eBooks.com is blazing the way for other global ebookstores—with a handy search filter that lets you skip over DRM-hobbled titles.
Also, this 1.2-million-title store has started a section to highlight nonDRMed ebooks.
I tested the filter just now, and it worked great. As for the no-DRM section, you can check it out here.
Unsurprisingly, the five titles listed first are all nonfiction works from O’Reilly, but fiction does show up on the first page, including three Wild Cards novels by George R. R. Martin, author of Game of Thrones.
“We’re a firm believer in DRM-free, as it empowers our customers and differentiates ourselves from Amazon,” eBook.com Production Director Benedict Noel emailed me from Perth, Australia, home to the international store.
“More publishers are slowly coming on board with the idea.
“A couple of years back, I’m sure you heard that O’Reilly closed their eBookstore in favour of a subscription service. I believe that we’re the only company that still offers a correctly formatted version of their DRM-free PDFs for sale.
Notice, too, the choice of ebook formats? If Jeff Bezos really wants to keep the anti-trusters off his back, he should start adding the industry-standard ePub format as a choice for readers. He could still keep Amazon’s proprietary formats for those wanting them. Of course, let’s hope that in time Kindles will be able to read ePub without conversion.
Meanwhile, congratulations to eBooks.com on its anti-DRM moves! One suggestion would be for listings for DRMless books to carry a big logo indicating this. Also, I’d love to see a prominent home page promo pointing visitors to the DRM-free section. Perhaps those wrinkles are already in eBook.com’s plans.
For publishers insisting on DRM, eBooks.com offers its own version. “It is not based on Adobe ACS,” the bookstore says on its About page. Having our own DRM system improves usability for our customers, and enables us to respond quickly to new requirements and trends.”
The best solution, of course, would be no DRM on any book. Perhaps someday writers, agents and publishers will be more enlightened, given the luck that open-minded publishers have enjoyed with either no anti-piracy measures or else the use of watermarks. People hate to be locked into the ecosystem of any particular store—or at least they should, if they want to own their books for real.
At another prominent independent site, Smashwords, the approach is different. No DRM on any title. But then Smashwords focuses on small publishers and authors not insisting on DRM. I remain grateful to Mark Coker, Smashwords’ founder and CEO, for following the free advice I gave him when he was starting out. Try to avoid DRM!
But what if you and your wife formerly sold paper books Down Under and you want to continue dealing with large publishers in an era when your store is now digital? Then you’re boxed in. But eBooks.com in its own way is gently nudging publishers to change, and I hope more stores will follow its example (hint, hint, B&N). Props to Stephen Cole, eBooks.com founder, whom I met in person at a book show eons ago. He’s long shared my belief in the synergies between bookstores and libraries.
Attention other booksellers, as well as their customers: I used the phrase “blazing the way” to describe eBooks.com’s DRM filter approach. But if any other store got there first, I’d love to know about it.
Update: Benedict tells me: “I’ve asked Stephen and Trudy if we can shuffle a few things around on the homepage and put a DRM-Free section prominently in the header. Once they give me approval, I can make this change live very quickly. I think a logo indicating DRM-free status is a good idea, I’ll run this by Stephen too.”
Disclosure: eBooks.com provided TeleRead with temporary hosting at a crucial time after the NAPCO Media returned ownership to me. But I’d feel exactly the same way about the eBooks.com’s anti-DRM efforts even if the hosting hadn’t happened.