More lost than before on the DRM issue

The DRM discussion turned out to be far more depressing than I had anticipated.

I used to buy print books I really wanted in hardcover, then buy a paperback “reader’s copy” of those I wanted to reread so that I wouldn’t screw up my hardcover. I did this when I was making $99/week, and having to pay for my used Chevy Vega out of that income.

I bought copies of print books I especially liked for friends. I didn’t loan them, because I discovered early on that other people don’t treat their books as well as I treat mine.

Nowadays, unless I have to have the book for work, I don’t by print books anymore, because they’re a pain in the ass to read and to store. I don’t have room for print in the tiny place where we live.

So I buy e-books.

I buy books because I want the content, and have never quibbled about DRM content, or resented it, or had a problem with it. I read it on the device I bought it for (primarily the Kindle), and have treated additional copies for other e-readers (my iPhone/iPad and an early Sony e-reader) the way I treated hardcover/paperback. If I wanted the book on the other reader, I bought another copy. If I valued the book enough to want it in two places, I paid for it in two places.

I do not want what I have not earned. I do without a lot of things because I cannot afford them: this has always been true (though much more when I was younger).

So to have my readers tell me that many people they know consider the use of DRM as justification for stealing a copy, that people consider not liking the company that published the books as justification for stealing a copy, and that people consider a price higher than what they consider “reasonable” justification for stealing a copy, is heartbreaking.

There is no justification for theft in a free society.

If you don’t want to pay for the work in the format in which it is presented, do without.

To have some of the folks who read my work say to me, “If you release your work with DRM, I won’t buy it,” leads me to offer the following reply: I’m still considering releasing my work DRM-free, but if I do, do me a favor and don’t buy it anyway. If you think that threatening me by withholding your money—attempting to blackmail me economically—is appropriate action, you’re not anyone I want to know or help.

Here’s what’s sad.

I asked yesterday’s questions because I was looking for good reasons to quit using DRM. I WANTED to go DRM-free.

And to that end, I found two good reasons to offer my work without digital rights management.

  1. I did not realize that some companies that offered DRM have already gone out of business, leaving readers stranded. That sucks, and I don’t want to be a part of that.

  3. Some people read across many multiples of devices for their own personal use, and want to be able to to that without purchasing multiple copies, and I have no problem with this.

Both of those reasons make me want to release my work DRM-free.

But frankly, nowhere near as much as I did before I read all these replies.

I don’t want to hurt the people who legitimately buy my work by leaving them stranded with copies that they can no longer use, or requiring them to buy many copies to use across their own devices.

But I deeply dislike attitudes of entitlement that have been brought to light by readers reporting the activities of people they know who feel justified in their theft of works that don’t fit their arbitrary criteria of “not deserving of my money.” Or who feel justified in “sharing” (violating copyright) works with people who may then “share” them (violate copyright) further.

I find the following quote from this reply particularly chilling:

We all know the big problem with REMOVING DRM. Quite simply, then, there is no hindrance whatsoever to the illicit copying and distribution. Is DRM a *major* hindrance to the truly nefarious? No. But none is no hindrance to (what seems to be) a generation of young people with absolutely ZERO respect for IP. The discussion that “pirates will steal it and not pay for it, anyway,” even when people think they mean it, has no bearing on the CASUAL theft of easy-to-lift items.

It’s demonstrable that making books easier to steal doesn’t make them stolen less; they are stolen MORE.

Moreover, the same ardent anti-DRM protestor, who will defend to the death his position that what he stole (excuse, me, “pirated”) had no value, will go dead silent if you ask him if he’d walk into a bookstore and shoplift the self-same book. His answer, unspoken, is “of course he wouldn’t,” because he’d be PROSECUTED. He knows damn well that the “value” is the same; his entire “I’m entitled to this” argument has been blown out of the water; it’s that he has no fear of prosecution that allows him to steal the digital versions. So even amongst the hard-core, the deterrence factor has *some* effect.

Where am I going with this part? A client of mine, who wrote YA fiction. Who had a girl who liked his books, who told her boyfriend just how much she wanted to “gift” a copy to HER friend. (This was a whopping $0.99 book, mind you). Well, the boyfriend, hero that he was, cracked it, and, teens being teens, 28,000 copies later–yes, 28,000–it was tracked down and stopped. And, of course, none of those brats will be prosecuted. Do you think that my client would LIKE to have his $0.35 a book for those 28,000 copies? Yeah, considering he was on the brink of losing his house–yes. Or even 1/3rd of it. Or even the tenth that MIGHT have paid for it–as it was merely a buck.

So how much is 25 years of my life and experience in writing, and the time I took to create a system to teach what I know to others, worth? And how much is my right to my own intellectual property worth? That it can support my existence and allow me to create more works—if respected—matters to me.

To whom else does it matter enough that they will respect it and not share lessons with friends if I don’t add DRM?

Or even if I do?

I spent the morning researching copyright law and laws regarding being in possession of stolen property, however, and whether I finally decide on DRM-free or DRM, will probably release all of my work from now on with the following notice inside:

Dear Reader,

If you have purchased your copy of this work from a legal distribution site ( or sites listed here: [link pending]), thank you.

Please save your receipt.

Please do not copy and distribute this work—making and distributing even one copy of any copyrighted work, even to a friend, puts you in violation of US and international copyright law, and makes you subject to injunctions, and liable for monetary damages and statutory damages which, depending upon your intent and the extent of the distribution of your copy, can range up to $300,000 US for non-criminal infringement, and up to $500,000 or a prison term of up to five years for criminal infringement for a first offense. Other countries have other penalties.

Distributing a copy of this work also makes your friend a recipient of stolen goods, and in many states puts him at risk of felony charges even if he does not know the goods he has received are stolen.

If you have not paid for the copy in your possession, or if you have purchased it from a site not listed on the following page…

[link pending]

…please be aware that you are in possession of stolen goods. Being knowingly in possession of stolen goods puts you at risk of prosecution with criminal penalties varying based on the state or country in which you live, but which in many cases include being charged with a felony, financial punishment, and imprisonment.

To protect yourself, you can either delete this copy or purchase a legal version at:

[link pending]

With your legal purchase, you will receive a receipt as proof of purchase.

For more on US copyright infringement, go here:

For penalties and punishments in your country other than the US, use your favorite search engine to find penalties for copyright infringement [your country].

For more on possession of stolen goods, go here:

I hope you find this information helpful.
Holly Lisle

I had the first five lessons of HTTS set up unpublished on Amazon and B&N with DRM disabled. This discussion has increased my uncertainty regarding abandoning DRM, but whichever way I finally decide, this notice is, I think, going to be part of my eventual solution.

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283 responses to “More lost than before on the DRM issue”

  1. Ben Avatar

    Let me tell you about myself. I too hate buying DRM works as it is too easy for the DRM to screw up and make my purchase fail to work. At least with paper copies they don’t suffer the same issues with failure due to anti theft measures. The only time I would consider “pirating” is if I made a significant effort to buy it and could not find it. Basically only after spending several hours looking in depth for someone to take my money, and not finding anyone.

    Let me add something else, my mother was looking for someone to help her with her writing. I told her about your work and as a result she bought your products. See that? I helped you get customers, not the other way around. Nevertheless, since you do not want people who won’t buy copies of DRM work to buy your works, I won’t. But don’t worry, I won’t pirate them either and I will still recommend them. I hope someday you can realize that just because someone hates DRM and won’t buy it doesn’t make them criminals.

    In closing, yes, I find your attitude towards people who don’t like DRM frustrating but I am happy to see you working towards making a better product. Take care and keep writing.

  2. Cindy Blair Avatar
    Cindy Blair

    This was an issue I wasn’t aware of. I do not own any type of e-reader except my computer. I prefer to actually hold a book while reading it. However, one concern I have had about e-books, is the inability to lend the book to a friend. I can buy a book, read it, and then lend it to others without breaking any laws.

    I agree that if you go through the trouble to buy an e-book, you shouldn’t have to worry about it no longer being supported and no longer being able to read the book.

    I was glad to read that you would be selling your writing lessons individually for $4.99 a lesson. I would love to buy one or more of your courses and get all of the benefits, however, money is tight. I look forward to buying your lessons one at a time as I can afford and have the time to complete them.

    Keep up the good work.

    Thank you for all that you do for other writers,

    Cindy Blair

  3. BobW Avatar

    The thing I don’t like about ebooks, particularly those for Kindle devices or others like them, is not being able to print them out. I for one don’t particularly like reading books on a computer or any other kind of screen. I guess I’m old fashioned but I’d rather have a physical book to read, annotate, or whatever. This is the same dislike of video tutorials. I’d rather have a physical manual where I can flick from one page to the other and back as I’m learning.
    I know that ebooks are here to stay and I abhor the easy way in which these ebooks can be shared. The only way to minimise the piracy is to go traditional printing, but even that doesn’t stop the books from being scanned and shared. I think the rock and the hard place is a lot narrower than we care to think.

  4. Helene Avatar

    You should definitely include a clear notice inside your books!

    One objection: “Please save my receipt” — really?
    For how long? One year? Two years? Five? Ten?
    Will I have to remember where I put every little receipt for every little item I bought during the last decade?
    Will I have to find extra storing place in a tiny apartment?
    Am I supposed to carefully keep my receipts after two, three, four times of moving to another home?
    Will I have to prove that I’m not an elephant?
    Come on! “Please save your receipt.”
    Hey, I’m absent-minded and I lose things! Allow people to lose things, okay?

    1. Ben Avatar

      This was the same thing I thought and another reason I don’t want to buy these. The inherent distrust shown is discouraging especially when I have gone out of my way to promote this product in the past.

  5. Donald E. Allen Avatar
    Donald E. Allen

    DRM is a question I will have to answer for myself shortly. So I look to the internet to see what has been going on. File sharing sites all over the internet have had piracy problems, in fact many times these sites themselves are the pirates. I think we all agree file sharing is a Major Problem. The only way it has ever been curtailed, not stopped, just curtailed, has been aggressive prosecution of individuals. When you see your digital content stolen, contact your District Attorneys office. Hang tough, you will have to jump through hoops, but prosecute, prosecute, prosecute, and try to get press coverage of the prosecution.

  6. Bill Avatar

    I’ve never felt like commenting before but this post upset me so much on this case I will.

    I do not agree with what you said Holly. For many many reasons (I’m sure you know them all) DRM is bad news and is an aggressive response to a misunderstood issue (aka pirating) that does more to alienate consumers from the producers than it does to heal the divide.

    I want to pick out a couple of things that I feel you got wrong:

    Firstly, whether or not people’s reasons for hating DRM are considered valid is almost irrelevant. The fact that 95% of the responses where vehemently against DRM is reason enough to drop it. You give customers what they want, and they don’t want DRM. The discussion should stop at this point. However…

    Secondly, I found your response to be aggressive and rather offensive. You’re clearly upset so I don’t really blame you but I don’t think you will be winning any friends with this post. I do not want to be made to feel like because I dislike DRM (for very honourable and laudable reasons of liberty and morality) that I am a dishonourable criminal who is preying on the poor hard working writers, or film makers, or whoever? Just because I’m against DRM does not mean I’m for stealing.

    And thirdly, I want to pick up on this stealing point. I believe it is often an error to think like this. Comparing pirating an e-book to shoplifting is not fair. If I take a DVD without paying I have deprived the producer of the physical value and also of the revenue that would have been received had someone else been able to buy it. Perhaps I’m not sure the DVD is any good and so I’m unwilling to pay the retail price because it isn’t like they’d refund me if my suspicions that it isn’t worth it turn out to be true. So I watch a pirated copy. There is no physical value to steal, and I did not prevent anyone else buying it. Also since I had no intention of paying I deprived the producer of nothing. But, perhaps I actually find the DVD to be good. I go purchase a copy. If I hadn’t watched the free version the producer would never have seen a penny of my cash.

    It is this kind of lack of understanding and attempt to portray consumers as thieves sucking the blood of producers that irks me because it is false. When a system is available that allows consumers to purchase quality content for a reasonable price you won’t see significant piracy. In my opinion piracy is 99% the fault of the producers who have not treated their customers fairly and then have been aggressive over the result alienating them further. Even if I’m wrong as I said in point one, you don’t want to upset your customers.

    Finally, I strongly advise you to not put any notices on your work involving threats or warnings about the law or punishments. This is antagonistic and immediately puts me off reading your work legally or illegally. As you say, its your right to say you don’t want me as a customer should I not like this, well that is fine I’ll spend my money elsewhere. As someone who does not steal e-books, yet is strongly against DRM, any pro DRM comments or generalisation of consumers as thieves or threats is a massive huge reason for me not to pay. Why should I give money to someone who lumps me in with criminals when they warn me with such a disclaimer? I don’t like it and I won’t be buying if I don’t feel like I’m being treated with respect. You have to win customers, don’t take them for granted!

    Now my own disclaimer: I’m not accusing Holly (necessarily) of any of the above, I’m speaking to the whole industry. Holly obviously has the right to make her own choice, I hope she makes the right one for her.

  7. David B Avatar
    David B

    I think you should use DRM. No one is entitled to use your product except in a way that protects your rights as the intellectual proprietor, if you will. “I’m entitled, because others are getting away with it,” or “I’m entitled, because it’s easier on me and not you” are arguments they seem to want to try with you, but I am willing to bet that most of them would never try the same arguments with their mothers.

    From what I have read, the anti-DRM respondents are mostly worried with the failure or obsolescence of the DRM; secondarily, they want to be able to read what they have bought from you on more than one device.

    To answer the first problem, how about offering a return policy? Allow those whose DRM-protected copy has failed to send it back to you in exchange for one that does work with their reader. That way, if either bankruptcy or technology makes a certain form of DRM obsolete, then a copy of your book licensed for use with a newer form of DRM is free to those who have paid you for the content, while you still have “positive control” over the number of licensed copies out there. If a person has trouble with the DRM on their copy working, but they are an anomaly compared with your other “clients,” then a copy with the same type of DRM can be sent to replace it. If they still have a problem using it, swap out a third one; after that, it’s probably operator error at that point.

    As for the second problem, is cross-platform reading really an issue? You’ve said you are making this available for Kindle, Nook, iTunes and in print. Amazon has free Kindle formatted book reading apps for PCs, Macs and Tablets, iPad, iPhone & iPod Touch, BlackBerries and both Android and Windows based smartphones. Barnes and Noble has Nook formatted book reading apps for all except the Blackberry. Where’s the problem? It seems to me that whichever I choose as my format, I will be able to read it on just about anything.

    DRM is not a problem, it’s an inconvenience. So someone is inconvenienced. Big effing deal. It must be tough going through life thinking DRM should go away because you sacrifice several whole seconds to deal with it. Oh, the agony! Well, okay, that’s putting it on a little thick. But really, while many of us, including me, have had problems with broken DRM technology, it’s not time to throw the baby out with the bath water. HTTS is a significant piece of intellectual property, and it should be protected.

    Protecting your rights as an author is a big deal. If I ever write for a hoped-for profit, I’d want my rights secured as well. And lest folks forget, this is a writing course. It’s not a novel, something you’ll read on the beach for giggles, nor is it a piece of music on mp3 that you bought for less than you spend on a cup of coffee. This is the culmination of a lot of hard work. Find a better working technological solution, fine. Offer a swap if the DRM breaks, even better. Charge more like Apple does for it’s DRM free music, and think of it as piracy insurance, well, if that works for you, fine.

    But don’t give it away.

    1. Holly Avatar

      I’m providing the courses, classes, and novels via outlets that allow me to charge.

      If DRM didn’t remove books people had paid for from their libraries from time to time, or contain the possibility of destroying access to the work over time, and if it stopped pirates from stealing the work, I would be fully in favor of it.

      But the POSSIBILITY that Barnes and Noble will go tits-up at some point in the future, orphaning people who honestly paid for my work, requires me to evaluate where I stand in that equation.

      I do not want to take what I have not earned. This is as much of a defining statement of who I am and what matters to me as I am capable of making with words. If it were only words, it would be meaningless, so to be the person I choose to be, I must follow up with action.

      If I accept money from people who pay it in good faith, trusting that they will receive a product they can use, and then the format in which they bought it dies, I have taken something from them I have not earned. People who buy my writing courses use them over and over, year after year and book after book. And at least some people who buy my novels re-read them many times. I want them to be able to do that. It matters to me.

      I may have the the world’s largest population of honest readers. You’d be amazed at the number of people over the years who have purchased a copy of one of my courses and who have asked me, “I want to buy another copy for my friend. How can I do that?” Or who have purchased the big courses for themselves, paying several hundred dollars over time for them, and who have then asked me how they could buy the course for their friend who needed some help affording it.

      When I say I think most people are honest, it is because I have seen them being honest. I know a few people who bought things from me went on to pirate them, but MOST OF THEM DON’T. I have had, over the past six years, somewhere around 20,000 students through my site (I’m low-balling this number, but I know there’s a fair amount of overlap between courses.

      Most are people who only purchased one small course or another, but some have bought a lot more than that. This is a lot of people. Were they were not almost all honest, would have flooded the internet with pirated works. Instead, when they find them, they tell me so I can deal with them.

      So when I say I’m going to trust them to have my back when I can’t be there, I have good reason for thinking they will. They already have.

      Once I knew the right question to ask, it became easy for me to make my decision, because I thought of them, and thought, “How do I want to treat them?”

      They’re the people who matter to me. So I’ll do what’s best for them, and to hell with the rest.

  8. carol weshenfelder Avatar

    I disagree with the statement that employing DRM makes thieves out of those readers who want to read your books and give them away (taking food out of Holly’s family’s mouth, by the way). I also disagree with the statement that Holly doesn’t want you to read her work and keeps you from doing it by using DRM to copyright her work. It’s the same thing as your inventing something for profit (to provide for your family) and selling it in Walmart, only to find that someone has stolen cases and cases of your invention and is giving it away for free. You lose. So does every author, inventor, artist, craftsperson who hopes to make a living, even a meager one, from their hard work. And it is hard work.

  9. Cat Avatar

    Dear Holly,
    Similar problems are in the movie and CD realm: So much so that the entertainment industry is lobbying to have bandwidth restricted to prevent wholesale downloading of released media.

    HOWEVER there may be a way of embedding code in your book so that you can at least track the number of times it is “activated” on a reader…you may know for example that the Kindle contacts the net when it can, and same with iphone, etc.

    I know some geeky friends who may be interested in solving this problem for the good of all us authors at the mercy of pirates.

    However, let it be known that the truly criminal are only about 2% of the population and all is not lost!!!!

    Take heart brave writer.

  10. Chris Avatar

    No one is trying to “threaten or blackmail you economically”. It’s much simplier. I bought a game, it was DRM protected, the company went bankrupt, I can’t play it anymore. That’s it, I’m not buying DRM protected things anymore (unless much cheaper than non protected) because the odds are it will stop working (actually, it’s guaranteed to stop working since I will change hardware/reinstall system sooner or later).

  11. Vero Avatar

    To be honest, Holly, I respect you very much and love your writing advice, but that warning pisses me off like hell.

    I feel incriminated and threatened, and get the impression I’m reading the words of a paranoid with a superiority complex. And I will be biased in reading what follows that page.

    If I bought the book with my own money, I feel offended by that warning. If I got the book for free, from a friend or my spouse, I probably won’t go buy one of that writer’s books on my own after getting that vibe. And if I really stole the book, I don’t give a damn about the copyright warnings in the first place!

    My advice? Don’t get crazy over such issues, and just make us all (and yourself) happy by creating more quality content, not more warnings. 🙂

    1. Holly Avatar

      It isn’t a WARNING.

      It is the inclusion of information, similar to the patient teaching I did for years as an RN, letting people who have copies of the book realize that there is no legal way to give a copy to a friend short of buying one for him.

      This NOTICE, not WARNING, isn’t for the goddamned thieves. It is for the genuinely innocent, who think that by duplicating a copy of their book and giving it to a friend, they are performing some service to the author, like helping him advertise his book, and who do not realize in doing this they have both committed a crime and implicated their friend in the crime.

      I truly believe that most people who make copies of their ebooks and spread them around have no clue that they’re distributing stolen merchandise when they do this. (And if you’re thinking, “If someone paid for the book, so it isn’t stolen,” consider this: How many copies did he pay for? If he pays for one, but keeps one and gives one to a friend, the second one is stolen.

      1. Vero Avatar

        I’m convinced most people who “lend” electronic copies of things by copying them aren’t aware that it doesn’t work like with a physical book in a library. Technology has far outrun our ability to adapt the law and social customs to it, and I’m sure there are bigger issues with this still to come.

        However this may sound, the sober reality behind ALL of this is that writers produce and readers consume. If this process is hindered in any way by the medium or the laws that regulate the transition of content from writer to reader, then it’s the medium and laws that must be forced to change and adapt, and not the writers / readers. None of it all would exist without writes & readers, but that’s not true the other way around. I know reality is a bit more complicated, but acknowledging something is hard should not prevent it from being attempted.

        Rant over. 🙂

        Thank you for everything you do, Holly. You have no idea what an invaluable support your writing advice has been for me in my writerly beginnings.

  12. Eda Avatar


    I’m sorry I was unable to comment the other day. Business Engineering finals isn’t an easy thing. Back to the point then.

    I myself use the iPad. Not because, it’s just ‘cool ‘ and fancy. But mainly because of the lightness and the easy portable function of it. I sit every day in the train, busstop, tramstop, hours of travelling which don’t seem to be that bad after all because of my books. You won’t see my running around with small books no, I like long stories. And honestly for me, that’s pretty much frustrating to carry around, knowing you have so many other college material in your bag. If I’d be staying in just one place, like home for exampe. I’d love to buy hardcovers yes. I love the idea of filling my shelves full with books to have the feeling I have my own mini private library.

    I used to protest at the use of the iPad when my sister read books on it at first, and protested that nothing is better than hardcovers. But since I’ve tried it myself, it really is easier. Mind you, for some people out there, it is rather a plague to buy hardcovers that don’t exist in that country. I’m from Belgium, we usually order our books through Amazon.

    Loaning out hard-copies has never been an issue for me. As long as I’ve finished it first. But you won’t see me loaning out my iPad or my Apple ID. It’s a pretty expensive device in the first place, and second, they could abuse my Apple ID. I always convince them to buy it.

    Now, about the IP issue. I completely understand your frustations, honestly. I’m an artist. Well, visual artist. The reason why I like and loathe the idea of digital artworks is because the use of Digital Publishing – Let’s say Deviantart or another publishing site – could work both in your advantage and disadvantage. The advantage of this case is that you can easliy reach a greater audience than you could with the people around you. But the disadvantage is that you do see your artwork being stolen or distributed illegally.

    I can say that this issue is applicable – excuse me if I spelled that wrong, we Belgians aren’t that amazing in English – to many sections of The Arts. The disrespect for Intellectual Property has grown over the years and I’ve finally come to the conclusion that it is just the way how our corrupt society is. Hence, the reason why I’m doing my major in Business Engineering than doing Arts (eventhough that is my dream). I need to secure my position before I get to do what has these risks.

    But please Holly, don’t let that get over you. Eventhough I’m not a real student (Yes being a poor student and not having a creditcard sucks), I definately adore you for the work you have done! Thanks to you, I may possibly fullfil my dream one day of writing a strong book. I’ve read many of your posts and blogs. I know you are a strong person. YOU are the one that makes the choice, not the others. Whatever that choice would be, I’m sure that you’d have a strong reason to do so.

  13. Vicki "Kiddalee" Nemeth Avatar
    Vicki “Kiddalee” Nemeth

    The only halfway compelling part of the comment you quoted is “It’s demonstrable that making books easier to steal doesn’t make them stolen less; they are stolen MORE.” But then the comment does not demonstrate how DRM makes books any harder to steal.

    Instead it points at the pathetic sorts of people who steal and the wrongness of stealing, both of which have nothing to do with the advantages and disadvantages of DRM itself. How is DRM a hindrance to stealing books any more than copyright law is? It doesn’t increase prosecution rates. It doesn’t even make the people stealing older or more sorry, which the majority of said comment seems to focus on.

    The issue that actually focuses on DRM is that it creates an annoying and unreliable product for honest customers while doing nothing that it is intended to do.

    I disagree that the people saying that they will not buy your DRM books are blackmailing you. I will not buy a printed book if the pages are made of paper towel and glued to the spine with syrup. A DRM product is a bad product, no matter the content within. There is nothing wrong with refusing to buy a bad product, and there is nothing wrong with telling the maker why you won’t buy their product.

    I think the best deterrent to stealing your books is the notice you intend to place inside them from now on. It reminds people that pirating has consequences for thieves who get caught; more importantly it reminds pirates who don’t get caught that they are indeed stealing, which they have to admit is wrong.

  14. Juneta Avatar

    Oh I just wanted to add, I for one do pay book price for the kindle books I care about and want, so if I do it I know others do it too. I also appreciate the perks of of discounts, free stuff and special pricing for new releases, because I buy 10 or more book every month. I am watching my pennies just like everyone else, but I invest in this great love of mine of reading. I seldom ever buy hard copies anymore, and if I do, it takes me a long time to get around to reading them, because I am spoiled to my kindle.

    Sorry didn’t get this into to first post.

  15. Juneta Avatar

    I read through a lot of this. I have not been around that long, as in I just bought some of the courses. I would classify myself as a reader, voraious reader, that wants to learn to write and complete a novel. I have bought HTTS, HTRYN, and HTWS. I have also bought all the other books that Holly has available for kindle, because I absolutely LOVE my kindle. I am a kindle fiend. I have spent a lot of money since its release on kindle books. I have over 2000 already I bought, and some I got free through kindle. And YES some of those free books are some of my favorite authors, so yeah it does what its suppose to do for authors, because I am a reader who uses it and becomes a fan.

    I work in law enforcement. People will justify, good people, the right and wrong of things, so they can not feel bad about having shades of integrity, doesn’t mean they are bad people, because we all do it some degree just like the safe, perfect, victim and feel lessons.

    Stealing is stealing, however the conundrum of libraries and the fact you can loan a hard copy of a book you paid for because you own it without that being stealing is worthy thought to consider.

    I agree with whoever said its not going to make much difference either way. Its using energy for a “life thing” that you just can’t change or fix unless you can fix the people. It is always going to be there. The ones that are going to pay, like me, are going to because we like it, we want it, and its capture our interest. Its the right thing to do. The ones that aren’t are going to justify it to death or just not care one way or the other.

    I think you should do what you feel comfortable doing and what gives you “peace of mind” as someone else said. That is the best you can do, and let the rest go, it will eventually work itself out or not. Its really beyond all our control, unless some genius comes up with some new tech savvy thing that solves our problems.

    Do whats best for you, and what you feel is right. Its the best any of us can do, since we are all full of flaws. Its what makes us human, and we can only answer for our own actions, not other peoples. Protect yourself and the rest will work out.

  16. David Avatar

    I have read all the posts made today and even though I am new to this whole area of discussion:
    My feeling is that most people who purchase an ebook are confused as the earlier poster said about “licensed use” vs ownership. Years of people buying a print copy of a book assume that they should have the same rights with a digital copy as they do with a print book. As one poster mentioned If you have a copy of a book that you bought from a used book store have you done something illegal? Neither the author nor the original publisher will receive any money during this purchase. Where this differs though in my mind is that with a physical book you transfer ownership and the ability to use it in that situation. In order for the person who originally bought the book to ever read it again they would have to get another copy elsewhere. A digital copy of a book however could be kept and given/lent/sold to numerous people without actually giving up your own copy. You have become a “distributor” of the item in question now rather than disposing of an object that you purchased. DRM would lessen this as it defines better for people what they are buying.
    All that being said if I am to buy a digital copy of a book for essentially the same price as a “brand new printed” copy of a book then I expect to have the same right to enjoy that book however I please. Like many people have said here companies go out of business, change how their systems work, etc. If I spend $8 to buy an ebook for my kindle tomorrow and decide in two years that a nook has better features then I would like to be able to reread that book on my nook. If I can’t I will not download a pirated version of the book I just will not buy that version of the book.
    Perhaps you should consider releasing a DRM edition AND a non DRM edition at different prices. (not sure if that is even possible) I would be very willing to pay 2-3 dollars for a book that I knew I could only use on my kindle or 8 for a copy that I knew i could use on any electronic device I might use now or in the future.
    I agree that DRM doesn’t stop the determined thief.
    Either way I like the idea of a statement at the front speaking to this being how you stay alive and providing for your family. Threats don’t mean much to people these days – they have seen them on movies now for decades…more of an insult to your other readers.
    A note about illegal copies increasing sales (not having done research yet just sharing a story that may or may not be common):
    When my nephew was just old enough for my sister to say he could read it, I lent him a copy of JRR Tolkeins “The Hobbit” After reading it he asked for the entire Lord of the rings series for Christmas which my sister bought for him…along with “The Hobbit” of course.
    Won’t even comment on the guy you dropped the F-bomb on other than…”Censored” 🙂

  17. Keith younger Avatar
    Keith younger

    I have bought e-books both with and without drm. The first thing I do is run them through a drm stripping process that also allows me to convert them to format that I can read them on anyone of my devices (iPad, kindle, PC). I also store a copy in my bulk storage disc so that I can be sure that I can read the book that I have purchased later (even years later on a new device that uses a new format). I don’t steal others books. I also dislike the actions of publishers that want me to pay a higher price for the same file because I live in australia so I have set up purchasing based on a usa address

  18. Mads Bondo Dydensborg Avatar
    Mads Bondo Dydensborg

    Hi Holly

    Probably can not say anything that has not been said already, but here goes anyway. I do not pirate anything. I figure, if I want something, I should pay. However, I honestely hate DRM. It always ends up beeing a PITA, at some point. E.g. one needs at least two different ereaders to be able to read Amazon stuff, and Adobe DRM. I can’t borrow from my local library using a kindle, I can’t transfer something bought from Amazon to a non-kindle device, etc. Argh!
    What makes me sad, is that the people who refuse to pay, and pirate, often ends up with a “better” product for free, than I do, after paying. They get a “cracked” product, which they can move between devices as they like. The can print it, if they wish. They can run text-to-speech, and so on. I feel, that this is unfair. I paid, but got the restricted version. They did not pay a dime, but got the free version. wtf?
    It was the same for music for a long while, until most music suppliers dropped DRM. I recently bought an oldish album (2004) on CD for my daughter, and it took me 2 days to get it onto her mp3 player, because back in 2004, CD’s were “copyprotected”, meaning “broken in a certain way”. Thankfully this is no longer the case.
    As a result of the trouble, and my experiences with the music copy protection schemes, I honestly prefer non-DRM’ed books. Some publisher simply does not use DRM – I always start looking first there. Some authors do not support DRM, I prefer them as well. DRM is no readers friend.

    Perhaps Hugh Howie’s (of WOOL fame) recent blog post about DRM can be an inspiration:



  19. David Avatar

    Good God, Holly. You are over thinking this way too much. It’s like living life in a bubble. You can do everything you can to try and protect yourself, but sooner or later, shit’s gonna go down, and unfortunately as technology grows and grows, there will be more loopholes and ways to dodge doing what’s right. That disclaimer is plain ridiculous. Not only are you alienating your loyal readership, it’s like challenging the pirates to do what they do best, and without any remorse on their end. Kill them with kindness, not legality mumbo jumbo. You constantly proclaim about how poor you are, how you’re not rolling in dough, you have expense after expense, well what are you going to do… legally prosecute EVERY single PIRATE out there that dares cross your laughable threat? No, because you can’t afford it. What writer could, unless you are perhaps Stephen King or JK Rowling?

    Anyway, have you even done a google search on torrents for your books? IRRELEVANT. There isn’t any! You aren’t Amanda Hocking, nor Stephenie Meyer, Christine Feehan, nor any bestseller. You aren’t high profile enough, you aren’t much in the eyes of a pirate. You are a speck on the sidelines compared to those that ARE in fact losing money by having their works downloaded for free. I haven’t even heard of you or your work until I saw this site and blog… which I’m not going to come to anymore because all you do is whine about the potential theft on your irrelevant writing. You should count the fact that the ages of those who pirate– are usually the younger crowd, the crowd that doesn’t care about the crap you write about. So mark that as a blessing, I guess.

    Do your readers a favor and don’t alienate them.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Unfortunately, there are torrents of both my novels and my courses. I HAVE done searches, I have sent the sites the damn notices, I have successfully had the damn things taken down only to have them put back up again. My readers who come across them send me notices when they find them, I go in and attempt to have them removed, and sometimes I succeed, while sometimes I fail.

      Don’t kid yourself that only the big names are being stolen from.

      As for the notice, I’ll REPEAT (I suspect I’m going to be doing this a lot):

      It isn’t a WARNING.

      It is the inclusion of information, similar to the patient teaching I did for years as an RN, letting people who have copies of the book realize that there is no legal way to give a copy to a friend short of buying one for him.

      This NOTICE, not WARNING, isn’t for the goddamned thieves. It is for the genuinely innocent, who think that by duplicating a copy of their book and giving it to a friend, they are performing some service to the author, like helping him advertise his book, and who do not realize in doing this they have both committed a crime and implicated their friend in the crime.

      I truly believe that most people who make copies of their ebooks and spread them around have no clue that they’re distributing stolen merchandise when they do this. (And if you’re thinking, “If someone paid for the book, so it isn’t stolen,” consider this: How many copies did he pay for? If he pays for one, but keeps one and gives one to a friend, the second one is stolen.

  20. Faith Avatar

    I didn’t respond to the DRM discussion the other day because I’ve been dealing with my partner’s medical appointments while being ill myself and didn’t have the energy to spare. I’m sorry now that I didn’t.

    The thing is – ebooks and print books don’t *work* the same way. It’s not even like music, where you can buy a CD then convert it to mp3 format to play on your player and, if the machine dies, you still HAVE the music you paid for. My daughter got married last year and it took her three months of arguing with Amazon to get her account straightened out so that, with her name changed on her account to her married name, she could download the books she’d bought before she got married. Why? She had to format her laptop hard drive, without being able to back up all the books she’d downloaded, due to an operating system error (and being busy with wedding stuff so not having had time for backups).

    I have an e-reader, my laptop, and my desktop, all with the kindle *app* on them. I keep my books on an SD card I can take from one to the other, similar to carrying my paperback from room to room. I don’t mind having to do that, but I would be seriously upset if having it on my e-reader meant I couldn’t read it on my laptop when I’d killed the e-reader battery.

    My biggest concern with DRM is, honestly, how badly implemented it all is. People who bought books in Microsoft’s e-reader format have zero support for it now, and anything they spent on those books is lost. I’d like to *think* that won’t happen with Kindle or Nook, but people who invested heavily in Betamax thought it would be around forever, too. Also, I dislike buying ebooks from Amazon simply because they retain the right to delete books off your reader, without your consent.

    There are SO many problems with DRM, across the board, that I automatically choose any available option that is DRM free. If there isn’t one, I consider alternative purchases, because I HATE having someone else have control over whether I can use what I’ve paid for. In this case, that would be considering buying dead tree issue instead of ebook, because no one’s going to delete my paperback or tell me I can’t read it any more.

    I understand the need to protect your work, your effort, and your livelihood. I would never argue against your ability to do that. I just hate the way DRM is handled because it unfairly penalizes the honest people who sincerely want to pay for what they get.

  21. Carrie Avatar

    Writers should be paid for their work and stealing is wrong; but DRM may not be the best vehicle for defending writers’ work. I don’t know what the solution is, but what we have at this point in history is a new problem. We have to understand that new problems cannot be solved with all the old answers. Whatever answers we find, it will not look like the old ones.

    The problem with DRM is not that writers should not own their work, or get paid for it. Of course they should. Of course entitlement is wrong; humans did not evolve to be parasites.

    The problem with DRM is that it is not enforceable. It seems to be too easy for ordinary people with a little bit of coding experience to figure out how to break it. What that means is that the amount of government required to enforce it will have to become draconian to do the job. We don’t want to go there, do we? Surely there must be some other way to answer the question of writers being paid for their work? Surely there must be a way of dealing with parasites that does not require the rest of us to live in 1984?

    1. Holly Avatar

      I have come to the conclusion that DRM is a crap solution, so I won’t be using it anymore.

  22. Kit Russell Avatar
    Kit Russell

    While I don’t absolutely refuse to buy DRM content, it’s a negative when considering the decision whether or not to purchase something. I don’t like knowing that I won’t be able to play a CD on my computer while I’m writing, or that I might not be able to read a book on my e-reader, or that my e-books might be lost. The potential for inconvenience or loss decreases the value for me.

    I also agree with the people who think that you’d do better by personalizing your anti-piracy appeal. After all, who would steal from a friend?

    1. Holly Avatar

      As noted elsewhere:

      It isn’t a WARNING.

      It is the inclusion of information, similar to the patient teaching I did for years as an RN, letting people who have copies of the book realize that there is no legal way to give a copy to a friend short of buying one for him.

      This NOTICE, not WARNING, isn’t for the goddamned thieves. It is for the genuinely innocent, who think that by duplicating a copy of their book and giving it to a friend, they are performing some service to the author, like helping him advertise his book, and who do not realize in doing this they have both committed a crime and implicated their friend in the crime.

      I truly believe that most people who make copies of their ebooks and spread them around have no clue that they’re distributing stolen merchandise when they do this. (And if you’re thinking, “If someone paid for the book, so it isn’t stolen,” consider this: How many copies did he pay for? If he pays for one, but keeps one and gives one to a friend, the second one is stolen.

      However, in light of so many people mistaking it as a warning, I probably need to do it as a “Did you know…?”

  23. Nathanael Rouillard Avatar
    Nathanael Rouillard

    do not bother trying to convince people that stealing the ebook is wrong. the only people affected by the paragraph will be the honest reader who bought it, and who can not remove the text themselves. (an even more trivial task than stripping the DRM).

    Write a short thank you note to the reader for buying your book. address your customers rather than the people who are not.

  24. Shawna Avatar

    I didn’t see the post about DRM until last night at nearly midnight, and was too groggy to post coherently – so I’m chiming in late, hopefully succinctly.

    These days, I purchase *very few* books for myself. If it’s available through loan in one of our local systems, or ILLiad/WorldCat, I request it and wait a week or two.

    To be a bit more specific:
    Fiction (for me): Libraries (we have two systems that are local to us), either physical books or ebook lending, $1/bag at the thrift store, or Amazon freebies.
    Fiction (for kids): Tons of library books, with a couple ebook readers for classics. Lots of thrift store and garage sale finds, plus PaperbackSwap and used Amazon books for specific titles we desire.
    Nonfiction (Science, history, cookbooks, writing, crafts): Library, followed by used purchase for titles we’re sure we want to have on hand. Very choosy about these – limited budget, and these tend to be pricier.
    Homeschool books – depends on what format they’re available in. Often the ebook version is significantly less expensive than the print, and if worksheet/copy friendly pages are involved, I prefer pdf form and my printer to the hassle of copy machines.

    So in other words – the very few titles that I purchase these days on ebook are the ones that:
    1) aren’t available via library loan, or
    2) are priced significantly lower in digital form, or
    3) have some special convenience factor, or
    4) some combination thereof.

    Having used ebooks in various formats since shortly after I started using the internet, and getting into ebooks around 10-12 years ago, way before they were cool, I’m still annoyed by how naive I was in those early years. I lost hundreds of dollars purchasing ebooks in formats that I’d foolishly believed that of course, everyone would make sure that future devices would play nicely and be backwards compatible. It never occurred to me that the book publishing mess would make the Beta and VHS wars look like a teeny scuffle over candy, or that the consumer would be the one getting the raw end of the deal in the long run.

    I was burnt, and wised up. I’ve got to want something pretty badly to choose to buy it despite the DRM; yes, I can remove it, and make it go on my reader, but it’s a hassle… and besides, the DRM notice is a good way to curb impulse buys.

    As for the honest/dishonest: it seems clear these days that at best, DRM annoys some honest customers, and at worst, DRM deters some honest customers from purchase, and doesn’t slow the dishonest ones much at all.

    To give another comparison, which may or may not be helpful, but at least it might help you understand where I’m coming from:
    As a family, we’ve totally stopped purchasing movies at this point. We have Netflix and Hulu (and now Amazon) – any movie we want to watch, we can either stream, have mailed, or get out of a RedBox.

    1. Shawna Avatar

      Ooops. Accidental Click. (continuing)
      Why on earth would we want to purchase DVDs? Especially BlueRay ones that offer us a “free” digital version that we could only use on one or two specific portable players?
      And the same but different question… why would we want to “purchase the streaming movie” on Amazon – when it would be tied to Amazon? It wouldn’t really be ours, not in the way the DVD would have been.

      Those aren’t purchases; they’re leases. And lousy limited leases at that. If they were cars, they’d be leases that not only were specific colors and models of cars, but you’d only be able to drive one specific route, with certain passengers. And when you no longer needed it, you could throw it out, or ignore it, but you couldn’t sell it. What customer would tolerate that?

      I don’t know what the answer is, but it’s clear the current situation isn’t working to anyone’s satisfaction – and so far, suggestions for the future don’t seem be an improvement.

      My wishful thinking? One central database that one could log all purchases in say, household groups – and once purchased, it remained purchased – and was available in whatever format was needed. Now, next year, and twenty years from now.

      And now that I think about it, that’s something that we’re coming very close to losing. When my granddad wanted to pass down a bunch of books to me as a gift, he didn’t go to the store and buy me a bunch of sterile titles – he took books off his shelf, that he’d held as a kid, written notes in, carried to school with him, fallen asleep with – they were treasures, they were personal.

      Not ephemera dissolved into mist at whim.

  25. Benjamin Avatar

    I have my own feelings about DRM and even the disclaimer. I just bought a DVD and sat down to watch the movie that I paid for. Before the movie started there was a 30 second long, un-skippable commercial about not pirating. It made my blood boil, that I who paid for the work had to sit there and wait to watch the content on the DVD I paid for while those who pirated the work got to immediately watch the movie. I still buy DVDs to watch TV shows and movies and I want to watch them on any DVD player in case the player I have breaks.

    As for the disclaimer at the beginning of the e-book, I don’t really like that idea. I like to open an e-book and see the beginning of the story when I open the book up. I think there was a post on fantastic openings or something. The opening to the second Hunting the Corrigan’s Blood book was much better than the disclaimer and I would immediately start to read it if I saw it come up on my e-reader.

    As for DRM, as long as I can read the content I paid to read on my e-reader I have at the time, then I will be a happy customer and I will probably buy more of what you have to offer. If DRM causes me a negative experience I will be an unhappy customer and I will blog about it, tell my friends about it, and take my business elsewhere. Customer service works well in gaining repeat customers. DRM is pretty much anti-customer service.

    I like the Baen model. They are DRM free. They also give enough away for free for you to get addicted and need to fork over money to them to get your next fix for their books. They know how to get their money. Is it easy to pirate from Baen? Probably, but it’s much easier to go to their website and give them money. All e-book prices are about a dollar cheaper than a paperback, so it’s not even worth the time it takes to pirate.

    However, it’s your IP, Holly, so you get to decide what to do with your work. However, you have to balance a positive reader experience and getting paid for your work. With DRM, you risk annoying paying customers; without it, you risk pirates. Which group do you make money from? That is the group you need to make happy.

  26. Craig Avatar

    Hello Holly, before I offer my perspective I wanted to present an author (SciFi) who is not a supporter of DRM. His name is Cory Doctorow and he presents an interesting perspective if you are not familiar with him. He even consulted with Microsoft on the topic years ago.

    Here is a recent article he contributed to thegaurdian, “Why the death of DRM would be good news for readers, writers and publishers” –

    He has two books (he has many really,) but these two are pertinent to this discussion and are free for download (most all of them are actually.)

    Content –
    Context –

    I’ll admit that I myself have removed DRM from my purchases. I have been reading ebooks for several years now. I am an avid reader of books and have been for decades. I primarily read Sci-Fi and Fantasy and I find myself returning to previously read series’ often.

    When I first discovered that I could read books on my Palm device I was ecstatic! But I immediately learned that ebook content required different readers for different file types. I was using eReader (then PalmReader) and Plucker, iSilo and MobyReader and others. I was purchasing ebooks from sites like and But I was equally soaking up free books from This was great. I found that really only was putting out anything really current, while the other sites were certainly introducing me to new and unique authors.

    Even then I came to the conclusion that I really wanted to have my purchased printed books in ebook format. I began to Google authors to find if they were considering moving their books to ebook format. One series in particular that I was looking for was a long out of print series called the “Makers” series by Michael McCollum ( He was the first author to truly consider making his books available via some sort of electronic format and he documented his decision making process and journey to do so. At that point, I was already close to destroying my yellowing paperbacks in order to OCR scan them into my computer and convert them over to my PDA.

    I have been a graphic designer for over 20 years and work at a commercial printer, so InDesign and various other publishing tools are second nature to me.

    Don’t get me wrong, I was not considering this for nefarious purposes, I only wanted the books on my PDA for my own personal pleasure. I had a huge library of hardback and paperback books that I was tired of maintaining. Much to the chagrin of my publishing buddies.

    But Michael already had his books available for purchase from his website and downloadable upon checkout so I bought the whole series. He did all the work of conversion so I didn’t have too! But…

    Then I got a Microsoft mobile phone, and I wanted all my PDA content there, well now what? eReader was available, yea! Plucker too, and iSilo so it was all good, for a while… Then the first Sony eReaders and Kindles came out. I was dubious so I didn’t purchase either. I had however purchased a iPod Touch and naturally I wanted my content on there too.

    Then Barnes & Noble put out their Nook. I immediately jumped on that bandwagon because I am a firm believer in open formats. ePub fit this bill nicely so I was sold. ‘Cept now I wanted all my content on my Nook. The early Nook supported the Palm .pdf format so all my eReader content would port over, even the DRM stuff. But everything else had to be converted. Double Dragon Publishing did not DRM their content which was awesome so that converted over quite nicely, however, iSilo content did not. Then with the Nook Color/Tablet, the native .pdb format went away so I was forced to look for alternatives to convert that into .epub and did.

    This has not stopped me from purchasing books from bookstores however.

    I was rapidly becoming frustrated with the idea of DRM and not just from the ebook standpoint but from the music standpoint as well. Then I came across Cory and he made sense!

    It is my opinion that DRM forces honest people to pay the price in the end and so I believe that DRM is a self perpetuating model, only ever hurting the honest folk. Thieves will never purchase what they can eventually get for free and this will always be the case unfortunately.

    Meanwhile, DRM locks us honest folk into device/format specific technology. Amazon ebooks are in a format that doesn’t work on a Nook, and while B&N’s default format is ePub, a DRM ePub won’t work on a Kindle even though Kindle supports ePub.

    The other thing that I haven’t seen discussed yet is the cost of DRM to the Author. Publishers exact a premium from the author for every title sold. That’s money out of your pocket. Then if it can be stripped off anyway, you’re doubly losing out. Thieves won’t care about any legal disclaimers. So what is the use in really including a long winded one?

    I think that you’ll limit your audience with DRM. So you may miss prospects as a result. If I like something I read, I’ll be more inclined to purchase other content if it is available.

    I discovered you on the Baen Free Library. Having read your books from there I am really interested on purchasing others.

    It is late, and I feel that I am rambling at this point, so I will wrap this up. I just wanted to contribute some of my own thoughts but mainly wanted to direct you to Cory Doctorow.

    1. Holly Avatar

      I’d already decided before reading this to go DRM-FREE, but this is useful additional information. Thank you.

  27. Sérgio Teixeira da Silva Avatar
    Sérgio Teixeira da Silva

    What’s your retort to Dowling v. United States?

  28. Brittany Avatar

    I am afraid that I don’t know enough about the issue to be of help, but I would like to praise what you may see as just plain common sense and being a decent human being. Your willingness- no, determination to take only what you feel that you have rightfully earned and payed for is admirable. Perhaps you will find the very fact of its admirability to be a sad statement on society- take it for what you will, but I think the fact is that many people get so caught up in what they don’t have and what they desire that “earning” it simply gets lost on them. They want it, plain and simple. It’s a trap that I sometimes find myself falling into- the feeling that, if what I want is within my grasp, there is no reason I should not take it. However, this is unquestionably not worth it if it costs someone money that they have earned. The fact is that most people don’t think about the person on the other side. I think it’s more a matter of empathy and realizing that someone stands to gain or lose based on your decision to be an honest person rather than fearing punishment that should motivate us to pay for the things that we desire. I don’t very much care about Wal-Mart’s profits, but rather than steal from them because I despise them (a perfectly personal view that no one has to agree with), I prefer to shop at small, locally owned stores where I can see the owner- the person (one of them, at least) who stands to gain or lose based on my decision to be a decent human being. Seeing that person who you are harming does a world of good in encouraging people to do the right thing. It’s difficult to say how that might help you, personally, so forgive my musings. I just think that people should do the right thing without fear of punishment and not because it’s easier than removing some lock… otherwise, what’s the right thing really worth? I share your faith in people, and think that they will often do the right thing. Sometimes we fail, yes, but that’s no reason to lose hope in us. 🙂

  29. Richard Avatar

    O’Reilly is a company that publishes technology books. They do not produce their products using DRM. See this link:

    Perhaps reaching out to them will provide opportunity to understand their perspective. One coming from a large company that has chosen to not use DRM.

  30. Mark Shurtleff Avatar
    Mark Shurtleff

    Regarding your proposed “copyright disclaimer”, I personally believe you are shooting yourself in the foot rather badly. If you treat your readers as criminals, they will do their best to prove you right.

    I bought e-book/Kindle copies of your Arhel novels – including Fire In the Mist which I *already own* in paperback, and would have done so even if they had been available for free in eBook format. This is in spite of the fact that:
    1) I’m unemployed.
    2) I’ve been sole income earner for my family.
    3) I’m married to a wife with significant medical issues.
    4) I am looking seriously at the unpleasant fact that I am now nearly unemployable in my industry due to my age (mid fifties!), despite 25+ years of experience and previously gainful employment.
    5) I am faced with significant retraining, few financial resources (see 1,2,3 above), and no family available to “take up the slack”.

    As a reader, I am not really that unusual in wanting to buy an “official copy” of a book to read – instead of eating a bad fast-food meal *once* – even when faced with significant financial hardship. Even *hinting* to your current or potential reader base that they are scofflaws for daring to read an “unbought” copy will generate exactly the type of negative publicity you simply cannot afford to have.

    1. Holly Avatar

      And yet again:

      It isn’t a WARNING.

      It is the inclusion of information, similar to the patient teaching I did for years as an RN, letting people who have copies of the book realize that there is no legal way to give a copy to a friend short of buying one for him.

      This NOTICE, not WARNING, isn’t for the goddamned thieves. It is for the genuinely innocent, who think that by duplicating a copy of their book and giving it to a friend, they are performing some service to the author, like helping him advertise his book, and who do not realize in doing this they have both committed a crime and implicated their friend in the crime.

      I truly believe that most people who make copies of their ebooks and spread them around have no clue that they’re distributing stolen merchandise when they do this. (And if you’re thinking, “If someone paid for the book, so it isn’t stolen,” consider this: How many copies did he pay for? If he pays for one, but keeps one and gives one to a friend, the second one is stolen.

  31. Mark Shurtleff Avatar
    Mark Shurtleff

    Eric Flint really does an excellent job – backed up by real facts and hard sales numbers – on why DRM is one of your worst enemies as a writer. Others in this thread have referenced this weblog for good reason.

  32. Sari Webb Avatar

    Hi Holly, apologies if this is repeating earlier comments, but thought I’d put in my two cents.

    The DRM issue is something I’ve been following closely since it has been in the book publishing news a lot of late. Being an aspiring author myself, I fully support and encourage authors in their endeavours to protect their IP. I’m just not convinced DRM is the solution.

    When a consumer purchases a p-book, it is theirs to consume in any way they wish. They can take it on holiday, read it inside, outside, upside down if that’s their thing. They have paid for the goods and ownership of that book is transferred to them.

    With DRM, when a consumer purchases an e-book, they are not actually purchasing the right to own that book, but instead are only purchasing access to the content. Their ability to consume that content is greatly reduced because the access is limited to however they purchased it. A lot of readers aren’t affected by this because they may only have a Kindle/Kobo/Nook/etc and aren’t the sort of people to change devices regularly or own more than one, and they may not even realise that they don’t actually own the content they’ve paid for, but can only access the content through their initially chosen channel. It’s the ones who do read in more than one way – on their e-reader, smart phone, computer, etc – or wish to upgrade to a different type of device who are affected, and who may get a nasty shock when they realise that library they’ve spent a lot of time and money building up is not actually theirs when they go to transfer it to a different mode of consumption.

    There’s no easy solution here, at least not yet. Good luck choosing your way forward, Holly.

    1. Holly Avatar

      There actually is an easy solution, which I came up with last night while bouncing this back and forth with my husband:

      What matters to me in this equation?

      Simply that my readers not get screwed by a format that will in essence steal books for them that they have paid for and rightfully own? That would be DRM.

      If that’s what matters to me, then where’s the debate? My choice is indeed simple, and now made. I’ll go DRM-FREE, and trust my readers to watch my back when I can’t.

  33. Sunwolfe Avatar

    That’s a whoooolotta voices up there, Holly. I wonder what they would sound like if they were music?

    I think you’ve heard/read a lot…more than a lot. Maybe it’s time to take a step back and meditate on it all. You know, let your heart sift through it. You need a sunrise or two and maybe a martini or two as well. Listen to your heart; it’ll guide you just fine. It’s done extremely well so far!

    Someone close to you and rather wise once said: “Every situation, no matter how bad, holds an opportunity. The worse the situation, the bigger the opportunity IF you’re just persistent enough to find and use it…” 😉

    Sounds to me like you got a whoooolotta opportunity in there somewhere and I’ve got a feeling you’ll find it just fine. 🙂

    1. Holly Avatar

      Not a big fan of listening to my heart. That’s how I ended up married to a child molester.

      Listening to my brain works much, much better.

      There actually is an easy solution, which I came up with last night while bouncing this back and forth with my husband:

      What matters to me in this equation?

      Simply that my readers not get screwed by a format that will in essence steal books for them that they have paid for and rightfully own? That would be DRM.

      If that’s what matters to me, then where’s the debate? My choice is indeed simple, and now made. I’ll go DRM-FREE, and trust my readers to watch my back when I can’t.

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