Humble Bundle Launches its First DRMed Bundle of Magazines

28670641384_e28cc34657_hFor the past six years the Humble Bundle deals site has been offering ebook and comic bundles at great prices and without DRM. They've sold fantasy, SF, and digital comics, all without a single DRM encumbrance, but that winning streak ended last week with the launch of the Humble Magazine Bundle.

Edit: It's been pointed out to me that Hunble Bundle has offered DRMed games through Steam before, so this post is slightly misleading (and so I have rewritten it).

There was a time where all of Humble Bundle's content bundles were DRM-free - including the games. Alas, one of the more frequent buyers told me that ended a while ago; now all of the games are available via Steam, Playstation, or *shudder* Origin. And now the pernicious DRM is creeping into the reading material.

One of the bundles this month is a collection of eleven to 35 issues of Mad magazine, that monthly satire comic which is sold as a magazine. The press release makes it sound like a great deal; pay $1 to get 11 issues, or pay $15 or more and you'll get all the issue s in the bundle as well as a year's digital subscription to Mad magazine.

But what the press release doesn't say, and what probably would have gone unremarked had it not been noticed over at MobileRead, is that all of the issues come wrapped in DRM.

This deal may be offered by DC and sold through Humble Bundle, but it can only be redeemed through Magzter, the digital comics platform. And that is a problem because Magzter uses its own proprietary DRM on its own platform.

Unlike past comic bundles which were offered as PDFs, there's no way to download a backup copy of the Mad issues, so there's no way to protect your purchases should Magzter go offline.

Furthermore, you can't read them on an ereader. In spite of Humble Bundle's outright falsehood that "you can read them any time on iOS, Android, web, Kindle, and more", the issues can't be read on a Kindle.

You're also limited to only some web browsers. "That Magzter website itself doesn't even work in Firefox on Windows," reads one post over at MobileRead. "The kind of crap website which, after I have allowed script after script after script in NoScript, still looks utter shite and isn't really usable. They certainly don't want me as a customer."

This, folks, is why I fight DRM. At a minimum it is a terrible inconvenience which you would never get involved with unless someone was lying to you.

I used to buy every Humble Bundle ebook offering, even the fantasy bundles (which I would never read) and the digital comic bundles (which never really interested me).

I am going sit this one out, and the same goes for any other bundle with DRM. It's just not worth the hassle.

image by Santeri Viinamaki

About Nate Hoffelder (11478 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

4 Comments on Humble Bundle Launches its First DRMed Bundle of Magazines

  1. Looked at it, and having no interest in current MAD, I felt no reason to buy it.
    But if what I read here is true, I would have protested and given it back – I want to read Comics without problems, while I do not like DRM, as long as I can use the content, I accept it (and most times I try to strip it). Humble Bundle should get a lot of protest for this.

  2. I loved Mad when I was younger and every so often dip into an old reprint or a new issue, so this looked great, until I saw Redeem With Magzter near the top of the page. I’m glad I noticed that in time. If the offer hadn’t included a year’s subscription to Mad, making me wonder how that would work, I likely would have gone straight into “take my money!” mode without looking closely.

  3. It’s bad enough that Humble Bundle is selling DRM’ed magazines, but even worse that they don’t clearly disclose it up front. I’m sure I am one of many who buy their offerings just to support the idea of DRM-free ebooks, even though we are not all big fans of sci-fi or comics, but if I had bought this and then found out it was DRM’ed, that would have been the end for me and Humble. Really bad idea, Humble.

  4. | Unlike past comic bundles which were offered as PDFs, there’s no way to download a backup copy of the Mad issues, so there’s no way to protect your purchases should Magzter go offline.

    Well, there may be, but it’d be tedious and may only work in Chrome/Chromium-based browsers. Theoretically, all one would likely need to do is open an issue in the web reader, page through from beginning to end allowing each page to fully load, then use File -> Save Page As -> Webpage, Complete. Open the folder created by the browser, and one might find that all the pages happen to be there in JPG format, numbered from 1 to whatever number. Drag into one’s favorite PDF creation tool, and voilà! A DRM-free PDF for ?insert officially sanctioned anti-circumvention exemption?purposes that only took dozens of mind-numbing clicks to create.

    If I happened to be someone who hit Buy too quickly, thinking I’d be able to read these on any Kindle, not realizing until it was too late that Humble Bundle now sells DRM-encumbered content, I might find myself doing some, uh, car security research. But for the price I might have paid, it wouldn’t be worth the effort and I would probably give up after one issue.

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