Print

Imagine if you bought a book, read and loved it, and wanted to share it — but couldn’t. Imagine that the publisher was somehow able to prevent you from physically handing that book to someone else. Perhaps they padlocked it in your bookcase; perhaps they weighted it with some gravitational magic; perhaps there are thugs hiding behind the barista at a cafe, just waiting to stop you from passing that book along.

(Obviously, thugs from a publishing house would be easy to notice, given their arty good looks and ineffable air of ink, but stick with me here.)

You can’t imagine this, because it’s illegal. You bought the book. It’s yours to do with as you like.

Now imagine that you bought an ebook, read and loved it, and wanted to share it — but couldn’t. No padlocks, gravity, or arty thugs involved. In fact, that’s the case with many ebooks. They’re “locked” by DRM, an acronym that supporters say refers to Digital Rights Management; opponents, Digital Restrictions Management.

Regardless of the words that provide the acronym, DRM prevents you from sharing ebooks freely. Intended as copyright protection, which is concerned with distribution of material, DRM instead controls consumer access to material. Material you’ve purchased.

Many online publishers have pushed back against DRM, O’Reilly Media most notably. CEO Tim O’Reilly knows his customers are smart. If they want a book badly enough to steal it, he often says, they should just have it. Perhaps something good will come of it.

Today, Tuesday, May 6, is Day Against DRM. To bring attention to DRM, the consumer wins. Save 50% on all Make: ebooks — and do whatever the heck you’d like with them.

We hope you’d like to learn. New titles include Make: Sensors and Make: More Electronics, both in early release, which means that you get the authors’ raw version, as well as subsequent revisions and the completed ebook. If you want More Electronics, you should probably consider picking up Make: Electronics, the title that begins this fun series by author Charles Platt. Hardware nerds geek out over AVR Programming; teachers, Tinkering: Kids Learn by Making Stuff and Makerspace Workbench;  fabrication fans, Make: 3D Printing; phat sound fanatics, Make: Analog Synthesizers. And so on. All of our ebooks are on sale today with O’Reilly.

Save some money, do what you like with your purchase, learn something new, make something cool. Imagine that!

Gretchen Giles

Gretchen Giles

Book publicist for Maker Media.


  • Mike Meyer

    Seems like a perfect opportunity to plug my favorite e-book vendor: Baen Books (http://www.baenebooks.com/). DRM-free Science Fiction and Fantasy, and Baen quality. If you doubt the quality claim, try one of their free ebooks (http://www.baenebooks.com/c-1-free-library.aspx), given away with the authors permssion. I particularly recommend the Honor Harrington series, starting with On Basilisk Station (http://www.baenebooks.com/p-304-on-basilisk-station.aspx)

  • Lindsay Wilson

    I guess the problem is, how do you prevent people copying an ebook and then distributing it? That’s no problem with a physical book (unless you’re going to spend hours scanning and reprinting all the pages), but is just a few clicks with an electronic book.

    If there was some way of allowing the ebook to be transferred to someone else in such a way that the original buyer then didn’t have access to it (just like with a real book), that would make more sense. Otherwise, you’re copying the book, which infringes the copyright.