DRM? What's that? If you're anything like me, those initials didn't mean a whole lot to you when you first saw them. I encountered them when I published my first Kindle book. There right at the bottom of the form was the little check box, with the brief explanation --"Check here if you want to protect your e-book from unauthorized copying." Well, why not? Sounded like a copyright issue to me. I shrugged and checked the box. Now I wish I hadn't. Here's why.
Digital Rights Management stands for a bit of software that protects your e-book from being pirated.
Scare: Some company from India or China could take your coded e-book and resell it under their own name, thereby robbing you of untold royalty income.
Fact: Realistically, do you sell enough books to make such an effort worthwhile to an international thief? No, I thought not. I don't, either. Now if I had written the Harry Potter series, or my name was James Patterson, maybe I'd worry. However. . .
Next, you need to understand that once you make the decision to use DRM, you cannot change your mind. That's why some of my books are protected but later ones are not.
DRM restricts borrowing and/or copying your e-book. But if your goal is to build readership, it doesn’t matter where readers get their books. It only matters to the publishers who want to get their cut of every book -- and to Amazon, who wants everyone to buy from them. And note here: Ebooks published in epub format can be read on multiple platforms, like Nook, Sony, etc. This is the format Smashwords produces, and you won't find them asking you for DRM permission. Amazon's format, mobi, can only be read on Kindles or Kindle apps. It is to their advantage to insert DRM restrictions on all their books.
So does it really matter? Well, first of all, you need to understand that any hacker worth his salt can break the DRM code in about two seconds, so it does little good. But what's more important is this: these restrictions irritate readers and can stop your books from selling to certain individuals. More and more people refuse to buy DRM-protected books.
Imagine you are reading a great book on your Kindle, and when you put it down, you leave it open. Then you go to the dentist's office, have to wait, and decide to use your Kindle app to continue reading. You can't do it. DRM prevents the file from being opened on two of your devices at the same time. You and another family member cannot read the same book at the same time, either, unless you buy two copies.
And here's a worse scenario. A blind man purchased a DRM-protected book, but his Kindle did not have a voice reader. On his desk computer, he had a software program called JAWS, which reads whatever appears on his computer screen. It is widely used and very popular. As a member of a Lions Club, I have seen several people who needed that program and have helped them to get it. It works great, especially for someone who is visually impaired and trying to complete his education. But guess what? DRM software will not let JAWS open its files. This particular story had a happy ending -- the blind man hacked the code! You can read his whole story here, at http://www.zdnet.com/going-blind-drm-will-dim-your-world-7000004586/.
But the bottom line is this: DRM restrictions do nothing but annoy the very people you want to please -- your readers.