All ebooks purchased from the Monsoon website, including all ebooks bundled free with paperback books, are DRM free and are stored in a reader’s ‘My Account’ area for unlimited download to any device anywhere in the world.
DRM (Digital Rights Management) is a kind of ebook access control and is used by publishers to try and prevent ebooks from being pirated, and in the case of some device retailers to lock readers into using a particular e-reader. However, DRM can make for a bad user experience and issues relating to piracy have meant ebook retailers in Asia and some other parts of the world are few on the ground. The fact is that even ebooks with traditional DRM can be pirated very easily. Some people will always take content for free, but instead of punishing the vast majority of honest readers with frustrating DRM issues we want to make reading ebooks easier. A pirate will always pirate something they want. We don’t want to make the same mistakes the music industry made, focusing on ‘protecting’ works,
rather than giving users more of what they want. Ebook publishers have been too focused on the fear side, demanding DRM, thereby locking people into one global platform, which people can’t get out of.
Joe Wikert’s excellent article in Publishers Weekly calling for publishers not to repeat the mistakes of the music industry is worth repeating:
I often blame Napster for the typical book publisher’s fear of piracy. Publishers saw what happened in the music industry and figured the only way they’d make their book content available digitally was to tightly wrap it with DRM. The irony of this is that some of the most highly pirated books were never released as ebooks. Thanks to the magic of high-speed scanner technology, any print book can easily be converted to an ebook and distributed illegally.
Some publishers don’t want to hear this, but the truth is that DRM can be hacked. It does not eliminate piracy. It not only fails as a piracy deterrent, but it also introduces restrictions that make ebooks less attractive than print books. We’ve all read a print book and passed it along to a friend. Good luck doing that with a DRM’d ebook! What publishers don’t seem to understand is that DRM implies a lack of trust. All customers are considered thieves and must be treated accordingly.
At Monsoon Books we have made the decision to follow other progressive independent imprints – Profile, Verso, Quercus, Tor (Macmillan), Atlantic, Crowood and Pottermore to name a few – and apply social DRM instead of strict DRM to our ebooks. When a reader buys a Monsoon ebook, their name and email and date of purchase appears inside the ebook, as an Ex Libris and in a Disclaimer page at the end of the ebook. The purchase transaction code is also watermarked into the ebook, invisible to readers but traceable by Monsoon. By using social DRM we want to enable readers to read their ebook on any or all of their e-reading devices. In accordance with our Terms & Conditions, readers can’t upload our ebooks to websites or file-sharing networks, but we want to enable them to share an ebook with a friend or family member as they would a paperback.
Authors want readers to have greater freedom with their books and as readers themselves know the frustrations associated with DRM. Initial consultations with our authors has revealed that not only are they very keen to use social DRM they are asking why publishers haven’t done this years ago. They are of course right. Also, both Monsoon and our authors are keen to make ebooks available in Southeast Asia, a territory where our works are set but where ebooks are currently very difficult to come by.