DRM-Free For You and Me

I hate DRM. And since it’s Read an eBook Week, I figure it would serve well to discuss one of the facets of digital publishing that stops people from trying out ebooks, after, of course, the high cost of the ebook readers: DRM.

DRM is Digital Rights Management, or, more appropriately, Driving Readers Mad. The security wrapped around ebooks that allegedly prevents me from sharing them really just prevents me from owning the actual book itself. Given the various types of formats and the varying degrees of security embedded within them, DRM means I’m being sold a format and not the actual book. Moreover, when something goes wrong, and with computers, something always does, the honest consumer is the one who gets screwed.

Consider this email I received a few weeks ago:

I have a question/problem about/with ebooks and acrobat DRM.

First of all I made the huge mistake of purchasing an ebook on my work computer.  I placed it on a junk drive since I only read it on my work laptop. 

Here’s the problem: the damn laptop died and it had to be reconfigured.  Now I can’t finish reading the stupid book because it says I’m not reading the file from the same computer.  But it is the same computer.

The next thing is my sister is giving me her old Sony Reader and I was going to download all my ebooks to but now they won’t open.

I asked Jane for her wisdom on this one, and her reply was simple:

 

You have only a few options, one of which requires breaking the law. The first question you have to answer is what format are your ebooks in?  If they are all in Adobe and are “locked” by the software then you need to authenticate your new computer and redownload the books after you’ve got permission from Adobe via the internet to read the books you purchased.

The bad news is that unless you have a newer Sony (model 505 or 700), you can’t read any of the Adobe files that have DRM.  The old Sony Readers simply don’t have that capability.  What now you ask?  If you really want to read the files you have legitimately purchased, you have to break the law.

You see, according to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, you aren’t supposed to circumvent DRM.  In order to read the files, though, you have to circumvent DRM.

Forcing consumers to jump through multiple hoops to read a damn book is not a way to win customers in a down market. And when vendors and distributors have a big fight and disassociate with one another, forcing consumers to jump through more hoops to attain the actual content they paid for, it gets even more ridiculous. I don’t at any time expect that Barnes and Noble would suddenly decide to come in to my house and repossess all the books I own, yet ebook “owners” were scrambling to redownload and potentially strip the DRM off ebook files so that their books weren’t suddenly inaccessible and unavailable.

So, the DRM, it is Driving Readers Mad. And – heads up big pub houses! – readers notice when it’s not used. One way in which small publishers have kicked ass and taken names, and increased their sales through word-of-mouth from happy customers? DRM-Free files.

Oh noes! All those wee books, running around in the nude… where consumers own the damn content and not a format or DRM shell? HELL YES. WORD TO THE UP, BIG NAME PUBLISHERS. Take a lesson. Reader M wrote:

All my computers at home are Macs, and I don’t own any devices which read e-books of other formats, so PDFs are the format of choice for me. But I hatehatehate Adobe Digital Editions’ version of DRM. I mean, I loathe it with the power of a thousand burning nuns. So, although I’m practically tithing to Borders at this point, my consumption of ebooks has been quite limited.

Anyway, long story short, I clicked through to the Dreamspinner Press site through Smart Bitches and although they offer PDFs they have zero information on whether or not they’re ADE files or just plain old PDFs. So, I took a chance and purchased one of their PDF books and was so pleased to discover that it was DRM-free that I wanted to somehow let the Bitches at large know about it, in case they too hesitate to buy there because of a similar hatred of Adobe DRM.

When I asked Elizabeth North, Owner, Publisher, CEO, Chief Cook and Bottle Washer for Dreamspinner Press, she told me that the reason her files are DRM-free is simple. It comes from her “own hatred of DRM is the reason we’ve never used it. My feeling is it only annoys the honest people. People who are going to pirate ebooks will find away around DRM.”

So I asked her a few more questions about how going DRM-free has influenced her publishing decisions.

Sarah: Can you tell me what specifically prompted you to go DRM free, and what your authors and your customers have said?

Elizabeth:Dreamspinner chose not to DRM our eBook titles as a part of our desire to provide superior customer service. We have two major problems with DRM. One is functionality and the other is privacy.

DRM is designed to prevent piracy, but anyone with moderate programming skills can break it. For every major DRM format a simple web search will turn up dozens of free programs for stripping your files of DRM. A customer intent on redistributing a title will succeed with very little effort. The only people that DRM restricts is the honest readers. They can only download a title a certain number of times; can’t switch it between reading devices or are limited to how many devices they use; are prevented from converting it to other formats (printing a file or burning it to a disk) and are caught with unreadable files when they upgrade their computer or eBook reader. Books (even eBooks) should be read again and again and kept for as long as they provide enjoyment. The technology that supports them is ever changing and the eBooks need to stay functional. DRM doesn’t stop the thieves and causes endless headaches for the customer.

The issue of privacy just compounds everything stated above. Most DRM systems and proprietary formats require the reader to register to access the books they have purchased. Many deposit a tracking module that documents activity (sites the reader downloads from and titles read) without adequately informing the customer or giving them an option to opt out. With the prevalence of discrimination against people for sexual orientation, a choice to read anonymously is not just a convenience but a necessity, at least in our genre.

I’m amazed at the number of authors and readers that don’t even know what DRM is. We get many customer comments on the ease of access to our titles, frequently tied in with a complaint about ‘such and such’ site, but most of them aren’t aware that their problems are caused by a security addition. Kindle customers are well informed that non-DRM Mobi format files can be converted to their reader and actively search them out. Authors are the true injured party in copyright violation, but all of our authors support our reasoning for not implementing DRM. Ultimately happy customers buy more books and the type of reader that seeks out free pirated titles isn’t going to buy them in the first place.

Sarah: Have you noticed any uptick in sales for one format (you mentioned drm-free Mobi files for Kindles) or have customers told you they are reading with a particular device?

Elizabeth: I was raised old school by a father who ran a custom men’s suit store with the tailors in their shirt sleeves, pins in their mouth and a tape measure around their neck and heavy wooden hangers. (Boy am I dating myself.) If you make the customers happy, you have a business. DRM makes no one happy with the possible exceptions of the companies programming it and charging ridiculous sums to keep it up. Dreamspinner also will send you the right format if you accidentally purchase one you can’t read and have been known to replace a reader’s titles when their hard drive crashes and they hadn’t backed it up. I’m not going to make someone pay twice for the same title.

Our Adobe titles outsell all the others by far. There has been a slight jump in Mobi as the Kindle gains popularity, but the order is still 50 Adobe for every 3 MS Reader and 2 MobiPocket formats.


I also asked Angela James, Executive Editor at Sam Hain, about why Sam is DRM-free and why they made the decision to sell content without DRM:

Angela James: I don’t know if it’s been said, really, but epubs have been around for over a decade and I think part of the reason (probably the original reason) that DRM wasn’t used is because digital technology was so new, it either wasn’t an option for ebooks at that point, or people running the epubs didn’t know how to make it an option. So in that regard, I do think it’s more happenstance than conscious decision that led epublishers to not use DRM. And then, as more epublishers opened and grew, it was just…understood…in that business model that you didn’t use DRM.

But what I think all epublishers do know is that our business wouldn’t have grown the way it did if we’d made it difficult for readers to get the books, read the books and own the books. Digital books are still new, even though they’ve been around for years, and to make our product as attractive as possible, we knew/know we need to make it as accessible as possible. There’s disincentive for people to buy ebooks if we make it overly complicated.  So epubs don’t use DRM and that makes our product attractive to consumers on a number of levels. We never get emails or are featured in blog posts [written by readers] swearing they’ll never purchase from us again because of DRM, we don’t make them feel like they don’t own the book so there’s less hesitation in buying, we don’t treat all customers as criminals because of the few who will abuse the non-DRM books, and we don’t make it difficult for them to keep/read/transfer the book from one device to another.


When I asked via Twitter which publishers didn’t use DRM, the list I received from JenMcJ is entirely made up of small presses: LooseID, Torquere Press, TotaleBound, Amber Quill, AspenMountain, Cobblestone Press, and MLR Press all publish DRM-free, not to mention Sam Hain (cousin to Sam Bucca, who also hates DRM) as well.

ETA: The Wild Rose Press,  and its sister epublisher, The White Rose Press, are also DRM -free.

I find it interesting, though, that both Elizabeth North from Dreamspinner and Angela James from Samhain referenced one key point in their discussion detailing the rationale behind going DRM-free: customer service. Making it easy for readers to try ebooks, then keep reading ebooks, and re-read ebooks on other computers.

And even though Random House, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster are going to release audiobooks in DRM-free format, and they arrived at that decison, according to the writer of that article, due to the influence of Amazon.com, ebooks from those publishers remain enclosed with DRM, forcing users like me to crackity crackelate them in order to make sure that, much like my purchasing a paper book made of three-dimensional matter, when I buy an eBook, I in fact buy a book. Not a format. A book. Enough of Driving Readers Mad already. Gimme my books, and no, I don’t want DRM with that.

Categorized:

General Bitching...

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Christine M. says:

    And here’s one of the main reasons why I have yet to jump the fence. If I pay for an ebook, I want it to be cheaper than the paper book, but most of all, I want to be able to do as I please with it. When I upgrade computer in a year, I want my books to move on with it. I want to be able to back them up on my external drive and on a dvd, for good measure. If I get a new ereader, I want to be able to move my books unto it. And, on another note that’s more or less related to this post, I wish that when I make that jump, there’s some way I can prove to those big publishers that I’ve already paid the rights to the authors on abnout 500 novels of all sort and could I please, please, just get the electronic version pretty please with brown sugar on top? (And yes I am fully aware I’m dreaming in technicolours, here.)

  2. 2
    Amanda R. says:

    I real a lot – a lot – of Harlequin and Silhouette titles via Adobe’s truly horrendous Digital Editions, and I do it because I don’t really have room for all these print books.  But I hate it.  When my last computer passed out and died last year, I lost a large chunk of them and getting permission to redownload them is a major pain in the ass.  I also buy a lot from Samhain and Ellora’s Cave, and both of them are DRM free – a vastly preferable system.

  3. 3
    CourtneyLee says:

    I have never had issues with DRM. I only hear about it form other ebook buyers. I buy pdf for my laptop and all I need on my end is free Adobe Reader. My ebook experience has been wholly positive. I wondered how it could be that I’ve never had problems with them considering I buy from a variety of publishers when many other people I know frequently mention problems with getting to books they have shelled out good money for.

    As it turns out, that DRM-free publisher list is almost identical to my “Buy eBooks” list on my favorites menu.

  4. 4
    Maya M. says:

    hee. first time I’ve ever heard (read) the expression “….loathe it with the power of a thousand burning nuns…”

  5. 5
    Julie says:

    I’m an author, and I hate DRM. The Sony rootkit debacle moved DRM from something I put up with to something I loathe. The idea that someone would futz with MY computer and MY privacy to protect something I bought from myself – and break my computer in the process – burns my biscuits.

    I get paid for what I write, and I appreciate people who obtain their content legally. That’s how I pay my bills and am able to write more stuff for you to read instead of flipping burgers somewhere. On the other hand, one should never have to jump through hoops to read a book, listen to music, or watch a movie that they’ve purchased.

    DRM hurts honest consumers more than it thwarts piracy, IMO.

  6. 6
    JenD says:

    “Forcing consumers to jump through multiple hoops to read a damn book is not a way to win customers in a down market.”

    AMEN! Can we start a billboard campaign or something? I mean damn, wtf are people thinking? 

    I can get around the DRM but I *shouldn’t* have to because I *bought* it! Fine, I’ll shell out 300 bucks and my left leg for the reader but I’ll be damned if I’ll have someone breathing down my neck about what I do with something that is MINE.

    I think that’s where a lot of the problem lies. When a book is written it’s the author’s property, but when I buy a copy it’s mine now. I should be free to read/loan/paper mache till my little girlie heart is content with my copy. Perhaps we should be talking about where the ownership changes hands. I don’t want authors to be ripped off, yet I want my rights to be in tact as well. This is the core of the puzzle as I see it, where do our rights meet without trampling over each other?

    I’m not saying the author has no rights- far from that. I’m just saying that if we’re going to keep going down this path then we’re going to have to arrest a lot of people’s grannies for loaning out paperbacks. Isn’t that the same thing? Yes, it’s the author’s work but grannie has a right to do what she wants with her copy. Provided grannie isn’t xeroxing the book and selling it out of the back of a van it’s acceptable.

    More about book loaning- Why not have a file system in place that will ‘loan’ your ebook to a friend for a week before it expires? On the DS Lite I can send a friend a ‘free trial’ of a game I’m playing. Why not the same for ebooks- just put an expiration date for the code to destroy itself. Can it be gotten around? Sure. We have the interwebs we control the spice.  I don’t believe ‘most’ people will do that though.

    Remember when the RIAA was up in arms about mixed tapes? This reminds me of the same thing. There were cries of how the ‘industry was ruined’, ‘no one will buy anything ever again omg!’. This just wasn’t the case. Most humans have this built in drive to *own* things they like. Jeez I bought OK Computer five times and that was After borrowing the CD from a friend.  Now I have it on iTunes, CD’s and plain old mp3. 

    I don’t think most people will steal ebooks. Most people are going to want to do it the right way and buy the book. It’s just frustrating to be treated like a ‘future criminal’ when all I’m doing is trying to Give My Money For Something I Want(need). 

    Just put the Flaming Hoop Of Death down, call off the attack poodles and let me buy the damn book DRM free.

    came29- *polishes nails on front of shirt* Oh yeah….

  7. 7
    Julie says:

    I’m with ya, JenD. You bought the copy, you can do pretty much whatever the law allows with it, which (IMO) includes lending and lining the bird cage. Though, really, I hope my work meets a better fate than the latter! ;-)

    I’m not a lawyer, but it seems to me that DRM and the concept of fair use collide fairly often.

    Perhaps I’m naive, but I prefer to believe that most readers are honest, and if good material is offered at a fair price, people will buy rather than steal. And there will always be folks who WILL steal, no matter how hard content providers try to lock it up.

    “brin67.” Dang, I thought I was lucky in love…

  8. 8
    troutqueen says:

    I just got my first Sony Reader this last week (Circuit City going out of business = 50% off for me!). I didn’t really explore my options before getting it or I might have saved longer for a Kindle II. I didn’t realize I was so limited in where I could get my ebooks without having to get technologically complicated. That’s not to say I can’t figure it all out, but I like the easy path – download and read. I don’t want to have to convert or strip anything.

    I really don’t care much if an ebook is DRM’d or not, as long as I can read it. I do care, however, that the Sony eBook Store inflates their prices OVER the cost of the hardcopy. It pisses me off beyond belief. So where can I get my new release romances?? Where do I get my new JD Robbs, Liz Carlyle, JR Whard, or Kresley Coles?? Why can’t romance publishers start going the route of Baen and start offering ebooks we can read on any device?

    I keep hoping that kinda like 8 tracks and cassettes, Laser Discs and DVDs, one format will eventually win out. I just hope it doesn’t take too long.

    foot16 – yes, I’d like to put my foot up some publishers’ rears.

  9. 9
    Shanna says:

    God, I still remember years ago the struggle I had with MS Reader to “activate” a computer so I could read my freaking ebooks that I purchased from Amazon (pre-Kindle). Microsoft made it so difficult that I eventually abandoned trying to read ebooks in the .lit format. I didn’t read ebooks for a few years because of that hassle. Now that I have an iPhone I’m definitely reading them much more and am so glad to hear more ebook publishers are going DRM free.

  10. 10

    As a reader -

    I real a lot – a lot – of Harlequin and Silhouette titles via Adobe’s truly horrendous Digital Editions,

    Heartily agree. I read on two devices for the most part – my ebookwise and my Ipaq. I buy the books and download them to my mainframe computer. That means DRM’d books are completely useless for the Ebookwise, because I have to convert them and you can’t convert DRM’d books. I have taken it up with HMB but got nowhere. I’d buy and read a lot more if they took DRM off.

    You can add Ellora’s Cave to the DRM free books, btw.

    As a writer-
    DRM was originally considered a deterrent to pirates. As that, it’s epic fail. All it does is penalize the legitimate buyer. Pirates either scan the print copy, or use one of the illegal programs to take it off the e-copy. So it’s no deterrent, except to people like me.

    And to people who think putting a book out in print only is a deterrent – think again.

    I think that’s where a lot of the problem lies. When a book is written it’s the author’s property, but when I buy a copy it’s mine now. I should be free to read/loan/paper mache till my little girlie heart is content with my copy.

    As long as there is only one copy of the book, you’re right. But when you make two copies where there was one before, that’s piracy and you’re breaking the law. Doesn’t matter if you photocopy it, or send an electronic copy to a friend, it’s against the law. I’m not sure what happens if you lend the reader out with the book on it.
    There’s also “fair use,” which is why copying a CD on to MP3 to use in your ipod isn’t usually prosecuted, since you’re only doing it for your own use. Maybe allow for 3 or 4 copies and then that’s it. I buy my ebooks, back them up, and put them on my device of choice. That’s it.

    More about book loaning- Why not have a file system in place that will ‘loan’ your ebook to a friend for a week before it expires?

    That, I really like. It’s not sharing and loaning to a friend that’s the problem, it’s the pirate sites.

    Also, I thought – why not reward the legitimate buyer, instead of punishing them, which is what DRM is? I know some publishers do that already, things like offering 1 free book for every 9 bought, or even added value things. It’s not something I can do on my own, but I do think there’s value in thinking that way.

  11. 11
    ghn says:

    I, too,  loathe, abhor and detest DRM. And _I_ have tended to translate that acronym as “Don’t Read Me”. Sooo appropriate when we talk about e-books :-P

    I do buy _some_ e-books infected with DRM. But I am a lot pickier than when I buy uninfected books. So to ensure that it is less likely that I will buy a certain book, just add DRM.

    I have never bought an e-book in Adobe – because I seriously dislike that format. _My_ choice – when confronted with something I want to read that is in that format only – is to convert it to something else. Fortunately I have not yet encountered “want to read” combined with “only DRM-infested Adobe”

  12. 12
    Jennie says:

    Oh the hatred I have for DRM is also keeping me out of the ebook camp. And I? Buy a LOT of books, so really, publishers, get a clue.  Everyone should try and read the “explanation” at the front of the Baen Free Library. It’s here, and it’s hilarious, and true.  My favourite bit?

    1. Online piracy — while it is definitely illegal and immoral — is, as a practical problem, nothing more than (at most) a nuisance. We’re talking brats stealing chewing gum, here, not the Barbary Pirates.

    2. Losses any author suffers from piracy are almost certainly offset by the additional publicity which, in practice, any kind of free copies of a book usually engender. Whatever the moral difference, which certainly exists, the practical effect of online piracy is no different from that of any existing method by which readers may obtain books for free or at reduced cost: public libraries, friends borrowing and loaning each other books, used book stores, promotional copies, etc.

    Heck yes.  And I buy BAEN, in all forms, at every opportunity.

  13. 13
    DeeCee says:

    I do care, however, that the Sony eBook Store inflates their prices OVER the cost of the hardcopy. It pisses me off beyond belief.

    A effing Men. I was browsing through the stores, looking for Shiloh Walker’s latest, and lo and behold a shitload of her EC books….at HUGE fricking prices. OMG. Its sad when the print books are CHEAPER than the ebook prices. I just about had a cow.

    I hate Adobe Digital Editions. Unequivocally. Its difficult for me to navigate and authorizing my computer was a fucking nightmare.

    Last night I was going through my old ebook files that are almost 5+ years old, and when I tried to get them onto my reader, I got an error message saying my license had expired. WTF??? I can still read them on my computer, but getting them onto my reader is a no go. Seriously?

    Its really sad that publishers are so afraid of new technology that they’re pushing people into breaking the law. Its really tempting for me to learn how to crack DRM…I am frustrate beyond belief that the files I spent a crap load of money on are virtually worthless for their intended purpose. WTH is the point of an ebook if you can’t travel with it?

    Personally, I’m in love with DRM free stuff. Its so much nicer being able to read an ebook and listen to my music without being forced to sit at my computer because I can’t transfer it anywhere.

    I find it interesting, though, that both Elizabeth North from Dreamspinner and Angela James from Samhain referenced one key point in their discussion detailing the rationale behind going DRM-free: customer service. Making it easy for readers to try ebooks, then keep reading ebooks, and re-read ebooks on other computers.

    And that is what keeps me buying. If I have to sit on hold for 2 hours to talk to a person or wait weeks or months after an email, there is no chance of me continuing to buy from them. Buying books at places like EC and Samhain is so easy (and bad for the checking account) but ultimately that (and the prices) is what will keep me buying. The small presses have the major publishers beat all to hell on customer service.

  14. 14
    DeeCee says:

    Everyone should try and read the “explanation” at the front of the Baen Free Library. It’s here, and it’s hilarious, and true.  My favourite bit? Heck yes.  And I buy BAEN, in all forms, at every opportunity.

    If only the people that run the other publishing companies could read and fully back that. :| I’m going to have to check Baen out, I don’t think I’ve ever read anything they’ve published. Any recommendations?

    When Shiloh Walker blogged about being a victim of piracy and having to shelve the hunter series, it shocked me, mostly because the books are priced fairly as is. But I guess there will always be assholes trying to make a buck, and people that never want to pay.

  15. 15
    Jennie says:

    If only the people that run the other publishing companies could read and fully back that. :| I’m going to have to check Baen out, I don’t think I’ve ever read anything they’ve published. Any recommendations?

    The Elizabeth Moon books are good—she writes “Space Opera” type books, so they have a lot going on.  My all time, ever ever, favourite is PC Hodgell.  You can get ALL of her books (so far) for 25 bucks, and they are amazing.  Not romances, though.  But well thought-out stories with a definitely funny and sassy heroine.  I know, I wish all publishers were like them!

  16. 16
    Troutqueen says:

    I’m going to have to check Baen out, I don’t think I’ve ever read anything they’ve published. Any recommendations?

    ANy of Bujolds are worth reading. I’m currently reading Eric Flint’s 1632 and it’s fabulous (alternative history).  My husband and I constantly buy from the Baen site now to continue to support them, although I don’t read a lot of SF/F. I’m starting to, however, since they make it soooooo easy!

    audience55 – Yes, Baen has now included me as an audience because they’re not mean.

  17. 17
    ghn says:

    My personal favorites on the Baen website are Lois McMaster Bujold, Eric Flint, David Weber, Mercedes Lackey, P C Hodgell, Catherine Asaro. Well, the top layer, at least.
    I have been a happy buyer of Webscriptions for several years now. A hot tip is to start browsing in the Free Library. You are almost guaranteed to find something to your taste there. And perhaps point other people to the website when you have truly become hooked.  ;-)

  18. 18
    ReacherFan says:

    I have mostly pdf files, but recent bought several books in Adobe Digital Reader.  I deeply and profoundly resent the fact that a digital book is not as transportable as a hard copy.  I can carry a book anywhere, give it away, loan it out, re-sell it as a used book.  Let my computer crash or try and move the stupid file to a different computer and I’m screwed with the digital file!!!!!!  I am so beyond pissed with this crap.  Is this a new way for publishers to make money?  Stop the trade in swapping, selling used books?  I despise the publishers and this load of crap they’re pushing about their ‘rights’  What about MY RIGHTS?  I PAID FOR THE DAMN THING! 

    It feels like publishers deliberately self sabotaging ebooks because they fear technology.  Or do they just think readers are stupid?  Why the hell would I trust thousands of dollars worth of books to an electronic device that could be easily ruined just by dropping it?  Are these people nuts?  I loathe not being able to trade ebooks with friends.  It bites.  OK – I can’t copy it.  Fine.  But I sure as hell should be able to MOVE IT!

    Sorry, the vast majority of my purchases with be good, old fashioned printed books.  If all else fails, I can burn them in the winter to keep me warm!

  19. 19
    Suze says:

    I’m going to have to check Baen out, I don’t think I’ve ever read anything they’ve published. Any recommendations?

    Wen Spencer did Tinker and Wolf Who Rules through Baen, as well as Deep Blue, all of which were lovely and romantic and very satisfying.  All of which I bought in hardcover, because I had read the 5! free sample chapters on their website and could. Not. Wait. for the paperback version to be released.  And then I bought the paperback versions too, because hardcovers are too heavy and bulky to carry and read comfortably.  And will totally buy e-book versions once I decide upon and purchase an e-reader.

    It feels like publishers deliberately self sabotaging ebooks because they fear technology.

    Along that line, I just watched “Who Killed the Electric Car” the other night, and the answer essentially was Everybody (car companies, oil companies, politicians, consumers…).  However, the main culprit was the wrong-headedness of the auto companies, who decided that their award-winning but ineffective advertising proved that there was no demand for non-petroleum vehicles.  (Car companies: “We advertised this car, our ads were fantastic, and all those people who are supposed to exist who want electric cars didn’t buy one!”  Real people in the street:  “Huh? They had that 10 years ago?  Right in my neighbourhood?  I never knew!  I would have bought one!”)

    GM killed their electric car (the owners of said cars protested almost violently when their cars were taken away and destroyed) and focused on the Hummer instead.

    My point being: GENIUS!  People in charge of huge corporations are just SMART, I tell you.  They know what the people REALLY want, regardless of what we tell them.

  20. 20
    Brandi says:

    I don’t know how many xkcd readers there are here, but there was a relevant strip about DRM:

    http://www.xkcd.com/488/

    (Author’s talking about music DRM ‘cause I suspect he isn’t into romance, but the underlying principle still applies)

  21. 21
    JoanneL says:

    I’ve made a list of the DRM-free sellers and they’ll get my business. Why do I want to struggle to read something I’ve paid for? Don’t.

    Harlequin is holding my Tycoon’s prisoner and how stupid is that? Set the Sheikh’s Free!

  22. 22

    As it turns out, that DRM-free publisher list is almost identical to my “Buy eBooks” list on my favorites menu.

    I just got my first Sony Reader this last week (Circuit City going out of business = 50% off for me!). I didn’t really explore my options before getting it or I might have saved longer for a Kindle II. I didn’t realize I was so limited in where I could get my ebooks without having to get technologically complicated.

    I think it bears mentioning that Samhain has books available on their site in un-DRMed SONYpdf. They also have an eternal bookshelf so if you need to switch formats, it’s just a click or two and you can download a book you already purchased in any of their available formats—no emailing or getting approval from anyone. Made things so nice when I got my Sony and needed to convert my TBR pile from Adobepdf.

    Would be nice if all epublishers put out books in epub, tho. Even if they can’t negotiate a deal with Sony for their proprietary format, the Sony reader is supposedly compatible with epub.

  23. 23
    Sarah L says:

    Additionally, Baen does CDs accompanying some of their titles by popular authors; the CDs contain the author’s backlist in e-book format along with (usually) the release you bought in e-book format (usually multiple formats. All of these are DRM-free and you are ENCOURAGED to share the CDs with others, including making copies.

    AND you can access the content of the CDs on the web:

    http://baencd.thefifthimperium.com/

    The CD Listing page is down now; hopefully it’ll be back up soon.

    I heart Baen.

  24. 24
    John Simmons says:

    Issues:

    DRM does not work because the customer/user has the key, cipher and ciphertext in the player. (thanks Cory Doctorow)

    DRM only keeps an honest user honest.

    From the 95 Theses of Geek Activism:
    http://www.geekactivism.com/2006/07/23/95-theses-of-geek-activism/

  25. 25
    Bart says:

    I follow Tim O’Reilly on Twitter and he always complains about the Kindle having not supporting more DRM-free formats, but I don’t think the Kindle’s the problem at all. There is a format it supports, the .MOBI format, and several times I have gone through at least half a dozen big eBook websites and *none* of them provided the books I wanted (mainstream books, mostly) in a DRM-free format. They supported .MOBI in a DRMed format, but of course that doesn’t work on the Kindle.

    So is the problem that the Kindle doesn’t support more formats or that publishers aren’t providing the content in open formats? All but one of the sites I checked had a MOBI version… all they had to do is provide it non-DRMed. Instead I was forced to go back to the Amazon Store in my Kindle and I bought the Kindle edition of the book. I support open formats, I tried to buy books in an open format, but couldn’t. Publishers and e-book sites loose.

  26. 26
    Deena says:

    Drollerie Press doesn’t use DRM either. It was a drawback for some authors at first, but they’ve gotten used to the idea that it hurts more than it helps. I talked about our decision to go DRM-free back in August of 2007 (here if you want to check it out: http://drolleriepress.com/news-and-commentary/what-to-do-about-drm/), when we were still less than 6 months old. It seems to have been a good decision for us.

  27. 27
    ghn says:

    AND you can access the content of the CDs on the web:
    http://baencd.thefifthimperium.com/
    The CD Listing page is down now; hopefully it’ll be back up soon.
    I heart Baen.

    The links are there. Just click on “CD listing” in glowing green in my browser window, and the links to the CDs appear.
    I heart Baen, too.

  28. 28

    So is the problem that the Kindle doesn’t support more formats or that publishers aren’t providing the content in open formats?

    Actually, it isn’t always the publishers. LSI takes (some? all?) non-DRMed epublisher books and puts DRM on them for distribution on sites like fictionwise. Micropay rebates notwithstanding, that’s why if possible, I’ll always buy an ebook direct from a reputable epublisher than a second party retailer. The author usually gets a bigger cut, too, which is a bonus.

  29. 29
    Marcy Arbitman says:

    I own a eBookwise Reader because it was the best available at the time. I love it and will not spend the money on Kindle (amazon-pffoooeeeeyyyyy!!!!!!) or Sony-way too expensive!!  I review for JERR and read from all the “small” epubs and am very grateful for them. I will not intentionally buy a book with DRM. Do you know if Ellora’s Cave uses DRM?

  30. 30
    joykenn says:

    I heart Baen a lot.  I discovered some writers and series that I had missed reading before by downloading some of their free books.  Now I’m back to buy some of their backlist.  Lots and lots of good reading ahead of me now.  Their websubscription program is interesting also.  I’ve emailed copies of their books free to my Kindle and the formatting has come through fine so I can buy from Baen and read on the Kindle.  Too bad I can’t do that with Harlequin because of DRM.  That alone is why I haven’t been buying Harlequins and I used to subscribe to them!  They are really losing out by putting DRM on their books.

    Most people don’t know about or understand the copyrights they have and the ones that they don’t.  If publisher organizations spent the money they now spend on DRM on educating people about, not just music or book priracy but what is allowed things would go much better.  Someone recently offered to give me a copy of a movie from theirs and I explained politely that I’d love to see it but didn’t feel right about accepting a copy since it was a violation of copyright.  They hadn’t understood that.  They can lend me the movie, lend me the book but I can’t copy it without stealing and hurting the sales of the author/actor/director.

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