Thomas Galvin
Purveyor of Fine Pulp Fiction

Strong people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general -Mark Rippetoe

There’s an article out now about how the Big Six publishing houses have cut their own throat with eBook DRM*. If you’re interested in the business behind the books you read, it’s a worthwhile article.

The gist of it: eBooks have finally overtaken physical books in terms of units sold, and Amazon has 80% of the eBook market. That gives Amazon a tremendous amount of power when it comes time to negotiate the price of a new book, or how much of a discount Amazon will receive, or even when negotiating with an author to sign up with Amazon’s “direct” program, which cuts traditional publishers out of the mix entirely.

Traditional publishers would love to have a competitor pushing back against Amazon, but this gets less and less likely every day, because 80% of eBooks sold are locked in to the Amazon platform — because of the DRM the publishers themselves insisted on. The books can only be opened on a Kindle, which means people aren’t likely to start using a different platform: they want all of their books in one place.

As an author, I can understand the fear of having your work stolen and given away for free. You put a lot of time, effort, and money into a book, and you’d like to recoup those costs. But DRM is not the answer.

First, it’s amazingly trivial to circumvent it. When Amazon (or B&N) sends you an eBook, you have to be able to open and read it. And if you can open it and read it, you can save it in an unencrypted format. There are scripts that will do this for you, and plugins for the more popular eBook managers. I would wager that you could free a 100-book library in under an hour.

Second, DRM pisses off the people who were kind enough to actually pay for your work. When you buy a story, you should be able to read it on your Nook, Kindle, PC, Mac, phone, et cetera, just like you could read a paperback on the bus, on your couch, in a restaurant, or waiting in line at the DMV. DRM puts handcuffs on legitimate customers, friends, and fans in a failed attempt to hamper digital thieves.

That’s why Sire is available DRM-free from all of the major eBook stores, and that’s why all of my future novels will be, too.

* DRM stands for Digital Rights Management, or as I like to call it, Digital Rights Restrictions.

0 responses to “eBooks and DRM”

  1. Ellyria says:

    Funny you posted this today Thomas. A friend of mine is getting pissed at her computer because it won’t play a game she bought, because her “activation limit has been reached”. Since when is there a limit on how often you can use something you bought and paid for?

    I can understand companies wanting to protect themselves against piracy, but it seems like I see more people who have actually bought the product getting screwed over more than the pirates themselves. It’s getting ridiculous.

    Oh, and I guess I’ll never buy an ebook from Amazon, seeing as I use a Kobo, not a Kindle. Too bad for you Amazon!

  2. Thomas says:

    Hi Ellyria 🙂

    The only games I play are on the wii, so I don’t know a whole lot about game DRM… but the guys in the office do, and they all bitch about it.

    I think B&N books can be ported to the Kobo. And I’m certain that B&N books that have had the DRM stripped can. I should really get around to writing a post on how to do that in Calibre.