image Defenders of Kindle DRM might want to check out a just-posted TeleBlog comment from Steve Pendergrast, a co-owner of Fictionwise and

eReader offers anti-piracy measures related to use of credit card numbers (protected). And it’s a proprietary format. But long term, Steve would prefer a nonproprietary open standard, and commendably Fictionwise already offers nonDRMed books in a variety of formats when publishers allow this.

The Kindle gotchas ahead

Meanwhile, in the case of the Kindle, Steve cluefully writes:

"Kindle’s success (whatever that is, all we have currently is secondhand rumors on number of units) does not prove DRM is good. Customers do not realize the ‘gotcha’ until they want to move their purchases to another device.

"Then they realize what the issue is. Kindle was just released 8 months ago. Most customers have not thought about upgrading to other devices yet.

"A year or two from now is when the backlash will start to kick in. Many kindle customers, new to e-books, are not even aware of the issue yet."

Pro-Kindle owner, not anti

No, Kindle owners, Steve isn’t against you, and in fact his e-book stores offers books readable on Kindles.

He’s for you—just as I am in reminding you that Amazon is only renting books to you. The best solution, as I see it, would be the use of nonDRMed ePub, or else ePub with social DRM.

For now, just remember that Steve and I both have something in common: an appreciation of the value of intellectual property. Do you really think Steve and I would be so skeptical of DRM if we felt it helped sell e-books? Just the reverse. And that should apply to large publishers, too—not just the Baens.

Meanwhile let’s remember that while Steve and his brother, Scott, enjoy a lot of clout within e-bookdom, Amazon has much more. If Amazon can offer MP3s without DRM infestation, why the devil can’t it sell e-books without it?

Related: Fictionwise contest through which you can win $500 credit or an iPod touch.


  1. Re: If Amazon can offer MP3s without DRM infestation, why the devil can’t it sell e-books without it?

    The off-the-cuff response to your question is “Because a single song or MP3 file doesn’t represent the same level of investment for the rights holder that a single book title represents for a publisher.” Let’s not be naive.

    That said, as a Kindle owner, I am more perturbed that certain publishers are reducing prices by only $2.00 for Kindle editions (as compared with the print version), despite the fact that they have no inventory costs and run little or no risk of piracy in delivering Kindle editions. $15.00 or $20.00 for a digital copy that is entirely controlled? I don’t think so.

  2. Hi, Jill. Actually there’s a lot more money in online music right now compared to online books. The total value of the intellectual property is MUCH higher with music.

    Yes, you’re thinking of individual titles. But let’s not forget the big picture, and beyond that, the nonDRMed MP3s at Amazon would include major hits with multimillion-dollar investments–in everything from musicians’ compensation to promotion.

    Thanks for your comments even if we disagree on the above, and, yes, you’re right in the second graph ;-). I hope you’ll hang around.

    I’d really like to see MORE DRM-friendly comments for the sake of balance even though I personally continue to dislike “protection.” David

  3. Let millions and millions and millions of Kindles sell. In fact, Rothman, go buy one. I am blessing you.

    Oh you just know I have a reason!

    Because when those millions of people get DRMscrewed, maybe THEN lawmakers will wake up to the gigantic fraud being perpetrated and DO something about it.

    So, yes, slap that DRM on everything! Hell, DRM your child’s DNA! (Yeah, species extinction would show ’em!)

  4. Jill, at least Kindle prices are lower than paper ones. Frequently non Kindle ebooks are STILL priced higher than Hardback prices (from Amazon) for many new books which is idiotic IMHO.

    Uncrippling Kindle books seems to be a solved problem for the internet user with a modicum of google-fu. So much so that I’ve been trying to work out how I can convince Amazon that I own a Kindle and can therefore buy ebooks at a reasonable price. Unfairly Amazon won’t sell me Kindle books without a valid serial number 🙁

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