It has long been the norm that authors help promote their work, whether by social media, cons, or what have you, and today HarperCollins announced a new way to make sure those promotional efforts get off on the wrong foot.
HC is debuting an in-house digital galley program today called e-Insider. This program is going to distribute QR codes to authors that can be shared with reviewers, bloggers, and readers. When the blogger activates the QR code, they'll be offered a chance to download a DRMed copy of an author's work.
Apparently HarperCollins thinks that making things easy for reviewers is less important than attempting to control how an ebook is used. The ebooks in question are going to be encumbered by Adobe DE DRM, which as you may know is relatively easy to bypass. And oh, yeah, it won't work on the Kindle.
Seriously, did HarperCollins decide to intentionally make the process pointlessly difficult for bloggers and reviewers?
I ask because I don't see any upside here. Not only is the DRM easy to bypass, it's also a hassle. Reviewers should be coddled and sweet-talked, not annoyed. I would think that HC's first priority is to make sure that a review starts off on the right foot, and forcing the reviewer to deal with DRM is not the way to do that.
As much as I might like this program, I have to wonder why HarperCollins didn't come up with a better method; I can think of at least one just off the top of my head.
Digital watermarks (like the tech available from Booxtream), for example, would not hassle the reviewer at all and could be used to identify which reviewer got which copy should an ebook be pirated. And what's even better is that HC could even offer digital watermarks in the Kindle ebooks sent out to reviewers.
Or HC could go the route of NetGalley, which offers DRMed Epub as well as DRM-free Kindle ebooks to reviewers. Back when I used Netgalley to get early review copies, that latter option was a pleasant way to avoid the hassle of DRM.
But I guess HarperCollins values control over convenience. And if that's not a damning indictment of the legacy publisher, I don't know what is.