What's a DRM-Free E-Book?

What's a DRM-Free E-Book?

DRM-free e-books have been getting media buzz lately. But what are they? As readers, should we even care?

Let's begin with what DRM means. It stands for "Digital Rights Management" and in simple terms, it's a lock that's been placed upon your e-books by retailers or publishers.

For example, when you purchase an e-book on Amazon, you're only permitted to read it on my Kindle or in a Kindle app. You're "locked into" one store's ecosystem of products. To be clear, this isn't an Amazon-specific thing. Most major retailers and large publishers use DRM locks.

In contrast, a DRM-free e-book is a book without locks, one you can keep and read on any device you'd like.

With a DRM-free e-book you can:
  • Transfer your e-book between devices like Kobo Readers, Nooks, and Kindles with no problem.
  • Save a backup copy on your computer.
  • Open your book in all devices and apps.

Not all readers are bothered by DRM locks! But if you'd like more flexibility with your e-books, you can find DRM-free editions in a few ways:

1. Buy direct from the author.

All the books I sell through CheriBaker.com are DRM-free and in the universal EPUB format.

2. Check Kobo, Google Play, and Smashwords.

These retailers are more likely to offer DRM-free editions. It varies from book to book, however.

3. Search for DRM-free publishers.

For science fiction and fantasy, Baen and Tor offer DRM-free editions. Mystery is more challenging, but Scarlett Ferrett has a growing collection.

A Personal Note about E-book Piracy

The most common argument in favor of DRM is that is prevents unethical people from uploading e-books to pirate sites, and piracy is a valid concern! As an author, I've felt the frustration of seeing my work stolen and placed on pirate sites.

It's hurtful, disappointing, and it truly pisses me off!

Still, I remain skeptical of DRM. Pirates are gonna pirate regardless of what technology is applied to an e-book, so to my readers I say: I trust you and I want you to have choices.

That's why I choose not to use DRM in my store.

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