When Pottermore started selling official Harry Potter ebooks earlier this year, the big news (for ebook geeks) was that the site was using social DRM — digital watermarking — instead of the commonly used Adobe DRM. Social DRM is great for readers, because it lets publishers feel they still have control, but also lets readers shift formats or switch devices easily.
But anyone who bought one of the Harry Potter ebooks from the Kindle store discovered that regular DRM was being applied to Amazon’s copies.
The reason: Dutch company BooXtream, which provides the social DRM service for Pottermore, didn’t have a Kindle-friendly version of its service ready yet. But BooXtream’s manager Huub van de Pol told Publishing Perspectives that they’re ready to launch a mobi version “later this month”:
“Since sideloading e-books on a Kindle is very easy, publishers really do not have to publish their title in the Amazon shop. They can sell it from their own website instead. But these .mobi files are unprotected. Having their titles watermarked and personalized will be a big plus for them,” says van de Pol.
This doesn’t necessarily mean Amazon will drop its in-house DRM any time soon, but as van de Pol notes, it will give publishers a way to sell socially DRMed Kindle format ebooks directly to consumers without going through the Kindle store.
At about $0.12/book at bulk sales rates, it could also be a little cheaper — at least for big publishers — than using Apple or Amazon’s built-in DRM or Adobe DRM for Nook and Kobo. Apple and Amazon bundle the DRM fee as part of their 30% cut of each sale, while Adobe DRM costs around $0.22/book plus server and licensing fees.