Tuesday, July 12, 2011

To DRM or Not to DRM

That is the question.

If you're seriously considering epubbing, and have been around the block a time or two at the Kindleboards, you are aware of everything there is to know (and then some) about DRM. This, along with "What is Literary Fiction?" and "Why are Sales so Slow?" is one of the most debated topics at the boards.

There are plenty of other people who've tackled this subject more eloquently than I ever could. David Gaughran, for instance, has two great posts on DRM and piracy here and here.

If you want an in-depth look at the millions of attitudes toward DRM, just head to the Kindleboards and do a quick search. 

As for me? I'm going to discuss it here, but keep it as simple as possible.

DRM is short for Digital Rights Management. When you epub your book for Kindle or Nook, you will be asked before the uploading process if you want to enable DRM. It sounds so great: DRM protects you, the author, from people who want to steal your work or use it in ways other than you intended. Once you enable it, you cannot go back and disable it. You have one opportunity. One chance to get it right.

When I published The Guardian, I chose wrong.

Among other things, DRM limits what you can do with an ebook, and where you can send your files. It's annoying to users who pay for your novel and enjoy sharing the books they download (or need to transfer to other devices).

You'll find a variety of opinions on DRM from readers: "I don't even notice it" all the way to "I never buy a DRMed ebook. Ever."

You should also know that the DRM can be stripped by savvy computer users. If someone wants to pirate your ebook, they'll find a way to do it. Some will do it just for fun. So . . . it doesn't *really* protect you. What it does is turn off potential buyers.

In fact, I feel so strongly about not using DRM that I am seriously considering unpublishing The Guardian and re-releasing it without DRM. Will this work? I have no idea. Will I lose my rankings and reviews? No idea. Maybe. But it might be worth losing the handful of sales and "starting over" to get it right. (I'll keep you guys posted re: what I decide to do, and if this is even possible.) 

Cross My Heart was never DRMed, and Vendetta won't be, either.

If you're confused about what DRM looks like to Kindle shoppers, this is what appears on the product page:  

Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited (for no DRM)

The attitude towards DRM is strong, and leaning toward the negative.

Before you epub, do your research to determine what's best for you and your books. As for me, I'm going to err on the side of caution, and stick with no DRM from henceforth.

Lesson Learned.