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Summary:

Some e-book buyers embrace a little friction, says Joe Esposito at The Scholarly Kitchen.

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photo: Shutterstock / Tatiana Popova

Some e-book buyers embrace a little friction, says Joe Esposito at The Scholarly Kitchen.

Esposito wonders whether DRM is more effective in preventing “casual copying” than large-scale infringement:

It will be argued that the promotional value of free copies outweighs the lost sales due to sharing. I don’t think so; the NPR example is telling us something about the propensity for people to pay for things that they don’t have to. And NPR has to work hard even to get 10% compliance, with relentless pledge drives and appeals to civic-mindedness, supplemented with salving premiums (an NPR T-shirt, etc.). Promotional friction can take many forms (providing excerpts, civic appeals, special features), but it’s an important element of this economy.

So moving publishing away from DRM “requires a great deal of thought and contingency planning.”

Can we afford to lose our course adoption sales? How do we monetize reading groups? And what about the used-book market, from which we currently derive no revenue? Can we come up with new ways to monetize books so that we can recapture some of that lost revenue? The issue concerning DRM is falsely thought to be a technological one. It is not; it is a marketing issue.

  1. iTunes sell music without DRM, but eBook publishers want to look towards NPR instead? That sounds like looking for an excuse to keep DRM, not an open minded inquiry. NPR does not let or ask the listeners pay for a show that they like. Instead, they are invited to join the station in their geographical area, so that the station may keep on carrying that show and pay some of the donation towards it or recently, listeners are invited to be members of the station that has produced a show, but the station is free to budget the donation towards any show or expense it feels necessary. I believe at least some of NPR’s low rate of take up is due to its own paternalistic attitude. Stations believe they know what is best for the listeners and they don’t want them to have the ability to vote with their wallets.

    A few shows are now on iTunes available for purchase, but paying for a daily show at those rates would make them more expensive than many pay TV packages. NPR may be a good example of what not do about quite a few things, but I doubt it says much about usefulness about DRM.

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