Nice ebook. What about the DRM?

There’s little point in my blogging about Google’s latest announcements: all the tech blogs are covering Google Pack and the Google Video download thing, so head for Engadget or The Register if you want to know more. For me, the most interesting thing to appear at the CES gadget-fest is Sony’s Reader, which is the first ebook reader I’d actually consider buying.

That said, there’s two things that would put me off, and inevitably they’re pricing and DRM. It’s unclear what restrictions Sony will slap on its ebooks: its previous Librie ebook reader killed your copies after 60 days, whether you’d read them or not. Without knowing the DRM details, it’s impossible to say whether Sony’s ebooks will be a sensible purchase at any price.

The other issue, pricing, is turning me off too. Sony promises that titles will be 20-25% cheaper than regular retail price. If that’s the RRP rather than the street price, then ebooks will be more expensive than printed ones: thanks to the ongoing book price wars and bundling deals, the price you pay for a real book is almost always considerably less than the RRP.

Put it this way: Sony’s promising DRM-restricted digital books for 25% less than RRP, and those books may be time-bombed. Amazon sells physical books for an average of 30% less than RRP. Proper books don’t have DRM, don’t have an expiry date, and don’t explode if you drop them in the bath.

Sony Reader details and pics – Engadget