On a related note to the post about graphical e-book standards I made earlier today, TOC general manager (and sometime TeleRead contributor) Joe Wilkert has written an op-ed for Publishers Weekly decrying the fragmentation of the e-book market through platform lock-in and DRM.

Wilkert suggests that EPUB could be a solution to this if Amazon could be convinced to adopt it and drop DRM. (Well, of course it could. Heck, pretty much any e-book format would work if Amazon dropped DRM, thanks to Calibre.) He reiterates the usual music-industry-based arguments for ditching DRM.

Several years ago Steve Jobs posted a letter to the music industry pleading for DRM to be abandoned. My favorite part of that letter is where Jobs asked why the music industry would allow DRM to go away. The answer: "DRMs haven’t worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy." In fact, a study last year by Rice University and Duke University contends that removing DRM can actually decrease piracy.

Publishing-industry observers and consultants have certainly ramped up the anti-DRM rhetoric in the last few weeks, haven’t they? I wonder if there’s some particular reason for that. The Kindle Fire securing Amazon’s lead in the e-book market bringing on a fresh wave of lock-in panic?

I also wonder whether anything will come of it. Are publishers taking heed and even now holding secret discussions on whether to follow the music industry’s lead? I suppose we can hope, at least.


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