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Sci-Fi Publisher Tor Ditches DRM For E-Books

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the thought-tor-was-some-kinda-darknet dept.

DRM 280

First time accepted submitter FBeans writes "'Science fiction publisher Tor UK is dropping digital rights management from its e-books alongside a similar move by its U.S. partners. ... Tor UK, Tor Books and Forge are divisions of Pan Macmillan, which said it viewed the move as an "experiment."' With experiments, come results. Now users can finally read their books across multiple devices such as Amazon's Kindle, Sony Reader, Kobo eReader and Apple's iBooks. Perhaps we will see the *increase* of sales, because the new unrestricted format outweighs the decrease caused by piracy?"

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280 comments

It's about time (5, Insightful)

NabisOne (2426710) | about 2 years ago | (#39805965)

Now we can hope the other publisher's will follow this trend.

Re:It's about time (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39805989)

Too stingy yo pay for your media?
 
This is the beginning of the end of quality writing.

Re:It's about time (5, Informative)

Junta (36770) | about 2 years ago | (#39806053)

No, I buy media that is not DRM protected. I refrain from purchasing DRM encumbered content for the most part. I've passed on many a movie or ebook simply because of DRM.

The DRM mechanisms are frequently useless anyway. ePub drm can be stripped away instantly (I used some promotional credit to acquire a DRM encumbered epub and stripped the DRM in short order).

Re:It's about time (5, Informative)

allcar (1111567) | about 2 years ago | (#39806191)

That's not it at all. I'm not prepared to pay for content that is inconvenient to use. I am much more likely to buy content if it is DRM free. This is great publicity for Tor. More power to them.

DRM works! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39806913)

I'm using the ultimate DRM for my latest book - I keep it all in my head and I've never even thought the whole thing through.

And it works perfectly! Not one person has an unpaid copy of it.

Success? Indeed!

Re:DRM works! (2)

ProbablyJoe (1914672) | about 2 years ago | (#39806963)

The question is, does anyone have a paid copy of it? Maybe if you removed your DRM, you'd have more paying customers!

Re:It's about time (4, Informative)

lxs (131946) | about 2 years ago | (#39806219)

Not really, but stripping the DRM from my Kindle ebooks just so I can convert them and put them on my epub reader is a hassle I could do without. Besides, DRM wouldn't stop me from getting pirated ebooks, if I were so inclined.

Re:It's about time (5, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 2 years ago | (#39806281)

Too stingy yo pay for your media?

What I find hilarious is that you apparently think people who are too stingy to pay for their media will grudgingly do so anyway when piracy is made slightly more inconvenient, rather than continuing to be stingy and finding a torrent, or just not acquiring the media in question in the first place.

This is like thinking you can cure a man of his heroin addiction by putting a "No Junkies!" sign on the front of your country club.

Re:It's about time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39806881)

"This is like thinking you can cure a man of his heroin addiction by putting a "No Junkies!" sign on the front of your country club."

But, where will all the coke and hooker parties be held at?

Re:It's about time (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 2 years ago | (#39807069)

But, where will all the coke and hooker parties be held at?

That's why right below the first sign is one that says "Coke-heads w/ escorts welcome."

Re:It's about time (4, Insightful)

gfxguy (98788) | about 2 years ago | (#39806967)

It's worse... I'm not too stingy to pay for my media, but when you add in the cost of DRM on top of that (the publisher doesn't pay for it with money it grows on trees, after all) to by media in a format that is inconvenient, when I could pay the same or less for media that is convenient, idiot's comment makes even less sense.

It's always been the case with copy protection - the people who legally buy copy protected materials are the ones who pay for the copy protection that reduces the versatility of whatever it is they bought. It's always been the people who "steal" who get unencumbered versions... it's like punishing the honest people and rewarding the ones who violate the copyright. Do they even understand basic psychology?

Honest people are honest; dishonest people are dishonest... adding DRM doesn't change that, it just hurts the honest people.

Re:It's about time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39806341)

Too stingy yo pay for your media?

This is the beginning of the end of quality writing.

Hm.. I have to ask, do you know what DRM is?
I can only speak for myself, and I am a techie not a business/economics guy but FWIW; I have never bought an e-book as I dislike DRM, with more and more companies dropping DRM I actually consider purchasing a couple of books, mainly technical books so that I can access my books without having to carry around the entire library all the time.

This is not a situation that suddenly will turn everything to the wild west. It just means we will remove a defective "technology" (more of an defective idea really) from our e-books, this should then result in a lower price tag and higher availability.

Higher availability (of your bought media) and a lower price tag will increase the value of the buy. And more people will be interested in buying the products, resulting in increased total sales. A simple example might be going from 10 sales at €5 which equals €50 to 20 sales at €3.5 which equals €70. At least to me, this is a no-brainer. If 20 people are not willing to buy my book, it probably wasn't a very good book to begin with. Of course this does not scale endlessly, but with a lower price tag the amount of potential buyers should increase.

Sure it also means it makes it marginally easier to pirate, truth is it is already very easy, so you might get more piracy. But at the end of the day piracy will not decrease your revenue, just your (sales/availability of media) ratio. Increasing sales on the other hand helps to even out the ratio, and also means you will get more cash in your pocket to pay quality writing.

Re:It's about time (4, Interesting)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#39806359)

I will gladly pay when it's easier to buy your book than it is to get a torrent.

Torrents are *not* easy to deal with, especially for someone with average computer skills. Then half the time you end up getting a Portuguese translation or something so badly formatted you can't read it.

Good quality product at a FAIR price is what the "free market" wants... and the free market is ALWAYS good, right?

Re:It's about time (2)

gfxguy (98788) | about 2 years ago | (#39807197)

Good quality product at a FAIR price is what the "free market" wants... and the free market is ALWAYS good, right?

Overall the (largely) free market is better than anything else.

Of course, when businesses collude to make life more difficult for consumers or defeat the purpose of competing, then it's not really "free" and I have no problem with the government getting involved. In this case, I think the government is already coming down on publishers and retailers alike when it comes to e-books. Maybe not enough.

The beauty of the free market though, even when companies that create non-necessities collude, is that you don't have to buy it.

Re:It's about time (5, Insightful)

Albanach (527650) | about 2 years ago | (#39806419)

Too stingy yo pay for your media?

Let me tell you about my first Kindle purchase. I paid $12 for a novel that retailed on Amazon at $13.

I read the book, thoroughly enjoyed it and told a friend a couple of days later. She responded by saying she'd love to borrow it. I had to explain that wasn't possible.

So, I saved a dollar.

The publisher saved the cost of printing a paperback book, physically transporting it to Amazon. Amazon saved having the physically store the book in a warehouse and didn't have to pay UPS to deliver it to me.

Once I had read the book, I couldn't lend it or sell it. The bits were used and might as werll be deleted. The publisher and Amazon win again, as there's no second hand market for that purchase.

I have made Kindle purchases since, but I'm much more selective. Typically I'll only do it where I need a book now, or I can be sure it's a book I won't want to share.

It's not because I'm too stingly - I'm still buying books. What I don't want is to lose the rights I have through the first sale doctrine simply because I purchased bits and bytes rather than tree pulp.

Re:It's about time (1)

rhsanborn (773855) | about 2 years ago | (#39806973)

If she had a kindle, you could lend it to her. Amazon likes this, because it means your friend has a kindle :)

Re:It's about time (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39807191)

If she had a kindle, you could lend it to her. Amazon likes this, because it means your friend has a kindle :)

Only if the publisher has it flagged for lending, and most of the publishers don't because they're pricks.

Re:It's about time (3, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about 2 years ago | (#39807199)

Too stingy yo pay for your media?

Let me tell you about my first Kindle purchase. I paid $12 for a novel that retailed on Amazon at $13.

I read the book, thoroughly enjoyed it and told a friend a couple of days later. She responded by saying she'd love to borrow it. I had to explain that wasn't possible.

So, I saved a dollar.

The publisher saved the cost of printing a paperback book, physically transporting it to Amazon. Amazon saved having the physically store the book in a warehouse and didn't have to pay UPS to deliver it to me.

Once I had read the book, I couldn't lend it or sell it. The bits were used and might as werll be deleted. The publisher and Amazon win again, as there's no second hand market for that purchase.

I have made Kindle purchases since, but I'm much more selective. Typically I'll only do it where I need a book now, or I can be sure it's a book I won't want to share.

It's not because I'm too stingly - I'm still buying books. What I don't want is to lose the rights I have through the first sale doctrine simply because I purchased bits and bytes rather than tree pulp.

Just wait a month or two after the book's release and you can buy the book (including shipping) for half the price of the eBook. And after you and your friend are done reading it, you can sell it again for a dollar or two.

I own both a Kindle and Nook, but I still buy most of my books on paper because they are cheaper.

Re:It's about time (4, Informative)

fifedrum (611338) | about 2 years ago | (#39806951)

Anecdotal and all, but I certainly will gravitate towards their offerings. Immediately. The very reason I don't buy any ebooks for my wife's kindle is that we can't read them on anything else. I'm certainly not reading a 400 page tome on my phone.

So I say, "Good on them, and here's some money."

(posting to remove misplaced mod, because I'm an idiot and clicked the wrong text)

About Time (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39805973)

and for some reason this makes me want to purchase every Tor book they offer,

Re:About Time (-1, Troll)

busyqth (2566075) | about 2 years ago | (#39806041)

Of course you'll still pirate them all, but you'll want to buy them, which makes it ok.

Re:About Time (5, Insightful)

Junta (36770) | about 2 years ago | (#39806099)

The implication being that DRM somehow encumbers piracy. The simple fact is it is completely ineffectual at slowing piracy down. You can find pirated copies of every piece of music, video, and publication you want despite the draconian DRM that is so prevalent in the industry.

Re:About Time (5, Interesting)

elsurexiste (1758620) | about 2 years ago | (#39806765)

The implication being that DRM somehow encumbers piracy. The simple fact is it is completely ineffectual at slowing piracy down.

That's actually wrong. It indeed slows initial piracy spreading. Numbers, sadly, are in the industry and not in academia.

You can find pirated copies of every piece of music, video, and publication you want despite the draconian DRM that is so prevalent in the industry.

That's a popular confusion about the purpose of DRM schemes. Here's the real deal: the purpose is to slow down initial piracy enough to make a profit from people who would choose the pirated, free version if they can find it. People willing to pay only $0 will pay exactly that. Fans will pay you nicely regardless of DRM. The group that DRM targets is the big crowd that can pay your price, but won't give you a dime if they can get it for free.

I recall the people behind "The Witcher" put DRM on their files and removed it after the product was delivered. Other people won't bother, but they can do it with exactly the same results in their profits. Because, indeed, DRM is not a piracy-stopper but an initial-piracy-slower.

Re:About Time (1)

Wattos (2268108) | about 2 years ago | (#39807097)

Simply not true anymore. That might have been the intent, but that does not work.

Movies are available on release dates (DVD, Blueray) on torrent sites. Same goes for most games (which have the crack ready the next day).

Re:About Time (2)

Joehonkie (665142) | about 2 years ago | (#39807183)

That's actually wrong. It indeed slows initial piracy spreading. Numbers, sadly, are in the industry and not in academia.

So, where is a valid source of these numbers, specifically as it pertains to eBooks? In the case of eBook piracy, the DRM used in ePubs is so easy to break that anyone can download an app an break it. Much easier than for DRM encumbered video and audio, which are usually broken during or before their release periods. The only person that ePub DRM inconveniences is a legitimate buyer who wants to swap his books around to new devices.

Re:About Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39806201)

Neither, actually. Their selection sucks.

Re:About Time (1)

firex726 (1188453) | about 2 years ago | (#39806361)

Only one book in the AWARD WINNERS section:
http://us.macmillan.com/torforge/categories/General/torforge/Awardwinners/all/title [macmillan.com]

Plus they seem to be the ones behind those classics of American literature, the Halo series.

Re:About Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39806829)

Why would it? The music industry have finally managed to work it out online. Most likely you will see the sold files having your customer number embedded, yes, you can strip the code away, but most people aren't capable of that. For example, Apple was doing this with Xcode 4.0 DMGs (for Snow Leopard users, Xcode 4 was payware) but most of the torrents out there were distributed with the customer tag embedded in the file... not sure if they closed down the accounts, but I would guess they did so.

Re:About Time (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | about 2 years ago | (#39806785)

Very laudable, and this is a great move that I hope more publishers adopt, but one side-effect of this kind of enthusiasm is that the Tor experiment will be hailed as a resounding success because of people exuberantly rushing to support the first major mover in this direction.

Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39806063)

I may actually start buying e-book literature then...

Sure thing (4, Interesting)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 2 years ago | (#39806071)

Going to go poking around the Tor archives and grab myself a couple books as soon as this comes to fruition. Reward good behavior.

Re:Sure thing (1)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | about 2 years ago | (#39806383)

What are you going to get? There's so much to read and so little time, I'd appreciate some suggestions and opinions from my fellow slashdotters.

Re:Sure thing (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 2 years ago | (#39806651)

The rest of the books in the Ender's Game series, to start. I read the first one but never bothered with the rest. I might try one of the Halo books to see how terrible they are. Also, After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn looks quite interesting.

Re:Sure thing (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39806687)

Tor has Charles Stross and Vernor Vinge.
No true geek should pass them.

I'd also look at Steven Erikson myself.
I think a lot of Windling's crew are at Tor too, for the early urban fantasy.

That's off the top of my head, with no access to my dead-tree books right now.

Here's a Few Obvious Ones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39806859)

What are you going to get? There's so much to read and so little time, I'd appreciate some suggestions and opinions from my fellow slashdotters.

I am an avid fan of two of their series and they are painfully well known. Obviously, Ender's Game [macmillan.com] and the whole series and parallel bean or 'shadow' series [macmillan.com] that comes with that.

Another, longer series that is quite good (though certainly not without tedious faults) is the late Robert Jordan's incomplete Wheel of Time series starting with Eye of the World [macmillan.com]. The series is still being finished by another fantasy author (Sanderson) through Tor.

Re:Sure thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39806553)

Same here.

hmm (1)

buddyglass (925859) | about 2 years ago | (#39806085)

Note that if the profitability of removing DRM is dependent on eBooks being more attractive because they're able to be read on multiple devices then that profitability will disappear if one device begins to dominate the market. Why should I care if my eBook is multi-platform if I'm only ever going to read it on one platform?

Re:hmm (2)

Junta (36770) | about 2 years ago | (#39806135)

Profitability is driven by two directions, revenue and cost.

For revenue, there is more confidence even in a theoretical single-device market that the media will endure.

For cost, the infrastructure to support DRM is a non-trivial expense contributing to erosion of margin. It also serves an additional limiter in terms of scale, per-copy costs have a not-quite-zero incremental cost on the publisher due to DRM.

Re:hmm (3, Interesting)

elsurexiste (1758620) | about 2 years ago | (#39806275)

I expect some karma flak now...

Hi! I program DRMs for a living, among other things. buddyglass is correct: the extra sales are going to be from the extra platforms that now can use those eBooks. The "DRM Infrastructure" is trivial for authors and publishers, I'd not dare to call it "Infrastructure" at all. Also, costs are usually insignificant: you usually protect an entire work, not individual copies.

Re:hmm (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#39806541)

I don't fault anyone for making a living. Let me start there.

However, I am not sure that DRM protects a damn thing. Like it says here, the idea itself is flawed. It's also not inherently a technical idea, as the flow of technology is to allow open access to information and it goes against the grain of that. It's a technical idea borne by non-technical people.

DRM is there to protect that mythical money loss of piracy. The arguable point is that the vast majority of people that "pirate" would not or could not pay for your product anyway. You have the group of people who want to read the book buy can't afford it (typified by your college students who get de-DRMed books) and you have the technical group who won't pay for anything ever and are fine with going through hoops to get it for free. *Neither* group is a loss because you never get money from them *ever.* So I would argue you're enabling a whole new group of people to get and pay for the book at what is a very low or nonexistent monetary loss. I think this is good and sane business. DRM has shown is laughably bad at it's primary purpose and wonderfully good at preventing honest people from using property (or a license) that they legally purchased.

I am sure you're not programming a product that is technically broken, but I am also sure you know the idea behind it *is* broken.

Re:hmm (2)

FBeans (2201802) | about 2 years ago | (#39806167)

Why should I care if my eBook is multi-platform if I'm only ever going to read it on one platform?

Yes, if *you* are only going to read it on one platform, you won't care. For those people who would like the opputnity to read an e-book on multiple platforms, this is very useful. Or to phrase it a different way: yes, your choices are made based on your needs, woopty do!

Re:hmm (2)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#39806653)

This is typical for me to use them all for ALL my Kindle reads, but I often read kindle in a combination of these:

- My Kindle touch reader.
- Kindle app on my new Android Tablet
- Kindle app on my Nexus S (especially if I get caught waiting somewhere without my reader)
- Kindle cloud on my Work desktop (I use and support Linux for a living)
- Kindle cloud on my laptop (also Linux)
- Kindle app on my work Mac

This is what the digital revolution is about. I haven't hurt the author one iota and I am using the content in the way that fits my needs. Also, the Kindle "ecosystem" is great for purchased books (not so great, however, for content from other places which is a problem IMHO). There is no reason that all books should drop the DRM crap and even more accessible (include full Linux accessibility... HELLO AMAZON! wake up on this).

Re:hmm (5, Insightful)

Asic Eng (193332) | about 2 years ago | (#39806379)

Why should I care if my eBook is multi-platform if I'm only ever going to read it on one platform?

Are you absolutely certain you will only use one platform, and will only buy books from one supplier for the next twenty years? You don't think within this time frame some new device will come out - similar to e.g. the iPad did - and you'll get this device and will want to have the content you already paid for available on it?

Don't you think at the speed new devices are developed these days, some company will introduce something to the market with an entirely new display technology - much better than e-ink, super-amoled and retina display together? Are you sure it will be your currently preferred vendor who'll pioneer that new device?

Re:hmm (4, Insightful)

Brucelet (1857158) | about 2 years ago | (#39806417)

I agree! Also, my glorious vhs movie collection will never be made obsolete by the introduction of new media formats, because why would the industry ever change away from such a dominant format?

Re:hmm (1)

milkmage (795746) | about 2 years ago | (#39806707)

"profitability will disappear if one device begins" pretty sure Kindle dominates right now. how is making your content MORE available impacting profits in a negative way?

can I [POTENTIALLY] make more money on amazon..
or amazon + everyone else?

what if the device you DO have doesn't have a contract with Tor? You'd have to wait for them to get into bed together. w/o DRM read what you want when you want on the device you want. - this is why you should care.

Re:hmm (2)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 2 years ago | (#39807185)

Note that if the profitability of removing DRM is dependent on eBooks being more attractive because they're able to be read on multiple devices then that profitability will disappear if one device begins to dominate the market. Why should I care if my eBook is multi-platform if I'm only ever going to read it on one platform?

You would care very much if in three years time, there are much better readers for a different platform.

A Move in the Right Direction! (1)

dryriver (1010635) | about 2 years ago | (#39806109)

This is a _positive_ move. I think that there is going to be a time - say in the 2020s - where people look back at the DRM'd digital media of today and scratch their heads... "What were these people thinking, restricting digital media use like that? What did all that DRM'ing achieve?". Again, kudos to the publisher for not using DRM, and for setting a positive example for the rest of the publishing world to follow...

Re:A Move in the Right Direction! (4, Informative)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 2 years ago | (#39806279)

Again, kudos to the publisher for not using DRM, and for setting a positive example for the rest of the publishing world to follow...

Might be better to say "kudos to the publisher for following Baen's lead and not using DRM".

Do keep in mind that Baen's ebooks have NEVER had DRM.

Re:A Move in the Right Direction! (-1, Troll)

CRCulver (715279) | about 2 years ago | (#39806347)

Might be better to say "kudos to the publisher for following Baen's lead and not using DRM". Do keep in mind that Baen's ebooks have NEVER had DRM.

No one except the lamest of anoraks gives a shit about Baen. That publisher put out some of the pulpiest and forgettable writing in the business.

Tor, on the other hand, is a big deal because it has put out or reissued through its Orb line some science fiction works which truly belong in the general canon of English literature.

Re:A Move in the Right Direction! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39806751)

Baen's website also sells Nightshade Books.
Not to mention a few of the classics and, for a very short time, Tor...

Re:A Move in the Right Direction! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39807091)

Baen may have more pulp, but Tor certainly puts out its own share (I still regret having bought Herbie Brennan's "Faerie Wars", which Tor published).
Conversely, Larry Niven, Lois McMaster Bujold, Elizabeth Moon and Catherine Asaro, all award winners, have all published books with Baen as well as other publishers.

I would also point out that Baen has been republishing some of Heinlein's works of which I suspect some meet your criteria of belonging in the general canon.

At any rate, I find myself going more by author than publisher now anyway.

Re:A Move in the Right Direction! (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#39806947)

Or of publishers like Pearson and O'Reilly, who also don't use DRM in their eBooks (if you buy them via Amazon you may get Kindle DRM, but not if you buy them directly), but also have a sufficiently large turnover that the example they set is relevant.

What about the price? (4, Interesting)

Dyinobal (1427207) | about 2 years ago | (#39806121)

Okay now lets do something about the price. I'm so tired of seeing ebooks that are as expensive as regular books or more expensive. There is no reason for it other than 'I want to' or 'I'm afraid of cannibalizing my own paper back sales'. They really should do some experiments lke Valve did with Steam so they can determine the proper pricing for an Ebook. As it is I don't buy stuff for my nook simple touch I got for Christmas simply because any book I want to buy it cheaper than the Ebook version 99% of the time. This is because I tend to buy used over new when I buy a book. The publishers pricing of their Ebooks isn't protecting their profits it's negating them yet no one seems to get it.

Re:What about the price? (4, Informative)

crafty.munchkin (1220528) | about 2 years ago | (#39806229)

The printing costs of a book are negligible in comparison with the editorial, typesetting, proof-reading and other costs associatd with releasing a book. Go and read Charlie Stross's essays on common misconceptions about publishing [antipope.org] to discover WHY it's impractical.

As an aside - games on Steam are almost always more expensive than the copy I buy with a disk from a store, with the exception of when the steam sales are on.

Re:What about the price? (2)

Dyinobal (1427207) | about 2 years ago | (#39806353)

Even if the actual making from the book isn't the bulk of the cost, an actual book has the same associated costs for editorial, typesetting, proof-ready and any other costs as an Ebook would. There is no excuse for them being priced more expensive than the actual paper copy of the book when they cost less to produce.

Re:What about the price? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39806741)

Economies of scale. Anything that is "unique" to one format over another has its cost spread over each copy. Assume for a moment that typesetting is a fixed cost and must be done for the print book as well as the e-book. If 90% of book sales are still paper copies then the cost can be spread over a wider base. I'm not saying that's necessarily true, just that it's conceivable that e-books could cost more "per copy" due to lower volume.

Re:What about the price? (1)

MadKeithV (102058) | about 2 years ago | (#39806471)

The printing costs of a book are negligible in comparison with the editorial, typesetting, proof-reading and other costs associatd with releasing a book. Go and read Charlie Stross's essays on common misconceptions about publishing [antipope.org] to discover WHY it's impractical.

It doesn't matter though. The cost of all that overhead stuff is sunk once you have the book ready for publishing - all you can do at that point is try to maximize price * sales. If people are not prepared to pay as much for an eBook than for a physical one then it may have to be priced lower in order to maximize that function, regardless of the actual cost involved. The eBook presumably has a (much?) lower marginal cost and a totally different MC curve to a physical book - therefore it shouldn't be sold with the same assumptions as physical books.

Re:What about the price? (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | about 2 years ago | (#39807027)

The physical cost of printing and distributing a book amounts to 10-15% of the cost. Lets assume tha it's 15% and that it drops to 1% for eBooks (you still have to run the servers and deal with administration around the sales of books).

So your $10 printed book gets you $8.50 per copy to pay the author, editor, proofreaders, advertisers, etc.

So you want to move over to eBooks, and you still want to make the same kind of money.

If you just drop the price by the 14% saving and sell it at $8.60, what will that do to your sals? If it stays the same then you have made the same amount of money.

If you drop it by more, then you will only see the benefit [i]if[/i] your sales go up proportionately to the price drop. At the $8.50 price point, I don't think a $1 price drop will significantly boost sales. If you halve the price, will that double sales? I very much doubt it. Maybe. It's a big risk, though, and maybe a few publishers will try it, but there's a limit to how many books any one person can realistically buy and read.

If you drop prices to App Store levels, then a few lucky winners will selll millions of books instead of thousands - but the top sellers are selling that kind of volume anyway at current prices. Many will simply fail to make any significant amount of money.

Re:What about the price? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39806601)

The printing costs of a book are negligible in comparison with the editorial, typesetting, proof-reading and other costs associatd with releasing a book.

Not true in the least. Most authors are paid shit, unless you're a major player. Their only hope for real income, which still isn't much, is from royalties. Furthermore, more and more, authors are required to do their own typesetting. Furthermore, most publishes have tools which largely automate most of what's involved. Most of the proofing is done by poorly paid staffers. For most publishers, the cost of printing and distribution, per copy, represents the largest cost, per copy. And as counts go up, the cost of everything else is artomorized into an insignificant dollar amount whereas the cost of print and distribution largely remains the same.

Sorry, but electronic copies should be dirt cheap. There is a reason why print copies should cost more, and that's because they actually do.

P.S. I have a friend who is an author with two books out.

Re:What about the price? (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#39806937)

So you are saying that we should include the publishers in with the *AAs because they are playing the same BS game with creators.

I'd go along with that.

DRM wasn't my sticking point (3, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 2 years ago | (#39806141)

Pricing is - eBooks should be lower priced (although not to the pennies on the pound level, I find that argument ridiculous) and currently they rarely are.

Neal Asher books - Gridlinked as an example, his earliest Agent Cormac book, first published in 2001, now published by Tor: £7.99 on the iPad, £5.11 paperback on Amazon, £4.75 Kindle edition.

Will the removal of DRM flatten out those pricing peaks and troughs? Will the eBook version go up or down? That will determine if piracy goes up or down.

Re:DRM wasn't my sticking point (4, Interesting)

Ironhandx (1762146) | about 2 years ago | (#39806215)

It will likely mean that certain proprietary formats will slowly disappear and the pricing will get down to the 4.75 kindle edition as no one buys the iPad editions etc.

Right now some of the pricing peaks and valleys are due to the fact that some devices have fees attached to publish for them at all.

As we go further into DRM-Free, most books will probably just start coming in PDF or something similar and fancy PDF reading apps will be more abundant than they currently are, and available on more devices.

Re:DRM wasn't my sticking point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39806665)

As we go further into DRM-Free, most books will probably just start coming in PDF or something similar and fancy PDF reading apps will be more abundant than they currently are, and available on more devices.

I sincerely hope not. PDF's as ebooks are a bad idea because you lose the ability to change fonts, font sizes & properly change pages. I only have 3 PDF's on my ebook reader and that's only because they are graphics heavy and PDF is the correct choice.

Re:DRM wasn't my sticking point (1)

crafty.munchkin (1220528) | about 2 years ago | (#39806317)

As I just said above - the printing costs of a paperback are negligible in comparison with the editorial process that occurs with each book. Look for my post above and click the link in it to discover why :)

Good example - I just started reading it yesterday :)

Re:DRM wasn't my sticking point (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#39806375)

Where I'm at in the U.S., e-books are usually considerably cheaper than their hard-copy equivalents. But I've heard (I think on an earlier thread on /.) that this varies greatly not only by country, but even by region and for individual users. I save quite a bit of money each year buying e-book versions, especially with textbooks. My Kindle pretty easily paid for itself in the first year I owned it. I don't think I've ever seen a Kindle version of a book that was more expensive than the hard-copy version (have seen a few that were equal).

Probably No significant change in sales (0)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | about 2 years ago | (#39806209)

A minor increase in sales due to people who would have avoided buying DRM'ed ebooks will be balanced out by a minor decrease in sales due to an increase in casual piracy (those who arent bothered to go looking for a pirated version, but wont mind taking a copy from a friend who buys it)
Its possible that the casual piracy may lead to more sales as well, but thats questionable at best

Re:Probably No significant change in sales (4, Insightful)

Toze (1668155) | about 2 years ago | (#39806385)

Disagree for two reasons. First, because of personal experience; I hit Baen's free library one day and encountered John Ringo's work. I have since bought about $200 worth of Baen books, mostly Ringo but frequently other stuff I found on their free library. A friend passed me a pirated copy of Jim Butcher's entire Dresden series; I now have the whole run purchased and sitting on my shelf. The specific method I've seen work is this;
1) DRM-free
2) Pirated/shared
3) Lands in the hands of someone who was never going to buy the books
4) Turns them into a trufan who buys some or all of the books.

On the one hand this may not be the precise method Tor is hoping for, and I agree that the /direct/ impact of being DRM-free isn't going to be worth much, but the long-term effect is of more people reading Tor books, and in my experience that means more people buying books. The second reason I disagree is that experiment after experiment shows that "piracy is not the problem, obscurity is the problem." Releasing stuff for free almost never decreases profits, and usually increases profits. Doctorow and Lessig have both explained this at length.

Re:Probably No significant change in sales (1)

FBeans (2201802) | about 2 years ago | (#39806509)

The point being, DRM makes next to no difference either way in terms of sales? So perhaps, it's just here to make good slashdot posts, to allow people here to talk about something other than MAC vs Linux vs Windows? I can't see any other benefit's, it can go in a box along with the current copywrite/pantent/trademark laws...

Re:Probably No significant change in sales (2)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#39806955)

It's there because most of the people in the suits are idiots. Period.

Re:Probably No significant change in sales (1)

FBeans (2201802) | about 2 years ago | (#39807195)

I wish there was a good reply proving you wrong, i /really/ *really* !really! wish there was. It may well be the case, that you are just 100% correct, how sad :/

Re:Probably No significant change in sales (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#39806997)

Assuming that there is *no* change in the sales, then the worst outcome is that there is no harm and no foul... that's also neglecting the fact that they aren't paying for DRM technology any more.

Look for the other replies to this post for the better outcomes.

Will they also fix typos in the older books? (1)

WillAdams (45638) | about 2 years ago | (#39806227)

I bought Heinlein's _Space Cadet_ from the Sony Reader Store for my PRS-600 and the book was so rife w/ errors as to be essentially unreadable --- I actually had to look up some bits on books.google.com in order to understand some passages.

I purchased Robert Heinlein's _Space Cadet_ and (tried to) read it over the weekend --- the book had so many errors, I wound up proofreading it instead:

- all discretionary and non-breaking hyphens show up as question marks in the text
- lots of extraneous hyphens
- a couple of chapter titles are mis-spelled
- There're a couple of typos which are so bad as to confuse the meaning of the text (a word specifically referencing a tabu mentioned in an earlier paragraph is replaced w/ gibberish)
- they even get the year of his birth wrong on the last page, rendering it as 190? instead of 1907

Here's an e-mail I sent to Tor Books:

I purchased a copy of Heinlein's _Space Cadet_ and it was so rife w/ errors that rather than enjoying reading it, I found myself proofreading it over the weekend. Apparently this ebook was _never_ proofread, since it has numerous errors, including mis-spelled chapter heads, question marks placed wherever there was a discretionary or non-breaking hyphen, a slash instead of an italic capital ``I'', &c.

I've got a 42MB Notes file exported from my Sony PRS-600 which highlights all of the errors, things like:

Inside front cover:
``From Mars to Venus—to danger-filled advenTures...''
- should be adventures

``...ever managed to become Space Cadets at the Space Academy Young men such as Matt and Tex...''
- missing period, should be ``...Space Academy. Young men...''

pg. 11 ``... thin air stood Hay-worth Hall...''
- extraneous hyphen, should be Hayworth

pg. 22 ``...it had a score showing in it—"yjT Well, he thought...''
- missing end punctuation and closing quote mark, the score is gibberish--- should be ``37'' (had to look that up on the Google Books copy).

pg. 27 ``Lieutenant Ezra Dahlguisty Who Helped Create the Tradition of the Patrol—ig6g-igg6.
- Dahlquist. gibberish at the end should be a pair of years, probably 1969--1996.

pg. 30 ``Don't play 'iron man.'There's no sense...''
- space missing between single quote and ``T''

And it goes on and on like that, w/ a lot of the errors actually confusing the meaning of the text.

Re:Will they also fix typos in the older books? (1)

Megane (129182) | about 2 years ago | (#39806551)

What's the point of using DRM if you're just going to do a SOS (Scan-OCR-Shit^Hp) job? The "pirates" would be better off starting with their own scan.

Re:Will they also fix typos in the older books? (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#39806739)

did you want to win the "i'm a formatting nazi" award today or something.

This is a problem, but enumeration isn't necessary.

DRM Free... from where? (1)

SAN66 (998917) | about 2 years ago | (#39806237)

This sounds great and all, but...

Would they really be able to convince Amazon or Apple or Sony to sell the books DRM free from their marketplaces?

One of the authors I read publishes through Baen books, DRM free (Or at least in multiple formats emailed to you), but you have to download from the Baen website because Amazon won't have any of it.

I suspect there will be a place you will be able to download DRM free TOR books, but from the markets themselves we'll still have DRM. Who knows though? TOR has some clout and some A list authors so they may be able to push their weight around.

Re:DRM Free... from where? (1)

Megane (129182) | about 2 years ago | (#39806515)

Would they really be able to convince Amazon or Apple or Sony to sell the books DRM free from their marketplaces?

What makes you think Apple wants the DRM? The music from iTunes Store only had DRM because the music labels required it in the contract. When iTMS became successful and the contract was up for re-negotiation, Apple forced them to go DRM-free.

Re:DRM Free... from where? (1)

FBeans (2201802) | about 2 years ago | (#39806537)

Well the ideal situatuon would not be for Amazon et al. to be /forced/ in to anything. Instead they shall simply see that DRM isn't reducing piracy / increasing sales, hence there is no need for it. It's a step in the right direction, but it's a long road ahead.

Re:DRM Free... from where? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#39807151)

Would they really be able to convince Amazon or Apple or Sony to sell the books DRM free from their marketplaces?

Who cares? Purchasers have three choices:

  • Buy from Amazon, works on the Kindle.
  • Buy from Apple, works on the iPad.
  • Buy directly from Tor, works anywhere.

Which do you think Tor would rather they do? Not sure about Tor, but my publisher really likes direct sales of eBooks because the margin is higher (they get to keep the cut that the retailer usually takes). In fact, this is one of the main reasons why the music labels dropped DRM on music - it prevented the retailers controlling the channel.

Will Kindel versions be DRM Free? (2)

allcar (1111567) | about 2 years ago | (#39806253)

From TFA:

Now users can finally read their books across multiple devices such as Amazon's Kindle, Sony Reader, Kobo eReader and Apple's iBooks.

It will be interesting to see if the likes of Amazon honour the publishers wishes, or whether they still insist on using DRM. This might finally damage the Kindle business model. In a similar situation, I recently purchased the new Stephen King audio book directlty from Simon & Schuster, as it is in a DRM free MP3 format. Who would buy from Audible if the same material was available elsewhere in a better format?

Good call, Tor. Now when I buy... (1)

capnkr (1153623) | about 2 years ago | (#39806287)

...a book, whether digital or dead-tree, your name will be there along with Baen as my first choice of publishers to support via the wallet.

Now if we could get a decent version of Asimov's (2)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#39806289)

Being an e-book reader and science fiction fan, I've been very disappointed in recent years with how weakly science fiction publishers have been supporting the e-formats. Of all fields, you would think science fiction would be on the CUTTING EDGE of technology. But, alas, it was only recently that Asimov's [wikipedia.org] even launched a e-book version of the magazine--and it's been plagued by poor formatting, missing illustrations, etc. Very sad when science fiction's leading magazine can featuring writing about the future, but can't seem to actually *embrace* the future.

Glad to see at least one major science fiction publisher is trying to do something with the format.

Some degree of "piracy" helps marketing (2)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | about 2 years ago | (#39806329)

Several years ago, Baen Books (ahref=http://www.baen.com/rel=url2html-25847 [slashdot.org]http://www.baen.com/>) started to make some of their books available as e-books for free, with approval from the respective authors.

Reportedly, those authors actually saw an increase in sales of their paper books as a result. Maybe TOR is betting on a similar outcome (besides saving the trouble of supporting a DRM system).

It is not the DRM stupid. (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | about 2 years ago | (#39806405)

It is the PRICE TAG. Can anyone explain me how a dead tree book costs $10, while the ebook is only $18??? What? The bits and bytes are more expensive than the ink!!! Nevertheless, my top limit for a book is $9.99. E-book. No matter how much i want to buy "Legends of the Dragonrealm, Vol. III", i would never ever go over my top limit. I would rather steal it, print it, and give it for free, but would never never never ever feed the pigs, i mean the publishers.

Re:It is not the DRM stupid. (1)

FBeans (2201802) | about 2 years ago | (#39806577)

Well, firstly, it's naive to think that the materials are the only cost. It may be cheaper to produce each indivdual file realtive to a book, but things like website admin, server admin, storage space, bla , bla.... all contribute to a final price. Having said that, I agree, that the prices are not representative of the value of a the books them selves.

doubt it will affect sales much at all (1)

apcullen (2504324) | about 2 years ago | (#39806415)

DRM is so easy to remove from ebooks that it's really not much of an inconvenience. Downloaded music DRM used to be a bit more difficult and more restrictive. And don't get me started about the ridiculousness of DRM on digital movies.
On the other hand, people who copy works illegally are generally not ever going to be customers. I'm guessing that DRM cost the publisher money in licensing fees, and wasn't effective at all in stopping copying, so it makes good business sense to drop it.

Re:doubt it will affect sales much at all (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#39806781)

It's hard for people that can barely understand what the concept of DRM is... which is a massive majority, unfortunately, which is why the fight against only gets slow traction.

Regular books don't have DRM either (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39806457)

It was always a silly idea to have DRM. I understand why it's tempting -- the last thing you want is hundreds or thousands of non-DRM books up on a torrent somewhere, so people can download all that work without paying for it. On the other hand, DRM costs money to implement, it is an impediment for paying customers trying to use the product, and worst of all it wasn't going to stop copying anyway. These DRM schemes are not effective, so what's the point? Good riddance.

Now I'll have to check out what Tor has to offer, because I wasn't buying anything with DRM on it.

Makes me want to buy Tor (1)

mattr (78516) | about 2 years ago | (#39806459)

Seems to me Tor now has as good or better than a name as Baen.
I was already on Tor email list because I think they publish great stuff. But I only have bought from them dead tree versions in bookstores when I have seen them. Since I am overseas much this will give me an incentive to buy.
If there was a way to buy via Kindle that would be great or maybe there is a way to buy directly from Tor which would be better and ought to save me some money since no middleman?
Also I have bought from Tor books that I have read many times in the past because I love them.
I would very, very much like to have a Tor digital library on my hard disk.
Also I would be very willing to consider buying exclusives like maybe interviews with authors or special content that is only available to fans of authors etc. This is going to be AWESOME for Tor and to me anyway this makes them the best publisher for sci-fi in the world. I already enjoy very much the emails they send.
Next, if they would sell me a zip file of all the winners of Hugo or similar awards in the future (I dunno, is it worth $50 for a digital version?) I would snap it up in a flash. It is hard to find them sometimes.
Good luck Tor!

Re:Makes me want to buy Tor (1)

mattr (78516) | about 2 years ago | (#39806507)

p.s. Tor can you give me a version that works with Calibre, with beautiful artwork I can view on my Mac? I would probably read it mostly on my Kindle but would enjoy collateral like information about the author and so on.
And I wouldn't hold it against you if you want to sell me DVDs or cool comics, etc.

Consumer goodwill and consumer quality (1)

concealment (2447304) | about 2 years ago | (#39806475)

Removing DRM engenders consumer goodwill because people are no longer forced to use cumbersome restraints with their ebooks. These restraints mainly penalize legal consumers, because those with intent to steal will circumvent them as a matter of course.

However, it's worth noting that not all consumers are the same. Legal consumers tend to like books which require a brain to read. If you released the Twilight series without DRM, it will be pirated more than a brainier book.

ID Software (1)

Grindalf (1089511) | about 2 years ago | (#39806571)

ID software used to do this to it's games, so they would run without the CD in and with a patch. They are very smart guys ...

Yu0 Fail It (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39806673)

my5elf. this isn't

I'm not surprised, actually. (1)

Lord Crowface (1315695) | about 2 years ago | (#39806723)

The success of companies like Baen in selling DRM-free e-books to the SF-reading public has shown that, at least for SF and Fantasy readers, not having DRM tends to drive sales rather than piracy. The fact that when the Harry Potter books were released as e-books it was in a DRM-free form probably didn't hurt either. The interesting thing to see will be whether the current DRM-free trend spreads to works outside the SF and Fantasy genres.

Where can I buy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39806879)

So WTF can I buy these DRM free books? These guys wasted a hell of an advertising opportunity.

This is a tech advance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39806957)

This move narrows the technological gap between e-books and paper books. The unreliability that DRM forces has been a major barrier keeping from being seriously considered. Getting e-books into the realm of paper books can only be a good thing.

What remains?

Water proofing? Paper books don't handle a drop into the tub very well either, but they handle it better than most current e-gizmos. This is fixable, though. Anyone wanna mention some particular readers are at least a little bit water-resistant? It wouldn't be too shocking if there's one or two out there.

Battery life? e-ink isn't quite in the same league as paper but it's pretty damn good compared to most others. I'd say e-ink is "close enough." The LCD readers are still a decade or two short of being close enough.

What else?

Tor DRM BAaaaaddd! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39807045)

Wow, all it took was every single title in their catalog to be online DRM free on torrent sites to prove to them it doesn't work!

What brilliant forethought!

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