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Why my books are DRM-free (and what that means)

Why my books are DRM-free (and what that means)

Photo by Xtina L

One of the most interesting parts of my recent survey was, predictably, the comments. I learned some interesting things about readers’ habits and interests, and I’ll be working on some changes thanks to what you’ve told me.

I asked people what they would change about getting books and one of the comments really hit home:

No DRM. Absolutely none. If eBooks have DRM then I pirate them simply to have them without DRM.

I agree that DRM is a non-starter for me as well, though there are solutions other than piracy*. But what the heck is DRM, anyway?

DRM stands for Digital Rights Management, which is a way of locking digital goods. DRM is why most Kindle books can’t be read on a Kobo reader. The problem with DRM, of course, is exactly that: if I buy a book from the Sony Reader store, then decide I want to read that book on Stanza on my iPod, too bad for me. Even though it’s my book. I think this is not cool.

Some books from the main ebookstores are sold without DRM and can be converted into other formats. Most, however, are locked unless you remove the DRM (be aware – doing this may be illegal in your country, even if you own the book and are converting it only for your personal use).

I believe that DRM makes digital goods less than fully functional, and I can’t in good conscience sell a defective product. I don’t want DRM in the books I buy, so I don’t sell books with DRM in them.

Yes, that means it’s possible for you to give your friend a copy of my book. Yes, that’s theoretically a lost sale for me. But it’s also a possible new reader. So, if you want to give one of my books to someone you think would like it, go ahead. That doesn’t mean uploading the files to P2P sites, but passing on a beloved book to a fellow reader is a long and wonderful tradition among book lovers.

* It’s possible to remove the DRM from most legally purchased ebooks. A google search leads to some good information. The open source ebook library software Calibre can help you convert DRM-free books from one format to another with one click.

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