TorPiracy is the dirty word that companies like to throw around when it comes to digital rights management, or DRM. Many publishers and even retailers use DRM in an effort to avoid having their books stolen on the Internet.

One year ago, Tor, a sci-fi and fantasy imprint of Macmillan, dropped DRM from all its books. Besides receiving positive reactions from authors and readers, something else occurred that just might break the hearts of other retailers and publishers.

“We’ve seen no discernible increase in piracy on any of our titles, despite them being DRM-free for nearly a year,” UK editorial director Julie Crisp wrote on Tor’s website.

We know piracy is never going to end. Some people refuse to pay, no matter what. DRM doesn’t hurt these people. It hurts the people who follow the rules, locking them into one vendor or another.

For people who have e-readers that are retailer-specific, reading books from other retailers is a hassle. Before I owned a tablet and only had a Nook, for instance, I bought a series of books using a gift card on Amazon. But how could I read my Amazon-bought books on my Nook?

I used a program to strip the DRM, and I then side-loaded the books onto my Nook. I didn’t give out the digital copies to anyone else, because I didn’t strip the DRM ir order to share the books with hundreds of people. I did it for myself, because I wanted to read the e-books I bought.

Amazon’s DRM has actually prevented me from purchasing e-books on their site. I’ve purchased items from Barnes & Noble’s website instead, or bought DRM-free e-books because it was simpler.

Crisp said exactly what I feel:

“DRM-protected titles are still subject to piracy, and we believe a great majority of readers are just as against piracy as publishers are, understanding that piracy impacts on an author’s ability to earn an income from their creative work,” she wrote.

Looking through the comments on Tor’s site, it shows the good publicity Tor received as a result of going DRM-free. Some commenters mentioned how they bought Tor books simply because they knew they didn’t have to go through the hassle of worrying about DRM.

Are other retailers likely to follow suit? Probably not. The proof is also in this post. I bought more e-books at B&N than Amazon because of DRM, which makes the bookstore chain happy.

However, now that I read most of my e-books on my tablet, where I have a number of apps for reading, I buy based on the company that is going to give me the best service.


  1. This post sums up the problem with DRM perfectly! It only hurts honest customers, the pirates can remove it in seconds.
    I think retailers and publishers just need to feel like they have any control when it comes to piracy… Hopefully they will wake up and realize that’s not the case.

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