Sci-fi publisher Tor, and mainstream fiction publisher Forge, ditches e-book DRM in a bid to shake up the industry and to satisfy consumer, and author, demands
Two subsidiaries of publishing giant Macmillan are ditching e-book DRM, citing consumer demand as the rationale behind the move.
Digital book lovers have long complained about DRM, or Digital Rights Management, used in digital downloadable books, which prevent basic functions such as backup and copying, and also causes compatibility issues on devices that don't necessarily support the underlying DRM framework.
And it appears that both readers and authors have been pushing to get rid of DRM. "We know that this is what many Tor authors passionately want," said Pan Macmillan's fiction publisher, Jeremy Trevathan.
"Our authors and readers have been asking for this for a long time," said Tom Doherty, president of Tor/Forge, "They’re a technically sophisticated bunch, and DRM is a constant annoyance to them. It prevents them from using legitimately-purchased e-books in perfectly legal ways, like moving them from one kind of e-reader to another."
With some online booksellers now in the business of selling only DRM-free e-books, the move is seen as an experiment to see whether moving away from DRM is the correct move for the future of the digital publishing industry. But not everyone in the industry is convinced. "Some people think that it is an impediment, and has been cracked anyway so we don't need it. But others say that it continues to restrict piracy," Neill Denny, editor-in-chief of the Bookseller magazine in an interview with the BBC.
The move away from DRM follows a similar development in the music industry, with almost all digital music sales now DRM-free thanks to a consumer led campaign and pressure from distribution giants, including Apple.