DRM on the Kindle – an update

This is cross-posted at Teleread.org.

A few weeks back I posted on Teleread about Jew Bezos’ take on DRM on the Kindle. Bezos said that copyright holders can choose to include DRM in their Kindle books if they want it, but my contention was that anyone who uploads content to the Kindle through the Digital Text Platform (DTP) did not have this option. I made that assertion because there was no information on the DTP about how to add DRM to a book, and there is certainly no check-box on the upload interface that lets a user choose to DRM the content or not when Amazon prepares it for publication.


Well, it looks like the option is available after all — in a manner of speaking.

After some investigation I started to see that most of the books I downloaded that were published on the DTP did not have DRM. To figure this out, all you have to do is change the extension from .AZW to .PRC or .MOBI. Then the files will open in any Mobipocket Reader program or supported device if they are DRM-free.


So, I contacted Amazon to see what they would say about the issue officially. The response I received was enlightnening:


Using Amazon DTP, publishers have the ability to add or omit DRM from their submissions. If you use the DTP conversion, the default will be DRM-Free. You can, however submit a mobipocket file through DTP, which can have DRM when it was created. If this is the case, then DTP will honor the DRM.


That little bit of information is a game changer. I would venture to guess that the majority of individuals and companies using the DTP do not have any idea about DRM, and even fewer know how to effectively use Mobipocket Creator to make a decent eBook file.


I would encourage Amazon to make this option more prominent on the DTP and give users a front-and-center option for selecting DRM or not. A link to the Teleread DRM Primer would be a good addition, too.


Joshua Tallent is an eBook guru in Austin, Texas. He offers Kindle eBook formatting tips and tricks at his KindleFormatting.com website, as well as formatting assistance for authors and publishers.

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