Tor Books surprised us all when they announced plans two years ago to go DRM free, and Tom Doherty, the founder of Tor Books took the stage at the IDPF conference today to share a few details on the perils of going DRM-free.
In short, there weren't any . Mr. Doherty confirmed that after two years Tor Books had yet to see any downside to their decision. Distributing ebooks sans DRM has not increased the number of pirated ebooks or visibly decreased sales of Tor titles, thus proving that DRM serves no actual purpose other than locking consumers into existing retail channels.
Mr Doherty then went on to announce the launch of a new Tor Books imprint. This publisher has long been using its Tor.com online community as a source of short fiction, and today that effort has been formalized. From the announcement:
Tor.com is excited to announce that we will be expanding our original fiction program via a new imprint dedicated to publishing novellas, shorter novels, serializations, and any other pieces of fiction that exceed the traditional novelette length (17,499 words).
Each DRM-free title will be available exclusively for purchase, unlike the current fiction that is offered for free on the site, and will have full publisher support behind it. It will have a heavy digital focus but all titles will be available via POD and audio formats. We will also consider traditional print publishing for a select number of titles a year. All titles will be available worldwide.
To be honest, I am not sure that this counts as a "new" imprint. Tor Books has been taking works originally published on Tor.com and selling them in the various ebookstores, but Mr Doherty notes that the new imprint will be getting greater editorial attention. (That might prove a boon; one of the Tor.com titles I bought was edited by someone who should have spent more time on his prepositions and conjunctions.)
Alongside the new imprint, Tor.com will also continue its existing program of acquiring award-winning original short fiction for publication on the site itself.
Tor.com was launched the summer of 2008 as an SF community and an experiment on the part of Tor Books and its corporate parent Macmillan. In addition to posting timely commentary on SF and fantasy topics, Tor.com has also dabbled in selling books and nearly opened an ebookstore. In the past 6 years it has grown into one of the best SF-focused sites on the web.