9. Is there a price range publishers can expect to pay for digital rights management software? What factors will affect the cost?
In the early days, DRM technology vendors thought they could get a percentage of the revenue for each transaction. But publishers told them to take a hike; I know—I was working at McGraw-Hill at the time, and I was one of them.
Now, I don't know if there are any who get part of the transaction revenue. Usually, they'll charge a fee for the software license, and sometimes a variable fee based on the amount of content on the server, as opposed to the number of users or transactions.
Yet most publishers prefer to deal with an outsourcer who will deal with the packaging, run the server, etc., and will charge them on some basis for the service. The most important of these outsourcing companies in the United States is OverDrive. It is capable of handling almost all of the e-book formats—Microsoft, Adobe, Palm, Mobipocket.
Outsourcing is a good thing for publishers in a way, because it's an operational expense for publishers that they can put up against revenue, rather than an upfront capital expense for the staff and technology needed to do it.
Some technology companies will also act as outsourcers. DocuRights' PDF Store acts as an outsourcer in STM, as does Cadmus' RapidRights.
And, companies like netLibrary and ebrary can be thought of in this way—as service providers. What a publisher will need just depends on their objectives and business models.
- Noelle Skodzinski