Tor Marks One Year of DRM-free Ebooks
About a year ago, Tor Books, the highly regarded publisher of science fiction and fantasy, announced that they were dropping digital-rights-management protection on all of their ebooks. Now, Julie Crisp of Tor UK has revealed what that decision has meant in terms of ebook piracy: “As it is, we’ve seen no discernible increase in piracy on any of our titles, despite them being DRM-free for nearly a year.” (This, of course, is no surprise to us: we have been publishing our Take Control ebook DRM-free for nearly ten years, with exactly the same results.) Equally heartening to Tor is how much support their authors have for the DRM-free policy.
They also said they were going to open an e-book store for their DRM-free titles in the summer of 2012. It is now May 2013 with no store and no update to the page: http://www.tor.com/store/
True, but that is hardly a barrier to obtaining Tor ebooks, since B&N, Apple, and Amazon, among others, sell Tor's DRM-free ebook titles. What extra benefits would a Tor e-book store offer? I'm curious.
Hopefully it would have titles that are not on the other stores. My preferred ebook store has been Baen's for that reason. So far Apple's has been the worst in selection, price and DRM.
Also, from Amazon or from BN, I can only get it for their readers, or for their software on other platforms. Most of my ebooks are in epub format being read in Aldiko on my Android tablet (and the rest are in PDF, also read in Aldiko); why should I be forced to install more reader software tied to a particular vendor just to be able to get books from this publisher?
Baen has done it right.
In my experience, this is not true, as far as DRM-free ebooks from BN, iBookstore, or Amazon are concerned. I have had no problems opening DRM-free EPUBs from BN, for example, in iBooks or in Marvin. Similarly, Amazon books without DRM can be opened in other software capable of reading the MOBI format (e.g., Calibre, which can also convert MOBI to EPUB).
It is the DRM on most books purchased from BN, iBookstore, or Amazon that impedes interoperability.
The problem with BN, iBookstore, and Amazon isn't that you can't move the stuff from X to e.g., Calibre; it's FINDING them to move them in the first place, and in BN's case, the file names were ... less than informative. Nor did I see any option for "download this book using your web browser for sideloading to your device". If I need Nook-for-Windows to actually download the book before importing it into Calibre for sideloading to my Android tablet, or if I need Nook-for-Android to download it directly to my tablet, I've still got to have Nook-for-, which I like to avoid. Baen lets me do the direct download without assumptions about the availability of Nook-for- or Kindle-for-.
On my Mac, the BN site downloads its books to my Downloads folder. Granted, the filenames for BN EPUBs are obscure but easily changed. I usually change the name of a book from BN as soon as I purchase it.
For Kindle Reader on my Mac, the app's General preferences show you the path to the My Kindle Content folder and allows you to change that path if you wish. You can sort that folder by Date Added to find the most recently purchased and downloaded books. Yes, you do need the free Kindle Reader app on your computer in order to get to the book files.
For iBookstore, look in ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/Books; books are stored in folders named for the author. You do need iTunes to buy books from iBookstore.
None of these three services is as convenient as it could be when it comes to downloading and finding the ebook files (BN is the easiest), but finding and renaming the ebooks from these services is not a huge barrier.
I agree that Baen does a wonderful job of selling ebooks simply, but Baen does not offer the range of titles that BN, iBookstore, and Amazon do. It's a lot like the physical world: not all bookstores carry all the books you may want, and some bookstores are more convenient than others.
"Some bookstores are more convenient than others." That's exactly the problem, and why I'd like to see Tor/Forge finally open their promised ebookstore (along the Baen model). I don't think it's reasonable for a retailer to require me to load up my computer with THEIR reader/purchaser software, any more than I should be required to purchase my bookshelves for print editions from the book retailer, and shelve books from that retailer only on those shelves. I'm not even asking for the multiplicity of formats that Baen offers; I'm happy with ePUB, and can (thanks to Calibre) deal with Amazon's format reasonably conveniently. Except for the *unreasonable* locking of the the ebook stores to their devices/software, I'd be perfectly happy buying ebooks from Amazon or BN - but I'm not willing to load down my Android tablet or laptop PC with software that I'd otherwise not use.