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DRM Books Media

DRM: How Book Publishers Failed To Learn From the Music Industry 212

Presto Vivace writes "In a blog post, danps explains how the music industry initially thought that the Internet meant that people wanted their music for free. In 2003 Apple persuaded the industry to use an online music store with DRM. But DRM just does not work for consumers, so by 2011 online music stores were DRM-free. Sadly, the book industry has not learned these lessons. And there are larger lessons for the gadget industry: 'The tech industry right now is churning out lots of different devices, operating systems and form factors in an attempt to get the One True Gadget — the thing you'll take with you everywhere and use for everything. That's a lovely aspiration, but I don't see it happening. What I see instead is people wanting to only carry around one thing at a time, and rotating through several: Smart phone for everyday use, tablet for the beach, laptop for the road, etc. If you can't get the book you paid for on each of those devices, it's a pain. As a reader I want to be able to put a book on everything as soon as I buy it so I always have a local (non-Internet dependent) copy — no matter which thing I run out of the house with.'"
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DRM: How Book Publishers Failed To Learn From the Music Industry

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  • The textbook market is just as bad small updates all the time to kill resale, paying teacher X per book (some even rip pages out and try use a used book you fail)

    • Are you suggesting that teachers and college professors receive kickbacks on book sales?

      Are you high?

      That would cut into the publishers' profit margins.

      • I don't know about kickbacks, but I had teachers in the past that wrote the book that they would use in class. I know one teacher who got very mad when the class use a pirated version of the program need for a class, I wasn't taking the class but I know so one who was taking the class.
        • This stupid complaint about profs assigning their own texts, again.... Do you think Henry Ford the 15th (or whatever) should drive a Camry? A prof who has written a textbook no doubt thinks the textbook is the best in the field. And, yep, he or she gets a cut. But it's damn small. More important would be the vote of confidence (or lack of) in his/her book. However, yes, schools do get kickbacks from publishers. Not individual profs, but some companies, Prentice Hall especially, like to offer departments ki
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 31, 2013 @06:04PM (#43878409)

    I don't like DRM, and as a result I don't own a Kindle, but at least with Amazon, you still have Kindle apps on IOS, Android and for Desktops which allow you to read your Amazon ebook purchases on other devices. While the average Slashdot user, like me, would prefer DRM free ebooks so they could use any app on any device to read their books, the average Joe is going to be quite content with buying via Amazon and using the Kindle apps across devices. Using the same app across multiple devices to read your ebooks is a lot easier than juggling DRM free ebook files between different devices and apps (for the average Joe)

    • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

      The Kindle app is a horrible, slow, piece of poo whose only saving grace is that it's not as bad as the Adobe equivalent.

    • by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Friday May 31, 2013 @06:17PM (#43878575) Homepage Journal

      Provides just more than that. Syncs reading all across tablets, e-readers, cellphones, and desktops. You can even put your own (or purchased elsewhere), DRM free book, send to kindle, and read in whatever device you have, in all of them if you want. That is a killer feature in a world where you can use a lot of different device, for different environments, to access your books. A service like that is needed, from Amazon or other players, but what matter is the broad reach across devices.

      That books are DRM free is somewhat orthogonal with that. You must own what you purchase, DRM, in the other hand, is turning it into renting in practical terms.

      • by johanw ( 1001493 )
        No, DRM is adding the extra hassle of installing Calibre extensions to get rid of it.
      • by MBCook ( 132727 )

        Recently they added the ability to also buy the audiobook version and the app *syncs your place* so you can switch between the two formats. That's a pretty amazing idea.

        But the app doesn't help the author. He said he had a Nook. Thanks to the recent firmware update people with a Nook Color or Nook HD can get then app, but if you have the eInk based "normal" Nook, you're just out of luck.

        As DRM goes, Amazon has done an excellent job of reducing annoyance. They don't try that "you can only read this book on

      • by ljw1004 ( 764174 )

        What Kindle doesn't provide: orientation lock on WindowsPhone. Makes it impossible for me to read books in bed. I gave up on my kindle purchases a year ago and switched completely over to epub.

    • by johanw ( 1001493 )
      The average Joe's I know ask me to pirate their ebooks for them. Much, much easier than messing around with buying drm-infested books, especially here where credidcards are not commonly used.
    • You can also put your own content (DRM Free) on a Kindle account so that it syncs between devices just like purchased content. []

    • Not just Amazon. I can read stuff I download from the Google Play store on my Android phone and tablet (and possibly my laptop too -- haven't tried) without an internet connection.
  • by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Friday May 31, 2013 @06:04PM (#43878411)

    If you can read it, you can transcribe it as fast as you can read it (less than a day?)

    With good OCR, books can be transcribed even faster.

    Some people will read your book without buying it. You can't stop that. A lot of people are going to check your book out from the library and read it free too.

    So DRM especially just prevents your legal readers from reading your book.

    • It's only been an issue for me when I purchased something and wanted to use it. It's pretty much like the onion wrote an article on DRM and they ran with it.
    • If you can read it, you can transcribe it as fast as you can read it (less than a day?)

      If you can read it, then you have physical access to the encryption keys/algorithms used to protect it, so it is nigh-on impossible to stop someone, somewhere cracking the encryption.

      Some people will read your book without buying it.

      ...and if they like it, many of those people will go on to buy your next book.

      Seriously - look at your bookshelf, look at your CD collection. How many of those purchases happened because somebody previously lent you a book by that author, or gave you a MP3 or C90* of an album by that artist? DRM throws a spanner in that, while

      • I don't think you can say "many of those people will go on to buy your next book."

        I think it's reasonable to say, "some people who consume your entertainment will purchase more from you."

        From what I've seen, a lot don't.

        Advertisements work much better than word of mouth.

        But people who use advertisements start min/maxing the entertainment.
        Autotuning- not supporting anything fringe, dropping 17 products and only keeping the 3 most popular products on the shelf, only printing/publishing books/music/movies, etc

        • Advertisements work much better than word of mouth.

          From what I've heard from advertising people, no they don't. Advertising can help people discover stuff that no one knew about before. Advertisement can keep a specific product near front of a potential customer's mind. But for actually getting people to make a specific purchase, nothing beats and endorsement from people you know and trust.

  • The general success of iTunes shows that consumers don't really mind DRM as long as it's not intrusive. Going DRM free was great, and DRM still exists for movies/TV shows on iTunes...and for most downloadable movies, etc. Audible still uses DRM as well, and they're not slowing down any.

    At some point Apple's going to have to increase the device count on what's left of the Fairplay infrastructure...but until then, whatever's left of Fairplay really is fine.

    As a note, what the OP wants already exists: it's cal

    • by sehlat ( 180760 ) on Friday May 31, 2013 @06:28PM (#43878695)

      I call BS.

      Consumers put up with DRM, in exactly the same way they put up with exorbitant prices for gas, "convenience fees" and other corporate tactics to sink a sump into their wallets.

      When I buy movies, books, or music, if I can't jailbreak them, I don't buy them. Period. End of story.

      Everybody I talk to either hates DRM or thanks me for telling them where the picklocks are.

      But NOBODY "doesn't mind" DRM.

      • GP reflects my own views. I hate Amazon's business model for ebooks, their DRM, and the fact that they try to be "vertical" by selling e readers as well as books, but they have a decent app for my iPad, and they make it really easy to buy books from them, which is just what I want... for fiction. Stuff that I will probably only read once. Here, convenience trumps DRM.

        On holidays I take my old e-ink reader which I will not miss too much if lost or stolen, and for that I buy books in (DRM'ed) epub or PD
        • Who doesn't sell ebooks to non-US residents? I am a non-US resident, and have bought ebooks from Amazon and other places with almost no trouble. But I tell them where I live, and I abide by the various licensing issues that come up. Once I had a problem trying to buy a book while travelling on a cruise ship. I think it was because they know I reside in X and the cruise ship wasn't X. After I got back home I could buy the book with no trouble. Once I bought a book that I really wanted after figuring out that
    • The general success of iTunes shows that bloated unpleasant licence abusing (they made a south park episode []) itunes still relevant with the death of the iPod...and the decline of the iPhone, ironically it has several DRM free competitors that work through...a web page.

      What is quite hilarious though is that DRM something Apple support as they currently benefit from it...will start to hurt them as customers are restricted migration to their platform.

    • by fa2k ( 881632 )

      Isn't Google's music service DRM'ed, even if you "buy" the music? And things like Spotify are of course DRM'ed. Seems like even in music, it's reverting back to DRM. Seems like we're moving to a different model, where people don't "own" copies of entertainment / cultural works. It's not inherently a problem, if the majority prefers this model then people and business will be happy. There is one problem: things can be more easily censored and modified by government and business. (I'm against DRM, won't buy D

  • DRM Pain (Score:4, Informative)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Friday May 31, 2013 @06:10PM (#43878489) Journal

    I bought a couple of books on iBooks until I figured out that they were crippled by DRM. Naturally I couldn't view them on my Nexus 7, so I did two things:

    1. I found torrents to decrypted copies of the books I purchased.
    2. Never bought another book from iBooks.

    I still buy DRM-laden books from Kobo, but I can still decrypt those with ePUBee. The minute I can't do that any more, I won't buy from them either.

    As a bit of a kudo, any SF nuts out there, head over to Baen, who has a big chunk of their catalog available as non-DRM ePubs (along with other formats as well).

  • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Friday May 31, 2013 @06:10PM (#43878493) Homepage Journal

    Given the choice between copying a song for free and paying 89 cents for a song legitimately, many people will choose the purchase, if it's easy enough.

    Now, take a college student who can copy a textbook or purchase an eBook for $350.

    That's why publishers want DRM - so they don't have to face the real value of their products.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      By "real value" do you mean the cost of copying it? Or the $1 people are willing to pay for the convenience instead of chasing it down on a pirate site for $0? Besides, you're confusing "real value" with rational behavior. If I'm drop dead in love with a song with a song and would pay $10 for it but it's offered for sale for $1 then of course I buy it. Just because you feel the total cost (moral, legal, financial) of copying that textbook is a better value than buying the $350 eBook the real value is neithe

  • by hAckz0r ( 989977 ) on Friday May 31, 2013 @06:14PM (#43878545)
    If you buy only DRM free ebooks (let your wallet speak) you can convert those ebooks, manage, and use them on just about any ebook reader made to date. You can also convert other document formats (text, html,pdf, etc) to be compatible with your ebook reader of choice. Its free, open source, and fairly portable. []
  • by Nyder ( 754090 ) on Friday May 31, 2013 @06:15PM (#43878553) Journal

    Look people, corporations are greedy bitches that only care about making a profit. Because they are greedy, they think everyone else is out to rip them off. Why? Because they rip us off every chance they get. They except people to pay full physical book prices for ebooks, when it cost way less to make a copy of an ebook then it does to make a physical book. They know they are ripping us off, thus they want DRM so they can gouge the stupid people that actually pay them for the ebooks.

    Me? I've been downloading ebooks since the 90's. Way before the publishers got on the bandwagon. Sure, I might get some spelling (OCR errors), but I don't care. It's free. So why should I go from paying nothing, to paying over $10 for an ebook? Seriously, explain that one to me. The corporations do NOT care about me, they only care about is how much profit they can make off of me. Well, fuck them.

    Bring old ebooks to the $2-3 price, and I'd consider buying them. New ebooks $5, max. I'd never pay more then $5 for an ebook, ever. Why? Because I can't sell it used. A physical book, I can take to a use book store and sell for some dollars, or trade for credit. That is value. Ebooks? Don't have a value and I sure as fuck ain't paying the corporations to fuck me over.

    • by DogDude ( 805747 )
      Look people, corporations are greedy bitches that only care about making a profit.

      Right, and you only care about paying as little as possible. What's your point?
      • by Nyder ( 754090 )

        Look people, corporations are greedy bitches that only care about making a profit.

        Right, and you only care about paying as little as possible. What's your point?

        My point in about value. Why do physical books cost so much? Because it cost for the materials to make them. How much does it cost for ebooks? Very fucking little. But instead of getting cheaper books, we get DRM on the ebooks and high prices.

        Can you sell your used ebook to offset the cost? No.

        You like paying more for stuff then it's worth? Apparently you do, or you wouldn't of replied.

        • Sigh... another fool on the Internet with bad grammar and no understanding of economics.

          Books don't cost that much to bind and ship. This is definitely part of the cost of a physical book, and should be left off of the cost of an ebook. However, writing and even the non-physical portions of publishing (meaning editing, typesetting, getting cover art, and especially marketing) are not free. Writing in and of itself might not cost much of anything, but there is a huge opportunity cost; the time spent writing

          • by N7DR ( 536428 )

            Now, as to what an actually reasonable price is for an ebook... that's an interesting question (and of course there's no one solid answer, because different types of book will command different prices). For your typical mass-market fiction novel of ~300-400 pages, the kind of thing that would be maybe $8 as a paperback at a bookstore, something around $3-$5

            Yes, I price the e-book versions of my books between $3 and $4 for essentially that reason. I do feel guilty that the various e-book "standards" don't allow for anything remotely resembling decent typesetting, so people who read my books on electronic devices are having a definitely less-than-optimal experience. On the other hand, I go to great lengths to ensure that one doesn't see (as I have seen with e-books from big publishing houses) howlers such as the word "you" presented as "y-" "ou".

            I believe tha

          • The mass-market paperback market is not the important market to compare to, though. Books make their money on sales of hardbacks--that is what pays the author to write. The publisher and author might get 1/2 of the price of $25 hardback. It's not clear they can stay alive in a world of $10 ebooks.
    • OK, you hate the business model of publishers, so you want to do the unprincipled thing and read their stuff without paying for it and then rant about it. Instead of ranting you could find publishers whose business model you DO like--those that release DRM-free works--and be positive and support their business instead of ranting against those whose business you don't like, while benefiting from their labor. You would rather sink to the level of the publishers you despise. But it looks like you're okay with

    • Look people, corporations are greedy bitches that only care about making a profit.

      Guess what PEOPLE are greedy bitches that only care about saving money

      So why should I go from paying nothing, to paying over $10 for an ebook? Seriously, explain that one to me.

      Because it is wrong and illegal... Of course you know you can probably go to your local store and not pay for the loaf of bread, but you don't do you?

  • Why are people sharing blog posts like it's news. I read that whole thing and it sounded like one long whine. How about some real news /.
  • Smart phone for everyday use, tablet for the beach, laptop for the road, and AN E-INK READER FOR READING. I've been reading ebooks regularly on a handheld computer since the Apple Newton. e-ink was a huge game changer. My kindle keyboard gives me so much less eye strain compared to laptops, tablets, iphones etc. Use the right tool for the job. As much as I hate the idea of DRM, having one device specifically for reading means it rarely gets in the way.
  • The music industry situation was different. At the time the market went to drm-free by a landside, music playback devices by and large had no wireless or cellular radios. They were fixed-function devices that could only consume non-executable content (mostly). In that ecosystem, supporting multiple platforms was difficult to the point of being unfeasible. For the no-name cheap devices, DRM was completely out of reach. Customers more keenly felt the pitfalls of DRM given the state of the ecosystem. Eve

  • As a reader I want to be able to put a book on everything as soon as I buy it

    When I buy books, I am able to do that. I can put it on my computer, tv, xbox. I can also put it on my bed side table, on my desk, in my car on the dashboard, in my rucksack to read it on the train.

    I can sell it and buy it new or second hand. The variety is immense,

    But perhaps they are not talking so much about books as they are talking about text files.

  • by massysett ( 910130 ) on Friday May 31, 2013 @07:58PM (#43879517) Homepage

    "But DRM just does not work for consumers"? I don't buy that. The scores of DVD and Bluray players and discs that have been sold suggests otherwise, as does the number of Netflix subscribers and the number of Kindles sold.

    DRM did not work for music for two reasons. First, network access was not as ubiquitous in the Napster days as it is now. Back then, if you wanted to listen to your music on the go, you needed a local copy. Now you can get one over a cellular network. Second, there were no business models around digital music back then. Now there are. Apple of course did big business in DRMed music tracks before finally removing the DRM.

    Further, if you want to put your Kindle book on everything, you can. You can read it on a PC, iPhone, Android, or Kindle.

  • The music industry has yet to learn its lesson(s)

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.