Sense and Senselessness or A DRM Love/Hate Story (OK, Hate)

April 12, 2011

Yesterday MediaBistro published an article quoting Richard Nash from Red Lemonade imprint stating that they are taking the unusual step of giving out eBooks for reviewers without Digital Rights Management (DRM) imprinted on them.

Mr. Nash said: “Well, I don’t think consumer books should have DRM, so putting DRM on reviewers’ books is even dumber. I want to make it as easy as possible to get it to you, as easy as possible for you to read it, as easy as possible for you to assign it to a reviewer, as easy as possible for you to send it to a friend.

Do you get it, Mr. Nash’s thinking, common sense to you and me, is considered “unusual”.

Newsflash if you’ve been in a cave/ivory tower/corporate America for the past 20 years. DRM has never worked. All DRM did is give honest consumers a hard time and waste the company’s money by fighting DRM pirates who are always one step ahead (at least). Not to mention that all you need is one person to crack the DRM and the file will be available to everybody.

I can assure you that your DRM will be cracked in about 15 minutes after you put it online.

DRM is also expensive. It costs a lot of money to develop and implement DRM technology. Encoding the files is a hassle and consumer complaints keep the retailers and content producers busy, cutting into their profits. There are also the hidden costs of not selling files because people don’t have a compatible reader.
iTunes sells music at 99 cents a song, eMusic sells the same ones at 25 cents. eMusic is saving 75% not having to deal with DRM system and consumers having issues.

Care to guess who pays for all of this?
Either the consumer or the author in the form of reduced royalties.

Another point is that we don’t know if the future eReaders will support today’s DRM format. Not to mention that DRM allows someone else to control what you do with a product you legally purchased.

I have been a software engineer for over 20 years. My best advice to publishers who want to send eBooks for reviews – you better trust who you send the files to.
They are impossible to protect – DRM or not.

Question: What do you think? DRM – is it a good idea or not?

Zohar – Man of la Book

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10 Comments

  • Courtney Rene April 12, 2011 at 11:36 am

    I think the idea behind the DRM is a good one, but it has made everything so hard. If I buy a paperback, and I really loved it, I will hand it off to someone else that I think will like it and say, OMG here you have to read this. I can’t do that with the any of the digital books I purchase which is a shame as I have a few that I would love to share. So far, not too impressed with the DRM. I also have to agree that a hacker, is a hacker for a reason and one of their joys….is breaking through the latest and greatest technology.

    ctny

  • ~EnamoredSoul~ April 13, 2011 at 4:21 am

    Here’s the thing about DRM – the IDEA of it is great, the implementation, not so much. The fact is that it is an expensive technology that probably does not save as much as it consumes, in terms of money! And the fact is, people who will pirate movies, songs, books are going to continue doing it, like you said, it takes one person to crack the DRM. But those of us who really cherish literature, will ALWAYS go out and buy the books, be they in print or an e-copy. We’re not just supporting a book, or an author…we do it because we support LITERATURE.

    • zohar April 13, 2011 at 8:47 am

      Actually the cost of eBooks has been pointed out as the number one reason for pirating.

  • Juju at Tales of Whimsy... April 13, 2011 at 5:25 am

    I’m not sure I understand what DRM really is or means. But great post. Thanks for keeping us updated.

    • zohar April 13, 2011 at 8:48 am

      DRM is what Apple, for example, uses to make sure that you won’t be able to play your iTunes bought song on another MP3 player. It’s basically a piece of code which is suppose to check if you legitimately bought the file.

  • Ellen April 13, 2011 at 5:44 am

    Great post. I see DRM as mostly a hassle, one that limits the way honest consumers use their ebooks but that doesn’t limit the ones with the computer skills (the pretty basic computer skills, I should say) to find torrents for the ebooks they don’t want to buy off amazon or wherever. I have a lot of good will for the companies, like Small Beer Press, that don’t release their ebooks with DRM,. I think it’s a move that more publishing companies should make, rather than using DRM to limit whether a buyer can lend a book, or how many times a library can loan out an ebook.

    As much as loving the smell and feel of books, DRM is what’s going to keep me buying “real” books, the second I get back in the states and can. I like knowing that once I purchase a book it’s mine for life – that the publisher can’t take it out of my bookcase overnight, or swap it for an updated version without my permission.

    • zohar April 18, 2011 at 10:19 am

      Thanks for the comment Ellen. I think once they start adverting in eBooks, DRM will no longer be an issue, quite the opposite – give the book (and the ads) to anyone you want, the more the better.

  • Julie @ Knitting and Sundries April 18, 2011 at 9:52 am

    DRM is the dumbest of ideas, especially for readers and reviewers. I buy a physical book, read it, and either give it to someone else or put it on my keeper shelf, where I can then loan it to someone else if they want it. An even dumber idea: limited licenses for public libraries’ eBooks. Really? With their limited funding, how do you think limiting licenses so that they have to buy more after a book has been read 20 or 30 times is really something that they’re going to go for? OK .. off soapbox now.

    • zohar April 18, 2011 at 10:20 am

      I know, it’s totally idiotic. They keep telling us not to treat an eBook as a physical book but like software, however that’s how they got their 20-30 number.

  • Stephen England April 15, 2012 at 9:02 am

    My books have always been DRM-free. It’s like the old joke about locks–they’re meant for honest people. And I don’t see the point of causing honest customers headaches.

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