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Hachette, what are you thinking?!

I’ve just seen the truly bizarre news that Hachette, one of the big publishing houses, is demanding that any author with titles published by Tor in some territories and Hachette in others keep the DRM on their ebooks.

Tor have recently begin to offer DRM-free books, in a move that further boosts my respect for them as one of the few publishers who know what they’re doing. Hachette, apparently, are worried that the availability of DRM-free copies of ebooks in some regions, and they feel that they can dictate terms to their authors as a result.

The arrogance of this literally takes my breath away.

Authors, Take Note!

Cory Doctorow has a more succinct explanation of this whole mess, but the one essential point you need to take away from it all is this: Hachette is willing to throw your reputation and sales under a bus because they’re deluded about piracy. Doctorow makes the most pertinent argument about it – the reader may not remember who published an ebook when it doesn’t work on their Kindle due to DRM, but they WILL remember the author. That’s why it’s important.

I’ve said it before, and I’m saying it again here for the umpteenth time: DRM is a fool’s game and actively detrimental to the end goal of selling books. It’s so trivial to crack that it won’t even slow down any dedicated pirates, and it certainly won’t stop someone from scanning the book into a computer or just typing it out. Remember the Harry Potter series, and how J.K. Rowling was absolutely opposed to ebooks, so much so that there were no legal options to buy them anywhere? Remember how high quality pirated copies were and are still available?

I hope Hachette get a pretty big backlash to this. They have no right to pressure authors to accept worse terms with other publishers just to please them, and the fact that they’re even asking says volumes about them as a business.

My recommendation: avoid them like the plague until they back off this.

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