Tuesday, February 16, 2010

An Apple a Day Keeps the Pirates Away

If you missed me yesterday, 1.) you read too many Internet blogs (or, at the very least, too much of this one—not that I don't appreciate it!), and 2.) it was because much of the industry (unlike most used car salesmen) had President's Day off, so I wasn't in the office.


As we all probably figured would be the case, publishers are already becoming wary of Apple's shiny new iPad and iBook store. Some are wary of Apple's hesitance to share consumer data, but most of those publishers are newspaper publishers, so their opinions don't really matter. I mean, come on, I don't even remember the last time I read a physical newspaper.

All kidding aside, though, there are some hang-ups in the real (read: book) publishing world as well. (Okay, now all kidding aside.) Apple plans to employ its tried-and-true FairPlay DRM in the iBook store in an attempt to ward off piracy. Whether this will be a permanent affair or whether it will eventually be phased out à la Apple's game plan for music remains to be seen.

What do you think, gentle readers? Should book DRM be run the same way as music DRM? Would (or do) you subscribe to e-magazines and e-newspapers? And when Apple and Amazon engage in the clash of the titans that will PROBABLY END THE WORLD, whose side will you be on?


  1. Fair Play will provide the same problem that publishers are still facing with Amazon - customers are still more beholden to the agent than the publisher thanks to lock-in.

    Until publishers can ensure that a customer can take their legally purchased eBooks to each new platform they choose, publishers will still be reacting to the market instead of guiding it.

    And with regards to data, that'll be one of the next big battles.

  2. My only problem with DRM is that when I buy something, I'd like to actually own it :P. I hate the fact that when I download a song from i-tunes it can only go onto one device. Why can't I have it on my phone AND my ipod? I bought it, didn't I?

    I feel the same way about e-books. If they can find a way for you to lend a friend an e-book, or for me to have it on my phone and my PC, then I'm all for it :).

  3. That is no question. When the Great Ones create the world anew from the ruins of the battlefield, mine Apple overlords will make the world pretty.

  4. The publishers really need DRM for their hardcovers. Why people are lending and reselling books on ebay and used bookstores and the publishers and writers (like the publishers care about the writers) get no money from those sales. Ohhh...the lost sales, uh, readers.

    Will I pay for an e-newspaper? Depends. Like anything I buy price is a factor. Can I get the content anywhere else easier and for less money? If I can get the same news from "free" TV, radio, internet,etc, why pay for it from anywhere else. I happen to pay for a blog on my Kindle (The Intern Spills). She is more entertaining and could use my spare change much more than the NY Times.

  5. I don't subscribe to any of the online publications, yet.

    Clash of the titans, no idea whose side I'd be on.

  6. DRM is only tolerable if its totally non annoying. If your Kindle can download books wirelessly you might get used to thinking of them as Kindlebooks - if the download interface is smooth enough. Then you don't resent the fact that you can't take them elsewhere, at least so much. It would help if they were cheaper, of course.

  7. I'm very anti-Apple. Not that I don't think they put out a good product, because they do. However, it's a very expensive product, generally, compared to what you can get elsewhere. As much trouble as I has transferring my music bought through iTunes to my non-apple mp3 player, I will not be buying an Apple reading device. Amazon has my music purchases because I can get them where I want them. I see it being the same way with ebooks.

  8. I won't do DRM. Period. Just recently I was given the option on Amazon to download a music album as single MP3s for a dollar more, or download the entire album at once but with DRM. Yeah, I paid the extra buck.

    Until I can own my ebook the same way I own my dead-tree-edition, I'm not playing. And I publish electronically, so it's not like I'm a technophobe. I have purchased a number of ebooks in PDF format, and one or two in EPUB, because I read them on my laptop and not on a dedicated device. I listen to music on my computer or my laptop or MP3 car stereo or my Sansa player - I can't imagine being confined to just one device.

  9. I'm from the older generation and I basically think the e-reading experience is inferior. Partly because I learned to read on paper, and partly because my eyes are getting bad.

    That being said, I reserve a special spot in the darkest, coldest corners of Hell for DRM in general and Amazon's Kindle in particular. Not only does DRM seek to preserve "intellectual property" (an oxymoron, if one understands what each of those words means) but the technology and policies deployed on the Kindle in particular allow Amazon to remotely delete content from a user "owned" device.

    Does anybody remember what Winston's day job was in 1984? How long before "new editions" of fiction and non-fiction begin to replace older versions, just because they can?

    Anybody who thinks we're not living in a rapidly developing dystopia hasn't been paying attention for the last 50 some years.


    P.S. For extra credit Google the publisher recall of the book "Fortunate Son". I heard the news on the radio and got a copy at Borders before they got them off the shelves. But if the book had existed primarily on Kindles?

    Yeah, I'm paranoid. But am I paranoid ENOUGH?

  10. Re Amazon vs. Apple

    "When thieves fall out....."


  11. When clash of the titans comes out, I'll be on Andromeda's side.

    Wait, was this about books?

  12. DRM is tricky. Don't know the solution to that, but I won't ever buy anything from a retailer who might at any moment, in a fit of rage, arbitrarily pull my publisher's buy buttons.

  13. DRM will always fail while companies treat it as an arms race against piracy.

    Whenever you restrict a product with DRM, you hand the pirate a superior product. All DRM is crackable, and within a few weeks, the pirate can offer an identical product that has no restrictions on use at a far, far better price than you can (ie - free.)

    The only way DRM works is when it's treated as a way to add value for the consumer. Look at Valve's Steam service for games. It's a DRM system, but it adds a user community, a store, the ability to store game-saves online, freedom to download and play your games on any computer anywhere, no need for game discs to play, and more.

    Most gamers happily accept Steam's DRM - and some even prefer to have a game on steam rather than a physical copy - because it was developed with a focus on what it could offer to the consumer, and it adds to the consumer's experience, gives them something they value, rather than just restricting how they can use their purchase.

  14. I still read the print paper, and I can barely afford that. I am so far from owning an iPad or Kindle or whatever, I'm a non-vote.

    *hangs head in shame*

  15. When I buy a game on Steam, I can put it on any device. I own it forever, I can do anything I want with it (except make copies of it for friends, and believe it or not, I'm okay with that restriction!). It's got DRM on it, but because I can put it on whichever machines I want, and as many machines as I want, I truly feel as if I own the game, and so I feel like I'm getting a fair deal and a good value.

    DRM on books that prevents me from putting it on other devices? NO. WAY. I don't buy music with that kind of DRM, and I won't buy books with that kind of DRM. No sale unless you price it at a nickel a book.

  16. I read my eBooks on my tablet PC (yes, tablets existed before the giant iPhone) and I LOVE it. First, I don't have to put up with slow page turns or that eye-boggling reverse-contrast that 'e-ink' has, but second, because it's a real PC with a real OS, I have simply installed: Kindle-for-PC, B&N-for-PC and Mobipocket and I can get any book I want at the cheapest price at any time.
    The cheapest tablet PC is about US$1k and if Apple had given their iPad a full OS, onto which one could install all of the above, they could have swept the market as the best e-reader out there even at US$500 but instead they are doing their usual "strings attached", cultish way with DRM and software tied to hardware.

    The thing is, it may work anyway. The Ipod has just about the worst audio you can get, over-processed, and under-amped there were and still are far, far better sounding audio products, which allow you to listen to non-mp3 audio and don't install software on your computer which acts like rootkit malware when you try to uninstall it. Nevertheless it was pretty...

    Frankly, any rational discussion about an Apple product is useless. Apple are masters at conning fashion victims into buying inferior/overpriced hardware which traps them into a far-reduced range of software, and into a community of people who, whether to justify their over-priced mistake or simply because they are unable to sample what is available outside the Mac world, have developed a group-think belief that it is the OTHER guys running the cult.

    I will stick with eBook software on my tablet PC, my FLAC audio on my Sony Walkman and my clone desktop running Win7 which I can upgrade with hardware and software which has been developed by manufacturers who know that the moment they have a sucky product I will go to another manufacturer with a superior one BECAUSE I CAN. /grin