Tor/Forge Totally DRM Free, Plus Anecdotal Notes Regarding Redshirts

Tor/Forge, my primary science fiction publisher, announced today that their previously-announced policy of putting out their eBooks DRM-free is now being implemented, which is to say that if you buy any of their eBooks moving forward, there will be no digital rights management software on it. So go! Buy! DRM free!

And yes, this includes previously published works — Old Man’s War, The Android’s Dream, Fuzzy Nation, etc are now all being sold without DRM restrictions (Also, no, I don’t know what that means for those of you who bought copies when they were DRM’d. Check with your retailer, please.)

For those authors apprehensive about what having a DRM-free eBook out there means for sales and/or unauthorized copying, I’ll note that my anecdotal experience having Redshirts go out DRM-free has been been very positive. First, the eBook sales of Redshirts, on a week to week basis, have been substantially higher than they were for any of my previous books (for example, first week it sold roughly two and a half times as many as Fuzzy Nation did in eBook, and that book did fine eBook business its first week). Second, we’re not seeing any particular increase of instances of the book being shared in violation of copyright , i.e., dropping DRM hasn’t suddenly made it more available in the dark and stinky portions of the Internet than other (previously DRM’d) books of mine.

Bear in mind that there are a ton of caveats here relating to Redshirts sales relative to other works of mine in eBook form — for example the recent growth of the market, the subject of the book, advertising and marketing of the book, my own reputation and backlist, etc — that need to be factored in. Nevertheless, by any objective standard, Redshirts eBook sales have been very healthy and as far as I can see offering the book DRM-free has offered no visible downside as yet. I’m happy and excited to offer up the rest of my books in a DRM-free manner as well. Get them wherever you like to buy your eBooks.

(And, of course, remember that the print versions are sold without DRM as well! So if you like print, support your local bookstores.)

18 Comments on “Tor/Forge Totally DRM Free, Plus Anecdotal Notes Regarding Redshirts”

  1. I’ll be happy to read it when it turns up… (not your fault, I know, just grousing). Amazon lists the target date for the ebook as 15th November… standard sized paperback; January. Impatient? Me? I’ll go off and read something trashy by John Ringo while I’m waiting.

  2. Surely you meant to write “And yes, this includes previously published works — Old Man’s War, The Android’s Dream, Fuzzy Nation, etc are now all being sold with*OUT* DRM restrictions”.

  3. Have you heard any rumblings about a way to trade in one’s paper books for e-books for a reasonable fee? That’s next on my wishlist.

  4. And though this is not in any way your fault, I will point out that if you bought it by Kobo, the book is now “deleted by its creator” and you can no longer redownload the book but would require a new purchase of the now drm-free version. (I am complaining to them and hoping that they might fix it, but already received the drm-free version via email when the original problem appeared, so it is more irritation because Kobo sucks than any way that this will affect me personally.)

  5. Amazon, at least, has the capability to send out a revised edition for free and is willing to do so (albeit at the cost of readers losing any notes or highlighting they might have added). They’ve done this for a number of books, including Reamde.

  6. It’s great that the print versions are sold without DRM, but I’ve never seen any clear indication on printed works as to whether they have DRM or not. I assume such DRM would involve subliminal mental conditioning to prevent reading aloud allowing another reader to look over one’s shoulder, or reading in a location other than where the book was first opened. I also have no memory of reading or agreeing to any EULA pertaining to any printed works, so perhaps they generate a self-erasing mental image. But I don’t think I would agree to such a thing so perhaps there’s a compulsion built into it too? I’m now a bit worried since I read so many printed works, that I may end up with a minor case of serious brain damage.

    Anyhow, it’s good that Tor/Forge doesn’t do this. ;-)

  7. Dominic Snowdon: Haven’t you notice that whenever you try and read someone else’s book as they hold it, all the letters are blurry? In fact, I think they’re even putting this technology on dry erase boards and highway notification signs. Every year, it seems to be getting more and more effective. Insidious industry, DRM.

  8. “has been been very positive”

    I think you meant “has been very very positive” (or perhaps simply “has been very positive”)

  9. I bought the DRM-free dead-tree edition of Redshirts. Looking forward to reading it soon. :-)

  10. As far as you can see, there’s no visible downside? What about as far as you can hear? No audible downside?

  11. As an admittedly old-school kinda guy (at least as far as books go), this move by Tor has removed probably the biggest concern I have about purchasing e-books vs. good ol’ paper. Good on ’em.

  12. Annoyingly enough, my usual ebook store still hasn’t gotten this sorted out. When I went back and forth with them a few times over Redshirts they said that that’s version they get from their distributor who gets it straight from the publisher. It’s annoying because they’re usually good about fixing any problems right away. Not a big deal for me personally, since I can strip the DRM, but I may have to switch to someone who’s got it sorted out as a matter or principle.

  13. A reader’s note about DRM:

    Digital Restrictions Management does NOT stop piracy. Consider the last Harry Potter book, which was out in electronic form *before* the dead trees edition hit the bookstores (an inside job and a scanner). Stripping DRM is a trivial matter for anyone who really cares. In short, it does nothing whatsoever to so much as slow down the bad guys. It only hurts the good guys. Well, it can also benefit platform owners, who have customers locked into their particular platform because they can’t read their libraries if they switch, but I wouldn’t consider them “good guys” in that context.

    I won’t buy DRM-locked ebooks. Thankfully, there are many DRM-free publishers out there. And now I’ll be able to read Redshirts without having to wait for the paperback (though it’s been so highly recommended to me that I was almost tempted to sacrifice the cubic to buy the hardcover … it’s not shelf space anymore, it’s stack-on-the-floor space).

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