Romance Publishing Giant Offering Ebooks Without DRM; Reporter Upset By This

from the how-dare-you-give-customers-what-they-want dept

Kevin Cummings writes in with the news that romance novel publishing giant Harlequin is setting up a new ebook division to offer digital books directly from the company’s own websites, as well as via various online retailers. That, by itself, isn’t a huge surprise these days, but the article does note that the publisher decided to go without DRM on the books. Now, that seems like a smart, consumer-friendly move that should be applauded. However, the reporter who covered the announcement claims this move is “troubling,” which seems like an odd statement. How could treating customers with respect be “troubling”?

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Companies: harlequin

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Comments on “Romance Publishing Giant Offering Ebooks Without DRM; Reporter Upset By This”

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Pirate My Music (profile) says:

Harlequin Always Innovating

This publishing company has always had a good handle of where the trends and markets are heading, so it’s not surprising to see them going ahead without DRM.

Perhaps the reporter thinks it’s troubling because it’s not what everyone else is doing. There never really used to be a romance novel market before Harlequin. Would this reporter have considered it troubling that some company was publishing “racy” content back when Harlequin first appeared?

Matt says:

Puff... it's gone


The link you’ve posted is already gone. There is a new one, but, unsurprisingly, the part with the “troubling” is not there anymore. Also, it seems that Google didn’t get to index the original page, so there’s no Google cached version either.

Looks like someone wants their reporter’s mess swept right under the carpet.

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:

Re: Link is wrong

Oddly enough they had 2 reporters on the same story:

I thought the newspaper industry was struggling? Why then put two different reporters on the same story for the same newspaper?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Link is wrong

examiner is not a newspaper.

what they do is you “try out” to write for a column that is “local” to you and for a specific field of science/art. you get paid based on the page views of your article. the problem with this is that most local areas dont have enough going on in any specific field of science/art for people to write articles regularly, so writers stretch beyond that… a lot, and many times, people write on the same events.

lots of people who have written for examiner complain about the “newspaper” not paying what they advertise. somewhere in the fine print, they basically say your articles must meet some ridiculously high threshold before you get paid a decent rate, which you’ll never meet from people just wandering into the article from the “newspaper’s” site. this means you have to do promotion for your own article too. and if that’s the case, why not just put it on your own blog and get 100% of the ad income?

senshikaze (profile) says:

Mike, giving customers what they want is wrong. You have to make sure the big corporations are happy. I mean, imagine if you didn’t have drm on something like music. It would be super easy to move your music around and make backups of it. Nobody wants that. Well maybe the consumers, but we all know pandering to them is the wrong way to go, just look at what 60 minutes said. Consumers are bad people. We should all just sit back and make sure everything is nice and impossible for people to do what they want with the infinite goods they purchase over the big bad interwebs.

Isn’t there a saying that business would be great without the customers? I think i heard and RIAA exec say that at some point.


RCB says:

The context of the statement is:

“Those submitting to Carina Press should be aware that no advances are being offered and more troubling, there will be no DRM protection.”

A publisher that does not – by policy – pay advances is always bad news for authors and thus, troubling.

Additonally, this particular reporter seems to share the misguided idea that DRM is meant to protect the interests (and profits) of authors rather than the publishers’/distributors’, which is silly but hardly uncommon.

Comboman (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yes, the Walter article is clearly written from a writer’s point-of-view (it also points out the publisher is actively seeking submissions, something only potential authors would be interested in).

While the no-DRM policy is certainly good news for consumers, it sounds like the eBook arm of Harlequin (Carina Press) will be separate from the main publisher and use a separate pool of (mostly unknown) authors. Kinda like the big record companies that set up ‘indy’ labels on the side; always a good strategy to keep your eggs in more than one basket.

alternatives() says:

The key is the examiner as business model

examiner is not a newspaper.

Its a regional blog that tries to look like news.

Look at the ‘Glen Beck may have raped a woman’ event. At least 5 examiner pieces on that. From all over the nation. While the event was worthy of analysis – go read the various pieces – at least 2 were no better than blog comments.

As a way to sell ads/eyeballs wrapped up in a package of ‘its citizen journalism’ – wish I’d thought of it.

sehlat (profile) says:

Lack of advances is troubling...

Lack of DRM (to say the least), not so much. It’s as if Harlequin/Carina is trying to lay the (perceived) risk of DRM-free encouraging piracy off on the authors.

In any event, here’s my reply to the lady:

Geoffrey Kidd says:

DRM translates to “You don’t OWN the things you’ve bought.” Period.

My favorite publisher, Baen Books, started selling DRM-free books from their website( back in late 1999. Their prices have always been reasonable, and the loyalty of their customers is unshakable.

If Carina and Harlequin go down that road, they’ll find the same results for the same reasons. Forcing people to jailbreak what they’ve bought just so that they can choose HOW, WHEN, and WHERE to read what they’ve paid for is very poor marketing practice.

Stephen S. Power says:


You’re missing the larger story here, which is laid out if you follow the link back to the Smart Bitches Trashy Books site that discusses the new Harlequin line. The Romance Writers of America could, theoretically, delist Harlequin for paying no advances, something they’ve used to screw other epublishers, although commentators on the site suggest that readers could care less. Like the Author’s Guild taking control of the Google books business, here’s another group (one far more important than the AG) that could conceivable try to horn in on a business model. Will they? They’d be fools to do so. I can’t wait to see.

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