For 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