When you set up eBooks on Amazon or other sites, there is a box that asks if you want to apply DRM. This post will break down what DRM is and what it is supposed to do.
DRM stands for digital rights management. It is supposed to act like an anti-theft device for electronic media, like eBooks.
Pros in the field (authors who have been in the publishing side of the business for over 5 years and make a comfortable living) have stood behind NOT checking the box. At first, I had a hard time understanding their logic. If I wanted sales on Amazon, Kobo or iBooks and not pirated copies, shouldn’t I use it? If I bought it on Amazon, why would I want to read it in another app? Especially with how widespread the Kindle app is. What if I bought it on iBooks? Apple isn’t going anywhere, and ePubs can be opened in a variety of readers.
Just recently, early 2019, a valid reason DRM shouldn’t be applied, and the turning point for me going from a nay-sayer to understanding what others had realized all along, occurred. Microsoft decided to shut down its eBook store—I didn’t know they had an eBook store which might be just a small part of their problem. (https://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/a27021744/microsoft-ebook-store-shutdown/)
Their customers were offered a refund for their purchases, and they might recover some of those works on sites like Amazon. Do you remember all the books you have? Some of those books might not be available on other platforms.
What came to light was that thousands of readers who legally bought the books would lose the ability to read those books because they were automatically DRM. Whether it’s an app, a tablet, a business, any electronic media can fall out of favor. The buyer who legally bought it can’t access their books.
I still have access to songs I bought nearly two decades ago, and it doesn’t matter which service I use to stream the songs or burn an occasional CD with (Window’s Media Player, iTunes, Google Music, etc.). Shouldn’t readers have the same ability to import something that they bought to the newest apps?
But what about piracy; shouldn’t we protect our hard work?
In reality, it takes about 30 seconds to break a DRM on an eBook if you have a program, and only about 3 minutes with a Google search to find a program to strip the DRM. If you want to protect your work, file for your copyrights and network with other authors to help shut down pirating websites.
Do what’s best for most your followers. A thief will steal regardless if you make it the most difficult thing in the world, but we don’t write hoping to be pirated. We write for the people who spend their hard-earned money to enjoy our works and hope that our works are something that they want to keep beyond just the latest fad and latest gadgets.