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DRM and self-publishing

Digital rights management (DRM) is any technological method intended to prevent people from sharing content illegally. There are three main DRM systems for ebooks: Adobe DRM, Amazon Kindle DRM, and Apple FairPlay DRM. Ebooks in any one of those DRM systems are incompatible with the others. Read our summary on DRM, and our article on Adobe DRM for more detail.

You need to decide early on whether or not you want to use DRM on your books. Only some distributors provide it.

We don’t recommend using DRM. Not only can you make ‘DRM-free’ a selling point (as major publisher O’Reilly Media does), but you’ll get to use many distributors that don’t support DRM (such as Smashwords). And you’ll be able to sell the ebook directly from your own website easily (using a shopping-cart-and-download service like E-junkie), which is far more profitable than selling through distributors.

If you’re sure that you want DRM, you’ll need to use only those distributors that can provide it. Good examples are Lightning Source (part of Ingram Content Group, and effectively the same company as Ingram Digital) and Amazon Kindle (using their Digital Text Platform).

19 October 2010
This information is more than two years old, and may no longer be accurate.