Charlie Stross on Amazon’s E-Book Strategy

Great piece by Charlie Stross on the DOJ’s e-book price-fixing lawsuit:

DRM on ebooks is dead. (Or if not dead, it’s on death row awaiting a date with the executioner.)

It doesn’t matter whether Macmillan wins the price-fixing lawsuit bought by the Department of Justice. The point is, the big six publishers’ Plan B for fighting the emerging Amazon monopsony has failed (insofar as it has been painted as a price-fixing ring, whether or not it was one in fact). This means that they need a Plan C. And the only viable Plan C, for breaking Amazon’s death-grip on the consumers, is to break DRM.

I think he’s right, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. DRM is a religion for old-growth media executives. Rational thought could lead them to this solution, but won’t, because they’re starting with an irrational bedrock assumption: that there can exist a technical solution to defeat piracy. Their belief in DRM is a matter of faith, not logic.

If I’m wrong though, and the publishers see the light of day and start selling DRM-free ePub books, I think that’d be a win for Apple, in the same way that dropping DRM from music has helped, not hurt, Apple’s music business. Amazon is the one whose Kindle devices and apps do not support DRM-free ePub books.

Monday, 16 April 2012