DRM is a mechanism of control with several axes

So, the only way to sell a ‘kindle ebook’, this  following nytimes article implies, is by agreement with Amazon through Amazon’s web site, right? That’s why Amazon can shut publishers out if they aren’t happy with the publishers prices, shut em out of the kindle market entirely.  And control what kindle readers have available to read, or….

But I’m pretty sure you can load DRM-free PDFs and ePubs on a kindle too, although it may be more confusing for the user to do so?  DRM-free PDF and ePub that you get from whatever source you want, not just Amazon? This is true, right? Can anyone with a kindle clarify?

It’s just if the publisher wants DRM that they need to need to go through Amazon, at the sufference of Amazon.

DRM is a mechanism of control in more ways than just the most obvious one.


Amazon.com removed more than 4,000 e-books from its site this week [from the Independent Publisher’s Group] after it tried and failed to get them more cheaply, a muscle-flexing move that is likely to have significant repercussions for the digital book market….

…With each side unwilling to yield, Amazon pulled the plug, and all of I.P.G.’s books for Kindle disappeared. The physical books were not affected. A spokeswoman for Amazon declined to comment….

…said Andy Ross, an agent and a former bookseller. “They are being offered a Hobson’s choice of accepting Amazon’s terms, which are unsustainable, or losing the ability to sell Kindle editions of their books, the format that constitutes about 60 percent of all e-books.”…

I wonder if some of these publishers in a battle with Amazon would consider…. selling ebooks in PDF or ePub without DRM, through online stores other than Amazon’s own. It’s not neccesarily harmful to the bottom line to do so.  Even without the alternative being Amazon forcing you to sell at ruinous prices.

Then again, we’ll see if Amazon continues to allow any mechanism of loading content from sources other than Amazon’s own store, or makes it even more inconvenient to do so.

It’s interesting to realize: We normally think of DRM as something publishers and copyright holders demand to control consumers. But in at least some cases, it’s the device owners and monopolized ‘store owners’ who actually have the control, to exercise against the ‘content owners’ too if they like.

It’s a somewhat scary oligopolized world we’re entering these days.


5 thoughts on “DRM is a mechanism of control with several axes”

  1. Actually, no you can’t load epub onto a Kindle. It was one of the dealbreakers for me. At one point you couldn’t load epub at all on a Kindle. This is the list for the Kindle Fire, as found on the mobilereads site:
    Formats: Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively, Audible (Audible Enhanced (AA, AAX)), DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, non-DRM AAC, MP3, MIDI, OGG, WAV, MP4, VP8.
    Kindle fire also supports AZW4 and KF8 formats which are AZW DRM packaged PDF and ePub files respectively.
    With something like Calibre, it’s easy enough to convert, but really, why should I have to?

  2. A friend with a kindle says you can convert an ePub to the .mobi format you can load on a kindle; you can load it via USB connection to your computer, unlike things purchased by Amazon which load wirelessly. I _believe_ that any publisher could sell or distribute books in the .mobi format themselves too, without going through Amazon (but without DRM).

  3. I believe that Amazon & B&N think that users do not want to have to use their computer to load content onto their devices, and they are probably right. For most users, I suspect that if a book is not in the store it does not exist. Maybe in 10 years the DOJ will force amazon to open up their store, but for the time the publishers are in bad shape. No wonder they do not seem too enthusiastic about ebooks.

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