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Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Lulu.com: DRM or not DRM?

So, this afternoon I received the following update email from Lulu.com, or sometime POD printers:

"Dear valued customer,
Lulu was founded on the philosophy of breaking down barriers that prevent talented authors from sharing their knowledge and telling their stories. Our goal is to help authors reach the broadest possible audience by providing tools to create, publish, market and sell their remarkable work. In an ongoing commitment to our founding philosophy, we continue to remove barriers when we see them, which brings us to the subject of Digital Rights Management (DRM).

On January 15, 2013 we will remove the option to apply Adobe Digital Rights Management (DRM) to new and revised EPUB and PDF formatted eBooks.

On March 12, 2013 all remaining DRM-protected eBooks will be set to Private Access, removing them from the Lulu marketplace.

If you have a DRM-protected eBook, you must revise and re-publish the title at your earliest convenience, in order to continue offering it on Lulu.com after March 12, 2013. For more information, see this article: DRM & eBooks Published in the Lulu Marketplace.

Once this process completes, we believe your readers will enjoy a more integrated shopping, downloading, and reading experience. For more information about why Lulu will no longer offer DRM, please read this blog post by our COO, Tom Bright: Lulu Says Goodbye to DRM."

Now, while I'm no fan of DRM, and have never enabled it on any of our own e-books, it seems rather heavy-handed to completely remove even the option of protecting one's own copyrighted material. It could even be argued that far from helping to combat piracy, Lulu are helping to embrace it, although I would also venture that playing hardball with DRM limitations isn't the way to go either.

However, I am more and more coming to the conclusion that Lulu's services are based upon user vanity rather than any desire to further the concept of successful self-pubbing. Certainly, the last time I had anything to do with their customer services team, I had to resort to outright public humiliation on their own FB page to get action for a service I'd already paid for (documented painfully, I seem to recall, via the pages of this very blog).
We may continue to work with them in future for comics and graphic novels, but to be honest, having siphoned off half our prose works to Smashwords and removing Amazon exclusivity, it may also be time for a change to another Print-on-Demand comics outlet.

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