I found an interesting article by Cory Doctorow over at Locus Mag where he is talking about Audible, Comixology, Amazon and Doctorows First Law. He doesn’t care much for DRM and I actually agree with him wholeheartedly on this, it doesn’t work, it has never proved effective and you are basically telling your customers you think they are thieves, it seems counter productive.
I think he is basically right about about his concerns over DRM on Kindles and Audible books and the Audible DRM particularly annoys me personally. He notes that …
Anyone who believes that Audible would hesitate to use its market power to extract additional profit at the expense of its suppliers – that is, writers and publishers – is delusional. Not because Audible is evil, but because it is a for-profit corporation that is seeking to maximize its gain. The lesson of Hachette is that Amazon plays hardball when it can, and the more leverage Amazon has over its suppliers, the more it will use that leverage to its suppliers’ detriment.
I’m not sure this is completely true. Amazon certainly has a lot of leverage, but it isn’t infinite. If nothing else, if they squeeze their supplier to hard their supplier will no longer be in a position to supply to them because they have gone out of business. This isn’t exactly something you want to be known for doing to your suppliers. There are other brakes on such behavior as well. Customers are a fickle bunch, and they will buy on price, but not always and eventually they will manage to annoy them sufficiently.
Time will tell I suppose. I have found Amazon pretty reasonable to work with so far. At least for the magazine, they don’t care if I distribute with someone else as well, although they offer incentives not too, they don’t force DRM on the titles, and they offer me a pretty sizable cut of the sale price. They also charge nothing up front, so they are taking on all the costs of hosting and indexing the volume for free. I’m sure the cost is tiny per volume for them and there is an economy of scale involved, but I couldn’t do it myself and their cut of 0 sales is still $0.