What Is Digital Rights Management (DRM) And Should I Use It?

Very interesting stuff is going on in the digital media world right now. Right around the same time a new report over on Author Earnings came out which included information on DRM, my husband (music producer) received a letter in the mail from his distribution company about DRM for his work. Everybody is talking about digital rights management.

It’s a super hot topic, so what is it?

Digital Rights Management, or DRM, is the encryption lock applied to electronic entertainment. The film, music, video game, and book industries all employ DRM. Unfortunately it is not very difficult for a book thief to crack the DRM lock on an ebook but DRM is a pain in the butt for the customer. It prevents them from moving their book across devices which then forces them to read through one channel.

Okay, so what’s the big deal?

Well actually it’s a very big deal and the people over at Author Earnings did a little digging and statistical research to prove it. When DRM is employed on an ebook, stats show that it affects sales and not in the good way.

When you publish a book over on Amazon’s KDP you may remember that there is a little section asking whether or not you want to employ DRM to your book. It also tells you that once you say “yes” that it is a final decision. When I first started publishing, I had no idea what DRM was and so I did a little digging in my community and discovered that it wasn’t something that I needed to participate in so I didn’t. In fact only 50% of indie authors use DRM, but basically 100% of Big 5 authors do. So the research over on Author Earnings was to discover whether or not there was any difference in revenue based on DRM and so do that they had to look at indie authors.

What they discovered was incredible…50% of non-DRM ebooks accounted for 64% of total unit sales. Indie titles without DRM sell twice as many copies each, on average, as those with DRM.

drm-author-earnings-by-price

The data suggests that employing DRM at any price point is detrimental to sales. Which makes total sense, because that’s what my husband’s letter basically said. DRM had affected music sales and removing copy protection increases music sales. So they wanted to reassure him that that’s what they were doing to all of his records.

Takeaway: When you get to that little section in KDP or Barnes and Noble or wherever else you publish your books, do NOT check the box giving your title DRM rights. It’s not worth it.

To read the entire report including this data on DRM, click here.

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