Over the weekend, Mike Cane and Charlie Stross looked at book publishing in the wake of the recent decision by the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) to sue several publishers and Apple for collusion over eBook pricing.
Cane argues that publishers should insist on a single eBook format (EPUB) and standardize the use of DRM around Adobe’s product. Along the way, Cane also asks the largest publishers to forsake Amazon entirely.
Stross, no fan of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, sees it another way: publishers need to forsake DRM and sell books that can be read anywhere outside the “walled garden of the Kindle store.”
The DoJ lawsuit has provoked a widespread set of reactions that are generally pro-publisher and anti-Amazon (the firm that critics feel is the real monopoly). Both Cane and Stross encourage publishers to take responsibility for those terms they truly can control.
I’ve written earlier this year that platform-specific deals, enforced by DRM, hand the market to early movers. Although I think “standardizing” DRM serves to lower the value readers place on the files they buy, it’s a lot better than continuing to make deals with e-tailers who want to lock readers in.