Tor Listens To Authors And Readers And Ditches DRM

from the ears-wide-open dept

We have said quite a bit about the perils of DRM and how many in the entertainment industry still insist on its use despite the fact that it is pointless as a deterrent to piracy and only leads to frustration for paying customers. Recently, we spoke about how DRM is bad for book publishers and that their insistent use of DRM was part of the reason they ended up in the DOJ's sights. Fortunately, it looks like some publishers are learning from these follies. Tor has just announced that it and all its sister companies' books will be DRM free by July of this year.
Our authors and readers have been asking for this for a long time. 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.
This is an exciting move for anyone concerned about the future of ebooks. That ability for readers to transfer their books from one device to another will help as technology advances and becomes far better. It is also excellent to hear that not only are readers voicing their dislike of DRM, but authors as well. That is what is really great about this. It often seems like publishers care little about the opinions of authors when it comes to these types of decisions. This news shows that some publishers are listening. Let's hope that other publishers learn from Tor's example and begin to listen as well.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 26th, 2012 @ 9:03pm

    In a related story, the rush to pirate e-books is on. Who will open the ebook-bay?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Apr 26th, 2012 @ 9:22pm

      Re:

      In a related story, you were living in a cave for the past few years.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Apr 26th, 2012 @ 9:27pm

      Re:

      In case you didn't notice piracy happens regardless of DRM.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      techinabox (profile), Apr 26th, 2012 @ 9:27pm

      Re:

      http://thepiratebay.se/

      They also have audio books.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Kyle Reynolds Conway (profile), Apr 26th, 2012 @ 9:33pm

      Re:

      Far from making me rush towards piracy, I might actually consider purchasing an e-book again.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        RonKaminsky (profile), Apr 27th, 2012 @ 3:13am

        Re: Re:

        You could have purchased a few from Baen, they've never had DRM as far as I can see. Myself, this means that I'm actually going to send them email commending them on this decision, and I'll pick out the book which seems the most interesting and buy it, just to put my wallet where my ideology is.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      dont know, Apr 26th, 2012 @ 10:30pm

      Re:

      i vote your mother.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      That One Guy (profile), Apr 26th, 2012 @ 10:39pm

      Re:

      Yes indeed, because as everyone knows, DRM stopped pirates cold when it came to copying stuff.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      PaulT (profile), Apr 27th, 2012 @ 1:26am

      Re:

      "In a related story, the rush to pirate e-books is on"

      Yes, it has been for a few years. Isn't this a good reason to offer customers what they want instead of trying to restrict them, lock them down and sell them files that are less valuable than the pirated copies?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      weneedhelp (profile), Apr 27th, 2012 @ 8:02am

      Re:

      Funny you say that. I was just thinking it will be nice to purchase ebooks again.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Cowardly Anonymous, Apr 27th, 2012 @ 8:14am

      Re:

      You might be a bit perplexed about the fact that the authors were not only on board put pushing for this action. Allow me to clear something up. Authors have a long history of benefiting from the sharing of their works through the public library system.

      In fact, most authors spend a fair amount of time in the public library. This helps them with inspiration and learning the best and worst ways to utilize language. Those authors that are not well read usually make this fact painfully obvious.

      After such a long history of this kind of openness, the harsh restrictions of DRM really were an anomaly in this field.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      tracker1 (profile), Aug 16th, 2012 @ 11:29am

      Funny...

      I've actually not purchased an e-book reader up to this point mainly because of the DRM.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 26th, 2012 @ 10:33pm

    Sales Killer

    DRM is a sales killer. Why would any consumer buy any content infected with DRM? Why would any author be so stupid as to have anything to do with any publisher who uses DRM?

    Everybody knows that DRM kills your ability to just handle the content like any other file. Publishers seem to be so deluded that they think they can just slip in DRM without anybody noticing. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Apr 27th, 2012 @ 12:38am

      Re: Sales Killer

      I'd guess it's because, even with somewhat lessened sales from DRM, the big publishers do do better marketing and make the authors more money.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        Richard (profile), Apr 27th, 2012 @ 3:41am

        Re: Re: Sales Killer

        the big publishers do do better marketing and make the authors more money.

        Not better marketing - simply established distribution channels.

        Eventually this will dissipate because it is no longer necessary.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Apr 27th, 2012 @ 5:24am

          Re: Re: Re: Sales Killer

          True enough, though I expect publishing houses will eventually simply let distribution become a commodity and primarily handle marketing and editing. That's always been their only real value anyway.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Gary, Apr 26th, 2012 @ 10:48pm

    It looks like there are two publishers now that I will buy eBooks from. Baen has sold drm free eBooks for a while now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    fogbugzd (profile), Apr 26th, 2012 @ 11:19pm

    Now if we could just get Tor to give up on windowing. Tor will be releasing the last book in the Wheel of Time series in print months before the ebook. In fairness to Tor, that might be due to a decision by the Jordan estate.

    It seems that in a lot of cases an author's estate is a lot more copyright-crazy than the author ever was.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      PaulT (profile), Apr 27th, 2012 @ 1:30am

      Re:

      "It seems that in a lot of cases an author's estate is a lot more copyright-crazy than the author ever was."

      That's understandable, if wrong. They're making their living off of something their dead relative once did, and they'd have to work if it weren't for copyright. I can understand why they'd fight tooth and nail to keep the money rolling in the same as it did when the person who actually did the work was alive...

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2012 @ 2:34am

        Re: Re:

        I'm assuming you know nothing about this series because your comment makes no sense otherwise. Jordan hasn't been dead that long and the current holder of his estate is his wife who was very involved in his writings as an editor.

        Secondly she's not doing this for the money the books being wrote current were already planned out ahead of time and Jordan was working on them before he died and had already drew out the outline for all three of the books being done by the new author Brandon Sanderson.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          PaulT (profile), Apr 27th, 2012 @ 3:10am

          Re: Re: Re:

          OK, then I apologise for jumping to conclusions, and this is an incident that doesn't fit the normal pattern. That still doesn't mean that windowing, etc., actually do anything other than encourage more piracy, but at least Jordan's family aren't just treating copyright as a work-free pension plan.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          fogbugzd (profile), Apr 27th, 2012 @ 4:57am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I am very familiar with the series and am a participating member of the Dragonmount community. I am well acquainted with the situation with Harriet and completion of the series.

          If you notice my original post split the comment about estates into a separate paragraph. I meant it as a general comment, not applying to the WOT series. My apologies for not being clearer. I was typing on my phone which is not friendly to fat fingers, and I was keeping my comment brief. Apparently too brief.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2012 @ 12:02am

    Not bad. Took 'em only twelve years to match Baen.

    Baen's been DRM-free since the first webscription month, December 1999.

    They managed the Kessel Run in only twelve years.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Dmitry M (profile), Apr 27th, 2012 @ 2:04am

    DRM doesn't prevent theft

    Protecting copies through DRM doesn't really make sense. If I want to borrow a friend's book (physical copy in this analogy) I can do so without paying anything to the author. He might lend this book to a dozen other people in the book's lifespan. People share things, whether it is a physical book or a song. In trying to prevent sharing, however, DRM stifles creativity and exerts unfair restrictions how this software can be used from platform to platform.

    TL;DR Get with the times entertainment industry.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Josef Anvil (profile), Apr 27th, 2012 @ 2:06am

    lol

    The opening troll on this post just made me laugh. Regardless of what people believe about piracy, Tor just took a step toward securing paying consumers and beating out its competitors.

    From the Tor point of view, it's more like: Who cares about piracy as long as the paying customers are paying us.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2012 @ 5:30am

    makes a nice change for someone to listen to customers. just wondering how long it will be before someone comes up with an idea on how to sue TOR for being so considerate and forward thinking?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Bob V (profile), Apr 27th, 2012 @ 5:43am

    Just as a random thought, what do you think the odds are of the publishers actually using their own products on e-readers and experiencing the frustration versus the RIAA and MPAA doing the same with their respective products

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Cowardly Anonymous, Apr 27th, 2012 @ 8:20am

      Re:

      Much higher. Publishers also do real editing (a fairly involved process with back and forth between editor and author), which requires them to be highly literate. The best way to become highly literate is to read a ton of good literature.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Tim K (profile), Apr 27th, 2012 @ 6:08am

    Now if they would not price fix...

    While this is a good step, I still won't buy from them because they are part of Macmillan who was one of the publishers not to settle to the price fixing charges. It's unfortunate too, cause I really like some of the authors, but when I went on Amazon to buy an ebook it was 11.99, which I'm not going to pay

    Kindle Edition $11.99
    Hardcover - New $14.95 -- New $13.45 -- Used $7.80

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Paul A., Apr 27th, 2012 @ 6:40am

    How about a low-tech replacement to DRM

    Suppose instead of DRM, when books are purchased, the purchaser's name, phone number and address become embedded in the document. This would surely cut down on file sharing, as I certainly don't want anyone with a browser and a torrent client to get my personal info.

    This also does away with the whole need for the author/provider to maintain a DRM verification server.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Tim K (profile), Apr 27th, 2012 @ 6:49am

      Re: How about a low-tech replacement to DRM

      They could do that, but I'm sure it would be easy enough for people to strip out, just as in the DRM they currently use. Then you also have the potential for people who have their files stolen, whether from hacking, lost e-reader, lost laptop, etc, and then those files get posted.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Rikuo (profile), Apr 27th, 2012 @ 11:54am

      Re: How about a low-tech replacement to DRM

      That's a stupid idea. As in really stupid. When was the last time you or I bought a product and had to somehow put our private details on the product post purchase? If you're so worried about "anyone with a broswer and a torrent client getting my personal info", don't put it out there!

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Paul A., Apr 27th, 2012 @ 6:40am

    How about a low-tech replacement to DRM

    Suppose instead of DRM, when books are purchased, the purchaser's name, phone number and address become embedded in the document. This would surely cut down on file sharing, as I certainly don't want anyone with a browser and a torrent client to get my personal info.

    This also does away with the whole need for the author/provider to maintain a DRM verification server.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      PaulT (profile), Apr 27th, 2012 @ 7:01am

      Re: How about a low-tech replacement to DRM

      That's the sort of thing that sounds good in theory, but won't really work very well in practice. Most pirates would strip out the watermark or transcribe it into an unwatermarked copy, just as they break the DRM now. Meanwhile, any one who loses a flash drive, has their Kindle, laptop or iPhone stolen, or otherwise loses data will be falsely accused of sharing their file. A canny botnet creator could simply hoover up all the eBooks on machines they've infected and use them to falsely implicate innocent people, making the system useless. Plus, if such information is easy to decrypt and strip from the file, it would be a handy method to aid identity theft, etc.

      Like so many forms of DRM, it may work to catch the particularly clueless or deter the particularly paranoid, but it won't stop piracy. It may even lose sales - after all, who wants to buy something that can get you sued if you ever lose it?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2012 @ 3:49am

    Charlie Stross put up a well reasoned post detailing a presentation he made to Macmillan regarding the business case for removing DRM. He puts it much better than I can but the main points were that technological rate of change made it dangerous to bind yourself to someones walled garden, walled gardens let the owner screw you over in the future, and that the DRM policies promote piracy in midlist readers and collectors who value OWNING (which they still don't but it at least starts to create the impression) the product that they bought.

    http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2012/04/more-on-drm-and-ebooks.html#more

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    ShellMG, Apr 29th, 2012 @ 5:13pm

    Baen won my loyalty when I was given a hardcover of Lois McMaster Bujold's "Cryoburn." I'd been reading her novels since I stumbled upon "The Warrior's Apprentice" in a bookstore shortly after it was first published, and she's one of the few authors for which I'll spring for the hardcover.

    Inside the back cover was a CD with all of her previous Vorkosigan novels, plus a few nice extras. I could feel the love from Baen, who wanted her fans to stay loyal (and maybe pass along a little of that loyalty to them). I was able to upload them to my iPad, re-read the novel prior to "Cryoburn," revisit a few favorites and pass the CD along to a friend, a new potential customer. It INCREASED the value of the hardbound, and who knows how many readers Baen and Ms. Bujold will gain?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 16th, 2012 @ 6:18pm

    What DRM-free Tor store?

    I know they may have said July, but from what I can tell the link on their page still says "COMING IN SUMMER 2012". Not much summer left here...

    Also, there's no indication that Tor ebooks sold on Amazon, iBooks, etc. will be DRM-free, is there? Or that their ebook prices will even be cheaper than used book prices on Amazon...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This