On DRM and Books

Packt Publishing sent me an email about their campaign against DRM. I am a bit busy as I am on a conference of sorts right now (and of course, have to work) but I do have time to write about this. Today, all ebooks are worth $10 instead of their normal price of $20 or more. You can check out their website.

Why are people against DRM?

I think DRM (Digital Restrictions Management) by itself isn’t evil. It exists to protect corporate interests, not so much of the interests of the authors. Amazon isn’t evil but it is awfully flawed.

Here’s my worst experience which I presume to be the primary complaint of users who buy through Kindle: I found that Amazon limits the number of devices you can add and you have to repurchase some books or simply deregister some devices so you can download some books. Both cases are a bit of an inconvenience for a user.

That is bad user experience but for Amazon, it is purely sensible and the user has to accept that and move on.

Despite bashing Amazon, I still buy from them because some books are not sold elsewhere. Recently bought Finance and Economics books (quite expensive ones) as I had no sensible choice. I do not like to buy the hardcover versions and pay shipping fees and more importantly, I do not want to pay more money to our government. The Kindle version is the best and only option for me. It did help me finish a short online course on Financial Markets (Yale University).

Preferred Formats

Obviously, with DRM, you can’t choose an ebook format. In fact, you can’t even download or transfer content off a Kindle application.

Having read several technical books, I found myself happiest reading a PDF version of a book. Epub is fine but I just have to make sure I am not reading through iBooks. The mobi or Kindle version is the worst option.

I have a made a couple of mistakes of buying Kindle versions. Looking back with regret, some books I bought were best if they were in PDF format.

One of them is the quick but worthwhile read Sinatra: Up and Running.

Support Authors

You should take advantage of this day and purchase ebooks. Writing is not an easy task. Even now, it does take about a few minutes of my time. I could just imagine how it is to write chapters and revise it over several months. Authors only get so much out of it.

It’s better to get what you want in a decent way rather than resort to piracy. Remember that “it’s not what you get but how you get it.” So do take advantage of this day and support the authors and campaign against DRM.

I recommend checking out the Big Data and Business Intelligence books. I think those are most interesting. Some use R language for data analysis but they are insufficient. JavaScript libraries often make more make sense for data visualization. Python and Ruby are also commonly used for data analysis.