On FutureBook, Anobii CEO Matteo Berlucchi has posted an essay expanding on the points he made in the Digital Book World presentation I mentioned the other day. Berlucchi proposes that DRM is not helping the fight against piracy, and may even be driving people to piracy as they want to be able to do more with their e-books than publishers are willing to let them. However, the vendor lock-in promoted by DRM is giving additional power to e-tailers like Amazon, since customers are reluctant to switch away from the vendor who has sold them most of their e-books.

Berlucchi points to the example of the major music publishers dropping DRM on electronic music sales in 2007 to reduce the amount of power Apple had over music customers. He suggests watermarking as an alternative, bringing up the example of German e-publisher Libreka who found that none of its watermarked e-books ended up on piracy sites, unlike DRMed or photocopied books.

As much as publishers are complaining about the power wielded by Amazon, and watching the company increase its hold over consumers with bold initiatives like the Kindle Lending Library and free streaming movies with Amazon Prime, it seems like they ought to look at dropping DRM as an opportunity to break Amazon’s stranglehold. Given how widely pirated books and e-books are already, it’s not as if they have anything to lose.

And it seems like it’s just about time for them to consider it. Berlucchi points out:

It took 5 years from the release of the iPod for music publishers to drop DRM. The Kindle was launched on November 19, 2007, 4 years and  2 months ago…

The clock is ticking…


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