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.
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.