Self-publishing site Lulu drops DRM on ebooks, sort of

Self-publishing site Lulu will stop offering DRM as an option on ebooks created through its site — though ebooks created on Lulu and sold through other retailers, like Amazon, will still be subject to DRM.

Lulu had offered authors the option to apply Adobe Digital Editions DRM to their EPUB and PDF files before publishing, for an additional fee. Now the company is dropping that option (and also dropping the hefty fee that Adobe charges for DRM). That means readers who download ebooks directly from Lulu will no longer have to “create an Adobe account, authorize the purchase in Digital Editions or install a third-party application,” Lulu writes in a blog post. “This creates possibilities for the growing number of readers who want to shop, purchase and download books to their e-readers from sites other than large corporate providers.”

As for those larger corporate providers like Amazon and Apple, Lulu’s not exactly claiming those retailers should drop DRM too. “DRM works best when administered by those who control how content is purchased and viewed,” the company writes. “Companies like Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble integrate a reader’s experience from purchasing to downloading and finally to reading. These companies do a fantastic job in this area, and ebooks published through Lulu and distributed through these retail sites will continue to have the same rights management applied as they do today.”

Amazon actually doesn’t require Kindle books to be sold with DRM — sci-fi publisher Baen, for example, recently started selling DRM-free Kindle books. Brian Matthews, Lulu’s EVP of marketing, strategy and corporate development, told me that “in the first half of 2013 it’s possible we could make changes to allow authors to automatically choose DRM or not when in distribution.”

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