As I mentioned in my last post, I was given a kobo mini eReader for Christmas. I was also given some cash. I thought about it carefully (so I believed) and decided that, as shopping locally is difficult, I would get my wife, Jenny, to buy me iTunes gift cards. The plan was that iBooks are generally in ePub format so would suit the kobo. With the gift cards activated and registered on iTunes, I hunted down C S Lewis‘ “Space Trilogy” and purchased all three books, though I thought they were rather pricey. I then copied them to the kobo, only to discover that they wouldn’t work! I had fallen foul of that vile invention: DRM!
DRM, or Digital Rights Management, is a copy protection system, of sorts. In fact, for ebooks, what it does is stops you from being able to reading your ebooks in the way you choose. I could read these three volumes on my iPod, but as that has top remain plugged in to the mains or a computer, that really wasn’t what I was looking for! If I had bought paperbacks, I could take them wherever I wanted and read them at my leisure. I simply wanted to do the same with the ebooks on my kobo. DRM ensured that I couldn’t make that happen!
I don’t apply DRM to my own works. I have a strong dislike of it, whatever media it’s applied to. If I’ve paid good money for something, then I expect to have certain rights. I expect to be able to read ebooks in the way that suits me. There’s a big difference between the iPod Touch screen and the kobo mini eReader screen. Apart from the obvious size difference, reading on the iPod isn’t possible in string sunlight. Then there’s battery life. With wifi turned off on the kobo, the battery will last a very long time between charges. The iPod drains very quickly in comparison.
Apart from the fact that many ebooks from mainstream publishers are overpriced, the application of DRM is a limiting factor which must surely impact on sales, which also impacts on the author’s income. There is nothing like such protectionist systems to encourage the “black hats” to break the encryption and then “share” the cracked items with all and sundry. If DRM didn’t exist, then piracy would, I’m sure, be greatly reduced. Eliminating DRM and asking a more reasonable price would encourage far more people to remain firmly on the legal route for obtaining ebooks.