Summary:

Macmillan’s science-fiction/fantasy imprint, Tor/Forge, will launch a DRM-free digital bookstore this summer, Macmillan announced at Publishers Launch BEA today. Sci-fi authors Cory Doctorow, John Scalzi and Charlie Stross also spoke out on DRM.

Macmillan’s science-fiction/fantasy imprint, Tor/Forge, will launch a DRM-free digital bookstore this summer. Fritz Foy, Macmillan’s EVP of digital publishing, made the announcement at the Publishers Launch BEA conference today. Tor recently announced that it is removing DRM from all its titles.

The store will sell all of Tor’s DRM-free titles and may also sell DRM-free titles from other publishers, Foy said. Tor tried launching an online bookstore for print titles in 2009, but that initiative didn’t last.

Science fiction authors Cory Doctorow, Charlie Stross and John Scalzi also spoke on the panel. By adding DRM to their e-books, Doctorow said, publishers send the message to readers that “by being foolish enough to buy this book instead of stealing it, you agree that it will only live on a device from which we can remove it at will without notice. Who wrote the design brief, Joseph Stalin?” Most sci-fi fans “ignore the fine print” (and presumably break DRM), Doctorow said: “They understand that publishing empires rise and fall, and all of the big-six will someday be as dead as Byzantium and Sumer. But the book will live on.”

Getting rid of DRM “delivers a longterm boost to the midlist,” Stross said, by reassuring “voracious genre readers” that “it’s safe to buy e-books and that they won’t lose access to them five years down the line.” These readers may read thousands of books over a decade, but “they are no more immune to the elaborate turnover of electronic devices than the rest of us…they’re not going to happily walk away from the thousands of books they bought during that period.”

Scalzi said that when readers have problems with DRM, they turn to the author first. “When something goes wrong with their ebook, when they can’t transfer it from one place to the next, the person who hears about this first is us,” he said. “Authors want to tell stories. We don’t want to be the guy at the other end of the line dealing with technological and purely interface issues. That is not what we were hired to do. We were hired to tell a story.”

Photo courtesy of Flickr / jonny2love

See also:

“Why I break DRM on e-books”: A publishing exec speaks out 

DRM is crushing indie booksellers online

A kinder, gentler DRM?

Note to publishers: Your addiction to DRM is killing you

Will Hachette be the first big-six publisher to drop DRM on e-books?

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