Saturday, October 27, 2012

Amazon non-displaying DRM Status of ebooks : What could explain it ?

Last year, I tried to raise attention (with no great results) to all DRMed books on I was wrong, only some of them were DRM-less, just like on and other Amazon stores. However, I was lead to that conclusion by the fact that the "indication" I used to check on DRM was not present on any ebooks at

A few months later, when the Italian and Spanish stores opened, there was no indication either. And now (whereas they were there earlier), the indications have also disapeared from the English and German shops.

Now I'm wondering about the purpose of that non-DRM disclosure policy.

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity...

At first, I attributed the lack of DRM indications to shear a bug, stupidity, incompetence, possibly from the "yougness" of the new European team, a software setup incorrect parametering etc. However, when the Spanish and Italian stores opened, with the same defect,  and while it could be understandable if the sofware base had been duplicated, I began to think it  would rather be malice, especially since the "non DRM display" thing had had ample time to be corrected if it WAS a defect from their point of view.

With the start of Select, it was the start of my decision to boycott Amazon.

... but don't rule out malice

Now, with the suppression of the DRM-Status display of the UK and DE stores, there is no doubt left : it is clearly a deliberate strategy. What could explain it ?

I have no fact , only conjectures there. Only non-mutually exclusive hypotheses :

  • Big-Publishers could be asking fo DRM-Status suppression, since it differentiates their offering from the better DRM-less one (What happens when DRM-free only applies to direct sales?)
  • DRMs can be used to "shackle" customers to one's ecosystem. For public relations purposes, Amazon declares it's neutral and only put DRMs when asked to by the publisher. However, their presence is in it's advantage.
  • Amazon's owning it's own DRM scheme and being its only "DRM user", it is able to hide them almost completely. Since customers have problems with Adobe/B&N/Apple DRMs, keeping them that "quiet" is an other way to attract customers. "Look, you won't have problems with us, WE manage the DRMs for you, you don't need to worry about them, so we don't need to disaplay their status, right?".
  •  Showing the DRM is one way of "insulting" the customers, by implying that they could bypass the law and share something they don't have right to. Additionally, it may remind the customers that what they buy is not a book, but a license, which can be terminated at any time and for any reason. We don't want customers to know that, do we ?
I could have hit the reason there, but most probably have missed the real one. Any other ideas folks ?

1 comment:

  1. I try to give an answer on my blog (sorry, in french) :