Why We're DRM-Free (and it's not because we trust you...)
So our online bookstore has finally gone live. Buy early and buy often: our author contracts provide for the author to get paid every month on direct sales, rather than every six months as is the industry norm, so purchases from our store help writers!
However the main thrust of this post is not to prod publishers toward that model (though it would be nice of they did) but to prod farther towards DRM-free. Why?
Well, here's a theory about DRM-free that's widely-held by advocates of DRM-free.
"Don't treat your customers like criminals."
That's true, though it's not the only reason we do it. Another theory is:
"Make something convenient for folks and they won't pirate."
Also true, though also not the only reason we do it.
The deep reason we do it is that we want you to forward the ePub to someone you think will really like it.
It's not that I trust you not to pirate it—it's that I trust you to pirate it responsibly!
Because the primary reason folks don't read a particular book isn't because it costs money (though for some folks that can be an issue), it's because it takes time, and brain power, and emotional commitment. And you don't give those things up lightly. You give them up mostly when a trusted friend advises you to.
So if I want to make new readers for Kio and Lynne and Vanessa, a good thing for me to do is give you tools. You have come to Red Lemonade and bought a book, I shoud give you the tools to get that friend of yours, that friend you believe will enjoy it, give you the tools to get her to actually read it. (Though, if you don't want to be sending them attachments, you can always refer them to our site, where folks can browse the full text of our books online for free and check out a whole community of writers similarly inspired.)
And if they do, and love it, somewhere down the turnpike they buy a paperback, or another digital download or a limited edition or the next book or a previous book or a class.
So I am empowering our readers to be advocates for the writers they love, thereby increasing readership.
And here's my gauntlet thrown down: If, as a publisher, you don't believe your writers can motivate readers to do that...then you shouldn't be publishing.