major change to its Digital Text Platform last week that went largely unnoticed: Small publishers and individual authors who use the Digital Text Platform can now opt out of the Kindle's digital rights management (DRM) program. While this change only affects a relatively small number of publishers and authors for now, this move could hint at a larger change in Amazon's DRM policy. Right now, Amazon's DRM policy means that its customers can't transfer their books to a non-Kindle e-reader.Amazon quietly made a
Update: Amazon just contacted us to let us know that a DRM-free option always existed for publishers using the Digital Text Platform. Amazon just added new functionality that makes it easier for publishers to set these options.
For Amazon, it makes sense to experiment with this new option on the Digital Text Platform. Given that this is a self-publishing tool, the company doesn't have to explain this change to its partners in the publishing industry while allowing the company to experiment with a DRM-free solution. Most publishing houses tend to be very conservative when it comes to DRM-free e-book solutions. In the self-publishing world, however, DRM-free books are very common. Self-publishing platform Smashwords, for example, doesn't even offer a DRM solution.
Right now, you can't take your Kindle e-books to a Sony Reader, for example. While the Kindle is a huge success for Amazon, the current DRM solution is surely holding quite a few potential customers back from making the jump to e-books.
The Beginning of the End for E-Book DRM?
If the e-book world follows the same path as the music industry, however, chances are that restrictive DRM solutions will disappear over the next few years. At least for Amazon, giving its self-published authors and small publishing houses this option is a first step in the right direction. For O'Reilly, publishing a DRM-free e-book has turned out to be an advantage. Hopefully, other publishing houses will also realize that DRMed e-books do very little.
Tip of the hat to Nieman Lab's Joshua Benton for noticing this change first.
Image Credit: Nieman Journalism Lab.