In 2013, a study by the German Publishers and Booksellers Association found that 55% (300 publishers) of the country’s publishing houses used hard DRM. One year later, the numbers changed: in 2014, only 44% of publishers reported using hard DRM.
In 2015, many well-known publishing houses also changed their DRM strategies: in March, Dumont announced that they would be using digital watermarks in the future; dtv followed in May, as did the German Bonnier publishing houses — Piper, Ullstein, Carlsen, arsEdition Thienemann-Esslinger and Berlin Verlag. The latest to abandon hard DRM is Holtzbrinck, which owns Droemer Knaur, Fischer, Rowohlt and Kiepenheuer & Witsch. Peter Kraus vom Cleff, Managing Director of Rowohlt, said: “Recent experience in Germany and abroad has shown that a digital watermark protects the copyright of our authors just as well as hard DRM. We’re convinced that soft DRM simplifies the use our ebooks for our readers.”
The one positive about DRM is that, in a perverse way, I see an opportunity here. What if people can own e-book for real and if they must worry less about the many technical complexities that this consumer-hostile technology creates? This could be a nice little upside for sales.