BooXtream is in a unique position to appeal to both the big six publishing companies and the indies with its new technology. The company is offering a Social DRM solution to embed watermarks on digital books. You might have seen this type of digital watermarking with the entire line of Harry Potter ebooks via Pottermore.
BooXstream’s parent company Icontact has experience with watermarking ebooks during the last six years. It mainly appealed to the Dutch sector and splintered off to focus more on offering the technology to small and medium sized publishers. Recently Publishers Perspectives conducted an interview with Manager Huub van de Pol, manager of BooXtream. He said “Since Apple iOS does not support Adobe DRM (you need third-party software, which is none too user-friendly), there was a growing need among publishers for a iPad-friendly EPUB solution. And just dropping DRM was a bridge too far.”
One of the big facets that has a ton of interest in the publishing sector is selling Kindle compatible ebooks from its own independent website. Although Amazon uses its own proprietary format for ebooks that are encrypted, people use MOBI, which is the universal open source standard. The problem with this format is that it does not use DRM, which often is a non-starter for any publisher who wants to make money and keep their digital content secure. BooXtream technology is solid in this respect because you can digitally watermark the MOBI files, thereby making the format a little bit more secure and puts the onus on the customer to not file share.
The one thing good thing about the Harry Potter ebooks is that it brought Watermark technology into the public’s consciousness. Publishers are hyper-aware of the benefits it brings and (most importantly) the “accountability.” The essence of Watermarks is that it uses the buyer’s name to discourage people from file sharing. Nothing curbs piracy more than public shaming and if you upload a book you purchased with a digital watermark, it could come back to haunt you.
Huub wrapped it up by saying “Watermarking’s greatest shortcoming (from a publisher’s perspective; a boon for the reader) is that it does nothing to protect against small-time file-sharing among friends. Though book lending is a staple of the traditional reading experience, in the digital sphere, it terrifies publishers.” Ursula Mackenzie, Little, Brown and Company chief executive and president of the Publishers Association recently said “We are fully aware that DRM does not inhibit determined pirates or even those who are sufficiently sophisticated to download DRM removal software. The central point is that we are in favor of DRM because it inhibits file-sharing between the mainstream readers who are so valuable to us and our authors.”
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.