Feeds

Sony sparks digi book fireworks with ePub move

Giving Mills and Boon readers something to hide

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Banging the DRM

Services such as WattPad are intended to provide hosting for user-generated texts, but only remove copyrighted content when requested to do so: authors whose publishers who can afford to keep checking get their stuff removed while others don't manage it in time - and readers are unlikely to buy a legit version of a book once they've read it.

Libraries also like DRM: with protected content, libraries such as Luton's can lend out electronic content to members with time restrictions included - borrow an eBook for free, with no fine to pay when the text disappears after seven days. More than 23,000 authors got paid for library loans last year, under the Public Lending Right (PLR) which includes electronic books, representing an important revenue stream for many.

DRM is also essential if an advertising-supported model can be viable. Amazon's Kindle platform can not only place adverts in the pages of a book, but it can also update those adverts and target them based on context or user: providing subsidised reading material for those willing to put up with the adverts.

But that's not enough to convince the IT-savvy crowd who early-adopted mobile music, and still refuse to buy anything unless it's completely unencumbered with DRM. But this time it's not that gang who will be dictating things: electronic books have found an audience that doesn't give a toss about DRM, but buys a hell of a lot of books:

Trashy Books

It won't be the IT Crowd calling the shots this time around

Romance publisher Mills & Boon are enthusiastic supporters of both ePub and Adobe's Electronic Editions software; unsurprising given that, according to the New York Times, 80 per cent of US fiction sales went to women, so a Mills & Boon endorsement could mean a lot more than Sony's. The publisher does support Mobipocket though its Harlequin brand, but the future of romance is clearly Adobe's. Women are buying a lot of ebooks, and they'll buy hardware to suit the content they want rather than finding a way to get content onto their chosen hardware.

Mills & Boon don't publish the kind of literature that looks good on a shelf: few people want to show off their collection of bodice-rippers that are less "literary tome" and more "extended magazine", with the disposability of the latter. While we might rant about the risk to long-term access that DRM presents, those buying Mills & Boon don't care about that - they want to read stories, backed by a brand they trust to ensure a level of quality, and with at least one rippling torso on the cover.

Device manufacturers will need to support that content, including the DRM that comes with it. When MP3 players launched there were a range of different DRM systems being proposed, confusing both users and manufacturers, but an Amazon/Adobe duopoly could simplify that.

Qualcomm, which provides chips for the Kindle 2 as well as Sony's Reader line, reckons there are 20 companies working on electronic books at the moment, with half of these scheduled to launch before CES in January. So we're about to experience an explosion of hardware from manufacturers whom Adobe will be actively courting in an attempt to turn a duopoly into a monopoly - and we've not even seen what Apple has in store for us yet. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
This is how I set about making a fortune with my own startup
Would you leave your well-paid job to chase your dream?
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.