I have avoided this debate for a while now, but with several books on the way to being published this year and next, I have to face this question soon enough. What should I do with my e-book and should I use a DRM for this one?
When I published my first book, in 2011, I decided to use the DRM (Digital Rights Management) that Kindle suggested I use. I was worried that my name wouldn't get out there if I didn't use it. I admit I made an error in judgement, but this was a long time in coming. It's not a big error, but it is one I will not be repeating again.
Thanks to Alexander von Ness for the link to one of the many posts I've come across that has made me change my mind about what I will do with my next self-published books. I write non-fiction, and it could be assumed that these would have a better chance at sales as opposed to a fiction book. However, my book is in a niche market and this is where I agree with the article found here. I have to agree that obscurity is a much bigger problem, and although I am on many social networking sites, the corresponding sales are not as high as I would like.
On that note, I looked into the sales of my paperback and my e-book- for the past three years. I'm not the greatest at math, and I would make an educated guess that at 99 cents, my book would be doing better without the DRM, but it is something I can't change unless I re-publish the book.
The question I asked myself before I really got into the next e-book and the DRM was: what does it hurt if I don't use it or use it with my next books?
My editor and my co-authors have weighed in on this debate and have said for them they would most likely purchase a book that has no DRM as opposed to one which does. If it's a good book they won't mind either way, but for a new author they might think twice about buying a book. For them, as readers, they like to share books with friends for a time, but also want book sales. To them, the DRM stands in their way of doing this. It's not true, but it is a perception many readers have. KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) themselves state in the choice box about DRM being this: DRM (Digital Rights Management) is intended to inhibit unauthorized distribution of the Kindle file of your book. Some authors want to encourage readers to share their work, and choose not to have DRM applied to their book. If you choose DRM, customers will still be able to lend the book to another user for a short period, and can also purchase the book as a gift for another user from the Kindle store.
What this bit of article is saying is that it protects against unauthorized distribution, not about lending. However, the more articles I read, the more I lean towards not having the DRM as an option on my next e-book. I understand there will be piracy and work can be stolen, but most readers purchase their books from Amazon. Some of the other numbers which are tipping my views in the direction that I might not need a DRM- hardcover book sales (you can read the article here written at the end of 2013) are growing and doing better than e-books. In this way publishers are still earning money, and writers are getting their names out there.
The choice is not about publishing a book in an e-book format, but if there should be a DRM on the books I publish. I can see better sales with a second book, but based on growth and numbers, the more accessible my book is to my readers the more chance I have of selling my book. It's about encouraging readers to read a book, and that means making sure it gets into the hands of readers. Not only this, but it can encourage new readers to your book, and encourage new writers that there are a host of options out there if they want to learn about them.