On Publishing Perspectives, Rod Younger of European e-book store Books4Spain had a guest column a few days ago discussing what might become of DRM. Younger discusses difficulties in e-book distribution (wanting to carry a book from a publisher not currently available through the distributor his store uses) and notes that, as difficult as distribution questions are already, DRM adds a layer of complexity that is both unnecessary and unwanted.
Younger notes how smoothly Amazon has locked customers in with its Kindle DRM—it’s all so easy and seamless customers never even notice their books are locked up, until they want to read them on some unsupported device. He also points out that, when people started putting the watermarked “official” Harry Potter e-books up on peer-to-peer sites, consumer backlash led to them being taken down:
What appears to have happened, and this confirms my own thinking about DRM, is that consumers were saying, “You gave us what we wanted at a reasonable price and so other consumers should be prepared to pay for these e-books.”
Younger is optimistic that, within two years, very few e-books of any kind will be sold with restrictive DRM. This will let publishers better compete with Amazon, and also make it easier for them to provide their e-books to independent e-book stores.
I certainly hope he’s right. The more e-books are sold DRM-free, the less frustrating multiple-device reading will get. In any event, we’ll simply have to wait and see.