Massive book publisher Macmillan ended the use of digital rights management (DMR) on some of their imprints (most notably Tor), and in what I’ll suggest is a rare case of a publisher listening to an author on strategic issues, they took notice of sci-fi writer Charlie Stross’ blog post about it — and then asked him for more.

Last week’s blog entry on Amazon’s ebook strategy went around the net like a dose of rotavirus. And, as we can now see from Tor’s ground-breaking announcement I was only just ahead of the curve: people at executive level inside Macmillan were already asking whether dropping DRM would be a good move. Last week they asked me to explain, in detail, just why I thought abandoning DRM on ebooks was a sensible strategy for a publisher. Turns out my blog entry on Amazon’s business strategy didn’t actually explain my full reasoning on DRM, so here it is.

Tor will cease the use of copy protection on their ebooks.

You can read Stross’ lengthy post here. I don’t agree with every point he makes, but one point resonates — the hostility copy protection (DRM) engenders when you’ve bought a book or movie on one platform, which you can’t use/read/view on another.

I feel similarly about proprietary file formats (I’m looking at you, MS Word), and believe this is a good move for digital publishing, which is in danger of becoming a series of walled kingdoms, where the serfs (that’s us) can’t move freely.

As an ebook buyer, Macmillan’s decision to cut DRM from its Tor Imprint (they run a pretty good blog operation) makes their digital products more valuable; I can move them between fast-obsoleting ereaders at will, and my investment is protected over time.

Value, it seems, takes many forms — including a little flexibility for the end user.

Keep reading, Tom Chandler.