Jeremy Greenfield reports on the Digital Book World site that Matteo Berlucchi, CEO of social e-tailer Anobii, is urging publishers to drop DRM restrictions on their e-books as a way to fight Amazon. In a DBW slideshow presentation, Berlucchi argues that the big e-vendors use device choice to lock in consumers, licensing rather than selling e-books and offering inferior functionality to that of paper books.

Berlucchi calls attention to the actions of the music industry in recent years, eliminating DRM and permitting ownership of music—you can now even import songs bought on one platform into a competitor’s via cloud services. He proposes fighting piracy through education and legal action, and adopting “Digital Rights Morality” instead of Digital Rights Management: leave off DRM in the cloud, watermark downloadable e-books visibly and invisibly, and just use DRM for library e-books or in selected cases.

As with the music industry, Berlucchi states, this would prevent silos and monopolies, offer more value to end users, and increase competition by allowing anyone to sell e-books for any platform.

Although Berlucchi states early in his presentation that these views are his own, not those of Anobii, publishing pundit (and DBW chairman) Mike Shatzkin nonetheless called the argument “significant” because Anobii is part-owned by the UK divisions of major publishers HarperCollins, Penguin, and Random House.

Going DRM-free has certainly worked for Baen, which includes instructions on its e-book site for how to load its books into several major e-reader platforms. And it has worked for the music industry. It would be nice if publishers would see how well it worked for them, too.

(Found via The Bookseller.)


  1. Watermarking is a really good idea.

    When people think about piracy- they think about napster and megaupload.

    But we forget that there are also still plenty of bootleggers and counterfeiters- people who would simply printing out books from ebooks or burning their own CDs, DVDs, etc. to resell them to unsuspecting (or uncaring) consumers.

    When I lived in Brazil a couple years ago, I bought some CDs, 90% of them ended up being fake. You learn pretty quickly not to buy anything after that.

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