Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tor Dumps DRM

In what I believe is the first major-publisher fiction imprint to do so, Tor/Forge announced today (via a press release and a posting on Tor.com) that their entire publishing program will be available in electronic formats without Digital Rights Management schemes by early July of this year.

DRM had generally been considered necessary to prevent piracy, but examples in both directions -- the continued pirating of massive numbers of ostensibly "protected" books, without much obvious effect on actual sales, on one hand, and the example of mostly technology-books publishers, led by O'Reilly (and joined by, among others, several of the tech imprints of my own employer, Wiley) on the other -- had made that accepted wisdom more and more seem less acceptable, and less wise.

Tor and Forge are imprints of Tom Doherty Associates -- and Doherty's leadership in this area, and deep knowledge of how books are sold, isn't to be taken lightly -- but I suspect the more important point might be that TDA is itself part of the Macmillan publishing empire, and Macmillan has been the leader in several recent industry changes related to e-books, most importantly the move to agency pricing.

So good for Tor for taking this step, and good for Macmillan for allowing them to do so. With any luck, the rest of the world will notice in a few months that the sky hasn't fallen, and DRM will become an endangered species.

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