Revising Leah

December 29, 2008

(A Mobipocket Interlude)

Over the weekend, I made The Spring available as an ebook download at the Mobipocket website. It was a bit of a technical labyrinth, but I got everything figured out, and I think the ebook itself turned out quite nice.

Two things I don’t like about Mobipocket, though. First, I wasn’t allowed to offer the novel as a free download. When I tried to assign a price of $0.00 to the novel, I was told that was “not a valid price”. I ended up charging $0.50 for the book, which may not sound like much, especially compared to 99% of the other books on the site, but there is still a big psychological divide between “free” and any amount of money. “Free” would have gotten me more readers. Fifty cents will mean far fewer readers.

The other thing I didn’t like was that Mobipocket requires the ebook files to be encrypted with DRM. Again, I tried to build an ebook without the DRM and submit that, but the website wouldn’t accept it. DRM is already a discredited technology (the music industry has abandoned it, and just ask the makers of Spore how well their DRM has worked out for them), and assigning DRM to a book strikes me as absurd. There’s no DRM if I check out a book from a library. When I purchase a book at my local bookstore, I don’t have to run the book through some DRM-removing machine before I can walk out of the store with it. Why does there need to be DRM attached to a book that I purchase online? This obsession with “piracy” is so ridiculous, and it runs antithetical to how our civilization has thought about books and knowledge for the last few centuries. I want to encourage people to read my book; I don’t want to tell people that they’re not allowed to read because some middleman hasn’t gotten paid yet.


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