There are some interesting points brought up in Jane’s article on dearauthor.com regarding the five main reasons that DRM on e-books won’t be abandoned by publishers anytime soon. There are a couple of things that make perfect sense, like price. If you want DRM free e-books, the price is likely going to go up, because the publishers and distributors won’t be as able to control what is done with the e-books. This is where I have to say again, that publishers need to make people see the value of e-books. They have to do something, whether it’s bonus material or sneak peaks at upcoming books, when there’s no physical copy involved, you have to make the customer see that it’s still work paying for!
I also like that Jane bought up ease of transfer. From a record company’s perspective, DRM free music is a little easier to swallow when they realize that anyone who buys a CD can put it on their hard drive in about a minute and do whatever they want with it. It’s a fight you can’t win with the physical format, so why bother fighting it with the digital format. When you have a book, as Jane points out, it’s a much bigger time commitment. You have to sit down with a scanner and scan each page. In reality, this could take hours, your average customer is not going to bother.
This is where the distinction between actual pirates and what the publishing industry is referring to as ‘casual pirates’ people who want to loan an e-book to their Mom, or their friend…the same way that *gasp* they would with a real book! This is where I think that the publishing industry has to take a step back and have a bit of a reality check. Loaning a book to someone is NOT piracy. If it were, libraries would have been shut down ages ago. Instead, this act is more likely to create word of mouth, and possibly gain the author a wider fan base.
For a really interesting perspective on the idea of lending and piracy, have a listen to what the amazing Mr. Neil Gaiman has to say here.