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Will E-Book Anti-Piracy Technology Hurt Readers?
by Laura Sydell

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=102330373

I especially like the last line from the article:

"And while eBooks are still in their infancy and the basics of the publishing industry are different from those of the music industry, publishers know that the adoption of eBooks is inevitable."

Emphasis on inevitable is mine :)
 

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The problem I have with Amazon's DRM is that it is much more restrictive than the paper book.

I can loan, sell or give away my paper book,

I can't do any of the above with Kindle books, unless the recipient's Kindle is on my account.


 

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On the other hand, when Amazon sells a printed book, the purchaser generally doesn't go home, run off thousands of copies and send them all over the world.

I have no problem with DRM with the exception of not being able to take my purchases with me if I migrate to a different hardware platform.

Mike
 

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You know, I think a good solution would be to offer an e-book edition with each dead-tree edition sold. The e-book could have DRM up the wazoo, but you'd still have the codex itself to share with friends and family. I'd pay a small amount extra for something like that, but since it would literally cost them nothing to do, I wouldn't pay more than a few extra dollars for a dual-format book like that.

The only other choice would be if the laws change for books allowing something akin to Fair Use with audio recordings, so that when you buy a hard copy, you're entitled to make or acquire one digital backup solely for personal use on a personal device like the Kindle.

Let's face it: The iPod took off not because of the iTunes Store, but because people could turn their CD collection into MP3 files and listen to them on their iPod. I know that my iTunes library is about 70% my CDs, and 30% purchased items from iTunes or other online retailers.

Right now, the publishing industry is in the position that the music industry was in about 15 years ago; There's this new technology that, frankly, scares the men in suits and makes them worry that they're going to lose money. If they're smart, they'll look at the music industry and take a shortcut based on the mistakes made by them. Draconian DRM just hurts your bottom line; It drives people away, discourages purchases, and makes the assumption that every customer is a criminal.

In music, customers decided that enough was enough, and they started buying from non-DRM sources whenever possible. Sony doing terrible things to their CDs in the name of copy protection was the last straw for most folks. People who go out and pay for media want a little freedom, and most of them don't mass-produce or abuse the ability to make backups or convert to a different format.

The music industry wanted people to re-purchase the same album over and over, as each playback format came into being. First we bought it on reel-to-reel (OK, so few of did that), but then we bought it on vinyl, then 8-track, then cassette tape, then CD, then MP3.

And you know what? Despite the fact that people rip their CDs, and despite the fact that companies like Sony themselves manufacture and sell turntables that allow you to rip a vinyl album to MP3, the music business is booming. People are buying TONS of music in several different formats. There are still people who buy vinyl. CDs are still going strong. Digital formats are all doing well, too. The iTunes store became the top music retailer, even though the suits were worried that people wouldn't pay for MP3s if they were readily available online for free.

The lesson they learned? Customers are, by and large, not out to steal your product... So it's best not to treat them like they are.

Will the book publishing industry figure that out sooner rather than later? It's hard to say. This is an industry which protects copyrights with a vengeance, yet requires booksellers to strip the covers off excess paperback novels and toss the books into an easily-accessed garbage bin. It's an industry that worries about people reading an e-book for free online, but then hands out thousands of ARCs and tolerates the library system letting people read the same books for free.

There's not much logic in the publishing industry when it comes to what they're looking for in DRM. They want to protect their rights and the rights of their authors, and they want to maximize profits, but they honestly don't know what sort of impact e-books will have on sales, availability, and piracy. It's too early for their information to be reliable or trustworthy.

My take? I think they should relax a bit and let some books get pirated; Maybe even seed a few into the Internet themselves. Treat them like a drug! Give people the first book in a series for free, and then charge them for the rest. Just looking at the buying habits of Romance Novel readers and Robert Jordan fans, I can tell you that they would continue to make purchases after being given a "free taste" of the books they love. The industry may even capture NEW customers this way.

Think about this: If the first Harry Potter book were made available without DRM, and it leaked around, they might have lost some sales for book one... But then, they'd have a legion of hooked readers come back to purchase the mildly-DRM'd Books two through seven. How many more readers would they have gotten if the introduction into that world was easy to find for free?

Or just look at it in codex terms: How many people bought "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" after a friend handed them the book and said, "You've gotta read this!" -- And how many of those people, who first read a borrowed copy, ended up buying the whole series?

A little freedom is a good thing.
 

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Nix Cadavre said:
CDs are still going strong.
From the December 2008 New York Times:

"Total album sales in the United States, including CDs and full-album downloads, were 428 million, a 14 percent drop from 2007, according to data from Nielsen SoundScan. Since the industry's peak in 2000, album sales have declined 45 percent, although digital music purchases continue to grow at a rapid rate."

Depends on whether one accepts Nielsen SoundScan as a reliable source, I imagine.

I'm not fond of DRM, I'd like the option of moving my books to a different platform if I decide to do that at some point.

Mike
 

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Nix Cadavre said:
Let's face it: The iPod took off not because of the iTunes Store, but because people could turn their CD collection into MP3 files and listen to them on their iPod. I know that my iTunes library is about 70% my CDs, and 30% purchased items from iTunes or other online retailers.
My iTunes library is mostly the cds that I already own. I'm haven't been buying cds as space and storage have become an issue. My digital music does come from iTunes now and occasionally Amazon, who is DRM free. iTunes is now jumping on that bandwagon and is slowly converting to DRM free music...with upgrades available for music previously purchased for 30 cents a song.

I never had a problem with DRM but what I didn't like was the restrictions on how many times or items I could place DRM things onto...not sharing with others but for my own personal use.
 

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Nix Cadavre said:
You know, I think a good solution would be to offer an e-book edition with each dead-tree edition sold. The e-book could have DRM up the wazoo, but you'd still have the codex itself to share with friends and family. I'd pay a small amount extra for something like that, but since it would literally cost them nothing to do, I wouldn't pay more than a few extra dollars for a dual-format book like that.
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Umm, no. If I'm buying an ebook, it's specifically because I want an ebook. I don't want to be forced to buy both copies when one will do, as that will cost me more.

What I want to be able to do is treat an ebook exactly like a paper book. Be able to loan it out, give it away or sell it.
 

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Gregor said:
Umm, no. If I'm buying an ebook, it's specifically because I want an ebook. I don't want to be forced to buy both copies when one will do, as that will cost me more.

What I want to be able to do is treat an ebook exactly like a paper book. Be able to loan it out, give it away or sell it.
That's why I said "offer" an e-book edition. Not "force" and not "require" or "bundle", but "offer", as in "If you'd like this as an option, you can have it for an addition $2.00"
 
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