DRM: your protection vs readers’ defection…


I understand the logic: you’re publishing your book via KDP or another method and you think ‘Hey, where’s the harm in adding DRM?’. After all, it’s your work, it’s your baby – why wouldn’t you want to look after it?

Here’s the harm though. If you’re assuming that 90% of your sales come from Amazon (and let’s face it, this is often the case and those nice little ranking boosts don’t hurt), you’re making it damned difficult for those none Kindle owners. I like Amazon. I like its convenience, its 1-click system, how easy it is to add reviews, plus the recommendations that I get based on past purchases… Even though I cringe when I realise how many past purchases there have been! I buy from Smashwords and I would buy from B&N if I could but a lot of the time I go to Amazon.

This evening I tried to stock up my Sony eReader with recent Smashword and Amazon acquisitions (both paid and free). The process? Simple! Transfer ePubs and PDFs directly to the reader. Format MOBI files via Calibre (a piece of ebook conversion software) and then upload those.

Unfortunately, instead of a simple transition process I was hit with DRM message after DRM message after DRM message. I had 140 titles to transfer. I think I managed to get around 50 on.

Now, of course I can read the remainder on the Kindle for PC application but given that my ereader can be with me any time, any place even if my laptop is at home, it immediately makes it much more likely that the non-DRM titles will be read first. Disappointing for me and disappointing for authors too I’d guess. ┬áIt puts my reading list askew because I have to weigh up what I can reasonably do at home in front of the laptop and how many I can clear when travelling, waiting for a meeting etc.

So, the next time you’re considering the ‘Do I? Don’t I?’ DRM quandry, please do bear this in mind. Kindle is great but we haven’t all gone down that route – don’t alienate Amazon customers by making it so darn hard to read your stuff.

PS. As an interesting aside, I’m always amused by the file names on documents when I submit the ebooks from Amazon for conversion. I’ve never seen anything too bad but it’s worth bearing in mind when you submit your file that even the file name is out in the public domain. So ‘Pigs Might Fly – Volume I’, will probably fair a lot better than ‘Sh*t hot title about pigs’. Though no-one could fault you for your enthusiasm…

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Donna Brown

Ever developing teacher and learner (online and offline!). Avid reader/audiobook listener, fan of podcasts, prone to the odd Netflix binge. Mum to six crazy and incredible rescue cats. Occasional writer of short stories and poetry.
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  2. Every book I put on Amazon has been DRM-free. Simply because I hate restrictive measures in any kind or way. DRM is a way of making books more expensive in many cases, and there are so many ways to remove it, that it's entirely useless to add it anyway.

    People who appreciate what you write will pay for your work anyway, is my belief.

    1. Aha! I knew there was a better term than non-DRM but in rant mode I couldn't think of it! Thanks Paul!

      What baffles me most is many of these books are available on Smashwords in every format anyway…

  3. Very good advice. And actually, I avoid buying Kindle for PC books because I already spend HOURS in front of my computer, and it's my least favorite way to read. I look for titles on Smashwords, and if they're not available there, I leave them on my Amazon Wishlist until I get desperate.

    I keep my books DRM-free because honestly? I don't care if they get pirated so long as they get read. Seriously. Maybe that makes me kind of dorky. Nice post. I had NO IDEA that maybe I could convert DRM-free files from Kindle to Sony with Calibre. :-)

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