Last week Tor Books announced that it would be going DRM-free on all its ebooks over the next three months. This means that the technology which controls the use of content will be removed. For Tor authors, who are generally a tech-savvy bunch, there is a strong sense that DRM inhibits committed fans using legitimately-purchased ebooks in perfectly legal ways, like moving them from one kind of e-reader to another. For readers, DRM can be seen as an irritant which makes ebooks less portable and flexible than printed books. Already, the announcement has received extensive coverage. Here’s a selection of reactions from journalists, authors and the blogosphere that have flooded the internet in the past week.
According to Alison Flood in the Guardian, Tor has “[ripped] up the rulebook”, an action strongly supported by authors, readers and agents alike.
The BBC featured a long article with arguments from both sides on the day the news was announced, drawing links with the music industry’s experience of the transition and highlighting that “the key difference with the music business is that the book trade can see what mistakes the record labels made and avoid them.”
Authors are behind the move too, with Paul Cornell, whose book London Falling is out later this year, tweeting about the imminent availability of his books in DRM-free.
Legends of the Red Sun author Mark Charan Newton declared on his blog that he “opted in right away” for DRM-free. Gary Gibson tweeted: “Best news I’ve heard all day.” Jay Kristoff, whose debut novel Stormdancer will be published by Tor in September, called it “a visionary and dramatic step… a victory for consumers, and a red-letter day in the history of publishing.”
Long-time anti-DRM author and blogger Cory Doctorow praised the decision on the Guardian Technology Blog and on boingboing, the blog he co-edits: “I think that this might be the watershed for ebook DRM, the turning point that marks the moment at which all ebooks end up DRM-free. It's a good day.” For a lengthier article on the wider impact of the transition to DRM-free, have a look at Charlie Stross’s blog. He has been following the debate since its early stages.
Feedback from readers has been overwhelmingly positive: Peter F. Hamilton announced the news to his fans on his Facebook page and received 422 likes within the first twenty-four hours. One reader commented on www.torbooks.co.uk that “DRM is anti-customer”. You can read more responses on the site here and on Tor’s Twitter feed, @UKTor.