Brave New Book World

I enlisted in the ebook revolution a long time ago.

I bought books from ereader.com for my Palm LifeDrive when that was the coolest thing in mobile computing (before the release of the first iPhone.) I often would buy both paper and electronic versions, so that I could read anywhere including my bathtub. (I still do, when I can afford it….)

I never worried much about DRM (Digital Rights Management, AKA copy protection.) I bought from one website, had no interest in piracy, and could read my ebooks on my Mac on the rare occasions I so chose, and lend my paper copy to family members.

But then, the books by well-known authors were just no longer available for my Palm after ereader.com was bought out by Barnes and Noble. This was one of the reasons I upgraded to an iPad. For a while, I was happy, using an ereader.com app on my iPad for my old stuff, and buying new books in Kindle app and in iBooks.

I have become frustrated though. iBooks won’t let me read on my Mac. I want to lend ebooks and magazines to other members of my household, as I could with paper books. Ereader for iPad and Mac is defunct, and those books only partly transferred to Nook apps. Some stuff is only available on Kindle… And I need yet another reading app to read ebooks from my local library. And another if I want to buy ebooks from my local independent bookstore. None of these apps can talk to each other. I have ended up paying for two electronic versions of the same darn book…

Now, if everyone had just played nice and settled on, say, Adobe DRM, (not that I care for Adobe, but it’s the closest thing to a DRM standard there is) I would have been happy. I’d transfer all my books to one app set, give the password to my household members, and go on not really giving a darn about DRM. As it is, I’ve become…

An outlaw. Yes, I got tired of the whole stinking deal and broke the DRM on all my books. Now I have one reader on my iPad, one on my Mac, and if a family member wants to read one of my books, I give him my cloud password.

This puts me in an ethical bind. As a writer who would like to be a published writer, I get to be on the other side of the fence. I really, really would like everyone who might possibly want to read my book to, well, pay for the privilege. So, do I do as I have heard some indie writers do, and just put my stuff out without DRM, or do I annoy some of my potential readers by sticking on DRM, possibly several different systems thereof, and trust that if it bothers them, they will do as I have done? (BTW, the sentiment over at SFWA is evidently in favor of DRM, but indies need not apply there…) Unless I go with the traditional model and sell to a publisher, the decision is mine and mine alone.

Of course, if I don’t finish editing the darn thing, the point is moot.

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