DRM. It is fading.

Dear reader,

As of January 18th of this year, most Dutch e-books will be sold without DRM. This may not affect you directly, after all not everyone buys and reads Dutch books.

However, also world-wide publisher lulu.com has decided to say farewell to DRM. And this might be quite good news for you. If you didn’t know, lulu.com also sells e-books.

We may yet see more DRM-related farewells soon. Let’s hope so.


Don’t wait to download your e-book

Dear reader,

Do you buy e-books? And do you pay for them by credit card? If yes and yes, it is wise to download your e-books as soon as you can, and keep them safe somewhere! Read on why, as I found this on “Opposing Views“:

DRM rears its uglymalformedmalignantcross-eyed head again. Despite the fact that, as Cory Doctorow so aptly put it, no one has ever purchased anything because it came with DRM, an ever-slimming number of content providers insist on punishing paying customers with idiotic “anti-piracy” schemes.

Combine this “malware” with digital distribution that sticks the end user with an unfavorable license rather than, say, an actual book, and you’ve got another ready-made disaster. The Consumerist has the details on yet another paying customer dealing with DRM stupidity. It starts off with this physical analogy.

[I]f reader Synimatik had bought a paperback book a few months ago and picked it up to read now, the book’s pages wouldn’t magically glue shut just because the credit card she normally uses at the bookstore has expired.

Obviously, no one would expect a physical book to be subject to the whims of the publisher or the store it was purchased from. A sale is a sale, even if many rights holders would rather it wasn’t. But, Barnes & Noble doesn’t see it that way. Sure, you can buy an ebook from them, but you’d better keep everything in your profile up to date if you plan on accessing your purchases at some undetermined point in the future.

Yesterday, I tried to download an ebook I paid for, and previously put on my Nook, a few months ago. When I tried, I got an error message stating I could not download the book because the credit card on file had expired. But, I already paid for it. Who cares if the credit card is expired? It has long since been paid for, so the status of the card on file has nothing to do with my ability to download said book. I didn’t see anything in the terms of service about this either, but it’s possible I missed it.

This is just one more reason to either not buy ebooks, or strip the drm off of the ones you purchase so you can you the book you BUY on all your devices without having to purchase multiple copies for no reason and have access to something you already bought when you want it.

Read more on  “Opposing Views“.

Hachette UK loves its DRM

As found on The Digital Reader:

In case you thought that Tor’s enlightened stance on DRM might be a sign that the ice might be starting to melt around the Big Six publishers, think again. Today in Publishers Weekly, Cory Doctorow writes he has obtained a letter that the UK arm of Hachette sent to authors publishing with it asking that they demand Tor return DRM to their titles, and advising them it will be adding language to its standard boilerplate contract requiring that any titles Hachette UK licenses for its region must be locked down with DRM elsewhere in the world.

Doctorow is, of course, appalled at this, pointing out that DRM hasn’t stopped Hachette’s works from being available from peer-to-peer networks now, and all it does is hinder consumers’ legitimate uses of the e-books. However, The Bookseller is carryingstatements Hachette UK execs have made in response, pointing out that the boilerplate language is as negotiable as any other part of the contract and that a lot of publishers include language insisting licensees use DRM in their contracts already.

Ursula Mackenzie, CEO of Hachette UK imprint Little, Brown and president of the Publishers Association, criticized Doctorow for trotting out the same tired old anti-DRM arguments and said the purpose of the DRM was not to block pirates or DRM-crackers, but to “[inhibit] file-sharing between the mainstream readers who are so valuable to us and our authors.” She says that the DRM “model is working very well” and sees no reason to change at this point.

Is “file-sharing between […] mainstream readers” really that much of a threat? Going DRM-free has seemed to do well by Baen, and that was obvious even as far back as 2001 when the New York Times wrote that Baen was expanding its business by selling DRM-free and even giving away e-books payment-free. Baen shows no sign of changing its position now. In fact, it sells pricier early e-book versions DRM-free as well.

Of course, Baen is a bit of a niche SF publisher, and Tor is a good bit larger. It remains to be seen exactly how well going DRM-free will do for Tor, though I expect a lot of people to be watching closely, including Hachette.

The really funny thing in all of this is that the “good guy” here is Tor, an imprint of Macmillan who not only is fighting the government’s decree against agency pricing, it was the first to implement it in the first place. And the “bad guy” is Hachette, who is meekly settling and presumably allowing Amazon to lower its prices. Just goes to show that publishers are really complex entities, I guess.