from the in-other-news,-Sony-sells-e-readers dept
The Digital Reader brings us the news that Sony, of all companies, is opening its own ebookstore in Germany, bringing with it a large selection of DRM-free books.
The press release mentions that not all of the Epub ebooks sold by Sony come with the onerous Adobe DE DRM. Some of the ebooks, numbering in the “thousands”, use digital watermarks instead.Rather than inject malignant coding that often fails to distinguish between paying customers and file sharers, these German publishers are opting for digital watermarking, which generally works as well as nastier forms of DRM but without the negative side effects. Booxtream is handling the watermarking for Sony, having proved its worth to publishers by providing this service to one of the biggest ebook storefronts of all time, Pottermore.
Apparently several German publishers have decided to go with this low-hassle security, including Bastei Luebbe Verlag, which publishes novels by Ken Follett, Andreas Eschbach, and Dan Brown (it is not clear that any of these authors’ novels are DRM free).
So, what convinced Sony to go DRM-free on thousands of titles? Perhaps it was observing Booxtream's success in deterring piracy without having to resort to draconian measures.
According to Huub van der Pol, the founder of Booxtream’s parent company iContact, the official release of the Harry Potter ebooks saw a decrease in piracy of the series.As Hoffelder points out, you can't make that same claim about DRM-loaded ebooks. In nearly every case, the DRM is discarded easily by enterprising file sharers, or just as often by consumers, who strip their purchases of this handicap in order to move them to other devices -- or simply to make sure the publisher, bookstore or the DRM itself doesn't suddenly decide to render their purchases unavailable or useless. Some customers may download the pirated version even if they've purchased it, just to have an easily portable version unhampered by DRM. Why punish your paying customers in order to temporarily annoy/entertain infringers?
Once the titles were available legally, and were easy to use, pirates saw little reason to post copies of the ebooks online.
The other key to Booxtream and Pottermore's success is the simplest one to solve: make the book(s) available for sale at reasonable prices and with as few limitations as possible. Do this, and your "piracy problem" will very possibly solve itself.