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General Topics > Tor Books to go DRM-free

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message 1: by Charles (new)

Charles (NogDog) Interesting news: Tor Books will be publishing their entire e-book catalog DRM-free.

Announcement on Tor.com

My initial thoughts on the matter


message 2: by Geoffrey (new)

Geoffrey (Geoffreys) This is a good step towards and eventual move by the industry away from DRM as it eventually happened with music. The theory that we're purchasing a license to read the material but not actually purchasing a book is flawed at best and would only get more push back as more people move to ereaders and discover they are locked into a single company’s device if they want to keep their library of books.

To some degree, this isn't that big a deal for many of us who strip the DRM from our purchased ebooks as a matter of course but for most people this can make a difference. But, I’ve seen an increase in the overall percentage of books available at the major retailers (in my case, Amazon) that are already DRM free from mid- and small press publishing houses.

I’m sure this is a test model for Macmillan and using an imprint that caters to a more tech savvy clientele is a good place to start as we’re more likely to notice. My thought is that once this test proves successful and a publishing Apocaplex doesn’t happen, then we will start seeing more Houses changing their DRM policy.

Now if we can only get everyone to agree on a common format for ebooks so we can buy anywhere without having to run our books through conversion software to read them ….


message 3: by Chris (new)

Chris Galford (galfordc) Say what now? An unexpected twist--but a pleasant one to be sure! Not a step I was expecting some of the big boys like Tor to be taking as yet, though such steps are certainly needed in the face of the increasingly volatile situation of the entire publishing front. As ever, old habits certainly need to adjust.

That said, Geoffrey, I think you hit the nail on the head for this one, and I've not really much to add therein. So I'll suffice to conclude: it will be interesting to see who and how this decision influences down the road...


message 4: by Donna (new)

Donna (DonnaHR) By coincidence, just last week I subscribed to TOR's newsletter. I just got notice of this contest. To celebrate the opening of their DRM-free store, they are giving away 100 flashdrives with 6 e-books.

http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/06/6-dr...

Of course, if all of y'all enter, my chances go down...


message 5: by Chris (new)

Chris Galford (galfordc) Donna wrote: "By coincidence, just last week I subscribed to TOR's newsletter. I just got notice of this contest. To celebrate the opening of their DRM-free store, they are giving away 100 flashdrives with 6 e..."

I tried very hard to resist the urge to enter. Sadly, the urge for the "shiny" overwhelmed it. That said, certainly a nice gimmick to kick off the new store with.


message 6: by Geoffrey (new)

Geoffrey (Geoffreys) I have 3 of the 6 as ebooks already. :)


message 7: by Al (new)

Al Philipson (printersdevil) | 32 comments Geoffrey wrote: "...The theory that we're purchasing a license to read the material but not actually purchasing a book is flawed at best..."

Nothing has changed, Geoffrey. It's still a license. They're just trusting you not to abuse it.

Copyright theft is big business in the eBook business. The scummy pirates and the “something for nothing” slimes that participate with them often “sell” more stolen copies than the publisher sells legitimately.

Several eBook publishers have gone out of business because the theft rate is so high that they can’t sell enough legitimate copies to survive. The theft rate often exceeds paid sales by a factor of 10 to 1.


message 8: by Daniel (last edited Jun 08, 2012 11:13AM) (new)

Daniel Before stepping on the soap box, I would like to honestly say, "Yay for Tor." Baen has been doing this forever, but, being a bigger publisher that interacts with the big vendors, hopefully Tor's example will serve as another swift kick to any piracy related fallacies surrounding DRM.

Now for the soap box. Some of the first comments on the linked story hit on another big issue: International licensing restrictions. I live in Canada, and have noticed an increase in IP-authenticated restrictions on what I can and cannot buy. My biggest frustration is trying to get some of my favourite British books. Can't be legally done in ePub format. I can buy the print edition through amazon.co.uk and have it shipped to my door after paying some customs and shipping premiums, but I am thoroughly prevented from purchasing the electronic version. Will Tor's e-store be limited in the same fashion outside the USA?

Getting rid of the hassle of DRM is a great step, but we are still a long way from an e-reader paradise.

On a side note, Tor has also gone with the agency pricing model on the Kobo store in Canada (i.e. Tor sets the sale price and I can't apply coupons or discounts). For me, that is a much bigger obstacle than DRM -- especially when the e-book asking price is higher than what the paperback is currently selling for.

DRM-free is a good first (baby) step for Tor. Let's hope they keep the focus on the readers, though, because I would truly enjoy supporting their first-rate material without having so many obstacles to overcome.


message 9: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9 comments It's certainly an interesting decision. I wonder how much input the authors had.


message 10: by Al "Tank" (new)

Al "Tank" (alkalar) | 230 comments Derrick wrote: "Al wrote: "Copyright theft is big business in the eBook business. The scummy pirates and the “something for nothing” slimes that participate with them often “sell” more stolen copies than the publi..."

Ah, sounds like a thief trying to excuse his theft. I work for a publisher. You and your ilk steal some of our titles by the thousands while the poor author only gets royalties for hundreds. Our sales figures aren't broadcast and I definitely won't do that for you. You'll just have to trust that I know what I'm talking about. And Philipson got it right. His experience probably comes from losing sales on the books he writes. Ours comes from losing sales on MANY of the books we publish.

We're more than happy to give away titles in a controlled manner to people who obtain them legally (like on an Amazon limited giveaway weekend), but we have no interest in enriching a torrent site that makes its money aiding and abetting thieves.

Getting an author's name out to thieves won't sell very many books (our own experience pretty much proves that) and others in the industry have the same experience. An Amazon giveaway does; that's why we prefer to do it that way.

The industry of which we are a part spends a lot of time and money to shut down these international thieves, but it's like playing whack-a-mole. As long as their are slimeballs who want to steal someone else's intellectual property, there will be torrent sites ready to make huge profits helping them do it. AND NOT ONE DAMNED PENNY WILL GO TO THE AUTHOR OR HIS PUBLISHER. And their sales won't get that boost you talked about either.

We made the decision to go DRM-free because customers don't like to deal with the problems inherent in the technology. We did it in the hopes that most people would be honest (seems we were naive at best).

I applaud TOR's decision as a service to legitimate customers, but I will always condemn those who take advantage of it in an effort to steal someone else's property.


message 11: by Geoffrey (new)

Geoffrey (Geoffreys) Al, You will not accuse other members of theft without proof nor will with you call members names. At no point did Derrick allude to pirating books; in fact he stated the exact opposite.

This is a civilized conversation about Tor Book's new policy not whether piracy happens. We do not condone piracy in this group; no one here has condoned piracy and I will thank you not to accuse others.

Please keep in mind that DRM is not an impediment to true pirates; its really little more than an inconvenience to paying customers.


message 12: by Al "Tank" (new)

Al "Tank" (alkalar) | 230 comments Geoffrey wrote: "Al, You will not accuse other members of theft without proof nor will with you call members names. At no point did Derrick allude to pirating books; in fact he stated the exact opposite.

This ..."


Agreed.

Sorry. When he accused Al Philipson of lying (without proof) and started offering excuses for theft, I got kinda hot under the collar and had to give him the "hard cold data". This is a huge problem in the industry and could discourage a lot of authors when they can't make a living because of theft. The honest reader is the ultimate to suffer because of fewer good stories that are available. Remember, it almost killed off the music industry which is still trying to recover and adapt. It's harder for authors to adapt (they don't make money from personal performances).

I agree that DRM is no barrier. Every scheme has been cracked and only serves to inconvenience the honest buyer. Kudos to TOR for recognizing this. I'm a big fan of many of TOR's authors, with many of their books gracing my shelves and a few electronic versions as well.


message 13: by Eric (new)

Eric (ProggyBoog) | 82 comments Al wrote: "Sorry. When he accused Al Philipson of lying (without proof) and started offering excuses for theft, I got kinda hot under the collar and had to give him the "hard cold data". This is a huge problem in the industry and could discourage a lot of authors when they can't make a living because of theft. "

I'd love to see some of that "hard cold data." Please. Somebody show me a study of file-sharing-level piracy that proves financial loss where the study has not been financed by a content producer or a company peddling anti-piracy solutions.

Until you can, every single argument you can make is based on fear. Including using the word "theft." File-sharing is not theft, as "theft" has a specific legal definition which it does not fit.

It is, however, a copyright violation, and there are specific laws and remedies in place to combat this.

I'm not condoning piracy, but I'm calling you out on how clear-cut the argument is against it. And I would _love_ to see that data. This is a HUGE grey area that could use a LOT of clarification.


message 14: by Al "Tank" (new)

Al "Tank" (alkalar) | 230 comments Eric wrote: "Al wrote: "Sorry. When he accused Al Philipson of lying (without proof) and started offering excuses for theft, I got kinda hot under the collar and had to give him the "hard cold data". This is a ..."

Our sales figures aren't up for grabs. Sorry.

Copyright violations are "theft" of intellectual property. You can't change that by saying something different any more than you can label a sparrow as "a boulder" and make it true.

The biggest problem in fighting this theft is finding the perpetrators. The torrent sites, knowing they're violating laws, hide in several countries, often skipping from one to another often enough to make it hard for Interpol to nail them down. They hide the names of their "members" to keep them from being found and prosecuted. While doing this, they make 6 and 7 figure profits from "membership dues".

As for their "sales" numbers, some outfits post the number of "downloads" for each title by format. And I've seen numbers well into the hundreds of thousands for some of our eBooks. I'll tell you this much, some of those books haven't sold even one thousand copies in the legitimate market and those pirated books don't seem to have translated into sales for the rest of each author's books.

The folks participating in these scams aren't interested in paying for something. They're after free stuff after they've paid their modest "membership" dues. And those sites that post membership levels claim hundreds of thousands of "members".

As for "independent" studies. Who outside the industry is interested enough to spend time and money to obtain the information? If it's you, Eric, by all means do so. We who have some "skin in the game" are the only ones who do so, mostly via industry organizations and personal experience.

As you might expect, interviewing a torrent site owner is all but impossible and most publishers keep their sales figures to themselves (unless a book is selling enough to make it to the best-seller lists) and a few publications that report aggregate numbers (and the IRS).

An there's nothing "grey" about it. Stealing is stealing and my mom and dad made sure I knew that. Too bad it's not taught these days. Instead we have self-appointed "mis-leaders" who try to convince people that they're "entitled" to the work and sweat of others.


message 15: by Daniel (new)

Daniel I'm personally finding Al's comments quite effective in suffocating any discussion, but his position seems to reflect most of the attitude I have seen and heard from publishers. It would seem there are no honest readers, but only thieves who must be forced to financially sustain an outmoded business model.

I am so very tired of being treated like a thief. I support authors by purchasing their work, and yet I find restriction after restriction levied upon me. From DRM to International licence restrictions to agency pricing models, I am fed scraps from the publisher's table and expected to smile.

Al, I can appreciate your view to a point. The piracy issue is real, but you can't expect to grow business when there is no creativity on the part of publishers to adapt and update their business model and world view.

Again, yay to Tor for taking some baby steps in this direction. We've a long way to go, but I'm glad to see someone start moving the discussion to a positive point of view.


message 16: by Eric (new)

Eric (ProggyBoog) | 82 comments Al wrote: "Copyright violations are "theft" of intellectual property. You can't change that by saying something different any more than you can label a sparrow as "a boulder" and make it true."

I'm making one more statement here, and then I am going to leave you to your own, as it's clear you aren't interested in actually having a discussion, and you just want to shout louder than anyone else.

You are the one "calling a sparrow a boulder." There are precise legal definitions of theft, and a copyright violation, most emphatically, is NOT one of them. As just one point, theft requires the original possessor of the stolen item to no longer possess it.

When you can stop using inflammatory language, we can get down to an actual discussion.


message 17: by Al "Tank" (new)

Al "Tank" (alkalar) | 230 comments Eric wrote: "As just one point, theft requires the original possessor of the stolen item to no longer possess it."..."

Webster's Dictionary:

Theft. The act of stealing.

Steal. ...to take what is not one's own, ... [the other definitions are about stealth, silence, etc.]


message 18: by Daniel (new)

Daniel On another tangent, will we see Tor's e-book prices go down slightly now that they're not paying a $50,000 annual license and a percentage of book royalties (last figures I heard) to Adobe for DRM?


message 19: by Chris (new)

Chris (dwarfsoft) | 6 comments Al wrote: "Eric wrote: "As just one point, theft requires the original possessor of the stolen item to no longer possess it."..."

Webster's Dictionary:

Theft. The act of stealing.

Steal. ...to take what is..."


http://dictionary.reference.com/brows...
theft   [theft] Show IPA
noun
1. the act of stealing; the wrongful taking and carrying away of the personal goods or property of another; larceny.
2. an instance of this.
3. Archaic . something stolen.


message 20: by Charles (new)

Charles (NogDog) Might I suggest we stop quibbling about this tangent of the definition of "theft"? Whether or not it is the legally correct word to use in this situation is, in my opinion, of miniscule concern to my original topic. This is not a court of law, the vast majority of us (I suspect) are not lawyers, and I also think the vast majority of us understand what is meant by "copyright theft" in this context, even if it would not the exact terminology used in a legal brief.

So, if anyone would like to discuss Tor's removal of DRM and how it affects us SF&F e-book consumers, please continue. If not, I will simply exercise my god-like moderator abilities and lock this puppy down.


Snarktastic Sonja (SnowNSew) | 28 comments The interesting thing to me in this whole discussion is the originally posted link. TOR appears to have researched this and come to a very similar conclusion as to Baen publishing (albeit a few years later) (http://www.baen.com/library/intro.asp) that DRM free books did NOT decrease sales of books and, in fact, both publishers saw an INCREASE in sales when GIVING away books (which is why Baen has its free library.) Late comers to any series are more likely to begin reading a series if they can easily do so (for which in eras past, we have typically used the library.) And, once you get them hooked . . . well talk to GRRM, Robert Jordan and David Weber.

As a consumer - and voracious reader - I am WAY more likely to purchase a book if I can find it in DRM free format. In this format, I know I can read it on any format in whatever reader I choose or that happens to be popular so I do not fear that my "book" will become obsolete. Before purchasing those with DRM, I hem and haw and procrastinate before making ANY purchase. (I mostly use Android devices to read on, so I can choose almost any format.) (And, yes, I have actually purchased ebooks I can no longer read.)

Also, DRM free books tend to cost less. (Check out the price of Baen ebooks as opposed to those purchased from Amazon or B&N.) This also makes me more likely to purchase a book.

I also highly resent having to pay more for an ebook than I would a physical copy. (And, with DRM, I definitely do. Even if the price is identical, you can almost always purchase an actual book with some type of discount.) Yes, I do realize that ebooks must be formatted. Does not the paperback also need to be formatted? But, my ebook does not require shipping or storage or anything brick and mortar to raise prices beyond the actual formatting (and writing, of course.)

As a consumer, and book lover, it is my desire to have lots and lots of good books to read. To always have 3 more ready to queue up and read when I finish the one I am currently reading. To me, this means encouraging authors to write. Which means paying them. Making books DRM free makes this easier for me.


message 22: by Daniel (last edited Jun 15, 2012 02:00PM) (new)

Daniel Sonja: Props to another Baen customer!!! (I did mention them above, but it was obviously lost in the chatter). The lower price is certainly one of Baen's advantages, and, like you, I'm wondering if the removal of license fees to Adobe (also commented above) could bring Tor's prices down. I can't see them ever going as low as Baen's $6 a book, but I haven't purchased many Tor books lately because of high prices and agency pricing. I buy quite a few books, and Tor is frankly missing out on a lot of my business based on their pricing models.

Baen also has a visionary method of getting first-run money. Instead of making customers pay hardcover prices for e-books, Baen capitalizes on Advance Reader copies. You can pay $15 for a copy of the book that may still contain errors and typos, but it can be months in advance of the street date. When the book hits the physical shelves, the e-book is then offered for $6. To me, that is a perfect example of adapting the business model to new realities. I know Tor is still heavily invested in the print world, but it would be so nice to see them modernize their pricing structure and how they think about e-commerce.


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