Digital rights management for ebooks is dead.
Readers knew it couldn’t last. It was simply a matter of when publishers and retailers would realise it was unsustainable.
Cutting edge Australian publishers like Pan Macmillan digital offshoot Momentum Books are leading the way by announcing they will remove DRM from their titles within months.
It won’t be long before their competitors realise they risk looking like dinosaurs, and mean ones at that, unless they join the push.
Though none of the other major publishers have announced they’re ditching it yet, I have heard the excuse, “Well, it’s the retailers who impose it on the publishers in any case.”
It’s an excuse that they can file away for good. The retailers are telling me they are either already selling books without DRM upon request, or soon will be.
Booku.com is among those who are keen to support publishers who make the shift.
Booku.com’s supplier, Overdrive, already offers DRM-free books in ePub and PDF format, and they’re coming soon to Booku (so are browser-based books a la Book.ish following Overdrive’s purchase of Booki.sh recently, incidentally).
ReadCloud, which is the ebook provider for many Australian independent booksellers, “can work without DRM, not a problem,” according to its CEO Jeremy Le Bard.
Kobo is already working with DRM-free titles for publishers, says Malcolm Neil, its Director Vendor Relations Asia-Pacific.
Even Google has come to the party. Mark Tanner, Strategic Partner Development Manager at Google, told uBookish that Google allows publishers to sell their ebooks without DRM today.
We won’t hold our breath on the Amazon or Apple front. That said, Apple did remove its proprietary DRM from all music in the iTunes store back in 2009, so perhaps I should have a little more faith in the Cupertino crowd.
Momentum publisher Joel Naoum says they are working through the issues with selling ebooks without DRM through retailers.
“Unfortunately it’s not a straightforward matter, though it does appear at this relatively early stage that most (if not all) retailers will be able to sell our books without it,” he says.
Hooray for Joel (who was my predecessor as Booku blogger, by the way) for leading the way on this front as in so many others.
Perhaps he has been inspired by innovative publishers like O’Reilly in the US who have long ensured their titles were available without the restrictive encryption software.
O’Reilly’s General Manager & Publisher Joe Wikert says his company believes that “digital rights management (DRM) is a bad idea”.
“We have a very simple theory: Trust your customers to do the right thing and you’ll earn their business.”
(See today’s earlier post for an outline of what DRM is all about.)