices to "impulse" levels, they will probably make a much larger profit. T
  • by coldmist (154493) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:21PM (#38209676) Homepage

    If I could buy an epub file for a book, knowing that it is well-done by the publisher, and not just a simple OCR job of the printed copy, I would pay up to $5 for books.

    More than that, and for any other format with or without DRM, and I don't buy it.

    • by Guspaz (556486)

      How about $6, DRM-free, in ePub and any other format you might want? Baen's eBooks tend to be $4-6. Some are free (and not crappy samples, usually the first few books in major series).

  • by RobinEggs (1453925) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:27PM (#38209722)
    I really hope publishers cave in and figure out a way of pricing things better.

    I think I should be spending more on entertainment; I'm starting to feel much guiltier about stealing everything but comic books, occasional paperbacks, and the three video games per decade I like enough to buy a collector's edition.

    At the same time, the release prices for entertainment are completely batshit crazy. Games are $60, books are $35, and movies are $12? Who can afford that crap? Those prices all fall pretty quickly, but can't they come up with a better model than fleecing their most eager customers and then doling it out one step at a time to the next most impressive or convenient formats?

    I don't know; maybe they can't. I just know I laugh when I see those numbers breakdowns, and I've seen them from official sources multiple times, in which publishers swear to God they only make a 1% profit.
    • by tepples (727027)

      Games are $60

      A lot of the market has shifted to games that run on telephones. These tend to cost somewhere between $1 and $5.

    • I really hope publishers cave in and figure out a way of pricing things better.

      it's not just pricing. it's method of payment too.

      where is the ebookstore that i can go to with my cash and my usb stick, buy a pdf ebook and read it at home with okular or evince or whatever pdf reader i choose.

      not everybody has a credit card. actually - i think one can safely say that most people in the world do not have a credit card. so why haven't companies learned that and adjusted their way of doing business accordingly.

    • by graymocker (753063) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @01:19AM (#38211088)

      At the same time, the release prices for entertainment are completely batshit crazy. Games are $60, books are $35, and movies are $12? Who can afford that crap? Those prices all fall pretty quickly, but can't they come up with a better model than fleecing their most eager customers and then doling it out one step at a time to the next most impressive or convenient formats?

      This is actually the whole point: Market Segmentation. Your goal with any product is to extract maximum sales revenue from it, which means finding the optimum point on the price/demand curve. But if you sell at only one price point, you actually leave money on the table from individuals who were willing to pay you more for that product. For example, suppose I've figured out that maximum revenue for my widget is at $10/widget. However, I also know that there are people who are willing to pay $20/widget; there simply aren't enough of them to make the $20/widget price more profitable than the $10/widget price. Wouldn't it be great if I could get the best of both price points? If I could sell the product for $10/widget to those customers who would only be willing to buy at $10, but also turn around and sell it at $20/widget to those customers willing to pay more? Wouldn't it be great if I could do this in such a way so that the $20 customer actually is pleased with his purchase, and doesn't feel ripped off, by providing some kind of extra value to that $20 customer?

      The solution to this problem is to segment your market. With some goods this means coming out with slightly different products for each market segment. (eg, Mercedes has a C-series, an E-series, etc. etc. etc.). The solution in other products is to segment by time, so your most ardent customers pay extra to get the product right away, while more value-conscious customers wait for price drops or sales.

      This is in fact the solution used for most entertainment products, and honestly I don't think there's anything wrong with it. The brand new game may start at $60, for those fans that are very interested in the product and want it right away. (Market segementation also goes higher, with special and collector's editions with extra doodads for superfans). Then the price gradually drops until it covers every level of enthusiasm/budget for the product, until it shows up in a Steam sale for $5 and even those people who say "meh, looks interesting, guess I can try it" become customers. This system nicely balances multiple interests - it makes the same product accessible to a wide range of consumers, with each consumer paying what they think that product is worth to them (and the ones paying more getting some benefit from that higher price).

  • As Mr. Stross points out, most English-language books are published by a few big players. With Amazon, they find themselves in much the same position as many restaurants do with OpenTable... they've got one gatekeeper between them and their ultimate customers.

    And, as with the restaurants, the tools build their own gate are available: create or buy their own coop service, and stop doing business with Amazon. There would be risk, and there would be a short term loss of business. But, the publishers should ask

    • by arth1 (260657)

      As Mr. Stross points out, most English-language books are published by a few big players. With Amazon, they find themselves in much the same position as many restaurants do with OpenTable... they've got one gatekeeper between them and their ultimate customers.

      With Charlie Stross, I can't muster as much sympathy as I otherwise would, given that he (or his publisher) pulled his books off ereader (formerly peanutpress) and thus helped reduce the number of gatekeepers.

  • by QCompson (675963) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:28PM (#38209730)
    Especially now with amazon getting into the publishing business: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/17/technology/amazon-rewrites-the-rules-of-book-publishing.html?pagewanted=all [nytimes.com]

    At least with the music industry's drm'ed files they could be played on a multitude of devices from various companies. Amazon's ebooks only work on amazon hardware.

    I also get the impression that pirating ebooks is far less common with Joe and Susie Consumer than with what occurred in the napster days with mp3s. I doubt ebook filesharing has much affect on the publisher's bottom line, since most of those who do it probably wouldn't have purchased the book anyway (and certainly not new in hardcover).
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by badbart (929284)

      Amazon's ebooks only work on amazon hardware.

      Not entirely accurate--one of the things I like best about ebooks from Amazon is that I can (and do) read them on the Kindle, my phones, and my computers. The Kindle app is available for just about everything, and syncs between devices so I can pick up on one where I left off on another.

    • At least with the music industry's drm'ed files they could be played on a multitude of devices from various companies. Amazon's ebooks only work on amazon hardware.

      Actually it works with amazon hardware, but also any android OS, iOS, BlackBerry OS and desktop (using Chrome or a derivative, I believe web reader supports Windows/OSX/Linux) .

      Amazon's not stupid. They know that customers will want/need their content on multiple devices and they make it easy to move content across devices.

      This isn't to say that DRM is a good idea -- only that they're very efficient at hiding the fact that DRM exists from the majority of consumers. THis works very much in their favor --

    • by errandum (2014454)

      No, and this is a common misconception.

      The books you bought on Amazon will work on iPads, iPhones, Android Tablets, Android Phones and any mac/PC, up to 6 at the same time.

      True, they won't work on other e-book readers, but if you bought the book removing the amazon DRM is easy (allowing you to move it anywhere you want).

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      "Amazon's ebooks only work on amazon hardware. "
      Funny, my iPad reads kindle ebooks in the kindle reader app just fine. And my old android tablet reads kindle ebooks as well in it's kindle app.

      In fact I believe Kindle ebooks are the MOST cross platform ebooks out there as their reader app is on every single platform.

      Wait... I cant read them on my BluRay player. DRAT!

  • by Hobart (32767) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:37PM (#38209796) Homepage Journal

    Go give the 2007 open letter "Thoughts on Music [apple.com]" a read.

    I somehow doubt Jeff Bezos will publish a similar article.

    DRM-free MP3 sales from Amazon only happened as a "fight back" against the "evil single source for music" that was iTunes at the time.

    If we-the-public have got to rely on some similar benevolent dictator demanding DRM-free choices, is it gonna be Barnes and Noble's Leonard Riggio? I'm not holding my breath. :-/

    • by artor3 (1344997)

      Amazon doesn't have the clout to fight the publishers anyway. They tried holding the line at $10 per book, and lost.

      The best path we have to DRM-free ebooks is authors deciding to self-publish DRM free titles. If the next JK Rowling were to do so, it would have a big impact. Of course, you aren't likely to reach that point without publishers backing you at the start, and they probably make you sign contracts that you'll stay with them through the whole series.

  • by miles zarathustra (114450) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:42PM (#38209844) Homepage Journal

    "Here's a great book I just read. Let me lend it to you..."

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Calibre fixes that....

      Want to borrow this ebook? what format do you need it in? here you go.

  • by ohnocitizen (1951674) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:44PM (#38209876)
    DRM isn't the issue. Its Vendor Lock-in. You can have the former without the latter. The author is using Vendor Lock-in to trash DRM.
    • by chispito (1870390)

      DRM isn't the issue. Its Vendor Lock-in. You can have the former without the latter. The author is using Vendor Lock-in to trash DRM.

      Except, getting rid of DRM also gets rid of the Lock-in. So why not kill two birds with one stone?

    • The author is rather explaining how DRM, in this case, leads to vendor lock-in - because the customers who already bought DRM'd books from Amazon have to stick to their devices and apps (or else lose their collection), and consequently publishers have to publish through Amazon to reach that "captured" audience.

  • If the big six began selling ebooks without DRM, readers would at least be able to buy from other retailers and read their ebooks on whatever platform they wanted, thus eroding Amazon's monopoly position.

    You mean I can't buy from the likes of B&N already? Never mind they already have their own DRM. Also as a side note it would be interesting to both see E-reader sales and how much each purchaser buys?

  • My book (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sasayaki (1096761) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:58PM (#38209988)

    Disclaimer: I'm currently finalizing a book for the Amazon store. Shameless linkwhore here. [lacunaverse.com]

    This guy hit the nail right on the head. The reason the publishers are pushing for DRM is fear of piracy, but...

    Bleck. First up I don't like the term "piracy". Bleh. But language is fluid and you all know what I mean, so let's go with it.

    Real pirates, like these guys [wikipedia.org], are evil. They're not Jack Sparrow, they're not Captain Hook, they're murderers and rapists and kidnappers and deserved to eat a Tomahawk missile in their sleep. They're scum. They're villains. They're evil. They're not some kid who just wants to read the next (awesome, awesome, aweeeesome) Harry Potter book for free or whatever.

    I've never understood musicians, writers and artists who get all messed up about digital piracy. It just strikes me as entirely retarded, especially if they're not in full compliance with every piece of software, hardware, music and movies they've ever seen or owned. I'm sure their $2,000 copy of Adobe Photoshop is fully legitimate now and was when they were 14, and I'm sure they've never downloaded an MP3 in their life.

    I see this crap everywhere. I see rap artists thumbing their nose at society, waxing lyrical about sticking it to the man, pimping hoes, glorifying robbery, murder and pushing drugs, while at the same time appearing bereaved that their latest forgettable album appeared on The Pirate Bay the day after it appeared in iTunes. I see armies of cocaine huffing, hooker bashing, Harvard educated RIAA trust-fund babies who've never wanted for anything in their life but a full head of hair, going on about how Limewire costs them the GDP of the entire world [oddballdaily.com] ($75,000,000,000,000 dollars) in lost revenue and also, simultaneously, claiming to have had one of their most profitable years ever [azoz.com]. How do you even rationalize that kind of blatant, intrinsic wrongness?

    Fuck those guys.

    I don't give a shit if you got my book from The Pirate Bay. It costs $2 to buy and is available in DRM free PDFs, or even DRM free plaintext if you really want it and you're Richard Stallman (I met you once, by the way, and you were cool. You hated my iPhone though. Sorry bro). I don't want to DRM my book(s). I want people to read them.

    DRM pisses me off and ultimately hurts the consumer and then, eventually, the publisher too. Hell if someone made a torrent on The Pirate Bay of my work I'd probably just feel proud that I'd made a book people really want to read.

    • by Simulant (528590)


      <quote>... appearing bereaved that their latest forgettable album appeared on The Pirate Bay the day after it appeared in iTunes.</quote>
      <p> ...appearing bereaved that their latest forgettable album appeared on The Pirate Bay the week before it appeared in iTunes.
      <p>
      FTFY
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by brit74 (831798)
      I see armies of cocaine huffing, hooker bashing, Harvard educated RIAA trust-fund babies who've never wanted for anything in their life but a full head of hair, going on about how Limewire costs them the GDP of the entire world [oddballdaily.com] ($75,000,000,000,000 dollars) in lost revenue and also, simultaneously, claiming to have had one of their most profitable years ever [azoz.com]. How do you even rationalize that kind of blatant, intrinsic wrongness?

      Here's the thing: the statistics you posted are
  • by bdam (1774922) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @11:34PM (#38210594)
    I work for a small publisher. I don't particularly agree with our pricing scheme nor DRM but that's not my department. If you want your books on the millions of Kindles out there then you had better have it available via Amazon. It's a simple as that. We will sell our books to practically any retailer and we have a growing number that sell ebooks. In terms of Amazon using their monopoly ... they already had one with physical books and all the arm twisting and discounts stuff applies equally there.
  • The Story of DRM (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @12:51AM (#38210986)

    Reader: I'd like to buy your book please.

    Publisher: Buy a Kindle first.

    Reader: No, I don't want a Kindle. Sell me a book?

    Publisher: Buy a Kindle.

    Reader: If I buy a Kindle, can I read the book without it?

    Publisher: No. But buy a Kindle. I don't even care if you buy my book. Just please, buy a Kindle.

    Reader: What is this, a MLM scheme? Do you get paid for Kindle sales?

    Publisher: No. I just want you to buy a Kindle.

    Reader: Whatever. Anyway: money. Here is some money. Want my money? Sell me book. Book. File. No Kindle. Not any particular Kindle competitor. Data, not tool. Book. Sell me book. Money. Money. Here is some money. Money.

    Publisher: Fuck off.

    Reader: [blink] I think we had a misunderstanding. Let's try this one more time: money. Money. Here, please take my money.

    Publisher: Fuck you and your fucking money. I don't want money.

    Publisher Stockholders: la la la I am blissfully unaware. The management is trying to increase revenue. The management is trying to serve my interests. I will not sue them, or even fire them. la la la la.

    Publisher: Fuck money. Money is bad. I hate stockholders. Die, stockholder. Die, author. Die, customer. Everybody die. Fuck you all! RAAAA! Buy Kindle. *drool* *ramble* *rant*

    Reader: Hey, this torrent site is pretty nice. And everything just works!

    Amazon: You know what else just works? Reading those pirated books on a Kindle.

    Reader: ok. Here, have some money.

    Amazon: Moooney! Woohoo! Here you go. Enjoy your Kindle. Wanna buy some books?

    Reader: No thanks, but I gotta admit, this Kindle is actually pretty cool. And thanks for pointing me at those torrent sites.

    B&N: Wanna buy some books?

    Reader: I didn't know anyone was still trying to sell books. No thanks.

    Borders: please, money .. i need money.

    Publisher: Money baaaad!! No money.

    That is what DRM is all about. Saying no to money, in order to advance someone else's interests at your own expense. DRM means "Fuck you and your fucking money." That's about as rational as DRM gets, if your business is content. If your business is selling the one legal implementation of that DRM, though, it's reasonably sane.

  • by slyrat (1143997) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @10:00AM (#38213426)
    So since I have had one of the early ebook devices (Sony prs) I have always had to look for ebook stores outside of the big 3 that are linked to the devices. Here are some of the ones where I shop:
    no starch press [nostarch.com]
    fictionwise [fictionwise.com]
    wowio - graphic novel ebooks [wowio.com]
    oreilly technical books [oreilly.com]
    smashwords [smashwords.com]
    Baen web scription [webscription.net]
    the ENTIRE Vorkosigan Saga [thefifthimperium.com]

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