Steve Windwalker’s techno-thriller Say My Name has sprouted a new tag on Amazon: drmfree.

And soon the Kindle edition of The Solomon Scandals, my Washington newspaper novel, will come with the same identifier.

image  Both Steve and I urge other writers to tag their DRMless e-books the same way, in the wake of his TeleRead post calling for this. Then they’ll show up when people type drmfree into Amazon’s tag search engine. Tagging is easy, and you can do it in a flash.

imageI have not used the drmfree tag on Scandals simply because an unhappily “protected” version is floating around. Yes, I’m taking steps to end the confusion. Scandals’ DRMfree version comes with a cover showing on the Web (not the cover to the right, which is for Steve’s novel, bylined “Steve Holt”). The tainted one doesn’t.

If you’re an author or publisher and use Amazon’s Digital Text Platform (DTP) without DRMing the file first, then it should show up in the store without “protection.”

Tag other people’s books, too, even if you’re not the first

You can also help by tagging other people’s books and other items with drmfree when the description—no hyphen, no underscore, to standardize—truly applies.

You can even tag already-tagged books. The 2 in the second screen shot indicates that two people, Steve and I, have applied drmfree to his thriller, a newspaper-related novel like my own. The more, the merrier!

If you’re a writer for a publisher or a customer, why not ask the publishers itself to start using the drmfree tag? Hello, O’Reilly? Maybe you can do this on your own?

How to spot the safer-to-own books

But how to spot the DRMfree books? AZW is a Kindle file extension. Rename AZW files with a MOBI extension on your desktop machine and see if they open.

If so, they are “safe” or at least safer than ones with Amazon’s DRM, even if the format is still proprietary (unlike the ePub standard, ASCII or HTML). Alas, if you buy DRMed books from Amazon, you don’t own them for real since the company can take them away without your having a right to appeal.

Not the very first with the drmfree tag

As you can see from the first screenshot, someone has already beaten Steve and me to the punch by applying drmfree to a few nonbooks sold at Amazon.

Terrific. Let’s see more of this, whatever kind of merchandise is involved.

Some DRMfree books at Amazon

Ahead, however, is a list of DRMfree books at Amazon—not inclusive—that Alan Wallcraft has compiled, along with other information on the new campaign.

I have already applied drmfree to all these titles except for Scandals, for which, as noted, it will be coming.

Graphics on the Kindle
Pride and Prejudice in Extra Large Print (Kindle Edition)
A Canticle For Leibowitz (removed from Kindle Store? I can’t find it under asin B001IV5SES – D.R.)
3 in 1 Combo Offering: The Complete User’s Guide to the Amazing Amazon Kindle 1, 2, and Kindle for iPhone App (DRM-Free with Text-to-Speech Enabled, User-Friendly) (Kindle Edition), by Steve Windwalker
Asimov’s Science Fiction 01 01 2 (removed? nothing found with B001KC06OW)
Homicide My Own
Startide Rising  (removed? B001PBF0MG)
The Solomon Scandals
White Witch Black Curse

See Alan’s post for more details, including a script that reports whether a book has DRM.

What qualifies for drmfree

To return to our campaign, here’s one more tidbit. Books with social DRM or digital watermarking will qualify for the drmfree tag.

“Social DRM” simply refers to the embedding of a consumer’s name or other identifier in plain English. It is not true DRM. Social DRM does not take away access to a title, the way genuine DRM can if the company does not like you or goes out of business or loses interest in e-books.

No war against Amazon here, just against DRM

In this anti-DRM campaign, Steve and I are not attacking Amazon per se. By some interpretations, Jeff Bezos has even said he is DRM agnostic and wants the choice left up to publishers—in which case we are fully in line with his intent.

Rather our quarrel here is with DRM itself because it denies consumers the right to own the tainted books.

amazonMP3store2 If Amazon wants to use drmfree tags to help put together a grass-roots driven DRM-free store for e-books—and boost its earnings—that’s fine by Steve and me. Laudably, Amazon already runs an MP3 music store without DRM. Steve and I would love to see Amazon do the same for e-books.

In a related vein, we certainly hope that you’ll use drmfree tags at other stores where this will help. Fictionwise already conspicuously identifies DRMless books, using such labels as “Multiformat.” We’d love it if Amazon were to do the same.

About Steve and me: Steve Windwalker is the author of a bunch of Kindle-related books and others and runs the Kindle Nation blog, other blogs and a related Kindle newsletter. I’m editor-publisher of TeleRead as well as author of half a dozen nonfiction books in addition to my Scandals novel.

A different approach: Defective by Design, which, rather than identifying the “good guys,” urges people to slap the defectivebydesign tag on offending products.