DRM for ebooks Choosing Your Tools

If we already are on the topic of ebooks, it’s important that we also shed light on the concept of Digital Rights Management or DRM for ebooks.

In short, it’s a “technical protection mechanism” that uses a special computer code to prevent users from changing or copying an ebook. This is something publishers, and readers insist on, but readers tend to hate it. Why? Here’s where you’ll find out.

In this article, we’ll introduce you to DRM and provide an alternative solution to counter its few downsides. 

Common DRM For ebooks

ebook drm

With publishers and authors insisting on applying digital rights management systems, most popular and reputed e-books are sold with DRM protection. And while there are innumerable DRM systems already in use, the most commonly used DRM for ebooks are as follows:

  1. Amazon DRM: used only with Amazon digital products.
  2. Apple Fairplay DRM: only used with Apple products.
  3. Adobe ADEPT DRM: can be used by several e-readers and ebook vendors, such as Google, Sony, Barnes and Noble, Ingram, OneDrive, Lulu, Kobo, Copia, Textr, and BlueFire.

Note that Adobe’s DRM technology is proprietary, but its use is widespread enough to set it as the de facto industry standard. This is because Adobe sells the Content Server Technology to anyone who wishes to make use of it.

That being said, here is a list of things DRM can do besides restricting people from copying and then distributing ebook files:

  • Limits the number of devices the ebook can be loaded into (ideally, the number is six)
  • Restricts copy-paste and printing of ebooks (duplication)
  • Limits lending facility (for example, lending the ebook to a friend)
  • Time-limits access (especially for lending at a library)
  • DRM Differences And Compatibility Concerns

Differences in Digital Rights Management or DRM systems can lead to compatibility issues. In other words, it may prevent an ebook available in the EPUB format (industry standard) from being transferred to an e-reader.

And since most ebooks are sold commercially with DRM, users may not be able to access or read them on their devices. Consider the following instances:

  1. Kobo and Apple both support the standard EPUB format but use different DRM systems – so any ebook bought in Apple’s iBookstore can not be read on the Kobo e-reader.
  2. EPUB files can be read on any EPUB-supported device, provided the ebook is DRM-free
  3. The Mobi format of Amazon is supported by most e-readers, but on the application of a DRM, you can only read the file on Amazon’s apps and devices.

Even if we consider DRM-encrypted EPUB-supported ebooks of Adobe – only a few apps and devices will allow you to read them. And although e-reader apps, such as Google, OneDrive, Kobo, Treadmill, BlueFire, and e-reader devices like Sony and Nook support Adobe DRM, the practice of moving these files between devices is complex.

DRM For Ebooks – To DRM Or Not

DRM may help protect the copyrights of your ebooks, but it also makes them difficult to use and read on different devices. This tends to make it unpopular among readers (consumers); as a result, publishers and retailers have limited options when it comes to selling.

Then again, there’s the valid concern of most authors and publishers – the high risk of duplication and violation of rights. We’ve already seen the fates of the music and other digital media industries that suffer from the spread of piracy. 

To counter the problem, DRM takes certain measures, such as allowing libraries to lend ebooks after limiting the lending duration. 

So, the decision to apply DRM for ebooks depends on you. However, it’s important to keep a few factors in mind before deciding on using them for each of your ebook titles.

First things first, DRM might affect where your files can be sold in addition to giving them protection against piracy. Then, of course, the technology required for application is rather expensive and complex. As such, it’s usually applied by an experienced retailer.

The downside of this is that you won’t be able to sell ebooks via smaller players on the market, such as bloggers, local booksellers, or even your own website. 

However, DRM can also be implemented in a way to make it simple for readers. You may consider Amazon’s DRM system, for example – it’s well-integrated into the overall experience of users, making the complexities of the mechanism unnoticeable to most of them.

Another suitable example of this kind of implementation is ebook watermarking and “social DRM.’’ More on this in the following section.

Ebook Watermarking & Social DRM

social drm

Most DRM systems usually encrypt ebooks and PDF files using special computer codes, which makes them difficult or almost impossible to access without the proper key and software. This is one of the primary reasons why readers don’t prefer DRM-encrypted ebooks.

So, you may consider using dynamic watermarking as an alternative method to protect your work against duplication and unauthorized distribution. It embeds both visible and invisible texts, such as your customer’s name or email address and images, into the ebook. This allows readers to use it as a DRM-free file across multiple platforms while protecting the rights of authors and publishers.

This is why the other name for ebook watermarking is social DRM. Most service providers embed information about the purchaser of the service, be it an ID or credit card number. This makes the files traceable, thereby preventing their illegal sharing on the piracy markets.

Now, old formats, such as the LIT format of Microsoft and the Barnes and Noble e-readers, have been using watermarking to protect their rights for quite some time. But the concept gained renewed popularity and attention only recently with the setup of Pottermore – owned by the well-acclaimed author of the “Harry Potter” series – J.K. Rowling.

The website used social DRM or ebook watermarking to sell the popular Harry Potter ebooks.

Final Words

If you need to protect your ebooks from being distributed on unauthorized platforms without permission, avail of the watermarking services provided by us. As an ebook watermark service provider, we also provide DRM for ebook services.