Sony Launches German eBookstore with DRM-free eBooks

displaymediaThere are a number of also-ran companies in the ereader industry, but one in particular deserves the label as an “also-walked”, and that is Sony.

This ebook competitor has just launched a new ebookstore today.  It’s not exactly clear why they did it or how much money they plan to lose, but local sources are reporting that the store is now live.

German owners of Sony Reader T1, T2, or older models can now buy ebooks from Sony rather than the plethora of ebookstores competing in the German ebook market (Thalia, txtr, to name a couple).

Rude comments aside, there might actually be a reason to buy from Sony. The press release mentions that not all of the Epub ebooks sold by Sony come with the onerous Adobe DE DRM. Some of the ebooks, numbering in the “thousands”, use digital watermarks instead.

Apparently several German publishers have decided to go with this low-hassle security, including Bastei Luebbe Verlag, which publishes novels by Ken Follett, Andreas Eschbach, and Dan Brown (it is not clear that any of these authors’ novels are DRM free).

Digital watermarks work by burying traceable information inside an ebook, info which can be used to identify the original purchaser. Because this is often times little more than a few extra lines of text hidden in the file, it is a minimal nuisance for the legitimate purchaser while still being as equally effective at preventing piracy as the more painful forms of DRM.

The leading company working to provide digital watermarks for ebooks is Booxtream. They are best well-known for providing this service to Pottermore, the official ebookstore for Harry Potter.

According to Huub van der Pol, the founder of Booxtream’s parent company iContact, the official release of the Harry Potter ebooks saw a decrease in piracy of the series. Once the titles were available legally, and were easy to use, pirates saw little reason to post copies of the ebooks online.

You cannot make that claim about any other ebook, whether digital or paper, except for the ones which are DRM-free.



Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. cookie12 December, 2012

    Here are two reasons for a German to consider buying a Sony eReader over the competition:

    Collins English-German Dictionary
    Collins German-English Dictionary

  2. Martijn13 December, 2012

    Looks like Sony’s Reader store in Germany is powered by Txtr, the images are coming from a server from Txtr..

    1. Nate Hoffelder13 December, 2012

      LOL Then why the bleep did they bother launching it under their own name?

  3. Igor Borski13 December, 2012

    Hmm, actually makes a great deal more sense for Sony.
    That they are also much into publishing it’s starting to be less and less device dependent.

    So if they manage to acquire rights for bestsellers.
    And manage to get decent team to improve on their software.

    Unfortunately given how things went for Sony later is very unlikely.
    From my recent experience hardware manufacturers suck big deal at software side.

    I am still have fits of anger using previous gen of Samsung smart-TV, awful user experience 🙁

  4. Cosa succede in città – Mappe, Watermark e scaffali personali | La Voce dei Librai13 December, 2012

    […] siano privi di DRM, e gestiti da Watermark, compresi quelli di grandi case editrici tedesche. The Digital Reader ricorda che l’azienda leader in fatto di Watermark è la Booxtream, che lo fornisce al Pottermore, lo store […]

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