For a long time, J.K. Rowling has resisted letting the Harry Potter series be published as ebooks, allegedly because she was worried about “piracy” (not a useful term). Now, in a major turnaround, she is not only bringing the entire series out as ebooks, she is self-publishing them, and she is releasing them DRM-free.
This is an amazing validation of the self-publishing model. Joe Konrath and others have been saying that authors don’t need publishers anymore, that the death of publishers will come not from readers leaving books, but from authors leavin publishers. When a big name like J.K. Rowling jumps ship in such a dramatic fashion, it’s bound to make big waves. As usual, Joe Konrath has an excellent write-up of what this means to indie authors and the world in general.
It’s also a great positive step for those opposed to DRM. It brings attention to the evils of DRM and the practicality of going without it. This article at Wired.uk has some good detail about the issue, although they are under the misconception that Amazon’s system requires DRM. It doesn’t. It allows DRM, but it doesn’t force publishers to use it. For a great explanation of why DRM is evil, see the Free Software Foundation‘s Defective By Design campaign.
This is an impressive, happy day.