DRM stands for Digital Rights Management, and it is a very polarizing topic in the ebook publishing world. It is essentially a software lock that is placed on your ebook that only allows it to be downloaded a certain number of times. It also limits the number of devices on which it can be read.

So do you need DRM?

Advocates of DRM argue that it protects your digital assets from being pirated. Others believe that it restricts users unnecessarily, and that those wanting to pirate digital goods will still find a way.Twitter

We at Author Secret fall into the latter group. In our view, there are two big issues that make DRM a waste of time:

  1. DRM is not ironclad and can be defeated quite easily. If you want evidence of this, just Google “Removing DRM from an ebook”. You’ll find pages and pages of results offering free methods to do so. In essence, this means that DRM just keeps honest people honest, but determined pirates will still find a way.
  2. It can affect the user experience in the long run. Let’s take Amazon’s DRM system as an example. Basically, Amazon has a double-layer of “protection” when you apply DRM to your ebook. The first layer locks the purchased book to that user’s account, and the second layer restricts how many times they can download the book. This means they can’t log in as themselves on a friend’s Kindle and download the book for them. However, what happens when a user upgrades to a newer Kindle and has already reached their download limit? They will suddenly find that they can’t access their purchased book on their new device without contacting Amazon customer support to get their other devices de-activated. What a hassle!

If you want some hard evidence that DRM does not reduce piracy, then take a look at this article detailing what happened at Tor Books once they went DRM-free. (Spoiler alert: nothing major happened.)

The short answer…

The bottom line is that if your book is wildly successful (and we hope it will be), it will be pirated and shared. This is both flattering and frustrating, but we still think that it is not a good enough reason to punish honest users by applying DRM to your book.

So, the short answer is: NO, you do not need to apply DRM to your ebook.