image Almost instantly, when I looked just now, I found ten pirated copies of John Steinbeck‘s books online even though they’re illegal to download here in the States and certain other countries. No, I won’t link to the little site that offers them. The big point here is something else: they were scanned from paper editions. DRM was and is worthless in these situations!

The best way for publishers to deal with such problems—and, yes, I’m pro copyright—is to make legal editions available for free. In fact, that’s exactly what the Penguin Group (USA) is doing. It "announced today the publication of eleven John Steinbeck titles in e-book format under its Penguin Classic imprint. The eleven Steinbeck titles now available are The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, Sweet Thursday, Of Mice and Men, Cannery Row, Tortilla Flat, Travels With Charley in Search of America, The Pearl, The Red Pony, Cup of Gold and Once There was a War."

Not the first time Steinbeck is in E legally—but still progress

Other e-editions were online before the announcement, but it’s still great to see Penguin coming out with the eleven-book release and telling the world about it. Among the release’s formats—there might be others—are Mobipocket, Kindle and Sony Reader. Follow the links to see store listings. May an ePub version come soon!

“’There is no writer more quintessentially American than John Steinbeck; his themes are relevant to any given moment in American life," a news release from Penguin Group (USA) quotes, John Fagan, the new eBooks Marketing Director. "Take The Grapes of Wrath, for example. Its classic themes of displacement, loss of home, hunger, attitudes towards migrant workers and immigration, have as much to say about the current times we live in as when Steinbeck wrote it almost seventy years ago."

"’The publication of John Steinbeck’s works in eBook format," the announcement continues, "is part of Penguin’s mission to always connect the writer to the reader in whatever format the reader selects. These eleven eBooks will be followed in the months to come by twelve additional titles, making Steinbeck’s complete canon available in eBook format.

"’Amazon is very excited to make these classic works available to our Kindle customers, wirelessly, anywhere they happen to be, in less than 60 seconds,’ said Ian Freed, vice president of Amazon Kindle. ‘The works of John Steinbeck are perennial bestsellers as physical books on and they are among some of the most requested titles by Kindle owners. The eleven Steinbeck books join a rapidly growing list of over 130,000 books, newspapers, blogs, and magazines currently available for Amazon Kindle.’

“’Classics are extremely popular with users of the Reader Digital Book,’ said Christian Smythe, director of Merchandising for the eBook Store from Sony. ‘We are constantly expanding our selection of offerings, and these Steinbeck titles are a great addition to the eBook Store from Sony.’

"The production of these eleven Steinbeck eBooks was overseen by Daniel Sanicola, Digital Manager of Penguin Group (USA)’s eBooks. ‘As someone who is passionate about both eBooks and literature,’ said Daniel, ‘I am thrilled to finally have the seminal works of one of my favorite authors available to the eBook community. The works of John Steinbeck have influenced countless people and will now have a new audience to enthrall as one of America’s greatest writers is discovered in eBooks.’"

Nice going, Penguin! Let’s hear of many more announcements like this—especially if, in the future, you can do away with DRM. Remember, the people who download the pirated version don’t have that burden. Why punish the legal owners?


  1. DRM-haters everywhere could/can rejoice if Microsoft format is in use, given the ease with which a commonly available program cracks it.

    Meanwhile, of course, the pirated versions let you own the book for real without even that level of fuss.

    Nothing like DRM to encourage piracy, no?

    (with a reminder to people NOT to mention the program, because of the DMCA)

    Note: I corrected the present comment. Earlier I was thinking that Fictionwise offered The Red Pony in Microsoft Reader rather than just Mobi.

  2. The best way for publishers to deal with such problems…is to make legal editions available for *free*. In fact, that’s *exactly* what the Penguin Group (USA) is doing.

    So, these books are free, then? Or $17.00? Which is it?

  3. Hi, jmurphy. Price will vary according to the retailer, but the books are definitely not free. I can understand. To stay in business, a publisher has to sell SOMETHING. E has value in itself, not just as a promoter of the paper edition. Depends. With some books, “free” may make sense, but with others it won’t. Thanks. David

  4. Re-read the portion of the post that I quoted.

    You said (re-arranging the sentences to emphasise the point):

    “In fact, that’s exactly what the Penguin Group (USA) is doing…making (was “make”) legal editions available for free.”

    But that’s not true at all. Accuracy, accuracy, accuracy.

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