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Tor and Forge drop DRM

So, yeah, it’s a big deal. Tor/Forge aren’t the first publishers to sell their ebooks without DRM–Baen and Angry Robot have already been doing it for a while–but Tor/Forge is absolutely the biggest. Tor is part of Macmillan, one of the “Big Six” out of New York, and what’s more they’re privately-held. No shareholders to worry about.

If you’ve been reading Charlie Stross on the subject (and you should have been) you know that removing DRM is the best way to prevent online ebook sellers from establishing a stranglehold on the market. If readers can buy books from any store and read them on their preferred device, they will. What’s more, they won’t lose their entire libraries (or be forced to torrent them) once their personal devices become obsolete.

Anyway, Stross had an opportunity to write an essay to the CEO of Macmillan about the benefits of dropping DRM, and he’s posted it on his blog. I realize that there have been many voices within the Big Six publishers who have longed for an end to DRM, and there has been years of work moving the Overton Window on this subject.

But I wouldn’t be surprised if history remembered Stross as the decisive force for change, whatever he says in his post.

Mirrored from Twenty Palaces. You can comment here or there.


Apr. 25th, 2012 03:58 pm (UTC)
I'm not much for reading ebooks, so everything I know is second-hand, but it's my understanding that most readers right now have ways to let you import different file formats. If they don't, I'd expect them to get them soon.

I don't much trust the idea that Amazon's self-pubbed slush pile makes it harder for readers to find midlist or bestsellers. It sounds like he's being overly hopeful there, but there's an opportunity there, I hope. I also think he has a point about the churn in personal electronics devices.

Also, if a publisher refuses to do business with Amazon, Kindle readers would still be able to buy the book and read it; all those readers would no longer be locked out. That's a point on the positive side.

But if Amazon is selling books for less than they pay for them, that's predatory pricing and it's illegal under U.S. anti-trust law. At least, it's one of the requirements for anti-trust action.

So, as a GRRM character might say, "You are not wrong." But I'm still hopeful.