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DRM Books Your Rights Online

Why eBook DRM Has To Go 299

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-we-don't-want-a-bezosopoly dept.
Sci-Fi author Charlie Stross was recently put in the position of offering his thoughts to book publisher Macmillan on why eBook DRM is a terrible thing — not just for consumers, but for publishers, too. He makes a strong case that the removal of DRM, while not an immediate financial boon, will strongly benefit publishers in years to come through increased goodwill from users, greater leverage against Amazon's near-monopoly on distribution, and better platform interoperability. "Within 5 years we will be seeing a radically different electronic landscape. Unlocking the readers' book collections will force Amazon and B&N and their future competitors to support migration (if they want to compete for each others' customers). So hopefully it will promote the transition from the near-monopoly we had before the agency model, via the oligopoly we have today, to a truly competitive retail market that also supports midlist sales." Users have been railing against DRM for years, but it appears the publishers are finally starting to listen.
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Why eBook DRM Has To Go

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  • by smpoole7 (1467717) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @08:19AM (#39793239) Homepage

    But it's interesting to see what some of the authors have to say about it. Here's a comment from Jim Butcher (Dresden Files, Codex Alera):

    I literally receive notices every single day about available free downloads of books I put months if not years of work into, and that's from a simple Google alerts search. Over a three month period, I tracked over 22,000 total pirate downloads of my work, using the stats available from the various file-sharing sites which include a counter stating the number of times the files had been downloaded. Actual sales of e-copies during that same period? Just over 2,500. That's sales information taken from the sales reports I get from the publisher.

    http://www.jimbutcheronline.com/bb/index.php/topic,26233.msg1117676.html#msg1117676 [jimbutcheronline.com]

    He also has some interesting comments about the publishers and how they're being dragged into eBooks kicking and screaming. :)

  • by bitflusher (853768) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @08:20AM (#39793247) Homepage
    At Bean (http://www.baen.com/) the books are drm free and in all sorts of formats. When I buy a book I make shure it will be readable in the future on any new device I own no even when the store drm server crashes or the publisher goes belly side up. The books I buy at Bean don't have to be cracked in order to do this. One little confession: only 2 books and 1 monthly bundle were bought at Bean by me (I still buy books because for reading pleasure, not DRM free-ness).
  • Pottermore... (Score:5, Informative)

    by nweaver (113078) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @08:22AM (#39793249) Homepage

    I think one factor which has really changed publisher's views in the past few weeks on this issue is the success [guardian.co.uk] that J.K. Rowling has had selling Harry Potter online. She deliberately waited a long time before allowing eBook versions, as much to get things settled out, but the result is very clean: even Amazon just directs to the Potter site [guardian.co.uk], which then links back to all the DRM'ed eReaders as well as providing direct downloads in ePub.

    So she's getting most of the money (well, her and her publisher), not Amazon, she dictates the price, and is no longer affected by the Amazon Monopsony [wikipedia.org] that Amazon has gained by being the most common (but not universal) ebook platform. While a buyer no longer has to worry about DRM lockin: the books they buy will read anywhere, painlessly.

  • by Roman Grazhdan (2483616) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @08:41AM (#39793379)
    I've bought a dozen of ebooks from O'Reilly and didn't upload any of them anywhere. They don't treat me as a potential thief and don't fuck up my reading experience and the prices are reasonable (especially when you compare them to apress or pragmatic). They are my friends. I want them to prosper and publish more DRM free books.
  • Re:Sure Why Not? (Score:5, Informative)

    by flyingfsck (986395) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @09:17AM (#39793627)
    You mean like this one http://www.baen.com/library/ [baen.com] ?
  • by lxs (131946) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @10:00AM (#39794051)

    Yeah but who can read shorthand [wikipedia.org] nowadays? Or did you mean steganography?

  • by hawguy (1600213) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @10:49AM (#39794751)

    I found that it's trivial to crack the encryption on Barnes and Nobel Nook books, and I've done so on many of the books I've purchased there. Now I let the books float freely between my Nook and Kindle. There were a few Nook books that I was having trouble decrypting, and it turns out that they were already sold with no DRM - I haven't run across any Amazon books without DRM restrictions.

    Conversely, I haven't had success at cracking my Kindle books, so I've stopped buying from Amazon. I try to buy non-DRM books (Google Books is a good source for mainstream books, many of their titles have no DRM, Smashwords is another great source for non-DRM books), but when I can't find a non-DRM title, I buy from B&N since I know I can strip the DRM even though I have no interest in sharing books with anyone, I just want to share them among my own devices.

  • by MrAngryForNoReason (711935) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @12:01PM (#39795825)

    Those hundreds of thousands of $0.99 e-books on Amazon can't possibly exist.

    They can and do exit, but the problem with the problem often is that at that price point it isn't cost effective to have the book properly edited, copy checked and typeset. The result of that is a book with less polished writing, more mistakes and poor typesetting. These processes make more of a difference than you think. I've read plenty of books self published by the author, while great reads the difference in overall production quality was noticeable.

    Badly typeset books with mistakes in are more difficult to read and even the best authors rely heavily on their editors to shape and refine the book before publication.

  • GOG (Score:4, Informative)

    by hort_wort (1401963) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @12:07PM (#39795917)

    Just wanted to give a nod to GOG.com and point them out as an example. They sell games that are only DRM-free, and they seem to be doing just fine. I've been one of their customers since they started a few years ago, and I've only seen them grow. I haven't heard anything about their games being stolen and redistributed. I see no reason why it'd be different for (reasonably priced) ebooks.

  • by tgibbs (83782) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @12:31PM (#39796289)

    Indeed. Those hundreds of thousands of $0.99 e-books on Amazon can't possibly exist.

    A while back I saw a study of the top 100 SF best-seller e-books on Amazon and if I remember correctly the most popular price was $2.99.

    For the most part, the $.99 books on Amazon are from authors who are trying to build an audience. For the most part, they are not up to the quality of a full-price book in editing or proofreading, but readers understand the tradeoffs of a $0.99 book. This is a good thing, in my opinion, as it makes it easier for talented young authors to get a start, but for an author that I know and like, I'm perfectly willing to pay a few bucks more for a more polished work.

    Another good thing about ebooks is that it makes it possible for authors to keep their backlist in print and offer discounts on these older works. Again, this helps to bring in new readers, some of whom will hopefully be enthusiastic enough to pay full price for the author's more recant works. The "first one is (almost) free" deal works for authors as it does for drug dealers.

    In other words, these are loss leaders. But professional editing and proofreading, promotion, and translation into other languages, not to mention advances to authors so that they can afford to write as a full-time profession don't come cheap. So while there will be deals on older books and books by new authors, don't expect prices to drop drastically for new books by established authors.

  • by hodet (620484) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @01:00PM (#39796727)
    I have no problem decrypting Amazon books with http://apprenticealf.wordpress.com/2010/02/11/hello-world/ [wordpress.com] Use Calibre to then convert to whatever format you want. I have a Kobo and always buy my books. But Kobostore sometimes does not have the books I want so I buy them from Amazon and then strip and convert.

I find you lack of faith in the forth dithturbing. - Darse ("Darth") Vader

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