Zumbs' Blog

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head

EBook DRM part 2

Posted by Zumbs on July 31, 2012

As some of you may remember, Tor Books recently announced that they would start offering DRM free eBooks. Their entire catalog should be DRM free by July. So, with July almost over, I decided to have a look at the eBook market. I should point out that I have never purchased an eBook, so I am a noob at this.

The first step was to investigate if I could purchase eBooks directly from the publisher. Unfortunately neither the US or UK site allowed direct purchase. The UK site had a nice little box informing me that the eBook was in stock (duh), but did not have a Buy button (the button was available for paper books, though). It should be noted that the site did have a small beta next to the logo, so one can hope that it is on its way. The US site allowed forwarding to a number of vendors, i.e. Barnes & Noble, Apple, Sony, Kobo, Google and Amazon.

Of the 6 vendors above, Kobo is the only one to show if the eBook is DRM encumbered in a prominent location. The other 5 vendors try to hide this very important piece of information. They obviously consider DRM to be the default and do not want to flaunt this to the consumer. Most of the remaining 5 vendors sell Tor eBooks DRM free, but hide the information in the last line of the Overview/Book Description section: At the publisher’s request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied. Sony is the only one not to add this line, so one should expect their eBooks to be DRM encumbered.

However, Tor is a publisher in the US market, so if you (like me) live in Europe, your attempts to purchase Tor eBooks may be halted with messages that basically say that the eBook is not available outside of North America. Some of the titles may be available, but not published by Macmillan, and, thus, may be DRM encumbered. Adding to the confusion, some titles may be available in both DRM encumbered and DRM free versions. Sigh. This is bound to cause a lot of confusion, as this blog entry by John Scalzi and following comments illustrates.

Long story short, I managed to purchase Looking for Jake and other Stories by China Mieville at Kobo. As advertised, the book is DRM free🙂

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