Saturday, April 2, 2011

Less than satisfactory response

I received an emailed answer from Barnes & Noble about DRM-protected books on their site. The response basically boiled down to "all publishers require this of us, and no, it's not a security risk." I don't know enough about how the whole thing works to say anything about the security risks, although I'm still skeptical. As for the whole "all publishers require this of us"...I'm not sure I buy that answer. For one particular book I looked up, it seems like Barnes & Noble sells it with DRM (if I assume that the emailed response is correct and all books they offer, except possibly self-published books, have DRM), Fictionwise sells it DRM-free, and the publisher itself sells it DRM-free. Why would the publisher require Barnes & Noble to sell the book with DRM, but not Fictionwise?

The emailed response did not tell me how I would be able to judge, prior to buying an e-book via Barnes & Noble, whether it was DRM-protected or not. I already know that not all books available via the Barnes & Noble site are DRM-protected - I wasn't asked for my credit card number in order to open DEAD(ish) on the Nook, and I got that one via the Barnes & Noble website. Does that mean that I can assume that self-published books on the Barnes & Noble website are DRM-free? That books that say "Sold by SMASHWORDS" are DRM-free? I don't know, and the email didn't say.

If anyone out there more experienced with e-books has more information they'd like to share about any of this, feel free to share.


  1. I wish I knew the answer to your questions. I do know that I would spend a whole lot more on e-books if they were not DRM protected. I want to OWN what I buy and I want to use it on multiple devices, etc.

  2. "I do know that I would spend a whole lot more on e-books if they were not DRM protected."

    If only everybody in the publishing and bookselling world got that. I've already decided that I would rather pay a buck or two more for an e-book that's not DRM-protected than the same book with DRM through B&N - but that decision means I'll be able to buy fewer e-books than I would if I could take more advantage of B&N's lower prices. And then there's Agency pricing, which is just stupid.