Accepting Amazon's DRM Makes It Impossible To Challenge Its Monopoly

from the from-one-monopoly-to-another dept

Amazon was the target of some well-deserved criticism this past week for making the anti-customer move of suspending sales of books published by Hachette, reportedly as a hardball tactic in its ongoing negotiations over ebook revenue splits. In an excellent article, Mathew Ingram connects this with other recent bad behavior by Internet giants leveraging their monopolies. Others have made the connection between this move and a similar one in 2010, when Amazon pulled Macmillan books off its digital shelves.

That dispute took place a little over four years ago, and ended with Amazon giving in and issuing a statement that people found a bit strange. Here's a quote:

We want you to know that ultimately, however, we will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan’s terms because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles, and we will want to offer them to you even at prices we believe are needlessly high for e-books.

"Monopoly" was a funny choice of words there. The author John Scalzi, whose piece decrying Amazon’s actions at the time is still very much worth reading, memorably took issue:

And not only a forum comment, but a mystifyingly silly one: the bit in the comment about Amazon having no choice but to back down in the fight because “Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles” was roundly mocked by authors, some of whom immediately started agitating against Amazon’s “monopoly” of the Kindle, or noted how terrible it was that Nabisco had a “monopoly” on Oreos.

Monopoly, of course, is economically the correct term. Publishers of books that are restricted by copyright have a set of exclusive rights granted to them by law. Their monopoly looks distinct from Amazon's near-monopoly bookseller position, though, because it's one agreed to in public policy. In a sense it is also more absolute, and less vulnerable to challenge, because it's a legal monopoly, and not just a market monopoly.

To the extent Amazon has a monopoly on selling paper books, then, it could be challenged not just by legal action (such as antitrust investigation) but by other businesses competing. There would be some extreme logistical difficulties, and disparities created by economies of scale that might be impossible to overcome, but in principle other businesses are able to compete for Amazon's market position on physical books.

Copyright behaves differently: when it comes to Macmillan or Hachette's books, nobody may undercut prices by making production more efficient, or design prettier covers, or edit the text into a more compelling presentation. Where that's a good thing, it's because we've reached it by public policy. We've granted copyright holders an inviolable (if limited) legal monopoly because we as a society like the results.1

A very real danger, though, is if Amazon can take the challengeable market monopoly it has put together, and ratchet it into an unchallengeable legal monopoly. That is exactly what DRM does.

By putting DRM on its digital products—ebooks and audio books—Amazon gets the legal backing of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's anti-circumvention restrictions on its products. This isn't for the advancement of public policy goals, either; Amazon gets to create the private law it wants to be enforced. Thanks to DRM, Kindle users are no longer free to take their business elsewhere—if you want a Kindle book, you must purchase it from Amazon.

Fortunately Kindle software can, for now, read other non-restricted formats. But the functionality is limited, and not guaranteed to stick around. And it's a one-way street: other software and hardware may not read ebooks in the Kindle format. Customers who amass a Kindle library will find no compatible non-Amazon reader. The fact that individual users can usually circumvent the DRM, too, doesn't help businesses trying to compete in that space.

Amazon has a lot of fans, and they tend to ascribe its rise as a bookseller for its aggressively pro-customer stance. If it drops that stance, even major fans would probably agree that it no longer deserves the throne. Unfortunately, DRM takes the conditional monopoly that customers like (you get to be the largest bookseller so long as you're good to your customers) and replaces it with an unconditional one (you once achieved monopoly and that is now permanent).

Last week's sketchy move against Hachette looks like a willingness to throw its customers under a bus in the name of better business deals. If publishers continue to insist on DRM, and if customers continue to allow it, we lose our ability to object.

  1. Of course, that is only as true as copyright policy reflects the will of the public, which it doesn’t, but it’s something to aspire to.

Republished from parker higgins dot net


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Violynne (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 7:33am

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the DRM applied to Amazon's Kindle the result of publishers allowing their ebooks to be sold?

    This article seems to be ambiguous as to who is at fault. Not to sound like an Amazon apologist, but I don't see a problem with a company who is fighting to push down prices of an infinitely distributable good so its audience can enjoy them, perhaps leading to more sales.

    Every electronic device has DRM on it, so it's rather pointless to suggest the Kindle shouldn't have it. Think those ebooks you read on other devices can be shared? Not unless you have the official app on the device, and even then, it doesn't always work (Looking at you, UltraViolet).

    As a consumer, I'm siding with Amazon on this one. It think it's atrocious a publisher demand prices near their physical equivalent (then steal 80% from the author while producing no physical good in exchange).

    Amazon isn't throwing customers under the bus. It's trying to pull them out from under the bus publishers put there decades ago, and continue to do so to this day.

     

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  2.  
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    deadzone (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 9:09am

    Re:

    I'm pretty sure that Amazon makes everyone use their DRM regardless of whether you want to or not as part of it's terms and conditions for selling e-books.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2014 @ 9:11am

    Re:

    Very well stated. +1

     

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  4.  
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    Michael, May 28th, 2014 @ 9:12am

    Re:

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the DRM applied to Amazon's Kindle the result of publishers allowing their ebooks to be sold?

    That is the point. The publishers have handed Amazon a monopoly by forcing Amazon to include this type of DRM. Now, publishers are feeling that mistake in their negotiations with Amazon.

    Every electronic device has DRM on it, so it's rather pointless to suggest the Kindle shouldn't have it.

    You need to stop shopping at the Apple store and you will relaize that this is not true. Lots of devices are totally DRM free these days.

    As a consumer, I'm siding with Amazon on this one.

    While they may not be wrong, they have made you (as a customer) a point of leverage against the publishers. It may be helping you now, but tides shift.

     

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  5.  
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    Michael, May 28th, 2014 @ 9:15am

    Re: Re:

    The publishers have handed Amazon a monopoly by forcing Amazon to include this type of DRM. Now, publishers are feeling that mistake in their negotiations with Amazon.

    Not to mention, this is EXACTLY what the record companies did with Apple and then when they realized that Apple ended up with all of the leverage completely freaked out about it.

    Surely, this will not happen with streaming video...

     

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  6.  
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    Derek (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 9:15am

    I'm pretty sure that Amazon makes everyone use their DRM regardless of whether you want to or not as part of it's terms and conditions for selling e-books.

    That's actually not true. Publishers can request that their books be DRM free. But many publishers don't want that either. You know, because... pirates.

    Take a look at at Baen and their model - subscriptions that get you 5-6 titles per month, lots of free books in many different formats. Don't meant to promote Baen, but their creative approach has gotten many of my acquaintances to try authors they otherwise would not have.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2014 @ 9:15am

    how horrible. Amazon is creating a monopoly out of their DRM that the publishers insisted to be put there to begin with. Cry me a river.

    Remember how that went with iTunes? history repeating...

    I'm siding with amazon on this one. It is another prime example how the publishers paranoia is actively detrimental to their business.

    For the record, I don't spend money on ebooks, especially when DRM is involved (movies and music don't factor in to this, I don't buy those out of principle, physical or download doesn't matter). I rather have the dead tree edition.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2014 @ 9:22am

    Re: Re:

    Nope, the DRM is optional. There is no requirement, and a lot of books in the Amazon store have no DRM. It's the publishers that insist on it.

     

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  9.  
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    Just Another Anonymous Troll, May 28th, 2014 @ 9:37am

    Re:

    "It think it's atrocious a publisher demand prices near their physical equivalent"
    No it's not. Most of the cost of a book is the words, not the binding. It costs so much because the author has invested a lot of time writing it. The physical book is just a way to transfer the ideas inside, and so it's perfectly reasonable to charge ALMOST as much as the physical book.

     

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  10.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 9:45am

    Re:

    "Every electronic device has DRM on it"

    As another commenter said, this is not actually true. However...

    "Think those ebooks you read on other devices can be shared?"

    Mine can. I buy abooks, including Kindle's, and the very first thing I do is strip out the DRM specifically so I don't have to use the Kindle app or be tied to a particular computer.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2014 @ 9:49am

    if I'm reading this correctly, Amazon (i am a prime subscriber and own a kindle) is being blamed for either
    1) having DRM, practically required by most major publishers for e-distribution
    2) having DRM, which can't be circumvented by law even for lawful purposes
    3) using its buying and distribution power (i.e. the customers) as leverage when making distribution deals for products

    So.. What exactly is it that Amazon is doing that any random competitor of its size wouldn't do in its place? If the nook had won the e-reader war, would we be complaining about Barnes & Noble instead?

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2014 @ 9:52am

    Re:

    for the sake of discussion, please pretend there is a comparable competitor or amazon was some other random company. pointing out that amazon kicked the eff out of the rest of the market to become a de-facto leader in the industry isn't really relevant to my point, and i can guarantee you their position had nothing to do with DRM to start with.

     

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  13.  
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    Violynne (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 9:55am

    Re: Re:

    Then publishers don't have a right to complain when Amazon wants leverage. What's good for the goose...

    Enlighten me to a device which doesn't use DRM, and I'll show you were the DRM is. Software is DRM by its nature.

    You may be right about the leverage, but here's the point: do you see Hachette consumers happy at other venues? Of course they're not. They're pissed the prices for a digital file is too high, but what choice do they have?

    Zero. Nada. Zilch. None.

    That's a monopoly on the flip side of this coin.

     

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  14.  
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    Shmerl, May 28th, 2014 @ 9:55am

    I don't get it

    Publishers aren't forced to sell their e-books through Amazon only. They can offer them in any kind of formats (ePUB, PDF, whatever) without DRM, in addition to selling them through Amazon. Amazon's DRM can't prevent them from doing it. So while their DRM is nasty and Amazon Kindle should be avoided altogether because of it, it doesn't mean that they have a monopoly and forbid selling e-books elsewhere.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2014 @ 9:59am

    Re: Re:

    For a paper book, their is a large cost in paper, printing, and logistics of supply of paper to the printer, and books to warehouses and then shops. These dominate any costs of editing, typesetting or any advance made to an Author. With Ebooks, all the costs of paper, printing and logistics are removed, so asking for a price near the paper price is profiteering, and/or protection of the paper book market..

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2014 @ 10:05am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Software is DRM by its nature.


    That's the most ridiculous statement I've ever heard. How do you figure this?

     

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  17.  
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    Rich Kulawiec, May 28th, 2014 @ 10:06am

    Re:

    "Every electronic device has DRM on it [...]"

    Only the broken ones.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2014 @ 10:07am

    Considering Amazon's ebook prices I find even more irony in their statement

    Considering how a lot of Amazon's ebook prices are just as high or higher than the paperback or hardback prices, I find it ironic that they complain that the deal they struck makes ebook prices higher than they want it to be.

     

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  19.  
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    ltlw0lf (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 10:10am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Nope, the DRM is optional. There is no requirement, and a lot of books in the Amazon store have no DRM. It's the publishers that insist on it.

    That is correct. Many, if not most, of the books I've purchased on Amazon have come without DRM (and I've had no problem moving them from a malfunctioning version of the Kindle app to a working version without having to re-download,) mainly because they are Tor books (yes, I am a Sci-Fi fan,) and Tor has been quite vocal about their views on DRM.

    Unfortunately, there isn't really an easy way on the Amazon site to determine if the books have DRM or not. I saw, at one time (I think in the Kindle App itself,) a statement on books already downloaded the statement "The publisher has denied applying DRM to this book," but I cannot find that verbiage anywhere on the site.

    If there was, I'd be far happier on spending money on more books because they wouldn't break after three downloads or break when Kindle decided to stop working (because I don't use "Kindle for Windows" on Windows or Kindle's Google App on a Amazon Kindle.)

     

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  20.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 10:11am

    Re:

    "What exactly is it that Amazon is doing that any random competitor of its size wouldn't do in its place?"

    Nothing, but that's beside the point.

    "would we be complaining about Barnes & Noble instead?"

    Absolutely.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2014 @ 10:13am

    Re:

    As a direct result of the publishing houses' collective short-sightedeness, Amazon is one of the few places to buy trusted e-books, and is at such an advantage that it is now reaching a point where it can dictate to others how to run their business. Not even Google has that much clout in this particular arena.

     

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  22.  
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    Michael, May 28th, 2014 @ 10:14am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Not to mention that you have actual property rights with a paper copy - like being able to resell it.

     

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  23.  
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    Lurker Keith, May 28th, 2014 @ 10:15am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Enlighten me to a device which doesn't use DRM, and I'll show you were the DRM is. Software is DRM by its nature.
    My MP3 player plays my music, copied off my computer, just fine. & I have never had any problem playing whatever mp3 I want to on it.

     

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  24.  
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    ottermaton (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 10:16am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You're right AC. Clearly the Anon Troll has no clue what he's talking about when he said

    Most of the cost of a book is the words, not the binding. It costs so much because the author has invested a lot of time writing it.

    The truth of the matter is more something like this:

    Ignoring super-star authors who write their own tickets, the best rate most writers can hope for is 15% of the cover price of trade hardcover books, with this percentage being achieved only after a certain number of copies have been sold. source

    To put it another way, those "words" are only 15% of the cost of a book ... pretty far from "most of the cost"

     

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  25.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 10:17am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Software is DRM by its nature."

    This is a bizarre thing to say. Not only is it untrue, it barely makes sense.

     

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  26.  
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    Michael, May 28th, 2014 @ 10:21am

    Re:

    Perhaps I am reading the article differently than you, but it does not appear to blame Amazon for anything. It looks like it is pointing out that the publishers requiring DRM on their eBooks has been short-sighted and handed Amazon a near-monopoly over a market, locked their customers into a platform, and then Amazon turned the power of that monopoly on the publishers and demanded lower pricing.

    Yay Amazon
    Boo Publishers

    Customers watch out because Amazon may turn that monopoly on you some day.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2014 @ 10:23am

    There used to be a time when I only buy books at amazon, now I buy almost everything at amazon, except books.

     

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  28.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 10:26am

    Re: Re:

    "Amazon may turn that monopoly on you some day."

    If Amazon's past behavior is any guide, this will happen.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2014 @ 10:30am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Please explain how say, the trisquel gnu/Linux or freebsd operating system are "drm by nature"

    Or vlc, gnu nano, battle for wesnoth ect ect

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2014 @ 10:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I think what he actually means is PROPRIETARY software and formats include DRM by their nature. For instance, although you can copy books from device to device, you still need the official Kindle App to use it. However, if they opened up the format so that it became a standard that other readers can support, then there would be no DRM there at all.

     

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  31.  
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    gnudist, May 28th, 2014 @ 10:37am

    Re: I don't get it

    Yeah, As vile as DRM is this isn't one of it's evils.

     

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  32.  
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    Vikarti Anatra (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 10:38am

    Re: Re:

    @deadzone,
    your are wrong.
    DRM usage is author/publisher's option.
    you will see "At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied." in many Kindle Store books

    example: http://www.amazon.com/Like-Mighty-Safehold-David-Weber-ebook/dp/B00EGJ3R1U/

    You can use eInk Kindle without Kindle Store if your books come from other source and are not in DRMed format. You just need to convert books to .MOBI. You could use Calibre for that.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2014 @ 10:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Actually, it makes sense in a way. Any software that involves any sort of human interaction has to be designed with idiots in mind. Therefore, making sure the user can't do stupid is paramount in any design. That's DRM in a sense, and you'll find it in even GPL software.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2014 @ 10:45am

    Re:

    Actually it's funny you mention Barnes and Noble's nook. They actually have done some pretty amazingly consumer friendly things lately. First, they dramatically dropped the price on their tablets. They also abandoned the concept of walling you into just their app store as they now come with the Google Play store installed AND they permitted you to install the Kindle App on their tablets. They are also supposedly notoriously easy to root and mod.

     

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  35.  
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    Donglebert The Needlessly Unready, May 28th, 2014 @ 10:48am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Agreed.

    Authors - ie "The Words" account for around 15% of a printed books retail price. If you consider discounted sales prices, that goes up to 25%ish.

    So how 25% = "Most", I don't know.

    Unless you sell directly with Amazon - who actually do pay over 50% royalties in some cases.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2014 @ 11:12am

    Re: Re:

    There are other apps capable of reading Kindle ebooks without DRM?

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2014 @ 11:36am

    Re: Re:

    Amazon is simply wanting to lower their costs, at their own will they *might* pass some of those cost savings onto the consumer.

    Once infinite goods are priced according to the costs associated with providing them I will start purchasing some of them. Until then there is plenty of free (legally and financially) material on the Internet to read that will keep me busy until the day I am pushing up daises.

    To me Amazon is doing the right thing trying to get the prices down, the publishers are too dumb to realize they are shooting themselves in the foot.

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2014 @ 11:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No it's not.

    GPL software stopping you from accidentally nuking your install with RM is not the same as software that disrespects the users wishes.

    If I input my root password I can still intentionally nuke my linux install, I cannot just enter a password to bypass a game's drm so that it will play nice nice with wine or simply not fuck with DVD+/-rw drivers out of paranoia

     

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  39.  
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    Carlie Coats, May 28th, 2014 @ 11:39am

    Amazon DRM: "At the publisher's request, this title is sold without DRM"

    For example,

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2014 @ 11:39am

    Re: Considering Amazon's ebook prices I find even more irony in their statement

    You are placing the blame on the wrong entity.

    The publishers are the ones wanting to set stupid high prices, Amazon wants them lowered.

     

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  41.  
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    Carlie Coats, May 28th, 2014 @ 11:46am

    Two points

    1) Authors self-publishing directly with Amazon get 70% instead of the maybe-15% they get from publishers (though of course the readers do not benefit from editorial skill, etc.); and

    2) If I buy a physical book, I will generally eventually donate it to charity for a tax write-off (effectively discounting the price by one-third). I can't do that with e-books. From my point of view, if e-books are priced at more than two-thirds of hard-copy--and that's most of them--they are overpriced.

     

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  42.  
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    Matthew, May 28th, 2014 @ 11:53am

    Discounts

    My favorite bit about this story is Hatchette complaining that Amazon isn't applying the usual discount to their books. A direct admission that their books are overpriced to begin with!

    As Techdirt has pointed out a million times, just because you think you put a lot of effort into writing a book, doesn't mean you can artificially set any price you think you deserve for that effort.

    As with any digital file, the 'cost' of an eBook is zero, because as soon as you make one, you can make an inifinite number for basically no cost. That's why publishers need DRM to artificially fix prices.

    If you want to read an eBook on a kindle, just type the title and the word 'mobi' into Google, I guarantee you'll find a copy for free. However I sometimes buy books from the Kindle store, if it's cheap enough to offset the hassle of finding a free copy. You can also view it as a form of charity to authors you like.

     

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  43.  
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    ltlw0lf (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 11:59am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied."

    Hah, I knew it was in there somewhere, you have to click the expand button to find it. I remembered seeing something like this (comment above,) but didn't see it on any of the books I knew were DRM-free...expanding all of them revealed the same verbiage.

     

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  44.  
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    ltlw0lf (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 12:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Unfortunately, there isn't really an easy way on the Amazon site to determine if the books have DRM or not.

    See Vikarti Anatra comment below... You actually have to expand the description to find it.

     

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  45.  
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    That One Guy (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 12:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Unfortunately, there isn't really an easy way on the Amazon site to determine if the books have DRM or not. I saw, at one time (I think in the Kindle App itself,) a statement on books already downloaded the statement "The publisher has denied applying DRM to this book," but I cannot find that verbiage anywhere on the site.

    That right there is why I'll buy other things from Amazon, but never ebooks. I don't believe in supporting those that think they can still retain the rights over something I just purchased(and pricing them identically to paperbacks if not more is just insult to injury), able to tell me where I can use it and on what, so I try and avoid DRM'd products as much as I can.

    However, since with Amazon there's no visible 'Does this ebook contain DRM?' description, and the only way you can tell is after you'd purchased it, unless I want to play DRM roulet, that means I can't buy any of them.

    It can be annoying, as several times I've run across people talking about how awesome a particular ebook on Amazon is, but without a clear DRM/No DRM distinction available to the customer, ebooks shall remain a 'No purchase' for me on Amazon, and I'll just get them elsewhere(Smashwords and Baen generally).

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2014 @ 12:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Therefore, making sure the user can't do stupid is paramount in any design."

    No, it's not -- and should never be, since this is a largely unattainable goal. In fact, I find it useful in many contexts to allow the user to do something stupid because that has educational value. ("Oh, you removed your file? I hope you did backups. You didn't? Ahhhh Grasshopper, today will be a good day for you because today you will learn something important.")

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2014 @ 12:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I didn't say it was exactly the same, I just said it similar in a way.

     

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  48.  
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    ltlw0lf (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 12:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    However, if they opened up the format so that it became a standard that other readers can support, then there would be no DRM there at all.

    Both Mobipocket and AZW formats are Open eBook Standards using XHTML. Most eBook readers and authors can read and write the files. The only thing that isn't standard is the DRM. I have no problem opening the non-DRM'd Mobi and AZW format files using Calibre or any of the standard viewers. I actually, for some reason, prefer the Amazon Kindle app for reading eBooks, and have books from various other sources (Google Books, etc.) in Amazon Kindle, though the Linux version of Calibre is definitely growing on me.

     

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  49.  
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    That One Guy (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 12:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It's not a standard thing though, I just checked several ebooks on Amazon that I know are DRM free(purchased before I got burned by the stealth DRM), and one that I found out the hard was wasn't, and none of them mentioned it either way.

     

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  50.  
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    Nate (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 12:11pm

    This doesn't make any sense:

    "Accepting Amazon's DRM Makes It Impossible To Challenge Its Monopoly"

    Amazon at one point had a 90% of the ebook market. Now they have considerably less (50% to 60%). Clearly the monopoly can be challenged, DRM ro no.

     

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  51.  
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    That One Guy (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 12:13pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Funnily enough, even without the DRM I wouldn't touch that, as it's showcasing another problem that plagues ebooks, the 'Add an extra 50% to the price, just because' one I see so often.

    Kindle version: $13
    Paperback: $8

    I'd love to know just what makes the ebook version worth so much more than the paperback, because as far as I can tell the only real reason is 'Because idiots will pay more for digital'.

     

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  52.  
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    ltlw0lf (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 12:19pm

    Re: Two points

    1) Authors self-publishing directly with Amazon get 70% instead of the maybe-15% they get from publishers (though of course the readers do not benefit from editorial skill, etc.);

    Considering quite a few of the ebooks I own have really crappy formatting errors and other editorial errors, authors who self publish *may* not benefit from editorial skills (though there is certainly nothing preventing a self-publisher from hiring an editor themselves to fulfill this role.) Having a publisher pay you 15% of sales is in no way a guarantee that the publisher will provide author services like an editor for you, nor is it a guarantee they will even actually publish your book (as they could stick it on a shelf never to see light of day again.)

     

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  53.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2014 @ 12:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I never really looked into any of the formats ebooks come in although my wife has a nook and has bought a ton of them but since we started her on the nook we haven't bought any ebooks from Amazon.

     

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  54.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2014 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    They're similar, in that they're entirely different concepts

     

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  55.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2014 @ 12:32pm

    I know this is about eBooks, but doesn't Amazon own Audible? As far as I know they pretty much are the monopoly on audiobooks, since even iTunes uses Audible for their library. The associated DRM on audiobooks is required for both sites, so unless you publish to your own site, I think you pretty much have to use DRM. Given, even Amazon tells you how to avoid the DRM: link

     

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  56.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 12:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "I think what he actually means is PROPRIETARY software and formats include DRM by their nature"

    Maybe, but that's just as incorrect. There is nothing about the "nature" of proprietary software that makes it include DRM. DRM is a separate thing that must be programmed in, proprietary or not.

     

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  57.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 12:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "That's DRM in a sense"

    That's not even in the same ballpark as DRM.

     

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  58.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 12:40pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I don't know. When stripping the DRM, I also convert the books to a standard format, so they aren't really "Kindle" ebooks anymore (although Kindle can still read them).

     

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  59.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 12:42pm

    Re: Re:

    "walling you into just their app store as they now come with the Google Play store installed AND they permitted you to install the Kindle App on their tablets."

    So they're still walling you in, but giving you a choice of which walls you want to be behind? That's better, but still not even close to good.

     

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  60.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 1:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    This is a good point. Software that makes it impossible to do stupid things is software that is so lacking in ability that it is only useful for people who have very limited needs.

    Good software design means that you can't do stupid things accidentally, but you can still do them intentionally.

     

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  61.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2014 @ 1:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Authors - ie "The Words" account for around 15% of a printed books retail price.

    Then the publisher starts making deductions from that amount, like any advances, full cost of returns, and any other cost that they can make the author 100% responsible for.

     

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  62.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2014 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    According to wikipedia the AZW file format is proprietary but identical to MOBI without the DRM.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.azw#File_formats

     

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  63.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2014 @ 1:49pm

    Re:

    free and DRM free audio books are available from Podiobooks for new books and Librivox for public domain books. There is Guttenberg for public domain ebooks.

     

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  64.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2014 @ 1:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    be-cu-u-u-uuuu-zzz, peeps who are buying e-books are richie riches (relatively speaking)...

    yes, of course i realize there are plenty of middle income to poor people who buy ebooks, but, by and large, who do you think they market to ? upscale buyers...

    they could give a shit some cheap bastard wants to save pennies, when they know profligate soccer moms and such will pay without even NOTICING the price...

    and -yes- it beggars the imagination to *otherwise* figure out why raw electrons cost more than taking those raw electrons and printing them out, transporting them, etc, etc, etc...

     

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  65.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 2:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    That would explain why my DRM stripper results in mobi files! I thought it was also doing a format conversion, but perhaps not.

     

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  66.  
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    Anonymous, May 28th, 2014 @ 5:44pm

    I'm pretty sure Calibre can read kindle books in either AWS or the more recent format. All you have to do is look for the plug-ins.

     

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  67.  
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    Chris Meadows (profile), May 28th, 2014 @ 6:18pm

    Under a bus?

    Curious how Amazon is throwing customers under a bus here. If they gave in to Hachette, it would probably end up resulting in higher prices as agency pricing went into effect again. I suspect most customers would prefer a little pain now for a lot less later.

    It's also worth noting that Amazon made its announcement last night not in the form of a press release, but on its forum. The subtext is that Amazon is speaking directly to its customers about what's going on, rather than speaking over their heads to the press. They even apologized for the inconvenience and suggested how people can order the books under dispute if they want them in a timely manner.

     

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  68.  
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    vancedecker (profile), May 29th, 2014 @ 12:30am

    A many Jews already know, Nabisco does not have a monopoly on Oreos:

    http://spacefem.com/hydrox/

     

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  69.  
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    PaulT (profile), May 29th, 2014 @ 12:38am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yep, that's the most frustrating thing. All the other industries had plenty of opportunity to watch what happened with the music industry and how badly it played out. DRM fragmented the market, prevented competition, prevented consumer choice, prevented some retailers from entering the market at all, and did nothing to stop piracy.

    It's very sad that the publishing industry is apparently intent on making the exact same mistakes. But then, we're also talking about a market that thinks that a digital file should be priced the same as an 800 page printed hardback just because of the release date of the title. Then wonder why sales are low...

    The reasons why video hasn't already gone down the same route are that there isn't a single dominant player in the sales space, and much of the market has gravitated toward rentals & streaming (where DRM is far more acceptable since you're not buying the product).

     

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  70.  
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    Chris Meadows (profile), May 29th, 2014 @ 6:13am

    Don't blame Amazon for DRM

    By putting DRM on its digital products—ebooks and audio books—Amazon gets the legal backing of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's anti-circumvention restrictions on its products. This isn't for the advancement of public policy goals, either; Amazon gets to create the private law it wants to be enforced. Thanks to DRM, Kindle users are no longer free to take their business elsewhere—if you want a Kindle book, you must purchase it from Amazon.

    Point of order here: Amazon does not require publishers to put DRM on their e-books. Tor hasn't for two years, Cory Doctorow and Baen never have, and plenty of self-publishers don't. It's a choice individual publishers make for themselves, and so far most of the Big Five have chose to use it.

    If the publishers are looking for someone to blame for Amazon's DRM platform lock-in, they need to look in a mirror.

     

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  71.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2014 @ 10:27am

    Correct me if I am wrong...

    Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn't Amazon against DRM but the publishers pushed it on them? If so, then Amazon's monopoly is not of their own making but that of the publishers.

     

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  72.  
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    thebooksluts, Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 6:06am

    Re: Re:

    "Most of the cost of a book is the words, not the binding"

    "It costs so much because the author has invested a lot of time writing it"

    No.

    The time investment in a book is irrelevant to price, for one thing. Price is depending on the market and demand, and customers aren't going to pay more because someone "spent a lot of time" on it. They're going to pay what they think it's worth, which is going to be in terms of their interaction wit it, not the author's.

    I also don't think you realize how expensive a print run is vs. manufacturing an ebook. You can produce an ebook for less than $1000 and sell infinite copies, whereas a 10000 print run of a book will cost in the neighborhood of $30000 for manufacturing and shipping. Yes, the editing costs must be considered as well, but you're also talking about $3 production cost per copy of a book vs. a penny's worth of production per book--or less--if you sold 10000 ebooks, which becomes less and less the more you sell.

    FYI, editing and author advance is often less than the cost of printing, and most books are pulled when the advance is earned out.

     

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  73.  
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    Sterling Bond, Nov 12th, 2014 @ 7:05pm

    One-Way Street?

    "And it's a one-way street: other software and hardware may not read ebooks in the Kindle format. Customers who amass a Kindle library will find no compatible non-Amazon reader."

    Can't you download a Kindle reader that's synced to your licenses on any Android or iOS device? I wouldn't be surprised if you can on any other major mobile OS, too, but I also wouldn't know for sure. I don't use Kindle much, but I have a feeling you can probably access your books from a web-based Kindle reader, as well...

     

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

  74.  
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    Ariyo, Nov 26th, 2014 @ 8:01am

    Amazon drm

    Pls can anyone help me on here,how much is the cost of amazon software and does it support epub format.

     

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


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