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DRM Go Boom

June 19, 2012

Okay, maybe not “boom.” But people are starting to poke at the edges of DRM in the ebook world, and that makes me happy.

For those who might not know, DRM, or “digital rights management,” is software embedded in a digital product that’s designed to prevent unauthorized copying and piracy. In the real world, where we all live, pirates pirate anyway, and what DRM does is provide a headache to legitimate consumers. Want to combine Kindle and iBooks libraries on your iPad? Too bad. Want to switch devices and move all of your Kindle books to your new Nook with Glowlight? Too bad. Want to buy ebooks for your gifted-to-you Kindle without supporting an Amazon whose values are getting increasingly antithetical to yours? Wait, that’s just me. Still: too bad; you most often can’t.

The music industry realized this a while ago (case in point: iTunes went DRM-free in 2009). The book industry is getting there. It started, as these things often do, with indie companies and individual artists. You can already buy DRM-free ebooks directly from authors like Diane Duane, or from small presses like Angry Robot.


In fact, Angry Robot has just expanded its DRM-free ebookstore to include books from two other small genre presses, Anarchy Books and Infinity Plus.

It’s only recently, however, that larger players have begun taking a stand. J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore offered DRM-free Harry Potter books when it launched in March. Earlier this month, Tor Books announced that not only will its ebooks be going DRM-free, it will open its own DRM-free ebook store at gets shinier by the minute.

Here’s the part of that post that gets me really excited: “along with, eventually, offerings from other publishers.” Setting up your own consumer-facing store, with all the back-end costs that entails, is probably a tricky job for publishers. Already a robust blog, geeky news source, and repository of great SF&F short fiction, seems to have the chops to pull it off.

As usual, other people have written much more eloquently (and in a much more timely fashion) on this subject than I have here–particularly in the hubbub surrounding the announcement. I suppose being forward-thinking goes with the “sci-fi author” territory. So what’s next, team?

(You can’t see me, but yes, I’m glaring speculatively at PC gaming.)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 20, 2012 12:15 AM

    Seriously, I have had the hugest smile on my face the more I read about publishers (even if they’re small) choosing to go the DRMless route.

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