It all started with this blog post from David Pogue regarding his concerns about e-content copyright protection. David very effectively communicated his stance against e-content distribution, primarily because of piracy issues. I can't say I really agreed with him, but I admire the way he framed his argument and supported it with a couple of examples from his own books.
Then I read Adam Engst's point of view in this article. Now that's an argument I can really get behind. I think Adam nailed it and I found myself nodding in agreement as I read what he had to say. Adam also brings a lot of credibility to the table as the Publisher of TidBITS and their ebooks arm, Take Control Ebooks. I'm grateful that Adam was willing to share so much in that article, particularly when it comes to his experience at Take Control. Here are a few points in Adam's article that really made an impression on me:
First, Take Control takes a few extra steps to discourage unauthorized copying of their DRM-free ebooks. For example, they display the price prominently on the first page of every ebook. That sounds subtle, but I can see where that would serve as a deterrent and help remind readers that there's a stated value associated with the product. They also offer a lot of free updates and discount offers readers can share with their friends; nice touches.
He also noted that, "by publishing DRM-free ebooks, acknowledging that it's OK to lend one of our ebooks to a friend or colleague, and providing free and discounted updates, I believe we come down squarely on the side of the reader." What a novel concept...treating your customers like they're something other than convicted criminals. Another winning idea.
Next up, Adam believes that "voluntary payments don't constitute a viable business model." I'm not quite ready to throw in the towel on this one. I figure it's just that nobody has found the right formula here. Give it time, add a new element or two and we might have something...but don't give up already!
Finally, he makes this statement: "Core to that idea [enhanced iPod/iPhone] was the suggestion that the iTunes Store sell ebooks; I'd bet that Apple would become the largest ebook retailer in the world nearly instantly." That's probably the one scary thought that leaves the Kindle team sleepless in Seattle...