As a fiction author, the most important aspect of my business is finding and keeping readers. I want to reduce the barriers between my work and potential readers, so a few years ago, I conducted a survey about book reading and buying habits. One of the questions I asked people was what they would change about getting books. This comment really hit home:

“No DRM. Absolutely none. If eBooks have DRM then I pirate them simply to have them without DRM.”

I agree that, as a reader, DRM is a non-starter for me as well, though there are solutions other than piracy*. But what the heck is DRM, anyway, and how does it affect publishers and authors?

DRM stands for Digital Rights Management, which is a way of locking digital goods. DRM is why most Kindle books can’t be read on a Kobo reader. The problem with DRM, of course, is exactly that: if I buy a book from the Sony Reader store, then decide I want to read that book on Stanza on my iPod, too bad for me. Even though it’s my book. As both a reader and an author, this is a barrier.

Some books from the major ebookstores are sold without DRM and can be converted into other formats. Most, however, are locked unless you remove the DRM (be aware – doing this may be not be considered legal in New Zealand, even if you own the book and are converting it only for your personal use).

I believe that DRM makes digital goods less than fully functional, and I can’t in good conscience sell a defective product. I don’t want DRM in the books I buy, so I don’t sell books with DRM in them.

Yes, that means it’s possible for you to give your friend a copy of my book. Yes, that’s theoretically a lost sale for me. But it’s also a possible new reader. So, if you want to give one of my books to someone you think would like it, go ahead. That doesn’t mean uploading the files to P2P sites, but passing on a beloved book to a fellow reader is a long and wonderful tradition among book lovers.

Darusha Wehm

Darusha Wehm CC BY-SA

* It’s possible to remove the DRM from most legally purchased ebooks. A google search leads to some good information. The open source ebook library software Calibre can help you convert DRM-free books from one format to another with one click.

Darusha Wehm’s fifth novel, Children of Arkadia, is forthcoming in Autumn 2015. 

Share Button