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April 24, 2012

Tor and its associated imprints to go DRM-free
Posted by Patrick at 12:49 PM * 114 comments

Really and truly. Below is the announcement we’re sending to the trades right now.

Tom Doherty Associates, publishers of Tor, Forge, Orb, Starscape, and Tor Teen, today announced that by early July 2012, their entire list of e-books will be available DRM-free.

“Our authors and readers have been asking for this for a long time,” said president and publisher Tom Doherty. “They’re a technically sophisticated bunch, and DRM is a constant annoyance to them. It prevents them from using legitimately-purchased e-books in perfectly legal ways, like moving them from one kind of e-reader to another.”

DRM-free titles from Tom Doherty Associates will be available from the same range of retailers that currently sell their e-books. In addition, the company expects to begin selling titles through retailers that sell only DRM-free books.

About Tor and Forge Books

Tor Books, an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, is a New York-based publisher of hardcover and softcover books, founded in 1980 and committed (although not limited) to arguably the largest and most diverse line of science fiction and fantasy ever produced by a single English-language publisher. Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, is also the home of award-winning Forge Books, founded in 1993 and committed (although not limited) to thrillers, mysteries, historical fiction and general fiction. Together, the imprints garnered 30 New York Times bestsellers in 2011.

Comments on Tor and its associated imprints to go DRM-free:
#1 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 01:33 PM:

I'm so very happy about this.

Thanks Mr. Doherty, PNH, and Charlie and anyone else involved in making this decision.

It will make life much easier for me, and many other vision-impaired ebook users.

#2 ::: Evan ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 01:35 PM:

This is HUGE! Congratulations Patrick (and Tom)!

Being on a severe dietary restriction of only technical books and the occasional Bujold novel has been rather challenging. Looking forward to gorging on Tor books starting this summer.

#3 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 01:36 PM:

Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen...

Good luck with this brave decision!

#4 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 01:39 PM:

I hope this works as well as it should! Congratulations on taking the step.

#5 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 01:40 PM:

Pretty rockin'! Yay!

#6 ::: Carla Newenglander ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 01:43 PM:

That's great news; thank you to everyone involved!

My eyesight has reached the point where reading paperback-sized type is difficult, so I read almost everything on my Nook now. I'm building a sizable e-book library, and I buy DRM-free whenever possible. Now, thanks to Tor, I have more options. :)

#7 ::: MichaelC ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 01:54 PM:

Following on the recent DRM-less Harry Potter ebook release, this is a big, and very welcome, decision. Kudos to Tor!

#8 ::: Scott Ellsworth ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 01:55 PM:

My goodness, this is good news. I checked the date to make sure it is not april 1.

I now have to go plan my next few dozen book purchases! I have hundreds of Tor books that I have been hoping to get in legitimate e-form. The press release makes it sound like I will be able to get e-pubs that are formatted nicely for my iPad, instead of having to convert them from mobi.

#9 ::: Ceallaigh ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 01:58 PM:

FWIW, I buy a lot of ebooks, and when I like a series, I often buy it in hardcover, too. Thank you for trusting your readership. You completely rock.

#10 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 02:01 PM:

Great news! Glad to hear it.

If Cory D. can improve his sales by making all his books available FREE, I can't see how getting rid of DRM can hurt.

#11 ::: Christopher Wright ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 02:02 PM:

Hurrah! I love DRM-free, and I hope this works out really well for y'all. I promise to do my part!

#12 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 02:05 PM:

Thank you! This is the best news I've gotten all day.

Congratulations.

#13 ::: Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 02:10 PM:

What excellent news. I think it may finally be time to buy an e-reader!

#14 ::: M. Ellis ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 02:11 PM:

This is terrific news, and a long time coming.

One question: will we be able to change existing (DRM'ed) TOR ebooks to non-DRM'ed format? (And are you working with vendors so that it would operate something like when the iTunes music store went from FairPlay [hah] encrypted files to the unencrypted AAC files, where you just had to re-download your existing files from the store, and everything automagically replaced old, DRM'ed versions with new, non-DRM'ed versions?)

#15 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 02:21 PM:

Heh. I must have not noticed this when I was posting on the OT, but it's awesome news. Well done, well done indeed.

#16 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 02:29 PM:

Congratulations! I don't buy DRM'd books, so a rather large and attractive trove has just opened up to me. There Will Be Downloads.

#17 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 02:36 PM:

Story's been Boinged and is about to get Whatevered. We've already had one comment in Spanish at Tor.com. Good news, spreading fast.

#18 ::: Liz B ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 02:42 PM:

That's absolutely brilliant. Wonderful! Marvellous!

#19 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 02:59 PM:

I have a question (actually this was raised on Whatever). Is this going to be a drop-dead, where on a particular date all Tor books will suddenly go from being DRM'd to being DRM-free?

I had the impression it was more like all the books would be DRM-free as soon as the pipeline can be reconfigured (with whatever behind-the-scenes mojo that requires) with the full transition complete by July.

The key, of course, to Whatever readers, is whether Redshirts, due out June 4, will be DRM-free right away, or whether e-book users will have to wait until the transition is complete to buy it without DRM.

#20 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 03:03 PM:

Excellent!

#21 ::: Cathy Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 03:07 PM:

Congratulations to everyone at Tor on this decision! I hope that you'll be able to show Macmillian that the world didn't come to an end with this change and that others will follow.

#22 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 03:11 PM:

An excellent decision, one that will be good for Tor, its authors, and its readers. Congratulations on a bold move.

#23 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 03:24 PM:

Will this have any effect on the geographocal availabiltiy of Tor ebooks (and im particular, the unavailability in Turkey of various titles thtatbare avilable elsewhere?) (İ've been told that this is a DRM-related issue, but of course İ may have been misinformed.

#24 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 03:58 PM:

I don't know if Charlie Stross will catch this before he departs for the Eurocon, but he has written a great deal about the practicalities of ebook publishing, on why we all need publishers, and on the problems we create with DRM. Sometimes he has seemed the sole voice of reason in the sea of idiocy which promotes the Amazon vanity slushpile.

Try not to ply him with too many drinks at the con.

#25 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 04:09 PM:

İ'd like to apologise to anyone who has copy-editor's eyes, and who was unlucky enough to read my 23. Excitement - and an inability to manage a touchscreen keyboard effectively - got the better of me.

#26 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 04:12 PM:

Thank you to Patrick and Tom and all the Tor team! Great news for book owners everywhere, IMNSHO!

#27 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 04:18 PM:

That is great news!

#28 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 05:06 PM:

Gray Woodland @16: Agreed! Particularly if I'm going to buy an electronic version in addition to the dead-tree version, I refuse to buy DRM stuff.

#29 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 05:09 PM:

Xopher, #19:

" Is this going to be a drop-dead, where on a particular date all Tor books will suddenly go from being DRM'd to being DRM-free?"

Not clear. Details remain to be worked out.

However, I can tell you that Scalzi's Redshirts will indeed be DRM-free from Day One.

#30 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 05:20 PM:

Praisegod Barebones, #23: "Will this have any effect on the geographical availability of Tor ebooks, and in particular, the unavailability in Turkey of various titles that are available elsewhere? (I've been told that this is a DRM-related issue, but of course I may have been misinformed.)"

Well, I hope so. I have no idea why any of our e-books should be unavailable in Turkey -- we have, at the very least, non-exclusive rights to sell practically all of our English-language books there. (Which is to say, we share those rights with other English-language publishers, like for instance the same author's UK publisher.) I can't think of how DRM would have been the problem per se, aside from the fact that it is of course pure evil in all ways.

I don't want to get too deeply into specifics, but it's obvious that going DRM-free will open up some new retail opportunities, over and above the standard set of Amazon, B&N, Apple, Kobo, and Sony. One or more of those may well have no problem taking your money and selling you books. It's kind of disgraceful that this should have been so difficult up to now.

#31 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 05:20 PM:

That's very happy news! I hope I have a job and a Nook (or other non-Amazon e-reader) by then!

#32 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 05:35 PM:

All right, sounds like it's time for me to bite the bullet and buy myself a tablet. But I don't want to pay $500 for one if I can avoid it, and I need one for which I can also buy an anchoring mechanism.* Suggestions?

* Because I also want to use this as a jewelry display, with a slideshow of products in my inventory. Because of that, I have to be able to secure it to something -- like a cinderblock under the table -- such that somebody can't just grab it and run off. I'd also like an 8x10 screen if possible. I'm okay with buying an older-generation refurb or a used one. Am I chasing the moon here?

#33 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 06:41 PM:

Lee @32 - No, this should all be do-able. I haven't looked into anchors, but any tablet should be compatible with an adhesive strong-point that you can connect to a cable lock. Apple is selling refurb'd iPads for $300/$350; you can probably beat that price in the used market. If that's way too expensive, you _may_ be able to use a Nook Color to do what you want.

#34 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 07:28 PM:

Thank you! Quite welcome news!

#35 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 07:49 PM:

Woohoo!
Now all I'll have to do is work around the georestrictions!

#36 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 09:21 PM:

Oh good, now I have a reason to buy a Nook!

#37 ::: CHoldredge ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 09:23 PM:

Will this policy shift make any difference to the terms that apply if I "buy" an e-book, or is this just a technical update? Is there any chance that I'll actually own an e-book that I buy, in the fine old first-sale sense?

Presumably there would be little point in this change if the license were still to tie me to one or more devices or software instances with a certain retailer's brand. But will I be able to buy, sell, loan, give, or inherit these books, as I can for ones on paper?

At some point in the future, will I be able to buy one for cash in my local used book store, and thereby avoid giving every government snoop and marketing prodnose one more entry in a complete history of all the things I've learned and thought about?

If not, I don't really see this changing my own relationship with the e-book marketplace much, at least for now. Though it may some day help me in the "criminality" that I'll resort to, if that market ever grows to crowd out books I can buy on terms that aren't Orwellian.

#38 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 09:28 PM:

Lee #32, VictorS #33: I have a Nook Color. I like it very much as an e-reader and portable editing device, but I wouldn't recommend it for any use where crisp color image quality was of great importance. My recommendation to Lee would be to buy an iPad 2, which Apple now sells new for #399; you can very probably do better on eBay. The general fit, finish, and quality runs rings around other "tablets," and the number of third-party accessories, including anchoring devices, totally beats any competition.

#39 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 09:36 PM:

#37, CHoldredge: Those are good questions. If I get any definitive answers to them, I'll let you know.

Speaking entirely as me, and not as any kind of spokesthing for Tor or Macmillan, I'm pretty sure that sometime in the next few months it will be possible for you to buy a Tor ebook the terms of which don't "tie [you] to one or more devices or software instances with a certain retailer's brand." The rest of it--well, I'm not sure we'll have figured out how to meet your exacting standards as soon as you might prefer. Fortunately for all of us, printed books still exist and we're perfectly happy to sell them to you.

#40 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 09:44 PM:

Lee @ 32 : I don't know the manufacturer, but I've seen cases for the iPad 1 that were essentially a wraparound plastic case going to a built-in cable lock. A cafe near my lab has this setup for their email-based loyalty program... and it hasn't gone walkabout on them, last I checked.

#41 ::: Larry ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 10:38 PM:

This is great! How does this exactly work though for say the kindle and ibooks?

#42 ::: CHoldredge ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 10:45 PM:

Patrick at #39, thank you very much for taking my questions seriously. I really thought they might represent rather fringe concerns, but I took a chance on asking them anyway.

I know what I'm hoping for in an e-book transaction is extremely specific. I expect that I've been 'spoiled' by a lifetime of buying paper books in exactly that way.

You called it exactly, of course. for as as long as it's an alternative in the general marketplace, paper books for paper money is exactly what I'll stick to. If e-books and the demise of bricks and mortar ever make that impossible, I'll just have to figure something else out.

(images of grim old paranoids hanging around a net cafe like teens around a liquor store: "Hey, man, If I give you a fifty, can you buy some Naomi Klein for me?""Come on, be a sport. Just a couple essays of Matt Taibbi, then?")

#43 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2012, 10:45 PM:

Looks like I timed buying the e-reader just right. And hopefully, now that Himself is employed again, I can actually afford to buy commercial e-books. Which will be nice (even if the restriction is to one book per month).

Don't get me wrong - Project Gutenberg is great, and now they're getting into the 1920s and 1930s for available books I'm starting to see some of my favourite authors in there (Heyer, Christie, Wodehouse, Montgomery etc). And yeah, fanfic downloaded from AO3 is great and free and readily available (even if the editorial quality isn't the greatest). But I still really miss being able to read the new stuff as soon as it comes out.

Just one quick question - are these books likely to be available (and hopefully DRM-free) in Australia? Or are we going to be caught behind the various Orderly Marketing Arrangements which make the Australian literary marketplace such an interesting and frustrating place to shop?

#44 ::: Kellan Sparver ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 12:27 AM:

Bravo! Glad to hear it. Here's hoping that Tor's failure to fall into the swamp once the DRM is removed causes other publishers to follow suit.

#45 ::: Harry Payne ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 02:09 AM:

Well done everyone involved in this; up to and including the CEO who made the final decision.

#46 ::: Josh Berkus ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 02:35 AM:

I don't normally buy ebooks, but I'm going out to buy a Tor ebook right now just to support this. After all, I can now read it on my phone *and* my laptop.

#47 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 02:51 AM:

For those who, like me, haven't jumped into the e-reader pool yet, David Pogue of the NYT has a timely column about them today.

#48 ::: (broken link in Sidelights) ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 04:28 AM:

Just hijacking this thread for a second to point out that the second link in PNH's "Libertarianism: Free reign for private tyrannies" sidelight points to MakingLight.

Is that intentional?

(Feel free to delete this post.)

#49 ::: Chris Meadows ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 04:28 AM:

It's nice to see Tor is finally getting to release its books DRM-free. Things are a little different from how they were six years ago, huh?

Would be nice if there were some sort of general declaration of DRM-cracking amnesty: "We hereby promise that we won't sue anyone for breaking the DRM on any e-books we have previously published." Generally meaningless, since there's no way you'd even know if someone broke the DRM in the privacy of his own home, but a nice symbolic gesture. Probably won't happen, but it would be kind of neat if it did.

#50 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 07:13 AM:

#48: Oh crap. Thanks for pointing out the bad link. Fixed.

#51 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 08:08 AM:

Chris, I doubt they're going to make what would, after all, be a largely symbolic gesture, when they don't know everyone it affects and what they might have done. That may change later, but I don't see it happening soon.

#52 ::: John Dallman ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 08:57 AM:

Splendid! I've been staying away from e-books, apart from Steve Jackson Games' line, also DRM-free. Now things can change.

#53 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 09:25 AM:

Larry@41: Amazon, Apple, and B&N already sell DRM-free ebooks. I've bought issues of Weird Tales from the iBookstore which were DRM-free. Likewise, I've bought ebooks from B&N which were also DRM-free. (I don't intend to slight Amazon. I just prefer ePubs.) AFAICT, It's the publisher's decision whether or not to add DRM to their offerings.

One of my long-standing gripes with Amazon, Apple, and B&N is that they don't tell you which ebooks they sell are DRM-free. And publishers make some odd decisions. Night Shade books are DRM-free via Baen but are DRMed via B&N. (Yes, I could have just bought God's War from Baen, but at the time, it was free from B&N and I wanted to find out if it was DRMed or not.)

Back when Apple still sold DRMed music, the DRM-free music had a plus sign next to it (and it cost more :(). They dropped that when all of the music they sold became DRM-free. Since Apple sells a mix of DRMed and DRM-free ebooks, I wish they would put a little plus sign next to the DRM-free books.

#54 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 10:05 AM:

#41, Larry: I'm not quite sure what you're asking. "How exactly does this work for say the kindle and ibooks?"

First, what we intend is that any Tor books you buy from either Amazon's Kindle store, or Apple's iBooks store, or anywhere else, will be DRM-free. This should be the case whether you buy them directly from a Kindle, from one of Amazon's Kindle apps for various phones and computers, as a direct purchase on Amazon's website, from Apple's iBooks store via iTunes, or from Apple's iBooks store via an iOS device.

Second, nothing we do will fix the fact that Amazon's ebooks are mostly in MOBI format whereas Apple's are mostly EPUB. Even without DRM, an EPUB file is useless on a Kindle, and a MOBI file won't read in Apple's iBooks reading app. (You can install Amazon's free Kindle app onto any iOS device, but that still leaves you with a potential "some ebooks in one place, some in another" problem.) Fortunately, there's an easy solution: the freeware program Calibre, which is available for Windows, OS X, and Linux, does a very good job converting between many different ebook formats. It can certainly convert EPUB to MOBI and vice-versa.

Absent DRM, there's nothing particularly daunting about the fact that different online retailers use different file formats. Cory Doctorow has pointed out that this is a solved problem in most of our digital lives. Browsers routinely display pages that feature PNGs, JPGs, and GIFs, often on the same screen next to one another. We don't have to care; the browser takes care of it for us. Almost every modern word processor can read .doc and .rtf files, and usually a bunch of other file formats as well. Once ebook DRM is a thing of the past, it'll be in everyone's interest to support interoperability -- people will want e-readers and apps that can display any of the major file formats without fuss and bother. But even before that happens, it's our guess the small amount of fuss-and-bother entailed in firing up Calibre and converting e-book files from one format to another, and in figuring out how to sideload to and from various devices and apps, won't be very daunting to most readers of Tor books.

#55 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 10:16 AM:

#43, Megpie71: "Just one quick question - are these books likely to be available (and hopefully DRM-free) in Australia? Or are we going to be caught behind the various Orderly Marketing Arrangements which make the Australian literary marketplace such an interesting and frustrating place to shop?"

I don't actually know what e-book retailing arrangements we may have (or be working on) in Australia and New Zealand, but prompted by your question I've put in an inquiry with our digital people. I do note from my Twitter feed, however, that our sister imprint in London, Tor UK, just announced that they'll be going DRM-free as well, and I'm pretty sure their ebooks are available to you. Obviously I need to get better-informed on this.

#56 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 10:19 AM:

#46, Josh Berkus: "I don't normally buy ebooks, but I'm going out to buy a Tor ebook right now just to support this."

You might want to hold off...just as a reminder, this will all be in effect by mid-July. It does take us some time to spin down the hamster wheels and recalibrate the improbability drive.

#57 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 12:24 PM:

Following up on my #55 to Megpie71, I can confirm that a number of our titles are available to Amazon e-book customers in Australia; basically, those books we have out in digital form for which we have Australian rights.

It's not so much a matter of "Orderly Marketing Arrangements" as it is which authors are willing to sell us what territories. We've generally been very willing to buy (and exercise!) Australian rights, when authors are willing to sell them to us. Most commonly, Australian rights get sold to UK publishers.

#58 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 12:51 PM:

Good for Tor!

Also, good for Tor's readers, and every reader everywhere. I hope my publisher follows suit quickly.

#59 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 01:14 PM:

Congratulations! This is great news.

Lee @32: I second Patrick's recommendation of an iPad for crisp image rendering; reading comics and manga on this thing is a joy. And you should be able to download a non-Kindle reading app of choice. (I'm a Kobo person.)

#60 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 01:15 PM:

Patrick, thanks for the #54, as I'd been wondering if this would lead to DRM-free sales via the Amazon Kindle store.

#61 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 01:38 PM:

Megpie71@43:
Project Gutenberg is great, and now they're getting into the 1920s and 1930s for available books I'm starting to see some of my favourite authors in there
With the exception of works that weren't renewed, they don't have anything past 1922, the cutoff before which things are generally out-of-copyright in the US. Under current law, that cutoff won't move on until 2017 -- and I wouldn't trust that it will, since owing to extensions in the meantime, it hasn't moved since 1978.

#62 ::: Emma Bull ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 02:01 PM:

I'm so very pleased about this, and about the removal of DRM from Macmillan audiobooks, as well. Bravo, and thank you for helping change the paradigm!

#63 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 03:05 PM:

I have a friend, a programmer, who reads lots of e-books and owns several types of e-readers. He asked me questions I can't answer. Perhaps this thread is a place to raise them.

If an eBook is only 10-15% cheaper for a publisher than a physical book (they claim that this is the percentage for printing, warehousing, shipping, etc. of the cost of a book), then why are eBooks priced like hard covers and not paperback originals?

Why are paperback originals less than half the price of hardcover originals, if not due to the added bulk in manufacturing and handling, and materials? Authors advances? Amortization over size of print run? Less marketing support?
Possibly someone can direct my friend to a source where he can learn the answers.

#64 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 03:22 PM:

Patrick @ 30: Thanks - İ was beginning to think that this was a party to which i wasn't invited. Since that seems not to be the case, İ join the general celebration.

i'm not quite sure why i can't get Tor ebooks in Turkey, but Mme Barebones was cursing about not being able to find a way of buying Cherie Priest's Clockwork Century novels a day or two ago. Since she's far more e-competent than me, İ'm taking her word for it. (Part of the problem is that if your account billing address is in Turkey, Amazon won't let you buy DRMd works for the Kindle, and the App market won't let you install the Kindle App on an i-Device (and Barnes and Noble won't let you have an account at all).)

#65 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 04:08 PM:

Praisegod, send me an email address where I can reach you?

#66 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 04:33 PM:

Bill Higgins #63: "If an eBook is only 10-15% cheaper for a publisher than a physical book (they claim that this is the percentage for printing, warehousing, shipping, etc. of the cost of a book), then why are eBooks priced like hard covers and not paperback originals?"

I don't know, why does your friend think eBooks are priced like hardcovers? Most of our hardcovers are priced betwen $22 and $27.50; the equivalent e-books are priced from $10.99 to $12.99. That's a lot more than a 15% discount. (Not, you'll note, that I'm endorsing that 15% figure as entirely accurate.)

When and if the same titles become trade paperbacks, priced usually from $13 to $18, the e-books are $9.99. If they appear as mass-market paperbacks for $8.99 or less, the e-book price correspondingly drops as well.

"Why are paperback originals less than half the price of hardcover originals, if not due to the added bulk in manufacturing and handling, and materials? Authors advances? Amortization over size of print run? Less marketing support?"

Paperback originals -- I assume he means mass-market paperback originals, since trade paperback originals are rarely "less than half the price of hardcover originals" -- are an odd duck. We don't do very many of them. Other houses do lots. For us, we do them when we think the low price will help us get a truly mass-market level of distribution -- the kind of distribution that genre mass-market paperbacks routinely got thirty years ago. So for us "paperback original" is a way to try to turbo-charge distribution and sales by getting the cover price as far down as possible. Sometimes it even works.

The real fact about the "mass market paperback" channel in genre publishing in 2012 is that not very many "mass market paperbacks", original or not, get anything like what we used to consider mass-market distribution. A lead SF paperback title in the early 1980s could easily ship 75,000 copies--or more. These days a lot of mass-market paperbacks by SF and fantasy writers you think of as major and popular...ship fewer than 15,000 copies; often as few as 5,000. The non-bookstore market -- the supermarkets, drugstores, bus stations and the like -- mostly doesn't take genre fantasy and SF any more, except for the occasional huge-name bestseller or media tie-in. (Authors are not committing suicide in relays because the market for more expensive hardcovers and trade paperback editions of their work has greatly expanded, and more recently of course the e-book market has begin to take off; this makes up some of the lost ground.) So basically, a lot of genre books published in "mass market paperback" these days -- which is to say, they're priced at $8.99 or less and unsold copies are stripped or pulped, not returned to the publisher--are in reality trade paperbacks with a too-small trim size, a too-low price point, and impossibly generous distribution terms. If SF publishers were really ruthless we'd be moving even more of our softcover business out of "mass market" and into trade paperback.

No blame to you, Bill -- you're a great guy -- but all too often I find that pricing discussions give me a giant headache, because the questions are so often predicated on notions that just make me blink and wonder if I'm in a different universe than the person asking. E-books are priced like hardcovers? What? Headache or not, though, I'm willing to answer questions like this so long as I can do so without touching on certain pending legal actions. You're going to have to take for granted that if I ignore certain avenues of inquiry I'm not being evasive, I'm specifically constrained. (Not that I've ever had any role in setting prices; in fact, it's a subject I've generally gone out of my way to avoid, because it's boring as crap.)

#67 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 05:04 PM:

I have just been told that Amazon do not sell DRM-free ebooks for the Kindle.

"Please be informed that all the Kindle contents in Amazon.co.uk are DRM protected."

John Chu @53, I've already seen signs of Amazon pulling weasel-word deceits on ebooks in the UK. They tell you that they charge VAT. They don't tell you that, under EU rules, they pay far less than the UK rate of 20%. I am beginning to wonder if my Kindle was a waste of money, fine hardware though it is, because it requires me to do business with crooks and liars.

#68 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 05:11 PM:

Dave Bell @ 67... I am beginning to wonder if my Kindle was a waste of money, fine hardware though it is, because it requires me to do business with crooks and liars.

THe Kindle having been spawned by Amazon was enough for me to say "Thanks but no thanks." Besides, I seem to remember our being told here of the time Amazon unilaterally removed from Kindles novels that had already been bought and downloaded. What's that phrase about Hell and sharp temperature drops?

#69 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 06:23 PM:

#67, Dave Bell: I'm pretty sure that whoever's telling you "Please be informed that all the Kindle contents in Amazon.co.uk are DRM protected" is, um, misinformed.

I know that Amazon US sells some books without DRM already. (For instance, our e-editions of Cory Doctorow's work.) I also know that Amazon US have taken our announcement in stride and that we-and-they expect to be able to make it all work. And I'm pretty sure the same situation obtains with Amazon UK and our colleagues at Tor UK.

If you clarify where that line comes from, I'd be much obliged.

#70 ::: becca ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 07:28 PM:

@68 this drives me crazy. it happened *once* several years ago, and it was an illegal copy. And Amazon has said they'll never do it again. And B&N - and any other company with wifi enabled devices - has the same ability.

There are reasons to be displeased with Amazon, but this isn't one of them.

#71 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 07:40 PM:

Yay! Best IPSTP Day Week present evar.

#72 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 09:24 PM:

I disagree, becca. It was Amazon's mistake to sell those copies. If you buy a copy of a paper book at the bookstore, and they later discover that they were not legally entitled to sell that particular book, they would not attempt to get it back from you. They certainly would not come into your home, take the book, and leave the money.

Yes, every reader that can purchase books directly has this capacity. Only Amazon has used it.

They say they won't do it again. That statement only came AFTER the public outrage over it. They're not doing it now, but they had to be bullied into promising not to.

When someone comes up with an e-reader hack that keeps sellers from "unselling" books, the world will be a better place.

#73 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 09:38 PM:

Well, "No DRM" comes close to making it impossible for a company to re-possess already-sold books. They'd be hard-pressed to delete a book that I'd backed up on a thumb drive or burned to a CD.

#74 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 09:49 PM:

True, true, Jim. But I meant something you can do to your Kindle (or whatever) that blocks Amazon (or whomever) from coming in and removing stuff from it...whether you've copied it elsewhere or not. The idea being, you shouldn't have to worry about them doing it.

#75 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 10:02 PM:

This is great news. I've moved the great majority of my book purchases to ebooks, and DRM is the only real reason I've been reluctant to do so. The more books are non-DRMed, the more willing I am to buy them.

#76 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 11:03 PM:

PNH @69

I've forwarded you the complete email.

Incidentally, Forbes has the story now.

#77 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2012, 12:10 AM:

James Moar @61

I'm pretty sure Megpie71 is talking about Project Gutenberg Australia, which operates under the much-less-draconian (for now) copyright laws of Australia. If memory serves, their copyright law is life+50, not "it'll never fall out of copyright ever if it was published after 1922 if Disney has any say in the matter" like the US has.

#78 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2012, 12:37 AM:

I sit corrected; Australian copyright had been life+50, but changed to life+70 in 2006. Canadian copyright is still life+50.

So anything published in Australia with an author who died before 1956 is in the public domain there, and anything published in Canada with an author who died before 1962 is in the public domain there, though I'm sure there are exceptions; in copyright law, there always are.

#79 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2012, 12:40 AM:

Patrick: if you have easy access to the back-end of ML, the address İ for the site is my usual email address. (İf not, İ'll drop you a line once my brain is up to dealing with email.)

#80 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2012, 01:14 AM:

Patrick: if you have easy access to the back-end of ML, the address İ for the site is my usual email address. (İf not, İ'll drop you a line once my brain is up to dealing with email.)

#81 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2012, 02:42 AM:

Cally @78

You miscalculated there. Life+70 would be death before 1942.

But all that matters in US copyright law seems to be what happens in the USA.

#82 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2012, 03:45 AM:

Cally@77:
Yes, I overlooked the references to Australia in Megpie's post.

#83 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2012, 10:09 AM:

Dave Bell @ 81

Actually I didn't miscalculate. Everything that had already fallen into the public domain remained there when Australia went from life+50 to life+70. Now they have to wait another 20 years from when the law was passed for anything new to fall into the public domain.

It's the same reason American public domain books have been stalled at 1922-and-before for over a decade.

#84 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2012, 10:25 AM:

Yay, Tom Doherty!!!!!

Within the past year or two the US Supreme Court looked at the Life + 70 years and said it was acceptable, BUT the wording was such that the indication or implication was that if an attempt to extend the protection to a longer duration came to them, they'd balk. Meanwhile, the wording in the body of the US Constitution establishes patents and copyright "for a limited time" on the basis that rewarding people who make inventions and art and literature available to the public, should be encouraged and rewarded for the efforts in getting creations and inventions -to- the public, with, again, a -limited- period of exclusivity before the inventions and work become public domain. The basis of the clause is the benefit of the public of having the inventions and literature/art etc., NOT the benefit for four generations of estate heirs of creators and inventors.

Disney is tno the only culprit, the government of Germany owns the copyright in Germany of Mein Kampf and wants it out of print in Germany until the heat death end of the universe....

The British Government passed a special law to keep Peter Pan permanently out of public domain so that it will continue providing funds to the hospital, is it, that the author designated as literary estate heir for Peter Pan.

#85 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2012, 11:27 AM:

In breaking news, the Bavarian government is going to put out a scholarly version of Mein Kampf in advance of the copyright expiry in 2015.

#86 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2012, 11:33 AM:

Hitler's writing remains under copyright in the EU for another three years. The copyright is held by the State of Bavaria, who have used this control to block new German editions.

They have today announced a plan to produce an "unattractive" edition of Mein Kampf, annotated to explain what a pernicious heap of crap it is, to counter the easy availability of the text over the Internet.

#87 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2012, 11:36 AM:

Speaking of the Beeb, they've covered this story. Not bad, though they get the corporate structure wrong and don't mention the name of the person they spoke to.

#88 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2012, 12:04 PM:

Dave Bell @ 86...

I invoke Godwin's Law!
:-)

#89 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2012, 12:31 PM:

Not to pick on becca (#70), but her characterization of the edition of Nineteen Eighty-Four that Amazon deleted from some people's Kindles as an "illegal copy" is a good example of the kind of overinflated legal language that Big Copyright has bamboozled us all into using.

What happened is that Amazon inadvertantly sold Kindle editions of a particular edition of Orwell's novel to some American customers. It then turned out that the edition in question was from a publisher that didn't have the right to sell in the US. Amazon used its ability to reach into people's Kindles to delete those copies and refund the purchasers' money; in a few cases, people lost marginal notes that they'd been entering, for school assignments and the like.

What interests me is the notion of an "illegal copy." These weren't anything like "illegal copies." If an American goes to Britain and buy the Gollancz edition of The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi and brings it home to the US, they don't have an "illegal copy," even though Tor owns the US rights to The Quantum Thief. Similarly, if an American phones up a British bookseller and orders a copy of the Gollancz edition, to be shipped to their US address, it's not an "illegal copy" and nothing illegal has taken place. This is because the only legal agreements in force are between authors and publishing companies. Hannu Rajaniemi has "sold" (i.e., licensed) his novel to Gollancz in several territories; Gollancz then "sold" (i.e., licensed) their exclusive right to publish the book in English in North America to Tor. You'll note who's not a party to any of these agreements: our American book buyer and the British bookshop he's buying the Gollancz edition from. They can do as they like.

As it happens, Amazon UK doesn't seem to worry too much about this stuff when it comes to selling printed books to American purchasers. I've more than once logged into amazon.co.uk with my US Amazon ID and my US credit card, and purchased UK editions of books that have different publishers in the US, and had them shipped to me in the US. Amazon is more punctilious about it when it comes to e-books, and generally will tell you "that edition is not available in your territory" or something of the sort. But this is almost certainly because Amazon has made agreements with US and UK publishers to respect the boundaries between selling territories, where e-books are concerned. Once again, these are agreements made under civil law, to which you, the customer, are not a party. If Amazon inadvertantly sells you an edition that isn't supposed to be sold into the territory you live in, that does not make it an "illegal copy." You have infracted nothing. At worst, Amazon has committed an infraction of a civil agreement, an infraction of infinitesmal consequence. This does not make the book in question "illegal." Cops are not entitled to confiscate it. It's not contraband when taken across a border. The copyright police are not going to break down your door.

But the corporados who invented crazy modern phrases like "intellectual property" and who want us to understand that copying an mp3 onto your spouse's iPod is "piracy"...love it when we cooperate with their overweening aspirations by promulgating language like "illegal copy" to describe the product of a transaction that was, for the purchaser, entirely law-abiding. For them, the law is a tool with which to keep everyone else anxious and terrified, so we'll more readily do as we're told. Don't make it easy for them. "Illegal copy," my foot.

#90 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2012, 12:31 PM:

Far more about the exact copyright status of Peter Pan here.

#91 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2012, 01:53 PM:

"Intellectual property" isn't a particularly modern phrase (unless you are a mediaevalist or classicist), and it was invented not by corporations but by lawyers as a way of grouping several special creatures of statute together: Trade Marks, Copyright, Patents (the oldest), and Industrial Design. The first citations in Google Books seem to come from the early 19th century.

#92 ::: B ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2012, 08:50 PM:

@66...

"I don't know, why does your friend think eBooks are priced like hardcovers? Most of our hardcovers are priced betwen $22 and $27.50; the equivalent e-books are priced from $10.99 to $12.99. That's a lot more than a 15% discount. (Not, you'll note, that I'm endorsing that 15% figure as entirely accurate.)

When and if the same titles become trade paperbacks, priced usually from $13 to $18, the e-books are $9.99. If they appear as mass-market paperbacks for $8.99 or less, the e-book price correspondingly drops as well."


Of course Hardcovers and Paperbacks can be discounted. Thanks to agency pricing ebooks can't, making them efectively often more expensive than their paper counterparts.


#93 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2012, 10:10 PM:

B, there are some Tor-Forge ebooks on sale right now, marked down very heftily to $2.99. It's hard to reconcile this with any general assertion that such things can't happen.

#94 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2012, 08:55 AM:

Lee @ 32

Mom and I both have Acer Iconia tablets, that we use at open houses, and that I use when I'm selling jewelry. I find that the picture quality is wonderful, the usability is lovely, and I'm running Android 3.2, which interfaces well with my phone and all the other apps in my life. This was a conscious decision on my part - I don't want to give Apple money, and certainly not an extra $200 for the privilege of iOS. I have most of the business based in Google, phones, tablets, mail, and apps, so that's what made sense for us. YMMV.

#95 ::: Rob Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2012, 09:28 AM:

Thanks a ton, folks.

#96 ::: B ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2012, 10:50 AM:

@#93, Bruce

A limited markdown by the publisher on a handful of titles is hardly comparible to a retailer being able to offer discounts and coupons on all books like they can with paper volumes.

#97 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2012, 05:40 PM:

Are we doing the Agent Model grudgewank debate again? Here? Really? "Oh, doing away with DRM, big deal, Tor -- you should have caved in to Amazon's demands when they blacklisted your authors, you Macmillan lackey, you!"

Is that what you want to do with your very first two posts on Making Light, B?

("View all by" is a wonderful thing.)

#98 ::: Jason Aronowitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2012, 06:04 PM:

I just bought a Tor ebook because of this. Well, also because I want to read it, but your action moved it to the top of my purchase list. Thanks!

#99 ::: dbr ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2012, 10:02 PM:

I bought a kindle a couple of years ago, and am very happy with Amazon and the Kindle, but who knows what the best platform will be 5 years from now. I admire Amazon's business model which tends to lock me into their ecosystem, but have also become very aware that I have invested so much money in the Kindle format that I will probably have to maintain a Kindle compatible device for the rest of my life. I really appreciate the flexibility that TOR is providing with the non DRM ebooks.

I have purchased a fair number of books from Baen directly - it is very easy to load them on the e-reader via Calibre; I initially thought Baen's business model of giving away so much content for free was insane, but I find that as I get sucked into reading new series I have spent a lot of money there - $48 yesterday for 3 monthly bundles.

I hope this ultimately affords TOR the flexibility to sell the books directly as well and perhaps experiment with alternate sales models.

#100 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2012, 10:22 PM:

You aren't actually limited in terms of devices except on the low end (ironically including the Kindle itself): general purpose devices (iToys, Android devices, many other subnotebooks and tablets, etc.) have official Kindle software available for them. You are reliant on that remaining available and compatible, but that's also true of the hardware: consider the possibility of a major change to WhisperSync which Amazon for some reason did not make backward compatible and did not release new compatible firmware for older Kindles, combined with the Kindle using Amazon's servers as transparent cloud storage.

#101 ::: B ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2012, 02:12 AM:

@#97 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little,

Sorry you have such an apparent problem with me. I posted to this topic after being directed here from another posting somewhere else, never been here before. Did I say Tor dropping DRM wasn't a good thing? No, because I think it's great. All I said is Tor having 3 titles on sale isn't the same as the retailer being able to discount like they can with print books which often means the ebooks are more expensive. Doesn't mean I don't buy Tor ebooks, just that I wish there was a little flexibility in pricing.

#102 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2012, 04:02 AM:

B: The agency model has been discussed, at considerable length, on Making Light before now,here

You'll perhaps see from the length of that thread why people aren't necessarily keen to recapitulate the discussion here.

#103 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2012, 04:23 AM:

B, #101: When your first post presents "facts" not in evidence, and your second one is a classic example of goalpost-shifting after having your not-facts exposed as such, Nicole isn't going to be the only person having a problem with you.

The First Law of Holes: When you're in one, stop digging.

#104 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2012, 10:00 AM:

Anybody wanting to pursue the lines of argument B seems to be interested in should keep in mind that--for at least the foreseeable future--this site isn't the ideal place to do it, for reasons that should be obvious if you've been following the news.

#105 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2012, 10:06 AM:

#99, DBR: "I have invested so much money in the Kindle format that I will probably have to maintain a Kindle compatible device for the rest of my life."

Maybe not. Since you have Calibre, you're probably aware of how trivial it is to convert Amazon's MOBI files into EPUB files. DRM is the only obstacle, and it's entirely conceivable that this obstacle will fade away. It happened in music--indeed, Apple, the biggest vendor of DRM'd music tracks, wound up providing ways (some free, some not) for people to un-DRM many of their earlier purchases.

#106 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2012, 11:31 AM:

All self-published e-books that come from/through Smashwords are released without DRM.

I'm starting to see some self-published books in Amazon's Kindle store being identified by their authors as "DRM-free."

#107 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2012, 11:47 AM:

The Kindle version of the Absolute Visions spec fic anthology MacAllister Stone did with Absolute Write members is DRMless.

So is the print version ;)

#108 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2012, 06:04 AM:

Dave @67, Patrick @69: I can confirm that this statement is wrong. I have personally downloaded DRM-free ebooks from Amazon UK.

#109 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2012, 09:11 AM:

When you're uploading self-published books to Kindle, whether to use DRM is a radio-button that you select before uploading the text. All Madhouse Manor e-books are DRM-free (both at Amazon and at Smashwords).

#110 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2012, 03:19 AM:

Microsoft has paid B&N $300m for a share in the Nook and collegiate textbook parts of the business, which will also apparently put Nook reader software in the next Windows version.

Since the Nook is essentially ePub with DRM options this isn't going to help Amazon. It's also a struggling business selling of a chunk of the successful part of their business, for immediate ready cash, which might not help B&N very much in the longer term.

#111 ::: Eric K ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2012, 08:54 AM:

Congratulations on getting rid of DRM! I'll be loading up on DRM-free Tor books, and rebuying some of favorites from the backlist so I can carry them around everywhere. This makes me very happy, and should provide Tor with some much-deserved income.

That said, I think that next struggle will be geographic restrictions. Most North Americans who read English books are unfamiliar with just how painful and stupid the current situation is, and how much it's annoying people who live overseas.

Let me demonstrate this with a personal anecdote. I've been trying to buy French SF from Amazon.fr recently, because I love the idea of an ebook reader with a built-in dictionary.

Option 1: Don't read French SF, or at least not as an ebook

This option makes me sad. There are some very cool books I want to read, and some of them are only available for the Kindle. There's something hugely offensive about being told, "No, you're not allowed to read this book. Period."

And even when the book is available in print, it's not nearly so pleasant without a built-in dictionary. And international shipping is both expensive and bad for the environment.

Option 2: Outwit Amazon's geographical restrictions

At last count, this appears to require some combination of the following:

- A rooted Android device that sets up a transparent HTTP redirect using Linux firewall rules.
- A proxy server in France, preferably one that Amazon doesn't recognize.
- A French postal address.
- A French bank account.
- French residency papers and a willingness to fax them to an Amazon.fr employee. This is allegedly necessary if they see through any of the above.

Option 3: Pirate

This requires about 5 seconds.

I'm morally offended by option (3) and morally horrified by option (1). I'm having a hard time imagining that option (2) will ever be popular. Why is it so agonizingly hard to give authors money? And what's the morally correct choice here?

Now multiply by this by a several hundred million English speakers who live outside North America, and several hundred million English students. And think how many of them will decide that piracy is the only way to get books.

Still, it's better to celebrate battles won than to agonize over battles yet to come. I just installed Calibre, and my credit card and I are looking forward to some serious Tor goodness this summer.

#112 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2012, 04:57 PM:

Per #106 above, some self-published authors are using No DRM as a selling point.

#113 ::: Bryan ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2012, 02:30 PM:

Is um, the above a canned meat product?

#114 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2012, 03:27 PM:

what is the motivation? I see no attempt to sell anything, just a weblog with random verbiage in it.

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