How To Increase Piracy Publishing

lets_get_digital_amazonI’m working on the 2nd edition of Let’s Get Digital this month and I thought it might be fun to share some of the ideas I’m sketching out. The following excerpt is part of the chapter on piracy (about a third of it, if you’re counting).

There’s more details on Digital 2 (and other releases) at the end of this post, but let me open with a disclaimer: authors are entitled to take whatever approach they like to piracy. It’s their stuff.

That said, I’d like to see if I can convince some of you to approach the issue a little differently, because I think taking a hard-line approach can be counter-productive.

How To Increase Piracy

A common misconception in publishing is that Amazon has the exclusive right to sell Kindle-compatible e-books. For example, I was at the London Book Fair’s Great Debate in 2013 when author Robert Levine said that once someone purchases a Kindle, Amazon has a monopoly on selling that user e-books. Levine gave it as another example of (and reason to fear) Amazon’s dominance.

It’s a compelling narrative. Big Bad Amazon suckers people in with cheap devices and then locks them into their walled garden, turning them into customers-for-life whether they like it or not. The only problem is that it’s not true.

Smashwords, Omnilit, All Romance Ebooks and DriveThruFiction are just four examples of retailers who sell Kindle-compatible e-books. There’s no restriction, legal or otherwise, on anybody else doing the same. Indeed, Amazon’s primary competitors – Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo – could start selling Kindle-compatible e-books tomorrow if they chose to.

The reason why so few retailers sell Kindle-compatible e-books is fascinating and illustrates how taking a hard-line approach to piracy is a mistake.

At the London Book Fair in 2011, Evan Schnittman said that the dominance of Amazon’s “closed platform” posed a tremendous problem for publishers. At the time, he was working for Bloomsbury, so I went to their website, curious to see if they sold direct to readers. They did, but epub files only, not the mobi files needed to work with Kindle devices. Those readers were provided with a link to Amazon instead.

This amused me greatly: a publishing executive complaining about Amazon and lack of competition when his own company was choosing not to compete with Amazon, and was instead delivering customers to Amazon – readers who wished to buy from Bloosmbury direct!

I don’t want to single out Bloomsbury because most large publishers take this approach. Most don’t sell direct to consumers, and even when they do, they only sell epubs (which aren’t Kindle-compatible) – not mobis (which are). This is particularly crazy when you consider that Kindle owners and app users make up two-thirds of the US market and over four-fifths of the UK market.

The reason why publishers made this decision is fascinating. While there are no restrictions on anyone selling mobi files, Kindle DRM is proprietary software, owned by Amazon. If publishers wish to place DRM on Kindle-compatible books, they can only sell those files in the Kindle Store.

Publishers’ fear of piracy was so great that they chose not to sell direct to Kindle owners or indeed sell Kindle-compatible books through any non-Amazon retailer. In other words, it’s publishers who are building the high walls around Amazon’s garden through their insistence on DRM (applying it as a choice when selling on Amazon, not a requirement). This DRM-centric approach prevents publishers from doing all sorts of other things too, such as bundling print and digital, and it often leads them to place ridiculous restrictions on their authors who want (and need) to give free copies to reviewers.

All this might have made some convoluted sort of sense if DRM was in any way effective at combating piracy. But it’s not. Any hacker worth their salt can crack DRM in two seconds flat. And it only takes one before that book is set free on torrent sites and endlessly copied.

So what’s the solution? Can’t these billion dollar companies come up with some kind of unbreakable DRM? Well, no. Millions of dollars have been spent in the attempt but, to be frank, it’s a waste of time. E-books are very basic files, essentially a collection of HTML files (one per chapter) held together in a zip-like wrapper.

DRM is just another wrapper around that, (supposedly) locking down the content to a specific device, or set of devices, which prevents users from sharing. But for readers to open this “lock” you have to give them the “key.” Which makes it simple for anyone who knows what they’re doing to strip off the lock. It doesn’t matter how sophisticated you make the lock when you have to also supply the key!

All of this is merely a long-winded way of saying that DRM not only can’t work, but will never work at combating piracy. Publishers’ insistence on DRM prevents them from competing with Amazon, selling direct, and bundling.

Worst of all, it antagonizes legal, paying customers. The nature of DRM is such that if a reader switches devices (say from a Kindle to a Nook), they could lose their entire library – books they paid for and can no longer access. Guess what readers do in such cases? Learn how to crack DRM and/or download those books from torrent sites.

Congratulations, you have just created a new generation of pirates.

How To Reduce Piracy

There’s no way to get rid of piracy. Once you make a digital product available to the public, it will be pirated by someone, somewhere. There’s no escaping that, but there are ways to reduce piracy that actually work.

Joe Konrath put it succinctly when he said that the only way to combat piracy is with convenience and price. Convenience means making your books available everywhere, in all formats. And price means making your books cheap enough that piracy is more hassle than it’s worth.

Needless to say, publishers took the opposite route. In a foolish attempt to hold back the digital revolution, publishers adopted a go-slow approach to the digitization of backlist, and instituted windowing for e-books. The latter meant that digital editions weren’t released alongside the hardback, but held back to protect those sales – with the e-book coming out several months later.

And publishers abhorred the idea of low prices so much that they were willing to engage in an illegal conspiracy to fix the price of e-books – something that could end up costing them hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements, legal fees and fines.

Now we have a clear picture of the insanity of publishing’s approach to piracy. Publishers rejected a simple method of reducing piracy (which would have endeared them to readers while staving off the threat posed by lower-priced self-published books). Instead they adopted an approach (DRM) which doesn’t work, restricts their opportunities to sell books, hampers their authors’ abilities to promote their books, plays into the hands of their biggest threat (Amazon), and antagonizes readers while teaching them how to be pirates!

Luckily, as self-publishers, we don’t have to be press-ganged onto this ship of fools. We can choose not to let piracy drive us insane. We don’t have to make counter-productive business decisions based on an overblown fears. We can sell our books on Amazon without DRM (an option available to anyone selling on Amazon). We can make our books available everywhere. We can price cheaply.

And we don’t have to waste time and money hunting down pirates.

* * *

As I said up top, this is just a portion of the chapter on piracy. The rest covers the mistakes made by the music business (which were copied by the publishing industry), the pointlessness of taking an active approach to combating piracy, and finishes with a look at how piracy might be beneficial to authors, including some experiments by Joe Konrath and Neil Gaiman with results that might surprise you.

I should also note that I make a clear distinction between file-sharing and pirates who put unauthorized editions of your books on sale (and keep all the money). The latter behavior is definitely worth targeting.

Quick notes on new releases:

Picture0039My latest historical novel Mercenary is done, edited, and ready to go – I’m just waiting on the cover. Mercenary will be launched at 99c (but will increase to $4.99 soon after release). I’ll be blogging about the launch here, but to be sure of catching the sale price, sign up to my New Release Mailing List.

SP_3Dcover_200A Storm Hits Valparaiso is part of a 5-novel box set Sins of The Past, which also launched at the special price of 99c (post here). The price might be increasing soon, so I wanted to give you an opportunity to purchase Sins of The Past before the increase. This could be your last chance to get 5 novels from me, Denise Domning, Michael Wallace, N. Gemini Sasson, and Monique Martin for just 99c. Get it from Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

lets_get_digital_amazonThe draft for the 2nd edition of Let’s Get Digital should be finished the draft before the end of the month. I will be uploading it directly over the 1st edition, so if you purchased it from Amazon or Smashwords, you will be able to download the 2nd edition for free (I’m waiting to see what’s possible with the other retailers). I will be trying to get Amazon to send an email to all purchasers to notify them that the 2nd edition is available for download, but that’s Amazon’s call and not guaranteed.

If you want an automatic email from me it’s out, sign up to my New Release Mailing List. I only send emails when a new book is released, and won’t clog your inbox with anything else.

Happy Monday!

David Gaughran

Born in Ireland, he now lives in a little fishing village in Portugal, although this hasn’t increased the time he spends outside. He writes fiction under another name, has helped thousands of authors build a readership, and has created marketing campaigns for some of the biggest self-publishers on the planet. Friend to all dogs.

70 Replies to “How To Increase Piracy”

  1. What is also annoying besides DRM, is there are still geo-restrictions on ebooks. There are lots of books I would like to get as digital copies, but they are not available to readers in the UK. I know it’s all to do with contracts for certain territories etc., but that doesn’t help you when you are sitting at the screen, ready to buy, and they won’t let you! It’s such a shame that some publishers and writers only see the US as a viable market, when there are readers all over the world.

    All my own self-published books are DRM free and available worldwide, LOL!

    1. That’s a great point Annette. I face the same problem as my Kindle is registered in Ireland, which doesn’t have its own Kindle Store so I get pushed to the US one. Many traditionally published books are unavailable for me to purchase because publishers and agents traditionally bundle UK & Irish rights together when doing deals – so many books will have different publishers in the US and UK/Ireland – but I can’t buy either version!

      I think these kinds of restrictions will fall away and deals will be exclusively done in terms of language rights (i.e. an author/agent will sell World English rights to one publisher, World Spanish rights to another) – and this has already started to happen. But there’s no doubt that readers being unable to purchase a book they want to read (and pay for!) is a factor in piracy.

    2. If you write in English, there’s no such thing as a local market. You have a global audience, whether you like it or not. Whether you write in a popular genre, or about an obscure niche topic.

  2. I was about to write that you should mention Neil Gaiman’s experience of sales in Russia when I saw you had already thought of it.
    My own preference is for DRM free as I’m a new writer and I would rather people had heard of me than not.
    A great piece and I look forward to reading the final update.

      1. I’m not, so thanks for the link. Just as an aside, I wanted to say thank you for Let’s Get Visible. I’ve been using that (plus another recommendation of yours, ‘Write. Publish. Repeat” as my guides since self-publishing early this year.

  3. Good thoughts, as ever, David.

    You only need to look at the music industry, and how they flapped around in panic when pirates appeared over the horizon. I … ahem … know someone who used to download music for free form various places. Now? It’s not worth the hassle. If I hear a track on the radio or TV I like, 70p and it’s on my computer. Or, I can sample other tracks on the artist’s album. A few of my British pounds and a few minutes later, and it’s on my computer – quickly, in one piece, and virus-free. That is how to sell pirate-ready goods. Make it reasonably-priced and efficient.

    Most Kindle users have no idea about piracy or DRM. They find something they want, at a price they think is reasonable, and buy it with a single click or prod of a touch screen. So for people to compete with Amazon, they need to understand that this is how modern data purchases happen, If it ain’t easy, or there is the perception that it’s too expensive, the consumer will go elsewhere.

    1. You have touched on something interesting there. Publishing had a huge advantage over Music. When digital piracy hit the music world, labels didn’t have a clear and easy way for people to legally purchase MP3s (and certainly not in the manner many preferred – individual tracks, rather than albums). The launch of the iTunes store went a huge way in cutting out a lot of “casual” piracy, i.e. from people who would purchase legally if you made it cheap and easy, rather than digital hoarders or those that never wish to pay for anything.

      Publishing had the Kindle Store all set up when e-books took off. They had the “killer app” in place to cut much piracy off at the knees. But that didn’t stop large publishers from copying the mistakes made by the record labels. You would think they would learn, given that many are owned by the same people, but no.

    1. Thanks for the link Russell. You would think that a sizable publisher like Tor coming through this experiment with no increase in piracy would lead to a horde of publishers dropping DRM, but I can’t think of any other major publishers which have done it. Have you heard of any?

        1. Oh wow, that’s just crazy. Another example of how this issues can drive people bonkers. Amazing:

          “Hachette, one of Macmillan’s rivals in the “Big Six” pantheon of publishers, is famously pro-DRM (one Hachette author told me that her editor said that Hachette’s unbreakable policy, straight from the top, is that no books will be acquired by Hachette if there are any DRM-free editions, anywhere in the world).”

  4. Hi David! Just read your fantastic email and was going to tweet it out.

    I think I found a typo.

    Instead of “if publishers wish to sell” you have “if publishers with”

    Best, Miral Sattar


  5. I think the biggest problem with (other writer’s problems with) piracy is this:
    Someone goes to a site, sees hundreds or thousands of downloads in the stats of their pirated book, blows a fuse because “just think of all the money I’ve lost”. I see this pretty much all the time on social media, where people are getting upset, angry, demotivated, thinking of ridiculously stupid measures to prevent piracy (“I will NEVER give out ARCs anymore!!”), simply because they see that statistic and make the assumption that they have lost income. I feel for these writers, because clearly they’re hurting, but at the same time I wish I could make them understand that they have lost nothing. Unless they’ve done something stupid like not made their book easily available or affordable enough, the people who downloaded their work for free would not have paid anyway. And usually when I try to say something to that effect, I get heat for defending the evil pirates. I think the points you’re making can’t be repeated often enough, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you got some negativity in response from people who refuse to accept that piracy mostly just isn’t worth getting riled up about.

    1. That’s a really important point which I didn’t have space to get into here (but do in the book). I hate this false equivalence between a pirated download and a lost sale. People can (and do) download torrent files with 10,000 books in them in a matter of minutes. Do people really think a significant number of these books get opened, let alone read? Do people really think that the pirate would have purchased these 10,000 books if the torrent wasn’t available?

      1. Exactly! We’re talking about free-seekers for the most part. Even if none of the pirate sites carried books anymore, all those people could download every single free book available on Amazon and still never run out of books to (not) read.

  6. Well perhaps I’m naive because I actually thought DRM was protecting my book…I had no idea that it was so easily cracked. I completely agree that if a book is well priced and easy to get hold of and buy then that is what readers will do. Its not a lost sale, a pirate wouldnt pay anyway. Thanks for highlighting this issue.

  7. What baffles me most about the whole thing–especially the bit about the publishing industry taking the lead from the music industry–is how so many publishers refuse to evolve or consider another perspective. Instead, they just keep on repeating the same actions and mistruths over and over, all the while expecting different results. Isn’t that the definition of insanity?

    I can’t wait to see the second edition, Dave. It should prove interesting!

  8. What a great and simple description of the circular logic of trying to protect in a way that gives less protection. I myself choose non-DMR via my Amazon books.

    “Joe Konrath put it succinctly when he said that the only way to combat piracy is with convenience and price. Convenience means making your books available everywhere, in all formats. And price means making your books cheap enough that piracy is more hassle than it’s worth.”

    For me, convenience also includes offering my work via subscription at Scribd & Oyster. And via Scribd, which, though it has its own piracy issues and tech, I feel I combines both convenience and reasonable (for me) price. Which should be a good incentive for trying my work vs outright piracy.

    And I’m especially glad David, you added the distinction of sharing vs taking and then selling for one’s profit at the content creator’s expense (my paraphrase.)

    Thanks so much, best wishes 🙂

  9. Reblogged this on C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m and commented:
    David Gaughran breaks down the benefits of piracy as only he can. I notice Bigger Than Jesus has been pirated extensively. I take that as advertising and a compliment. I hope they come back to buy the rest of the Hit Man Series. They might not have heard of it otherwise, so…tra-la-la. Read the rest at the link.

  10. Excellent, David. Thank you for your analysis. I attended a meeting of (traditional) authors and publishers in which the publisher panel spoke highly of DRM.

    “But DRM doesn’t work,” I said.

    They shrugged and said, “Well, we have to do something!”

    “Not if that something doesn’t work.” I was dismissed with another shrug. Damn the torpedoes, I guess.

    I’ve heard several pub executives say, “We can’t make the same mistakes as the music industry!”

    That was a good thought. Unfortunately, it was a slogan that was never followed up with more thoughts and actions.

    Reblogged on ChazzWrites. Love your books.

    1. It’s crazy isn’t it? Another example of how the overarching fear of piracy leads them to make dumb decisions: at the London Book Fair in 2011, publishers said they couldn’t pay authors more than 25% for e-books (which is really 17.5%, and 14.9% after the agent’s cut) because of the increasing costs of fighting piracy.

  11. Reblogged this on David Pandolfe and commented:
    Interesting post about why DRM doesn’t prevent pirating (does anyone outside trad publishing even use DRM?) and a nice offer for those who purchased the first edition of Let’s Get Digital to get the revised version (best bet, signing up of David Gaughran’s mailing list, which is a good idea anyway).

  12. Pingback: How To Increase Piracy | The Passive Voice | A Lawyer's Thoughts on Authors, Self-Publishing and Traditional Publishing
  13. Good article, David. I especially enjoyed your details on publisher non-logic. In my own case, I’ve been using DRM as an incentive. I never DRM my first book in a series, but do so afterward. Perusing torrent sites, those first books are always up there, but there are generally gaps in the series later, where no one bothered to unlock a given book. My mission is to turn a pirate into a paying customer by teasing him with missing content.

    As an aside, I’ve never heard from a reader, not out of literally thousands of emails and interactions, suggesting they were in any way inconvenienced by DRM on my books.
    -B. V. Larson

    1. Re the aside: you may start noticing if, say, B&N goes out of business and millions of users have to switch to a device (and realize for the first time that they didn’t “buy” their ebooks as such, only licensed them, and DRM means they can’t bring them to their new device).

      It’s an interesting experiment you are running, though. In all those emails, did anyone ever ‘fess up to pirating the first and springing for the rest? It would be cool if there was a way to track it…. and maybe there is. You could create a “Pirate Edition” and upload it to torrent sites yourself. It would be the exact same (and nobody would notice any difference) except you could use some kind of unique tracking link in your back-matter to see if anyone clicks all the links to Amazon, B&N etc.

      Hmmm, tempted to try that myself!

      1. Some people are using DRM in interesting ways. I know of one author that uses it on free books, but not on others. She does it to encourage people to get the freebies from the retailer sites, so that it helps her rankings.

        She’s heard from people that tried to email the freebie to a friend, and wanted to know why it didn’t work. She replies explaining why she prefers people to get them from the retailer sites, and usually gets a positive response.

      2. I have had several people ‘fess up’ to pirating, even publicly in reviews. Usually confessions have been coupled with a statement about how they thought I deserved to be paid for my quality, the books were cheap, and they generally claimed to have bought the rest. The point being to make themselves sound heroic. Hard to be sure they’d fallen into my honey-trap, but there you go.

        As to time and eventual decay of the purchases, I don’t see why ebooks should be different than VCR tapes, print books, etc. I must have bought ten copies of LOTR, for instance, over time; Audio, digital, many print versions, etc. If you want to reread a book a decade later, it’s probably worth another five buck to read it on your new device. Someday, every Ipad we have won’t work, all that money on apps etc will have expired. *Shrug* that’s how the world works.

  14. Hi David, I have been following your blog for a while now and find it very insightful. I recently became involved with a small publisher who doesn’t generally produce ebooks. They do have one but the price was only fractionally less than the hardback. I asked them why they chose not to do ebooks and why the crazy high price and the answer I got was surprising to say the least. Apparently Amazon treats indviduals who self-publish and say small publishers (I’m not sure about the bigger ones) completely differently. The profit margins for a small publisher selling an ebook on Amazon are virtually non-existent which is why the publisher I’m involved with said they don’t even bother with ebooks. And the high price is the lowest they could make it without giving the book away and Amazon pocketing all the profit. I was shocked to hear this knowng from what I’ve read on your blog and other places just how good the profit margins can be for Indies when the price is right. She also told me that Amazon won’t allow publishers to upload books directly to the site and they have to use an external wholesaler, so they have very little control over anything when it comes to placing their books on Amazon it seems. Were you aware of this? Can you comment?

    Z. Basil

    1. i’d like to know the answer to that too… I’d not heard that before re publishers. Sounds strange that AMZ would build a classist society online

    2. Hi Zoe, this doesn’t make a lot of sense to me and I suspect that we’re missing a key bit of information. AFAIK, Amazon is not pushing people towards using external wholesalers – in fact, I heard it’s the opposite, that it is “encouraging” small publishers *not* to use middlemen services like that. I thought that’s what the whole IPG spat was about last year.

      (As an aside, I really don’t understand why a small publisher would use a distributor to reach the Kindle Store, it has no upside and costs them in terms of publishing speed, royalty rates, metadata messiness, category issues, speed of changes etc. etc.)

      As for the rest of your comment, I can’t reconcile these statements at all:

      “profit margins for a small publisher selling an ebook on Amazon are virtually non-existent”

      “they have very little control over anything when it comes to placing their books on Amazon”

      “Amazon won’t allow publishers to upload books directly to the site.”

      The above doesn’t make any sense to me at all. AFAIK small publishers have the option of (a) using KDP, (b) using a different direct upload system or (c) using a distributor to reach Amazon.

      If they use KDP, they will get the same terms as self-publishers. If they go for option (b), I *think* that falls under a wholesale agreement – so the margins won’t be as healthy as KDP, but then royalties will be paid based on list price rather than sale price.
      What this means is that if the small publisher lists their book for $7.99 and Amazon discounts it to $2.99, then Amazon will pay the publisher the (pre-agreed) percentage based on that $7.99 list price. The percentage will be lower than the 70% they could get through KDP, but through KDP you get paid royalties based on the sale price rather than the list price.

      Perhaps that’s the issue here? I’m not exactly sure. Or maybe the publisher *is* using a distributor to reach the Kindle Store, and Amazon is trying to get them to go direct (which they really, really should).

      1. My apologies, David, I did get a bit muddled with my information. It seems we do work direct with Kindle/Amazon on ebooks. We price at just under the paperback price (I think it’s £7.98, as against pb of £9.99). And of that we get about £2.30 per ebook sold, 25% of which we give to the author (author royalties are higher on ebooks). So we only get £1.72 per book. Whereas for a paperback we get £6 per book, of which we pay 60p in royalties. Ok, our costs are lower on the ebook, but once the books are printed (which they have been – 1000 copies typically cost about £1500) we need to sell them. Apparently, we may in the future consider print on demand, which would change things a bit, but we still would need to keep the book in print.

        I’m still not sure about the royalty thing – you mentioned you’re getting 70% of list price, David, but we get 35%. Are we missing something here?

        I’m new to traditional publishing (I’m a volunteer helping out) and I’m trying to bring some lessons from what I’ve learned from my knowledge of self-publishing, but apparantly most “serious” publishers similar to us price at a pound or so below the paperback price. That’s what I’ve always been recommended. Plus in our case, it’s because there just isn’t a mass market for our books (non-fiction) – they aren’t the kind of books that people are going to buy as a discretionary purchase. Pricing at £2.99 would make no difference, I’ve been told.

        We DO have control about ebooks going onto Amazon – they’re the only people who sell kindle books so they go straight up on the site. It’s print books that we don’t have control over – they can decide to take them, or not. They mainly do as we work through a wholesaler who supplies them. Hope that clears up some of my previous muddle. Any tips you could offer us based on this information, David?

        Thanks and I’m looking forward to reading the updated version of Let’s Get Digital. I read the old one a couple of years ago now so it will be good timing for my own self-published book due out in August.


        1. I replied above, but in case you don’t see it there: you need to be priced between £1.49 and £7.81 to get the 70% rate, so just drop your price a touch.

          I’m looking forward to releasing Digital 2 too! Got lots done over the weekend, and should be finished the first draft pretty quickly. Although I might have to wait a little for an editing slot. I’m ahead of schedule for once!

    3. (This is in reply to your later comment, but there’s no “reply” link there)

      Amazon pay self-publishers 70% (minus a delivery charge based on file size) for books priced between $2.99 and $9.99. They pay 35% for anything priced above or below that band. £7.98 is about $13.43, so I suspect they’re paying your publisher 35%.

      $9.99 is about £5.94. If your publisher set the price at £5.90, they would get about £4 from Amazon, of which £1 would go to the author, leaving them with £3. There may be good reasons why they don’t want to price the ebook that low, but if they did reduce the price, they’d make more money.

      1. Thank you so much for your reply, Russell. That makes sense and I agree. Plus it’s certainly worth trying to sell at that price, especially since our only ebook is a year old now.

      2. Hey Zoe, Russell has it. To qualify for 70% royalties in the UK, your e-book must be priced between £1.49 and £7.81. If you reduce the price a touch, you’ll get the higher rate.

  15. More great stuff, David! Thank you for sharing.

    P.S. Just in case this is verbatim from your new book, you have one misspelled instance of “Bloosmbury!”

  16. Thanks for this really informative article. I’m new at self-publishing, and made the mistake of putting my first two stories on Amazon using DRM (there was a box that said: Recommended). I had also put them under pen names simply because I’d read a writer’s blog that recommended different pen names for different genres. Said writer has since changed his mind.

    I’d like to remove them from having DRM and also put them under my own name, but I’ve no idea if that’s acceptable, nor if it’s complicated. I wish I’d known better because I really regret both actions now.

    Thanks again for the post. I guess it’s a case of ‘live and learn’.

  17. I find it ironic that so many publishers are sure that DRM is good for them, when really, it’s just a big stick they hand to Amazon and say, “Please, hit me with this over and over again.” Without DRM, you can not only sell Kindle-formatted books. you can email them directly to the customer’s Kindle (assuming the customer has white-listed your email address and knows his Kindle address; Amazon will charge the customer for the delivery only if it’s made over a 3G connection). DRM is what is closed, not the Kindle itself. And in that circumstance, you not only don’t have to pay Amazon, you know who your customer/reader is!

  18. In the first edition of Let’s Get Digital you mentioned that publishers get to submit eBooks that automatically get pre-order status which gets them in the Hot New Releases list, and that they can list in 5 categories instead of 2 which is what individual authors are capable of. I just talked to Amazon KDP and they said neither of these was possible.

    Is there some special way that this is accomplished that doesn’t meet the eye? It would be great since we are a publishing company.


  19. Hi David,

    In India, self-publishing platforms promote the use of DRM in their technologies as a way to attract writers to self-publish with them. It will take some time before writers realise that DRM can actually hamper sales made.

    Thank you.

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  21. Hi David — My name is Sabri, I’m a reporter with Marketplace on public radio, do you have time for a quick 5-10 minute interview on some of these points for today’s show? We’d have to do it pretty soon (before 2:45 eastern). email is first name at marketplace dot org. Thanks so much!

  22. DRM is incredibly frustrating, and explained perfectly here, David. The publishing industry have made the exact same mistakes as the music industry and I don’t think they even realise. It’s not even just whether readers choose to buy a new device, but what if it gets stolen? Not only do they have the stress of the robbery, and having to then fork out for a new device, but suddenly, they’ve lost all the books they paid for. Rubbing salt in the wound if you ask me.

    Some authors have chosen not only to ignore DRM, but actually to embrace piracy, not only by uploading good copies of their books to sites, but also to have pirate payment on their websites. If a reader pirates a book, they have the option to pay what they believe it was worth.

    Personally, I don’t really care if people pirate my book. It’s the first book, and most likely, they wouldn’t pay for it anyway because they don’t know me as an author, or whether they’ll enjoy it enough to spend the money. Therefore, I’m gaining a reader where I wouldn’t have before. Maybe, if they enjoy the first book, they’ll buy the next one instead because they know it’s worth the price.

    I’d rather someone read it for free than not read it at all.

    1. It would be good to make sure if one is trying to ‘play’ the pirate sites, that first and foremost you make sure you know who owns the pirate site and where the money goes they rake in. Organized crime is very much into illegal matters including digital. One might be sickened to know what money from many pirate sites goes to support. Just saying. Look behind the curtain.

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