Today is the third annual International Day Against DRM. This is one “cause” everyone at NRP can get behind. When you buy an e-book, you should be able to read it on any device you own and it shouldn’t be tethered to one type of device or another. Nor should there be a limit to the number of devices you can download it to. We’ve all suffered that fatal hard drive crash and find we can’t read an e-book we bought because the new hard drive has a different version of Adobe DE on it, etc. So, if you agree with those supporting the call for no more DRM, let the publishers still demanding it know. Email them your concerns and vote with your pocket book because, let’s face it, money is all they will listen to.
Now, the irony of this is that two of the so-called Big 6 publishers who not only add DRM to their ebooks but also have adopted the Agency Model of pricing have announced their first quarter earnings for this year. Guess what, digital sales for them are up. Hatchett UK’s digital sales were more than four times what they had been and now comprise approximately 5% of their total sales. That said, it is still important to note that the company’s overall publishing sales were down 10% — something they attribute to the fact there are no more Twilight books. Which also shows a potentially fatal weakness. No company the size of Hatchett should rely on a single franchise of novels to make a profit.
Simon & Schuster reported that digital sales comprised 18% of their worldwide sales the first quarter of this year. This helped lift profits, before debt and amortization, due to the decrease in shipping and return costs.
How much more of an increase these companies would have seen if they didn’t load their books with DRM and didn’t price them higher than most e-book purchasers are willing to pay is anyone’s guess. Just as it’s anyone’s guess if they will actually read the writing on the wall and realize that e-books aren’t the poor second cousin anymore but are, in fact, a viable and vibrant part of their product line.
As I said earlier, if you support doing away with DRM, want the freedom to be able to buy an e-book at competitive prices and be able to read it on any device, let the publishers know. Send them feedback and vote with your pocketbooks. And pass the word to your friends to support International Day Against DRM.