It's not the DRM, it's the inconvenience

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

There’s not one word about digital rights management that keeps readers from moving their purchases to another hardware platform. Why would people forego their main e-book vendor if they lose everything they bought when they switch? What does DBW think those “walls” are built out of, papier-mâché?

-Teleread: Surprise! Most consumers buy e-books from a single retailer

I don’t quite agree with this. It is unsuprising that most people who buy ebooks buy them from one retailer. I buy all my ebooks from Kobo. And while I think DRM is a bad idea for numerous reasons, for both the buyer and the seller, it’s not the whole story here.

I am technically competent enough to get DRM-free ebooks of whatever I want. I could either download them for free from any number of sites, or purchase them and strip the DRM. I choose not to, mostly because I want to support content creators, and I would rather forgo the content than take it for free.

The reason I buy all my books from Kobo is that I have a Kobo ebook reader, and they store all my purchases so I don’t have to think about it. Could I get better prices and a bigger selection at Amazon? Probably. But when it comes to digital content, I just don’t trust Amazon, and I’m willing to pay a small premium to avoid them.

But to the point above - it’s not exactly the DRM that builds these walls. If I buy a book from Kobo, it just shows up on my reader. If I buy a book from Amazon, I’m not even sure what I have to do. I probably have to download the book then transfer it the reader. I might need special software from Amazon that likely doesn’t work on my Linux laptop. It’s a big hassle. Now, you could make the argument that, in the absence of DRM, this process could be just as easy for books bought anywhere as it is for books bought from Kobo, but I really doubt it would work out that way. Music has been DRM free for the most part for a while now, and as far as I know you can’t do one-click buys from your music player from other vendors.

Posted in: drm , ebooks