Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
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.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Why eBook DRM Has To Go

Comments Filter:
  • You can't be serious.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @08:18AM (#39793231)

      You can't be serious.

      No really he's right. If we can get rid of the DRM, there will be some really nice people who will loan out their book collection to a million or so of their close friends.

      • 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: (Score:2, Insightful)

          It takes just one person to upload
          • by NeverSuchBefore (2613927) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @08:50AM (#39793443)

            And then people have to download the book. If it has DRM, they'll just bypass it easily. Either way, your book will get downloaded by people who don't mind downloading it.

          • by realityimpaired (1668397) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @08:51AM (#39793453)

            Yes, and it only takes one person to crack the DRM, too.

          • by wrook (134116) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @08:59AM (#39793515) Homepage

            To paraphrase Karl Lagerfeld, "People who buy knockoffs of my product are not my customers". In the same way, people who do not pay for ebooks are not customers of the publishers. I can understand the frustration people have when they see someone take their product without paying for it. But if they concentrate on the people who *will* pay for it, (i.e. their actual customers) they will be better off.

          • by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @09:09AM (#39793565)

            Unfortunately, that's a reality that these guys are going to have to face. No amount of DRM or lawsuits or even infomercials [youtube.com] has stopped it from happening yet, and likely never will.

            DRM only punishes legitimate customers, anyway. It makes the pirated version of a work, be it an eBook, video game, whatever, a better product than the legitimate one. A pirated eBook works on any device that can read the file format. No stupid account tied to a particular store tied to a particular piece of hardware tied to a credit card number required.

            I mean, you know it's bad when people are starting to buy legit products and still download pirate copies so they don't have to deal with the bullshit. I actually know people that do that, particularly with PC games.

            The war on piracy is just as effective as the war on drugs or the war on terrorism. Something like 70% of people here in the states think that there is nothing wrong with sharing media between family and friends, according to a poll I read during the SOPA debacle. The general public is not on their side in this fight.

            • I actually know people that do that, particularly with PC games.

              I seriously wish people would stop supporting companies that utilize DRM.

              • by tibit (1762298)

                If only that was possible. There are no parametric 3D CAD systems without DRM. There are no professional-grade EDA tools without DRM. For many devices, the only development environment has DRM and there are no third party alternatives.

            • by tibit (1762298) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @09:34AM (#39793769)

              I do the some with any EDA and development tools. They are all legitiate, but the first thing I do is get a crack for them so that I don't have to deal with the silliness. Who the heck wants to travel with a fistful of dongles in those times of checkpoint groping and think-of-the-children mentality.

              PS. Now, moderate that, ha.

            • by beanpoppa (1305757) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @09:38AM (#39793821)
              EXACTLY! With four kids, I buy (or receive as gifts) a lot of kids DVD's. Disney, Dreamworks, etc. When we put a movie on in the car, I can't be juggling menus to skip past previews galore, and ultimately hit enter on a menu to get the movie to start. I regularly would use tools like DVDShrink to rip the movie to another disk so that it would play automatically when put in the player. Eventually, I got tired of the cat and mouse chase with copy protection, and began to download the torrents of the movies instead. Not to mention, ripping a movie would take close to an hour on my old computer, but I could download the torrent in 20 minutes! These were movies that I had on legitimate DVD's in my hand, but the pirates were still providing a product that was more convenient.
              • by Hyperhaplo (575219) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @11:04AM (#39794953)

                The scenario I am often now faced with is with friends and family with kids who have spent hundreds of dollars on DVDs.. and bought some DVDs several times.. for the usual reasons.. mostly when the kids turn the DVD into a coaster but also when the DVD wears out.

                In these cases.. what have you purchased?

                In many cases these parents now refuse to buy the DVD.. they skip directly to the downloads and then burn disks as needed. These are not technical people. They are, however, quite annoyed at buying a DVD several times.

                An obvious solution is to deliver content electronically.. but we are still a way off that. Still no solution to play electronic purchased material in the car... I wonder if someone will bring out a device equivalent of the current car DVD player screen devices which instead of playing from a DVD instead plays from a hard drive.. download from the net to the drive, put the device in the car and away you go..

                I don't buy books online. I've been burnt with DRM already. I have had several situations where the ebook option would be great.. but the industry right now is not exactly in a state where I trust them.

                Probably a good thing as I have hundreds of books I'd like electronically.

                • by Methuseus (468642)

                  There are a number of portable DVD players that will play off USB flash drives. Also you can put video files on a disc. You just need to make sure you use the right file type.

          • I know very well where to download them (and some of them, like 'Practical Postgres' are available for free anyway), but I still buy them, because I love O'Reilly Media. I also keep telling everyone how awesome they are and that one shouldn't be afraid of the prices: they are twice lower than they show.

            It takes one person to upload, but everyone decides if he should buy a book himself.
          • by Gilmoure (18428) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @10:43AM (#39794669) Journal

            Does this mean it’s easier for someone to violate my copyright? It does. But most people don’t want to violate my copyright. Most people just want to own their damn books. Now they will. I support that. And I believe that most readers who like my work will support me. They get that if I don’t get paid, they won’t get books — and more than that I really do believe most people who can support the artists whose work they like will support them. So personally I don’t think ditching DRM will mean people will stop buying what I and Tor have to sell.

            --John Scalzi,
            Tor/Forge To Go DRM Free by July [scalzi.com]

            When Tor first got their site going a few years ago, they put all these eBooks for free. I downloaded a bunch of them, got introduced to some cool authors and got back into buying books, both e and hardcopy.

            Same goes for movies and films. Sure, I can easily find any film or song out there but I purchase my stuff from Amazon and iTunes. All my friends (40-60 year olds) are the same way. Maybe I'm too old to be cool and scrape the web?

          • I've bought books e-books from both O'Reilly and Pragmatic as well and really like the way they do it-- the PDF has some custom printing on each page that identifies the purchaser and notes the copyright: "this e-book was printed for blah blah blah. copyight some year etc..."

            I recently became an e-publisher (see my homepage) and will likely set up a similar DRM-free way for people to buy ebooks if that's their preferred format. The goal is to make it possible for the reader to read what they want, when th

        • 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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @08:44AM (#39793393)

        You can't be serious.

        No really he's right. If we can get rid of the DRM, there will be some really nice people who will loan out their book collection to a million or so of their close friends.

        People are fundamentally honest. If this were not the case then tell me why Itunes sells drm free mp3 ?
        Its just as easy to record a music stream from some internet radio or download from your favorite warez sites. Yes you will find bad apples here and there but in the grand scheme of things people pay for things they want to OWN.
        I am very glad that the publishing industry is going in the near term drm free. As an avid reader I've refrained from even buying an e-reader since I don't want deal with vendor lock-in. Yes yes I know its easy to strip DRM but thats not the issue. DRM free books means everyone can sell these, not only Amazon. Diversity in the supply chain is good for everyone. Good for the publishers that are not beholden to one buyer, and good for consumers that can choose the store/s from which to buy ebooks. Ebooks are important, the ipad and other tablets are just a means to an end. For a reader, for me what is important is the ebook. Knowing that in 10, 20 years time I will be able to go back a read these books without any problem even if platforms change, and e-stores go out of business. Just like a real physical book.
        Now if we only could get the MPAA to understand this basic reality. Oh well we can't win everytime I suppose. 2 out of 3 is still good though.

      • by s13g3 (110658) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @09:00AM (#39793517) Journal
        Correct. I would never pay EA or the like a single dime more for a game than I have to, and I usually give them what they ask for only grudgingly. OTOH, I have "overpaid" anywhere from 50% - 100% for every one of the 5 Humble Bundles I have purchased, not only willingly, but happily. A little goodwill earned by treating the customer not just well, but better than you have to, will go a long way in not only earning repeat business, but in the customer overlooking when you occasionally get things wrong, or being willing to patronize your business even when they may not need to.
        • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @12:20PM (#39796093) Journal

          I stopped buying PC games when DRM started to become irritating. Steam was the final thing for me - a bloated buggy piece of crap that insisted on downloading 1.4GB on my 1Mb/s connection just so that I could play a game I already owned. Apparently it's fixed some of the major bugs now, but when it was introduced it was shockingly bad.

          Over the last year, I've spend more on gog.com that I did on games in the preceding 10 years. I have bought some games and not even played them - they're just sitting waiting for me to have some time to waste. I know that they'll still be working by the time I get around to playing them...

    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @08:39AM (#39793367) Homepage Journal

      You could also phrase it as "decreased bad will from users", because when I see DRM applied to something it can't possibly protect (e.g. ANYTHING) I get mad and I want the perpetrator to go out of business and I don't want to give them money.

    • Sure Why Not? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @08:42AM (#39793383) Journal

      You can't be serious.

      Well, to be fair he doesn't say how much it increases.

      Let's look at examples where this has already worked for me: Bandcamp. From the start they offered music with no DRM at various qualities of lossy and lossless downloads. As a result, for a while I was trying to make it a point to only purchase my music through bandcamp or directly from the little guys. Because the option was there with a large enough volume I could actually do this.

      Oddly enough I can stream all the music on Bandcamp when I'm connected to the internet through my computer and phone and I constantly send out links to friends via e-mail and social media sites (free advertising, more goodwill). So you might ask why I would ever pay anything for the music on Bandcamp but I do because sometimes the music is so good that I want something physical as well or I just want this unknown band from Sweden to have enough gas to make it to their next gig.

      Am I a typical consumer? Probably not but Bandcamp posts their numbers so I know other people are using it:

      To date, artists have made $16,858,713 using Bandcamp, and $1,188,800 in the past 30 days alone.
      Albums outsell tracks 5 to 1 (in the rest of the music buying world, tracks outsell albums 16 to 1).
      On name-your-price albums, fans pay an average of 50% more than the minimum.
      We've driven 2,570,177 paid transactions and served 30,232,263 downloads to happy fans.

      Now, does this goodwill offset someone sharing all of Bandcamp's MP3s? Apparently you don't think the goodwill is worth anything compared to that piracy. Maybe you're right but I would be thrilled if there was a Bandcamp site for ebooks where I could read most if not all of the book before purchasing it. Apparently Stross agrees that something less encumbering than the current model will be a better situation than what they have. Unfortunately, there's no sure way to measure this or to speculate if it will work for small time authors but not for big authors nor can you tell if it will be similar to the music anecdote I listed.

      So, he actually is serious, it's just the magnitude and trade offs that are unknown and scare publishing executives.

    • by LandoCalrizzian (887264) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @09:01AM (#39793527)
      I just got on the e-reader bandwagon last Christmas and I can say that I have only purchased one book because I don't want to be locked in to B&N (yes I know it's hackable) if they can't withstand the Amazon/Tablet onslaught. I have 2 bookshelves full of books and choose to checkout library e-books instead of purchasing them. I'd gladly pay for an e-book if a) it is cheaper than the hard copy AND b) I could read it on any device at anytime without an internet connection long after [insert controlling entity] is gone. DRM is and always will be a short term gain because in the long run it will cost you more to maintain it.
  • 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 NeverSuchBefore (2613927) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @08:24AM (#39793267)

      In this case, the real questions would be:

      1) Would DRM stop people from doing this? Highly unlikely.
      2) Is stopping the pirate bogeyman worth punishing everyone, including paying customers, over?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        e-books will not seriously take off until they are suitably cheap. Once they're like iOS "games", selling for $1-2, people will start to buy them when selling portals are integrated into the various ereaders.

        That won't happen for a very long time, book publishers are terrified of losing control of the entire distribution and "scarcity" control.

        • by crafty.munchkin (1220528) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @08:47AM (#39793431)
          Charles Stross also has an explanation of why reducing ebook costs to that level is impractical... it's a part of his series of essays regarding common misconceptions about the publishing industry [antipope.org]. Very much worth a read.
          • by 0123456 (636235) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @11:08AM (#39795021)

            Charles Stross also has an explanation of why reducing ebook costs to that level is impractical...

            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.

            Sure, a trade publisher with shareholders and a fancy New York office can't afford to sell books at that price, but plenty of writers can.

            • 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.

            • 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 FreeUser (11483) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @09:05AM (#39793543)

          e-books will not seriously take off until they are suitably cheap. Once they're like iOS "games", selling for $1-2, people will start to buy them when selling portals are integrated into the various ereaders.

          That won't happen for a very long time, book publishers are terrified of losing control of the entire distribution and "scarcity" control.

          That won't happen soon because of Amazon's pricing model. If you price a book for under $2.99, you only get 30% royalties (as opposed to 70% for $2.99 and greater if you organize your account right). If it were 70% all the way down, more authoris might be willing to price lower, but who wants to write a book just to give Amazon 70%?

          You might as well go with the old guard publishers in that case (well, not really, they pay even less, but still, at leat they'll give you an advance, and some distribution muscle.)

          • by Shadow99_1 (86250)

            Quite a few people? Most books I've bought from Amazon to use on my tablet are $2.99 or below and they are some of the most popular titles available in their genres through Amazon.

        • e-books will not seriously take off until they are suitably cheap. Once they're like iOS "games", selling for $1-2, people will start to buy them when selling portals are integrated into the various ereaders.

          That won't happen for a very long time, book publishers are terrified of losing control of the entire distribution and "scarcity" control.

          Until about a year ago I would have agreed with you but I think you underestimate the convenience of the technology. Recently, however, I decided to move house and found that moving my sizable library of over a hundred books and a stack of journals is a tiresome undertaking. Additionally over the last year or so some of my books and the majority the journals have been made available in electronic format (Mostly PDF) by the academic societies who publish them which means I can reduce the size of my library b

        • Actually, instead of following the link that crafty.munchkin has given you, I'll cite you a relevant section from his eBook section on common misconceptions about publishing:

          1. A manuscript is not the same thing as a book. Just as a random sampling of 100,000 words is not a novel, so too does a finished book differ from a manuscript (the text an author writes, which forms the core of the book). In particular, about 80-90% of the cover price of a book has nothing to do with the paper and ink object you buy i

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @08:51AM (#39793467)

        2) Is stopping the pirate bogeyman worth punishing everyone, including paying customers, over?

        Correction:
        Is stopping the pirate bogeyman worth punishing only the paying customers?

        That's the problem with DRM. It doesn't punish those who download illegal torrents, it punishes those who obtain legal copies. I think everyone would see that jailing those wh did not commit murder in order to prevent them from murdering is not a good strategy to fight murder. However with DRM, somehow people don't see that.

        Make it less painful to obtain and use legal copies than to obtain and use illegal copies, and you'll see most people use legal copies (well, unless you seriously overprice them).

        I've got a DVD player and bought DVDs, but I'll probably never buy a BluRay player or BluRay disks. Why? Because with a DVD player, I can be sure that the DVD will play, and will not stop playing at some time in the future because someone revoked some key because some third party I don't even know about made an unauthorized copy (or maybe for some other reason, after all, how could I check that it really is due to piracy, and not because some government decided to censor that disk and eliminate all uncensored versions that way, or the company got greedy and just wants everyone to buy that disk again?).

      • by RivenAleem (1590553) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @11:42AM (#39795535)

        If someone can get a message to him I'd like for him to try the following:

        On his next book, ensure that it is sold with the most Draconian DRM possible and then check the sales stats vs the piracy stats after a similar timeframe.

    • by BitterAndDrunk (799378) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @08:32AM (#39793305) Homepage Journal
      Butcher prices his Dresden files books at over $10 a pop. I read the first four or five but the pricing is too stupid and the quality's simply not that good. Not for significantly greater than pulp paperback.

      If he priced his stuff at $6 a pop I would have read the catalog. But $12? Now you're taking advantage.

      • by smpoole7 (1467717) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @08:51AM (#39793463) Homepage

        > Butcher prices his Dresden files books at over $10 a pop

        I don't know if it's at the link that I posted, or somewhere else in his forums (search through the "WOJ" -- "Words of Jim" -- I believe it's in his Amazon comments) ... but Butcher actually has an emphatic reply when someone says that to him. HE doesn't set the prices, the publisher does, and he rails at Amazon's pricing on EBooks all the time. :)

        By the way, I should also point out a different view, namely from Eric Flint (www.ericflint.net), who successfully lobbied for the Baen Free Library. Flint is a leader AGAINST DRM and insists that free distribution actually *increases* sales.

        Also, to be fair to Butcher, if you read all of his comments, he's not particularly enamored of DRM. He was just commenting on how the *publishers* view it.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @10:09AM (#39794169)

        I had the same issue. Book one is $10 on amazon. Paperback is $6. Used is 40 cents. Why the hell would I pay $10 for a 12 year old book, than I can't loan to a friend when I'm done. It's pricing models like this that drive people to just download it.

    • by allcar (1111567)
      I am more likely to download an illegal copy, as it will be DRM free. Why should I pay to get the product in a less convenient form. They are not even allowing themselves to play on a level field with the pirates, as they have an inferior product.
    • by Korvin20111803 (2019784) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @08:43AM (#39793391)
      In contrary, Paulo Coelho says in his blog: "... the physical sales of my books are growing since my readers post them in P2P sites. Welcome to download my books for free and, if you enjoy them, buy a hard copy..." http://paulocoelhoblog.com/2012/01/28/promo-bay/ [paulocoelhoblog.com]
    • by Mike Mentalist (544984) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @08:51AM (#39793457) Homepage

      As an indie author I can sympathise with his annoyance at people pirating his work. However he is making the classic mistake of assuming that if those people couldn't get his work for free, they would have gone to Amazon and paid for it.

      As my sig suggests I decided to upload all my own books to ISOHunt, Demonoid, Pirate Bay and Retroshare. I even posted about it in their forums, on 4Chan and include links to the torrents on my blog.

      The torrent page and the forum posts all contained an image of the front cover of my latest book. I got some nice feedback and potentially reached a large audience that normally wouldn't even know who I was.

    • I buy books and music online (sometimes in electronic formats, sometimes physical media.) Then I get it from TBP instead of downloading it where I bought it or ripping CDs. It is faster and easier for me, I do not have to deal with Digital Restrictions Management, and the vendor saves money on bandwidth. Everybody wins, except that the pirate download count is artificially high.

    • Some of those downloaded copies will be mine. Of course, I've also bought physical copies of all his books in as they've come out, and most of the audiobooks over Audible, so he's still getting plenty of dollars from my pocket. I wonder how many else have done likewise, and how many have given him money after initial exposure via piratical means. The first I found of Dresden files was downloading a pirate audio version of Storm Front. I've spent at least $300 on them since.

    • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @09:13AM (#39793597) Homepage
      So Butcher is saying that there are 22,000+ people who would either have never read his book, or would have checked it out at the library instead of buying it, who are now - if it was any good - likely to mention it to someone else who may well then go out and but it ? The poor bastard!
    • by fiordhraoi (1097731) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @11:00AM (#39794905)
      I am one of the people who has downloaded pretty much every Dresden and Codex Alera book from some sort of pirating website. Why? Because I bought every single one of those books as a physical book. Most of them in hardcover, too. To me, I've already paid my dues, so to speak - the pirating is simply the easiest way for me to convert the format of something I already own. If publishers offered a code in the physical book to get the ebook for free, or cheap, or something similar, then I would likely have done that. I may be the minority in this, but knowing my friends and those who have done the same thing, I'd guess from anecdotal evidence that we're at least a substantial plurality.
  • by Tastecicles (1153671) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @08:19AM (#39793241)

    ...Project Gutenberg has had more money from me (a few hundred Pounds in donations by now, easily, plus time spent volunteering as a proofreader and space and bandwidth given over for distribution which has got to be worth something) than Amazon, B&N or any other major online publisher/distributor ever has. Why? Because their ebooks aren't locked down to fuckery.

    Call me cynical, or a pirate, or whatever you want to call me, but I'm not about to buy something I can't use. IF DRM PREVENTS ME FROM TRANSFERRING FILES FROM AN OLD DEVICE TO A NEW ONE WITH NO FURTHER OUTLAY REQUIREMENT THEN I AM NOT INTERESTED.

    • As much as I think ebook DRM is bad, this isn't a problem with the kindle "ecosystem." I broke my gen 2 kindle earlier this year and had no problem at all putting my old purchases on my new Kindle touch. Not to mention I could still read it on my phone, in the cloud reader, on various other desktop readers, etc.

      However, I don't see why I shouldn't be able to put the same content on another type of reader completely outside of the kindle system, but that would probably be considered another argument.

      • by mwvdlee (775178)

        Will you be able to take the books with you on your next non-kindle reader?

        • If it's android, then yes. Probably iOS too. Or a PC, yes, absolutely. The only real question is what happens when amazon folds.
      • by CastrTroy (595695) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @08:45AM (#39793401) Homepage
        On the other hand I can see how getting rid of DRM could really create better competition. I bought the first two books from The Hunger Games from Chapters/Indigo for my Kobo. When it came time to get the third book, the price had jumped from about $6 to somewhere around $12. I noticed that Amazon still had the book listed for $6. So I bought the Kindle version, cracked the DRM and moved it to my Kobo (This is legal in Canada as far as I know). I have no problem paying for books, and supporting authors, but there's not reason one retailer should be charging twice as much as another retailer for the exact same book. Most people have no idea how to do this, so when they see an unfair price from one retailer, they can either pay the extra money, or just download a pirated copy (which is more simple than breaking the DRM on a rightfully obtained copy). DRM (in it's current form) is unfair because it locks the user into a specific hardware vendor and a specific book store. If you don't like the price the book store is offering, you don't have the option of shopping around for a better price. This is bad for the consumer, and bad for the retailer. People will be hesitant to jump on the e-book bandwagon because they are unsure if they want to be locked into a particular store. And retailers can't really compete on the price of books, because after you've bought the reader, you don't have much of a choice of where to buy books from.
      • If your alt-reader runs android, then amazon provides a kindle reader app which is almost more convenient than the kindle itself (minus e-ink); so if your alt-reader can sideload or official load the amazon store or amazon kindle reader app, you're good. Yes, you can read on an alt-reader.
      • by RDW (41497)

        However, I don't see why I shouldn't be able to put the same content on another type of reader completely outside of the kindle system, but that would probably be considered another argument.

        Well, this is one reason (maybe the main reason) why ebook DRM still exists - not to benefit the authors or publishers, but to lock buyers into the Kindle system (or equivalent). The locks are easy to pick, of course, and with even mainstream sites like Wired linking to DRM stripping guides, you have to wonder how long this will be sustainable:

        http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2011/01/how-to-strip-drm-from-kindle-e-books-and-others/ [wired.com]

        This makes removal so easy and seamless, you almost (as with DVD DRM) forget it

    • "IF DRM PREVENTS ME FROM TRANSFERRING FILES FROM AN OLD DEVICE TO A NEW ONE WITH NO FURTHER OUTLAY REQUIREMENT THEN I AM NOT INTERESTED."

      If DRM prevents me from transferring files from and old device to a new one without further outlay requirement then I am not interested!

      See the difference?

  • 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 wrook (134116)

      The prices on Pottormore are even quite reasonable. I would easily pay double for the Japanese version of the e-book, but alas it doesn't seem to be for sale. E-books let me look up words in the dictionary very quickly so they are much more convenient than paper for studying. I hope they figure it out. As strange as it sounds, they probably don't own the copyright for the Japanese version... sigh.

    • Re:Pottermore... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by netsavior (627338) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @09:12AM (#39793593)
      I wanted to clarify (as an author who works with amazon) Amazon does not require DRM.
      Want to publish your book DRM free with amazon? That is a CHECKBOX on their interface.

      All of my novels are published DRM free in the kindle store. I insisted on it because DRM is annoying to ME as a paying customer, because I like to decide which readers I read my books on personally, and I would like to afford my customers and fans (even the ones that pirate) the same courtesy.

      The first time a fan comes up to you sheepishly and says "I saw your book on TPB and started reading it, and well... can you sign this hardback for me, I bought all your other books too." You really get it.

      I push (and sometimes pay personally) to have my books in libraries, I made sure they are available for free in the kindle lending library, I make sure they are DRM free, I have to respect my customers, or they will never respect me.
  • The only guarantee I want is that regardless of the DRM method used that the original provider of the material does not have to exist for me to continue to access the books I purchased. This would most likely require some form of public repository for the encryption keys.

    Real books have their own DRM which is simply, whomever has it has access to it. Digital copies are simply to easy to give away. How can that one property physical copies have be replicated in the digital world without inconveniencing the end user and opening the publisher to loss by copying? Water marking doesn't seem practical, let alone enforceable.

    I do wish that DRM protected works were a lot cheaper.

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      What you ask for is the exact opposite DRM intends to accomplish. Just Say No.

    • How is Watermarking not practical?

      Someone buys the book, the server builds the book on the fly with the user ID placed at the appropriate places in the book and provides a link for the download which applies to that specific user.
  • In the 90's, the distinction was popularly called Knowledge in the World vs. Knowledge in the Head [aacinstitute.org]. As our communication and recording systems improve, we externalize more of our knowledge. First we recorded knowledge in books rather than memorize poetry. Now we rely on Google instead of memorizing facts.

    Every book we read, therefore, constitutes a portion of our externalized knowledge. Some of what we read might get memorized, but most of it gets absorbed as an awareness where we know we can look it up again in the future (moves knowledge from DK-DK to K-DK [wordpress.com]). By agreeing to DRM, eBook users place control of part of their knowledge -- part of their mind, if you will -- in the hands of corporations. The corporations are practicing mind control with DRM.

  • between amazon and apple there will be no more B&N soon

    even though i have 2 iphones and an ipad i still buy all my books in kindle format. it's the closest standard there is that works across a lot of different hardware from different manufacturers

  • by wasabiboy (537118) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @08:38AM (#39793357)
    I sense a mix-up between DRM and open/standardization of format. DRM alone doesn't create the kinds of problems outlined in this post. Perhaps we should be more uncomfortable about the lack of inter-operability or portability between purchased eBooks and apps that can display them. I think that DRM would be fine if it was implemented in an open/universal system.
    • by Loosifur (954968)

      I couldn't agree with you more, and if I had mod points I'd mod you up. As someone else pointed out, all DRM is meant to do is to preserve the same security that physical limitations provided before digital editions, i.e. you can only read a book if you're physically holding it, which limits you to one copy. As a writer, I want to get paid for the work I put into writing something, and DRM is one way of ensuring that no one is reading something of mine without my permission. BUT, I also want people to want

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        As someone else pointed out, all DRM is meant to do is to preserve the same security that physical limitations provided before digital editions, i.e. you can only read a book if you're physically holding it, which limits you to one copy.

        It's a completely arbitrary restriction since they're not physical items. Not only that, but their DRM often only harms paying customers, because it sure as hell won't harm the pirates who can just crack it.

        As a writer, I want to get paid for the work I put into writing something, and DRM is one way of ensuring that no one is reading something of mine without my permission.

        As a non-pirate, I do not want to be punished for the actions of others (pirates). Take your collective punishment schemes elsewhere. I pay for things because I want to support people who make those things, but when you treat me as a criminal, I'm going to ignore your product entirely and tell everyone e

      • by Smauler (915644)

        As someone else pointed out, all DRM is meant to do is to preserve the same security that physical limitations provided before digital editions, i.e. you can only read a book if you're physically holding it, which limits you to one copy.

        If that is what it is meant to do, it has gone horribly wrong. If DRM did do just that, very many fewer people would have a problem with it.

        As a writer, I want to get paid for the work I put into writing something, and DRM is one way of ensuring that no one is reading so

  • by slashbart (316113) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @08:56AM (#39793495) Homepage
    I like the Rockfax solution for downloadable rockclimbing guides. You buy one for a few euros, and they generate the pdf on the fly, with 'registered to Bart van Deenen' in the footer of every page. Works for me.
    Bart
  • I've been downloading ebooks for years. No drm, no hassle. Sure, these books were OCR'd and have mistakes sometimes, but I don't care.

    Yet the publishers want DRM, want to charge the same prices for paper books, etc.

    Fuck you, you want my money? Do the shit right.

  • It just has to be standardised. And standardised in a way that implements such concepts as fair use, doctrine of first sale and so on. Basically the whole concept of digital property needs to be defined and implemented by some framework so that when people buy an ebook they're actually buying a book rather than a licence to it.

    The book would still be protected by a key but the key could be revoked by one owner and transferred to another. I would still hold a copy of the book as a file but in the absence o

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Please show me the free standard for Ultraviolet, or even one that is not free but I can develop against. I want to make an ultraviolet player.

  • I've read a bunch of comments and there are two things that I keep seeing:

    1) "I hate DRM and I won't pay if there's DRM on a book! I'm definitely just going to download it!"
    2) "DRM is so easily cracked, anyway! Why do they think it's going to stop anyone?"

    Bonus:

    3) "With DRM, how will I move my books to a new platform?"

    We all know DRM is, at best, an inconvenience. I agree that it should be removed, and publishers should face up to the reality that people are willing to pay a fair price--even an inflated price, honestly--for a product as long as it's convenient. Piracy is only more appealing when it's easier than buying.

    But if you're using DRM as an excuse to not pay for the book, you're full of shit. Seriously.

    You should buy the book anyway and send an email to the company explaining why their system is counter-productive. Downloading books without paying shortchanges authors. These are the people that you're ostensibly trying to support.

    iTunes ended up DRM free because the middleman (Apple, obviously) was convinced by consumers that DRM wasn't necessary, and encouraged the labels to drop DRM as a requirement. It became obvious to everyone that people are happy to spend their money to support artists they enjoy. I'm sure there's still quite an active music trading scene, but there's money changing hands, too.

    Your positions on downloading and trading are inconsistent with your positions on supporting artists and convincing companies to remove DRM. You have to show them that the market is there and willing to pay (assuming they're not fleecing us) to convince them that DRM is unnecessary. In the meantime, you're just entrenching them further and making it harder for your favourite writers to do their work.

    Buy books. Pay for them. If you can, buy from a publisher that's already DRM free and thank them for their decision. If you can't, buy the book and remove the DRM afterwards if you like and stop falsely complaining that you can't device-shift your collection. Then get off your lazy ass and write the publisher and remind them that you ALREADY paid for the book and that you'd appreciate it if they considered changing their policy.

    • by gweihir (88907)

      I am using DRM as an excuse to not buy, period. It is not an inconvenience, it is a show-stopper for any committed reader.

    • But if you're using DRM as an excuse to not pay for the book, you're full of shit. Seriously.

      Are they? Consider this: a person doesn't want to support the people who make the product because they utilize DRM, but still wants the product. I'm not saying it's right, but what I am saying is that it's a very possible scenario.

      You should buy the book anyway and send an email to the company explaining why their system is counter-productive.

      What I'd suggest is: don't buy it at all, and tell them why you didn't. Don't download it, either, as that could provide them with free advertising.

      Then get off your lazy ass and write the publisher and remind them that you ALREADY paid for the book and that you'd appreciate it if they considered changing their policy.

      If you keep buying their products, there is far less of a chance that they'll learn their lesson. They'll change when their source of

      • I'm willing to concede the point that if you don't download the product as well as not buying it, then you're at least working inside a self-consistent system. My issue is with people that are downloading the book but using the DRM as the sole excuse for not paying for it, as if to teach the companies a lesson. I believe that it's an untenable and unhelpful position to take.

  • 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.

What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite. -- Bertrand Russell, "Skeptical Essays", 1928

Working...