blog At Delimiter we’ve long been fans of the Brisbane Times Blunt Instrument blog run by local author John Birmingham, perhaps best known for his 1994 novel He Died With A Felafel In His Hand and the 1997 follow-up The Tasmanian Babes Fiasco. Birmingham tells it like it is — a habit we try to be in ourselves — and he tells it loud and strong, often on issues which touch on video gaming, Internet piracy and so on.
That’s why we’re so impressed with the rant Birmingham posted today with regards to his attitudes about eBook piracy. Birmingham has decided to take the revolutionary approach of abolishing DRM-style protection solutions on his books and setting a uniform global price on them. Crazy, we know. A sample paragraph:
“I’ve thrown my hands up and admitted defeat on DRM and pricing. I’m going to try give the punters what they say they want with ebooks. It’s almost the exact opposite approach to those businesses which are busy locking in exclusive distribution licenses with their overseas suppliers to make sure you keep paying the same price as you’ve always paid and have no option but to source whatever you’re after from one or two nominated suppliers.”
We’re also impressed with the courage of the comments Birmingham delivered about Amazon, which he described as “the most predatory of bottom-feeding predators”. Many of us are also ambivalent about Amazon’s long-term intentions in terms of eBook DRM. Of course, it’s not true that Amazon is wholly evil — the company has, after all, revitalised independent publishing and appears to have its hand around the throat of the book publishing industry in general, whose middlemen have been one of the driving forces in setting geographical restrictions on books being sold globally.
In general, we need more authors like Birmingham in Australia. Maybe if enough authors take a stand on this issue, the issue of geographic and pricing restrictions on digital content will eventually disappear entirely.