Well here’s a terrible idea. DBW just posted a press release about Edition Guard, which brings Adobe DRM to indie authors and small presses who want to sell books direct from their website.

Have we learned nothing in recent years? DRM doesn’t stop piracy. It’s ridiculously easy to crack. All DRM does is punish non-tech savvy readers who don’t know how to seek out the tools to get rid of it.

Even if DRM worked, Adobe DRM is a terrible platform. It only allows activation on six devices. So what happens when you purchase your seventh device? You have to contact Adobe directly, and I’ve heard too many horror stories about that experience to wish it on anyone.

Tor eliminated DRM on its catalog last year. Many indie authors release their books DRM-free, knowing that it’s a competitive advantage in this marketplace. A DRM solution for indie authors is a step back, not forward.


  1. I’m not a fan of DRM. I’m also, though, not a fan of piracy. I think we need to be honest about this… piracy is a problem. DRM is not the solution we’d like, but until piracy can be controlled, we’re forced into an unattractive choice… either we accept the fact that many potential buyers will take advantage of our product without paying or we encumber our product with a costly and clumsy add-on that reduces its functionality. Just because I don’t like either of these outcomes doesn’t mean that I don’t respect the need to make a choice. The choice I’ve made is against DRM. That doesn’t mean it’s the only choice or even the right choice.

  2. Rob, I’d be more likely to agree with you if DRM weren’t so darned easy to remove. DRM only stops the person who uploads to a pirate site. If you know how to upload, you probably also know how to strip DRM, so it’s at best, a small speed bump.

    I much prefer watermarking. It doesn’t hinder the reader but provides a way to track back an upload to the source. Except, that I’m pretty sure there are tools to remove watermarking, so it’s also an imperfect solution.

  3. “DRM only stops the person who uploads to a pirate site.”

    No, DRM doesn’t stop folks who do that at all.

    The people DRM stops are average users who might share a book with one or two friends like they would a paper book. Those folks don’t know what DRM is let alone how to remove it, at least until they run into the problems DRM can cause.

  4. Sadly, DRM stops non- savvy people from buying books. I have helped friends to install Calibre and manage their e-readers using the program, but it was difficult to install Adobe (I couldn’t find the damn program in Adobe’s web page!) and create an account, it was so much easier for them to find a web with a good catalog of books and an active community to maintain the catalog.
    After seeing some online bookstores close (I’m from Spain and I’ve been affected not only by Fictionwise and Mobiread, but some local bookstores too) I cannot recommend buying expensive books if you’re not able to understand how DRM works, and make some simple validations to assure yourself you’ve get rid of it.

  5. Brian, sorry. I wasn’t clear in my statement. I meant that DRM doesn’t stop someone who downloads from a pirate site. Anyone who wants to upload can usually figure out how to strip it so downloaders have no impediment. Hence, why DRM is pretty ineffective at stopping piracy.

    And as an author, I have no issues with someone sharing a book with friends, like they would with paper. I don’t consider that to be piracy, even though the big publishers probably do.

    Paul, I agree with you on the $39/month. I’m not yet making that much from my books, so, even if I did agree with DRM, it wouldn’t be the best use of my money. I’d rather save that money for awesome cover art for my next book, or hiring a top-notch copy editor. Much better use of my investment.

  6. Hello!

    My name is Turgay Birand and I’m the founder of EditionGuard. Don’t shoot! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’d like to begin by saying that I’ve been a loyal (albeit quiet) follower of Teleread for a while. Therefore, seeing my startup mentioned here, even in a negative light, has given me goose bumps. So, I had to come out and say something! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m not here to argue the points made here, because in all honesty, they’re all valid points. I agree that DRM mechanisms in general aren’t a perfect solution and they can be detrimental to the end-users experience. I wrote a post on own our blog about this very topic a few months ago. Even so, for most self-publishers and small companies who want to get started in the eBook business, DRM is a requirement. They cannot escape from it, because the industry demands it, and to me it seems like this situation will remain so for a while, but not indefinitely.

    We didn’t start EditionGuard because we thought we’d make millions (though it wouldn’t hurt :)) but because we are a small company, doing what we can for small businesses like ourselves who have been demanding such services for a long time. EditionGuard is a part of our dedication to supporting publishers with technology solutions, because we aim to lower the barrier of entry for smaller businesses. If we can accomplish that, the industry will grow and consumer demand will drive us all towards what it wants, as always.

    My hope is that, over time, services such as ours will evolve and improve through feedback from the industry and end-users, to the point where DRM will become obsolete and be replaced by better alternatives. That would be my preference also; I’d rather put all my time and energy into building tools that help self-publishers get more visibility and productivity. In time, I’m positive consumer demands will drive change and the industry will be forced to follow.

    In light of these points, I’d like to add that I believe we’re actually on the same front here: we want authors and retailers to sell more eBooks and make more money easier, while giving end-users a seamless reading experience. We also want them to have the freedom to do so on their own, without being locked into a few big names. I believe this to be of paramount importance.

    Thanks for reading!

  7. Turgay, thank you very much for responding. Glad to have given you goose bumps. Wish it had been because I loved your product and spoke about it in glowing terms.

    I’m curious. Why do you say, “for most self-publishers and small companies who want to get started in the eBook business, DRM is a requirement. They cannot escape from it, because the industry demands it,”? I can see it with indie presses. Lots of authors do believe they need DRM, and an indie press that didn’t offer it might be at a competitive disadvantage. But why do you say the same about self-published authors? As one myself, I’ve never used DRM, never intend to use it and can’t think of any reason it might have hurt/be hurting me now. What are you seeing in the industry that I’m missing?

    Thanks for commenting and don’t feel like you need to lurk. Just because I don’t agree with DRM doesn’t mean I think you or your company are terrible folks. We can agree to disagree and (hopefully) both make money.

  8. Hi Juli, thanks for your response. I promise not to lurk as much in the future. ๐Ÿ™‚

    My perspective on self-publishers is driven by demands we receive from the same. I believe there is both a psychological and monetary barrier for them. Many of them think they absolutely must use some kind of DRM system to get things right. Yet, they wont go forward with self-publishing because DRM is so prohibitively expensive, and they feel very insecure without it. And I highly doubt anyone could convince them DRM isn’t necessary, especially in emerging eBook markets.

    Consider that we didn’t even have a special subscription plan for self-publishers before; our lowest priced one was the Basic plan. We added the Indie plan later on, because we got quite a few requests from self-publishers. And now we got authors selling their works on their own WordPress websites, without being locked into the big names.

    Again, I agree that the reading experience is not optimal at this point and DRM isn’t the perfect solution. However, many authors are now out there, sharing their works freely using our service, so that’s growth for the industry in my eyes.

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