Did DRM Hand Amazon Their Monopoly?

AmazonGigaOM’s Matthew Ingram has a thoughtful piece on the recent Apple decision, where he posits that publishers got themselves into their “versus Amazon” position not because of pricing, but because of their insistence on selling books with DRM.

What’s the connection? Well, DRM is a lock; we all agree on that. And who has the power whenever there is a lock? Whoever has the key! As soon as someone invests in one Kindle book, they are locked into that system forever (unless they are techy enough to know otherwise), and every book Amazon sells them only cements that monopoly.

DRM locks, as author Charlie Stross once wrote, “gave Amazon the stick it subsequently used to beat them.”

There’s more in the article. It’s definitely food for thought!

• Related: “How to Remove Amazon’s DRM from Any Kindle E-Book” (WonderHowTo)

5 Comments on Did DRM Hand Amazon Their Monopoly?

  1. I don’t think DRM alone accounts for Amazon’s dominant share of the ebook market. Even if DRM didn’t exist, their eco-system encourages non-techies to stay inside the walled garden.

    In addition, Amazon being first played a major role as well. Not first in the sense of having the first ereader, but the first where you didn’t need a computer to load content on your ebook reader. The first generation nook came out a fair bit later and Kobo and other alternatives even later. By then, in the United States, Amazon’s dominant position was assured.

  2. What were you guys thinking when you picked that image? Fine for Facebook maybe, but really inappropriate for a professional website.

  3. Yeah, I see I’m not the only one who didn’t appreciate the rape “joke”. DRM is a lot of things. One thing that it isn’t is rape.

  4. I don’t believe that DRM handed Amazon the ebook market. I think it’s their excellent understanding of the marketplace and what consumers will enjoy and tolerate.

    Totally agree with Katherine and Laura on the storyline graphic.

  5. Maybe DRM didn’t hand Amazon the market, but it’s made it a lot easier for them to keep it when people can’t (legally) take their books with them if they want to buy into another store’s ecosystem. This is a real problem when it comes to launching a competitor; the people who’re already invested into Amazon aren’t going to be willing to leave the books they paid for behind. (Yes, you can use multiple e-book apps on a single tablet, but lots of people still read on e-ink.)

    (And agreed: I thought the graphic was a bit tacky myself.)

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