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Old 04-03-2008, 04:54 PM   #1
sanders
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DRM experiment

I decided to do an experiment.

I wrote a book ("Computer Programming: An Introduction for the Scientifically Inclined") over the past few years. I self-publish it, and it has recently become available (on Amazon, for instance) as a 284 page, 7.5x9.25" paperback, for $22.99.

Since I also own an iLiad, I decided to make the book available as an e-book as well (in PDF). I spent some time re-formatting it (maximizing the use of the limited screen real-estate), resulting in a 374 page book.

I've partaken in some of the DRM discussions here on the mobileread forums, and I decided to make the book available for EUR 4.99 (about $6.95 with today's dollar rate) with no DRM (so you can print it out if you like, or copy text from it). Instead, each PDF is "personalized": based on the PayPal data, I render your name on the title page. A kind of "social DRM", if you like. This type of "DRM-between-quotes" was suggested during the earlier discussions here in this forum, though I don't remember who came up with it (it might have been me).

I recently got an email from Scott Meyers (a well known author in C++ programmer circles) that his "Effective C++" series will be published as PDF e-books using a similar technique. I figured that if it's good enough for Addison Wesley, it's good enough for me.

We'll see how things go. I'll post back once I get enough statistics.

More information about the book: http://www.curly-brace.com

I simply render a new PDF for each purchase, and offer a link to download it. I have tried to contact iRex Technologies because it would be much cooler if such a purchase would be automatically synchronized to your iLiad using iDS, but I haven't heard back from them yet. Does anyone know of a place where you can buy e-books for the iLiad which do use iDS?
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Old 04-03-2008, 05:23 PM   #2
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Social DRM, I like it! Hope it works out well for you.
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Old 04-03-2008, 06:36 PM   #3
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Would you consider formatting the book in a form that fits the Sony Reader? Either pdf or better lrf?
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Old 04-03-2008, 06:42 PM   #4
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If you format it so I can read it on my Cybook I'll buy it.

I'd also suggest you bang together a PDF with a few sample pages on it. That will help convince people that it really is readable on an Iliad.

Last edited by Halk; 04-03-2008 at 06:46 PM.
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Old 04-03-2008, 06:47 PM   #5
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If you format it so I can read it on my Cybook I'll buy it.
Depending on the margins, it might look okay on the Cybook after you zoom in.
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Old 04-03-2008, 09:27 PM   #6
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If you reformat your PDF for a page size of a 6" eink screen and remake the PDF, it may actually sell a lot better. The problem is that as a letter sized page, it doesn't really look all that good on a 6" enk screen unless we use something like pdflrf to modify the PDF. Give it a try with some sample pages and we can download the sample and try it and see how well it looks.
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Old 04-03-2008, 09:32 PM   #7
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David Rothman has been talking up "social DRM" for some time over at TeleRead. I'm sure he didn't originate the idea either, but it may be a usable one. Let us know how things turn out.
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Old 04-03-2008, 09:54 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sanders View Post
I recently got an email from Scott Meyers (a well known author in C++ programmer circles) that his "Effective C++" series will be published as PDF e-books using a similar technique. I figured that if it's good enough for Addison Wesley, it's good enough for me.
FYI: Manning's eBooks are done the same way. Non-protected DRM with your name in the footer of every page. IT would be nice if they would format them for my Sony... I have emailed them twice about it, and have not recieved any reply.

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Old 04-03-2008, 10:00 PM   #9
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It's just too easy to strip out the footer when converting to something else. That doesn't really work. All it prevents is the PDF from getting out, not some conversion to say HTML.
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Old 04-03-2008, 10:03 PM   #10
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Quote:
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It's just too easy to strip out the footer when converting to something else. That doesn't really work. All it prevents is the PDF from getting out, not some conversion to say HTML.
He didn't really saw what his experiment was testing. Is he trying to see how many sales he will get, or if this "social" DRM will work? If the book appears on a "wares" site does that mean the experiment failed? What if he sells 500 copies?

What is the hypothesis for this experiment?

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Old 04-04-2008, 07:23 AM   #11
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It's just too easy to strip out the footer when converting to something else. That doesn't really work. All it prevents is the PDF from getting out, not some conversion to say HTML.
I don't even put the name on every page - just on the title page. I realize that this is really easy to strip out, but I don't want to engage in an "arms race" with pirates.
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Old 04-04-2008, 07:29 AM   #12
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If you reformat your PDF for a page size of a 6" eink screen and remake the PDF, it may actually sell a lot better. The problem is that as a letter sized page, it doesn't really look all that good on a 6" enk screen unless we use something like pdflrf to modify the PDF. Give it a try with some sample pages and we can download the sample and try it and see how well it looks.
I have an iLiad myself, so I could verify that it fits well without zooming there. I could read my original layout (7.5x9.25") in the iLiad reasonably well (even without zooming), so I assume that the current 8" version (approximately 12x15cm) would be quite readable on a 6" device.

It's a good idea to offer a sample chapter or so. I'll get to it.

I will stick with PDF however, because my book contains a lot of fomulas, graphics, and code snippets which I don't think will look good in a "flowable" format. Designing for a real page size even smaller than the iLiad will be quite a chore - I was quite a bit of work to fit everything on the pages already.
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Old 04-04-2008, 09:31 AM   #13
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I'd have no issues buying a book, if I was told - "There's some kind of digital signature embedded in it, somewhere. We're not going to say exactly where, but you could get past that if you really wanted."

That'd probably stop individuals sharing their books on purpose.

It would not, of course, stop people who for one reason or another see it as their job to "liberate" as much media for free consumption as possible.

But you're never going to do that anyway, if it gets too hard to strip the signature from the book, then they'll instead get hold of the books from other people, or set up a fake account and buy the book then release that one.

You won't beat them, but the best you could hope for is to stop people casually sharing.

As for what Nate said, it may well, which is partly why I asked for a few sample pages. With the sample pages I can read it on my Cybook and see if it's workable.
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Old 04-04-2008, 10:22 AM   #14
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Quote:
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I have an iLiad myself, so I could verify that it fits well without zooming there. I could read my original layout (7.5x9.25") in the iLiad reasonably well (even without zooming), so I assume that the current 8" version (approximately 12x15cm) would be quite readable on a 6" device.

It's a good idea to offer a sample chapter or so. I'll get to it.

I will stick with PDF however, because my book contains a lot of fomulas, graphics, and code snippets which I don't think will look good in a "flowable" format. Designing for a real page size even smaller than the iLiad will be quite a chore - I was quite a bit of work to fit everything on the pages already.
The iLiad has a larger screen and higher resolution. So what PDF may look good with an iLiad may not always look good on a 6" screen like with Sony and Bookeen. Please format specifically for the 6" size screen. That way we will get a PDF that does look good. When you format it for an 8" screen, it is going to look smaller on a 6" screen when reduced in size. Also in order to make the 8" version look good on a 6" screen, you may end up having to make it look too large for the 8" screen. So overall, you'll either be making a version that's no good for an 8" screen or a version that's no good for a 6" screen. best option is to make one for each screen size and then it'll look good on either.
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Old 04-04-2008, 12:17 PM   #15
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I'd have no issues buying a book, if I was told - "There's some kind of digital signature embedded in it, somewhere. We're not going to say exactly where, but you could get past that if you really wanted."

That'd probably stop individuals sharing their books on purpose.

It would not, of course, stop people who for one reason or another see it as their job to "liberate" as much media for free consumption as possible.

But you're never going to do that anyway, if it gets too hard to strip the signature from the book, then they'll instead get hold of the books from other people, or set up a fake account and buy the book then release that one.

You won't beat them, but the best you could hope for is to stop people casually sharing.

As for what Nate said, it may well, which is partly why I asked for a few sample pages. With the sample pages I can read it on my Cybook and see if it's workable.
I think another thing here which could really discourage people from sharing and downloading is the fact that you're charging a reasonable price. There is a substantial savings over the paper price. I think the more your customers feel respected, the less likely they are to try to justify stealing from you.
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