A “Thousand Flowers” Don’t Grow in DRM

In defending themselves against charges of collusion, the publishers recently sued by the U.S. Department of Justice pointed to what they feel is a more competitive marketplace for eBook sales. In particular, they talk about the growth of independent eBook distributors, including physical bookstores.

On the Techland blog (part of the Time web site), Keith Wagstaff paints a somewhat different picture. Although the title (“How small e-booksellers could help break the Amazon-Apple duopoly“) seems to forget that the second-largest eBook retailer is not named Apple, the article does a good job describing the detrimental impact of DRM.

If book publishers really want to grow a vibrant set of independent eBook sellers (and their supporters suggest that they do), making each one of them spend $10,000 or more to set up digital rights management systems guarantees a very small number will try.

DRM has not and will not stop piracy. It largest benefit accrues to those who can afford to invest in it, as it locks in customers. Keith Wagstaff has it right: if publishers want a vibrant marketplace, they need to lose the DRM.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.