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Old 05-02-2011, 11:34 AM   #1
spinningdoc
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DRM and future proofing in the UK

I'm planning to buy either a Kindle or a Sony Reader, but I have a couple of questions about DRM and the future.

As I understand it, which ever mainstream store I buy from (and in the UK it's basically Amazon or Waterstones - is that right?) I'm going to get DRM-d, regardless of whether it's mobi or epub.

Sooner or later, my gleaming new reader will get old and die, and I'll have to get another one. If either of those formats are no longer used (it happens, particularly with Sony, or Amazon goes bust and takes its DRM rights with it - remember AOL?), do I lose all my books? How do I avoid this? Or, if I decide I don't want another Kindle, do I lose all my books?

That last possibility in itself has me worried.

And as a side issue, for UK people: what's epub availability like, realistically?
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Old 05-02-2011, 11:48 AM   #2
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If it were me, I'd gamble on the Sony (and have done so). I look at it this way: ePub is used by virtually every device except Amazon's Kindle. So if Sony goes out of business, I can read my ePub books on another device. No one else uses Amazon's DRMed format.

Sony uses the least restrictive DRM, the basic one that Kobo also uses.

I think you are less likely to get burned with the Sony than with the Kindle in terms of future proofing, but nothing is 100% sure.

Either device will serve you well.
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Old 05-02-2011, 12:02 PM   #3
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No one else uses Amazon's DRMed format.
That's kind of what I was thinking. Although, I'm guessing that if Amazon went out of business, DRM stripping applications would proliferate.

Legalities aside - and as a freelance copywriter I thoroughly approve of making customers pay for IPR - I can't actually see the moral problem in removing DRM so a file will open on a different device. It's the equivalent of ripping a CD to play it on a iPod, as far as I can see. (And yes, I know that's technically unlawful too...).

I'm not espousing piracy, just to be clear
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Old 05-02-2011, 12:05 PM   #4
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I agree with rhadin that Sony is your best bet when it comes to future proofing.

On the Kindle matter, you understand it perfectly if you go with Amazon and purchase books from there and you decide to get a different reader you will not be able to read your books on it. However, you can always view them on Kindle 4 PC.
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Old 05-02-2011, 12:21 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spinningdoc View Post
As I understand it, which ever mainstream store I buy from (and in the UK it's basically Amazon or Waterstones - is that right?) I'm going to get DRM-d, regardless of whether it's mobi or epub.

Sooner or later, my gleaming new reader will get old and die, and I'll have to get another one. If either of those formats are no longer used (it happens, particularly with Sony, or Amazon goes bust and takes its DRM rights with it - remember AOL?), do I lose all my books? How do I avoid this? Or, if I decide I don't want another Kindle, do I lose all my books?

That last possibility in itself has me worried.

And as a side issue, for UK people: what's epub availability like, realistically?
As well as Amazon and Waterstones, there's also WH Smiths, which I'd consider mainstream.

There are also world-wide speciality stores (SF/Fantasy , Romance), and some long-established general stores (http://www.booksonboard.com/, http://www.fictionwise.com/)

ePub book availability is pretty good. While Amazon does have more, and some exclusives, you probably won't notice much difference.

In the past I've mostly bought from Fictionwise and Baen. More recently from Amazon, and occassionally from other ebook stores.

If you buy DRMed ebooks, eventually you'll get burned. It might not happen this year, next year, or perhaps even for ten years. But it will happen. Unless you make sure you remove the DRM as soon as you buy them, and make good backups of the decrypted books. This applies to both Amazon's DRM and Adobe's DRM.

And if you do remove the DRM, it doesn't much matter (for novel-type books) which format you buy. Once De-DRMed, calibre will convert between formats for you.

Oh - and Apprentice Alf is your friend.
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Old 05-02-2011, 01:42 PM   #6
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DRM is a publisher choice -- and many publishers don't hold with it. Go to Calibre Open Books -- from http://www.calibre-ebook.com) where there's a list of non-DRM publishers and indie authors in the building. Best wishes. Neil
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Old 05-02-2011, 03:04 PM   #7
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As well as Amazon and Waterstones, there's also WH Smiths, which I'd consider mainstream.
Kobo is also in the UK now
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Old 05-02-2011, 04:22 PM   #8
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For best future-proofing on DRM books, I say go with the Sony if you're not planning to immediately strip. Amazon has this inconvenient habit of breaking the necessary tools every so often with software and firmware upgrades and minor file format changes.

Adobe, on the other hand, is less likely to do this, or at least less able to do it as rapidly since I think they'd have to update the ADE SDK for developers in some way and wait for companies to push the new version.

Mind you, it does look like Amazon UK has some of the cheapest pricing for their special sale books, although the ability to use discount coupons on non-Agency books at Kobo might balance that out.

And if you happen to like certain types of genre fiction (mostly romance and sf/fantasy), then the DRM-free availability of ePubs of older, good-quality backlist books as well as occasional new releases from particular no-DRM supporting publishers is quite decent.
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Old 05-03-2011, 04:55 AM   #9
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For best future-proofing on DRM books, I say go with the Sony if you're not planning to immediately strip. Amazon has this inconvenient habit of breaking the necessary tools every so often with software and firmware upgrades and minor file format changes.
Plus, there are other brands that also read Adobe DRM, should you get tired of your Sony at some point (Pocketbook for sure is one, and perhaps Onyx, but you'd better cehck with the Onyx Europe representative, who says that for their new large models the screen is Pearl), while in the case of Kindle you are stuck with Kindle.
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Old 05-03-2011, 07:39 AM   #10
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The best way to "future proof" your books is to remove the DRM as soon as you buy them.
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Old 05-03-2011, 07:46 AM   #11
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spinningdoc

welcome to mobileread ...

I have neither a sony nor a kindle, and I have no problem finding stories to read .....
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Old 05-03-2011, 07:34 PM   #12
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The best way to "future proof" your books is to remove the DRM as soon as you buy them.
I'm with Harry on this. Buy the READER for the features it has, and remove the DRM when you buy a book. Conversion between formats is a non-issue, once DRM is out of the way. (and the likelihood of Amazon going out of business any time soon is small. )

I buy books from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Baen, and others. I borrow books from my Provincial Library. The FIRST thing I do is clean them up, then import into Calibre, where I update metadata, etc. to give me an easy to use database of all my books. The Calibre database is backed up regularly, and I am completely confident that I could recover all my books if I ever change readers, or lose the whole house in a fire. DRM is an annoyance, but a minor one. Get the reader you like the feel of, the look of, and that has the features you want. For me, that choice was easy - I have a Kindle 3 3G, and my wife has a Kindle 3 WiFi, and we've given our old Kindle 2's to friends' children.
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