One of my readers commented last week that he'd found DRMed ebooks by John Scalzi in BooksOnBoard, one of the larger indie ebookstores. I checked for myself, bought an ebook, and it turns out that he was correct. The ebook I bought still has DRM.
What's more, that's not the only Tor ebook with DRM. I checked a bunch of different titles at random, and they all showed a permissions form like the one at right. Do you see all those disabled warnings? That's a sign that the ebook is crippled by DRM.
Considering how much noise Tor-Forge made about going DRM-free, this was a considerable oversight. And while I don't know how they made this mistake, I have confirmed that it happened.
I've just gotten an email from the ebook distributor Ingram, and I was told that they're still in the process of switching the Tor-Forge backlist over to DRM-free. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they'll finish the process this week, at which time the test ebooks I bought at BooksOnBoard should be available for download without DRM.
So at the moment Tor-Forge titles are still carrying DRM in at least some ebookstores. So far as I know this only includes the 100+ ebookstores that get their ebooks via Lightning Source (part of Ingram), but there's a chance Tor-Forge may have missed other distributors or ebookstores. Caution would be a good idea right now; I would be careful if I were you.
There are lessons to be learned here, I think. The process of dropping the DRM clearly required far more work than simply flipping a switch. This could become a stumbling block for other publishers who decide to follow Tor and drop DRM.
image by marc kjerland