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Old 11-21-2010, 08:39 AM   #1
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DRM confusion

As someone new to the world of ereaders and ebooks, I am a bit confused by the whole DRM issue.

If I can go to the library and physically "borrow" the book for free, why can I only borrow the ebook for free on certain ereaders and not all ereaders?

Does the legality have to do with the individual ereader TOS or with the publisher's restrictions?

As one looking to enter the ereader world, I find devices I like (K3) that do not have access to formats I like (epub), without entering the darkly gray realm of DRM stripping.

The trees are obscuring my view of the forest here. Can someone enlighten me?
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Old 11-21-2010, 09:06 AM   #2
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You are right, it is determined by the Publisher... but this is nothing new. If you have music or movies you downloaded that have DRM you cannot "borrow" it from a friend either... and good luck playing a wma music file on an iPod or an acc on something other than itunes.

The DRM and format compatability are all just ways to control where the media goes and how it is handled.... all about control and trying to lock you into one company or another.
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Old 11-21-2010, 09:29 AM   #3
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Well said!

It isn't 'about' gun-control, but it is about control, from the tyrant-right or the Leviathan-left.

The more pages in a bill and the more paragraphs in a statute, the more exceptions for the ruling class; applies to DRM, taxes, civil rights, guns and money.
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Old 11-21-2010, 09:57 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rcuadro View Post
You are right, it is determined by the Publisher... but this is nothing new. If you have music or movies you downloaded that have DRM you cannot "borrow" it from a friend either... and good luck playing a wma music file on an iPod or an acc on something other than itunes.

The DRM and format compatability are all just ways to control where the media goes and how it is handled.... all about control and trying to lock you into one company or another.
So is this BetaMax vs VHS all over again?
BluRay vs HD-DVD?

Kindle vs all the other ereaders?

In the final analysis, I just want to read the friggin' book. The format wars are ridiculous.
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Old 11-21-2010, 10:06 AM   #5
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Buy one that handles epub, Speedlever, and d/l Kindle for <your OS> and Calibre. Then you can buy epub from anywhere, or if you can only get it in mobi format from Amazon, you can rip off the drm and use Calibre to convert it to epub (if your machine doesn't also handle mobi, which few seem to).

Just don't ask how to rip the drm off in the fora. That's against the rules.
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Old 11-21-2010, 10:09 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speedlever View Post
So is this BetaMax vs VHS all over again?
BluRay vs HD-DVD?

Kindle vs all the other ereaders?

In the final analysis, I just want to read the friggin' book. The format wars are ridiculous.
This is more like DVD vs BluRay with Mobipocket/AZW being DVD and ePub being BluRay.

The reason we have format wars is because Jeff Bezos wants control of the content on the Kindle. If he was to allow ePub, he'd have to give up some of this control. So he sticks with AZW/Topaz. It is not a format war. It's a control issue. ePub has already won the format wars.

Last edited by JSWolf; 11-21-2010 at 10:11 AM.
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Old 11-21-2010, 10:30 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSWolf View Post
ePub has already won the format wars.
What do you base this on?
All I use is Kindles so maybe I am not as in tune with the format war but I see mobi and epub as the dominant formats and things like lit have gone in the ways of the Sony MiniDisc

Last edited by rcuadro; 11-21-2010 at 10:34 AM.
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Old 11-21-2010, 11:29 AM   #8
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Quote:
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ePub has already won the format wars.
Not exactly. Amazon — through its dedicated ereader (aka the Kindle) and its platform (aka free apps that run on PCs, Macs, smart phones, iDevices, Android devices, Blackberries) — has already won the DRM format war to the extent there ever was one. Considerably more than 50% of all DRM content is purchased to be read on one brand — Amazon Kindle; the ePub remainder is fragmented across many brands.

DRM is there not because the bookstores are all that keen on it ... it is because content owners (publishers, agents, authors) want some control and believe DRM provides some assurance they will get paid. It doesn't stop the small time priates: but it does make it harder for blatant operations to resell legitimate content. The two schemes: Adobe ADE, which has been adopted by the ePub side, and Amazon's encrypted mobi files effectively create a manageable gate.

In general, the same content is widely available in both formats so whichever ereader you own, or whichever platform you choose, you'll have access to approximately the same universe of books. It's not really confusing for the consumer provided the sales channel is honest: Amazon ereaders can only buy DRM content from Amazon; ePub ereaders have a wider variety of stores to choose from but none of them are Amazon.

The biggest differentiator is public library lending. Public libraries only lend DRM ebooks in Adobe ADE ePub format (a small number of titles are still distributed in PDF). If your local library has a decent (and growing) collection of DRM ebooks, and you want to borrow them, then the Amazon Kindle is not for you (until Amazon strikes some sort of deal to allow ADE ePubs onto its devices ... at which point the other providers risk imminent collapse).

Many of us prefer the selection, pricing and convenience of the Amazon platform and own a Kindle or shop for Kindle ebooks on an iPad or other devices. Amazon reported over the summer that 20% of all ebook sales it makes are to account holders without a physical Kindle. If we want to borrow library books, that can still be done on a PC or Mac or by purchasing an ePub ereader (like a Kobo) as a secondary device for that purpose. In general, ebooks are cheaper than new paperbacks in bricks and mortar stores so every ebook bought is money saved: ereaders pay for themselves in a few months for those who buy 2 or 3 books a month.

Last edited by SensualPoet; 11-21-2010 at 11:34 AM.
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Old 11-21-2010, 11:40 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James_Wilde View Post
Buy one that handles epub, Speedlever, and d/l Kindle for <your OS> and Calibre. Then you can buy epub from anywhere, or if you can only get it in mobi format from Amazon, you can rip off the drm and use Calibre to convert it to epub (if your machine doesn't also handle mobi, which few seem to).
If you were prepared to and knew how to circumvent the copy protection (which is illegal in several countries), you would be better off buying the ereader that suits you best and then converting everything you buy/acquire to the format that it wants. Things like DRM are only a problem for honest law abiding customers.
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Old 11-21-2010, 11:41 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by rcuadro View Post
What do you base this on?
All I use is Kindles so maybe I am not as in tune with the format war but I see mobi and epub as the dominant formats and things like lit have gone in the ways of the Sony MiniDisc
Mobi & epub are both strong commercially, but the only reason mobi is still strong is because of Amazon's dominance of all things related to book-sales. Epub is a better format by every measure except filesize, and since the difference between 250kb and 750kb is no longer important to the vast majority of readers, it's likely to eventually take over, unless someone finds/makes a new open-source format that can do about what mobi does, and make it readable on 80% or more of the devices available.

Mobi can't do custom line spacing, kerning, drop caps, picture placement of choice, tables (worth a damn), nor a lot of other formatting that people expect from paper books. Ebooks can get the layout almost identical to paper books--which isn't important for leisure reading of novels, but epub can do the formatting necessary for textbooks and tech manuals and mobi can't. In the long run, mobi will lose out to the more versatile format.

I can't remember if mobi still has the sharp limit on pictures; the PDA version required images be below a certain filesize. I don't know if that was built into the format itself, or was just required for PalmOS.
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Old 11-21-2010, 12:05 PM   #11
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While it may be technically true that ePub offers publishers greater control over format than mobi, my experience is that Amazon formatted books are almost always superior to the epub versions I buy elsewhere. On a couple of occasions I have purchased both commercial DRM versions of the same title just to see for myself.

Also, outside of a handful of vocal folks here at Mobileread, I have never heard these claims elsewhere. Until it matters to consumers -- and if I were Sony or Barnes and Noble or Kobo I'd be demonstrating this "advantage" daily -- it won't have any impact on ePub vs mobi.

As a former typographer, I assure you I care about such stuff. But, as ePub does not live up to this technical promise, and the "inferior" format which provides a better reading experience and continues to innovate meeting consumer needs as they evolve ... this so-called "inevitable impact of superiority" is irrelevant.
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Old 11-21-2010, 12:22 PM   #12
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If Amazon would embrace Epub I would declare it the clear winner. Unfortunately they might have the legs (market share) to hold out a long time and continue muddying the format waters. I understand why, anything to help lock users into one store. Yes, we technical types can circumvent and translate but the majority will not.
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Old 11-21-2010, 12:42 PM   #13
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I am also new to the world of e-books, so forgive me if my point is misdirected. However:
Quote:
Originally Posted by mr ploppy View Post
If you were prepared to and knew how to circumvent the copy protection (which is illegal in several countries), you would be better off buying the ereader that suits you best and then converting everything you buy/acquire to the format that it wants. Things like DRM are only a problem for honest law abiding customers.
Suppose I buy an e-book from amazon, and suppose my ebook reader does not handle this format. If I were to strip the DRM from that bought book to read it on my device, though I understand this may be contrary to the letter of the law, why would it go contrary to the substance?

And upon reflection, why would this go counter the letter of the law? After all, you are allowed to install a purchased piece fo software on several computers (e.g. you laptop, your home desktop, your workplace desktop, say) provided you only use it on one machine at a time. So why can't this be allowed for ebooks?

To me, it does not make sense, and if you have rightfully purchased the book, you should have the right to read it wherever you like. Amazon, if I understand this correctly, only allows you to read it on either Kindle or some backlit device (be it a pc, or an ipad, or an iphone), but not on another reader. So, a point also made somewhat differently already, it seems to me their point is really one of pushing the budle kindle+ebooks, i.e. to lock you in to amazon.
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Old 11-21-2010, 12:53 PM   #14
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To me, it does not make sense
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Old 11-21-2010, 01:05 PM   #15
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Suppose I buy an e-book from amazon, and suppose my ebook reader does not handle this format. If I were to strip the DRM from that bought book to read it on my device, though I understand this may be contrary to the letter of the law, why would it go contrary to the substance?
This is a grey area. Buying DRMed content and then striping it for personal use can fall into fair use depending on the country. And moreover, even in the USA, with its crazy DMCA law, they only prosecute people who distribute copyrighted content.
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