The DRM Thing and Redshirts
As noted in the FAQ I just put up, Redshirts is going to be released as an eBook here in the US without digital rights management software (DRM), meaning what when you buy it you can pretty much do what you want with it. Tor, my publisher, announced that all their eBooks would be released DRM-free by the end of July; I support this and asked Redshirts be released DRM-free from release date, so I think it might be the first official DRM-free release from Tor, which is in itself the first major publisher imprint to forgo DRM. In that way, Redshirts is a bit of a canary in a coal mine for major publishers.
If you were to ask me how I would want you to use your DRM-free eBook of Redshirts, I would say the following:
1. Hey, it’s yours, do what you want with it for your own personal use. Meaning: want to put it on every single electronic doodad you’ve got? Do it! Want to share it with your spouse/significant other/child/roommate/pet? Have fun. Want to print it out and use the physical pages as wallpaper? Live that dream. If it’s for you or immediate household folks, it’s all good.
2. Share with friends, but please have a sense of proportion. Want to pop it over to a friend who you think would like the book? Well, all right, then. Popping it over to all of your coworkers? Please don’t, although by all means point them in the direction of the free five chapter sample, which is enough for most folks to know whether they want to read more. Basically, share it like you would share a physical book — and encourage your friend, if they really liked it, to buy a copy to show their approval. My daughter’s college education thanks you in advance.
3. Please don’t put it out on the Internet for everyone to have. This is the thing all the publishers are terrified about, that the day the book is released, it’ll be on Teh Intarweebs where anyone can totally steal it, d00d. Well, two things: one, it would be anyway, because people who do that sort of thing can crack DRM pretty easily, and two, that’s probably not you. I don’t really expect that most people who buy the book have any ambition to punt the thing online; they just want to read it. But just in case you’re tempted: I would prefer if you did not. Point folks to the free sample instead; again, it’s enough that they’ll know whether they want to read more.
4. Remember there are humans on the other end of the book. As in, hi: I make my living writing the thing you’re reading. And so does my editor, my copyeditor, my page designer, my cover designer, the people who put the book in boxes (or servers) and the people who sell the books. We support ourselves, our families, our pets and our communities with the money we get from the work in your hands. Please remember that we’re there, and why we hope you’ve paid for our work, and encourage others to do the same.
Aaaand that’s it.