DRM: Read Free or Die!
John Scalzi won't have to field any tough questions about how digital rights management software (DRM) works at tonight's book signing. The author—out on tour promoting his newest science fiction novel, "Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas"—says those difficult discussions popped up regularly when he engaged with his tech-savvy fan base in the past. But he doesn't expect any of that negative discourse at tonight's Boston-area signing event—or at any of the other scheduled stops on his current campaign to promote the New York Times bestseller.
Fortunately for Scalzi, the ebook version of "Redshirts" happens to not have any form of DRM of any kind whatsoever to talk about. It's Tor Books' first title released in the U.S. marketplace since the imprint announced that all of its electronic science fiction and fantasy offerings—including those in its forthcoming ebook store—would come without the anti-piracy software come July.
"DRM simply doesn't work," Scalzi says, expressing his personal feelings about the technology. "It doesn't matter what book of mine gets put out. It's immediately on the torrents. If you've actually purchased the book, you should be able to do anything you want—as long as you're not making a million copies and putting it on the Internet."
According to Scalzi, he requested that "Redshirts" be the first of Tor's titles to be released without DRM restrictions. Tor Books and Forge Books (both part of big-six publisher Macmillan) had announced in April that they'd be one of the first major publishers to make such a move. Scalzi says that DRM, rather than preventing the type of piracy feared by the industry, actually makes it harder on paying customers—like those he'll shake hands and chat with later in the evening. They just want to read what they buy in the ways they prefer, he says.