More Thoughts On Ebook Formats And DRM

Yesterday I contemplated the problems of mutually exclusive ebook formats and DRM systems, which between them have turned what should be a pleasant and easy to use method of buying and reading books into a technological minefield for the unwary (Click here to see that post).

There were immediately two comments, both from guys who know what they are talking about in these matters, both of whom suggested several very good solutions to this problem.  However, their comments gave rise to a couple of thoughts of my own on the problem.

One of the main problems we are suffering from is the matter of the differing flavours of DRM (Digital Rights Management – Anti copying software) that most commercially produced ebooks have included in them.  There are now so many different version of DRM out there as many of the sellers of ebooks (and ereader makers) have caused their own private versions of this DRM software to be created, which of course means that we can only read those ebooks on ereaders equipped to deal with that particular form of DRM.

As has been pointed out endlessly, it is relatively simple to remove this DRM software from our ebooks, and then the ebook will work on any ereader that supports the basic ebook format, (ePub, Mobi or whatever).

However, to judge from my reasonably copious email bag, most of my readers at least are not really comfortable doing that, either because they view it as a form of criminal action (it is illegal to strip DRM from ebooks), or quite simply haven’t a clue how to go about it.   We are not all even moderately competent computer users, and ebooks are not actually computers, so someone who buys an ereader that has WiFi or 3G connectivity might well not have a computer in fact, nor want one.

So what Jim Fallone suggest, while perfectly sensible if one is a computer user, is rather more tricky when applied to an ereader – if I understood his argument properly.  I am not sure how third party software would work on my Sony ereader for example.   On my computers I use Flash, real Player and so on to deal with all my media files, and that works fine, but can I use the same approach on my Sony, Nook, Kobo, Hanvon, MiGear and other ereaders?   How will this software get onto my ereader is perhaps a question.

As I said in the other post, the main driving force behind this problem is not really a desire to protect the authors from having their work pirated, but more a desire on the part of the ebook sellers to protect their share of the market.  So actually the enemy at the door that they are resisting is quite simply all other ereader makers.  And we as consumers of their product are the victims of this little war.   If piracy was the real enemy, then it would be perfectly acceptable to have one form of DRM protection for all ebooks……………..

Any thoughts on all of this?

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