24 Apr

Tor to drop DRM from books

Just spotted this:

Macmillan science fiction/fantasy imprint Tor/Forge — the publisher of titles like Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game” — will sell its e-books DRM-free as of “early July 2012,” the company announced today.

“Our authors and readers have been asking for this for a long time,” said Tor/Forge president and publisher Tom Doherty. “They’re a technically sophisticated bunch, and DRM is a constant annoyance to them. It prevents them from using legitimately-purchased e-books in perfectly legal ways, like moving them from one kind of e-reader to another.”

Here’s one reason I’m happy about this.

While I was doing the book tour for Arctic Rising, a couple times I ended up in conversations with people wondering how Independent book sellers would be able to sell eBooks.

See, in order to maintain and handle DRM, you have to have a server, or expensive infrastructure, to handle the sale. But you get rid of DRM, and it gets much easier for Indy stores to conceive of ways to built point of sale systems (or for more 3rd party) systems to arrive and try to sell books (for example, Weightless Books could conceivably sell Tor books without the hassle of creating a DRM server, but using their existing infrastructure and client base).

This allows a larger ecosystem. More places to sell books.

Also, customers can move books around. Suppose someone creates an iPhone app that is the new Instagram of eBooks. Instead of being locked into existing books, you could move your books over (just like right now you’re not locked into using just a certain photo app because you can only view your phone’s photos via that app).

It’s a step in the right direction, and it stops annoying already paying customers (a customer who has purchased the book is by definition already a paying customer, why punish them).

My instinct is that this is a good thing. It’s not going to solve everything, but it’s something I’ve been in favor of for many years.

update: Charles Stross has a longer, more thought out list here.

John Scalzi also has great thoughts here.