iRex Technologies is the company behind a line of ebook devices/readers like the iliad and the digital reader series.
In a recent blog entry iRex announces that in the fourth quarter of 2009 they will provide support for Adobe PDF and epub. iRex currently supports mobipocket on their devices.
The twist however is that ebook readers today can only support one DRM technology on a device, either Mobipocket or Adobe. So the consumer have to make a decision of what DRM technology to use on their device, and it will affect all book purchases. People usually don’t care who publishes the books they read, or what type of paper is used on a paperback. Choosing what DRM to use is in the same category, a decision most people have no knowledge or interest in taking.
Furthermore, if one already have purchased books in one format and suddenly switch to another format, it will leave the previously purchased books unreadable.
This brings the issue of DRM and ebook formats even closer to the consumers, and how it limits the access one has to purchased goods. It’s a bold move made by iRex, and it certainly is interesting that they try to satisfy “everybody’s needs” by leaving it to the consumers to choose which DRM to use. But, will it be a positive change in the long run?
I don’t think so. Most people don’t want or need to consider what DRM they use on their purchased books. I can only see that this will generate more questions and uncertainty to people (that makes them even more uncertain to purchase an ebook device). On the bright side, DRM will continue to be a hassle for consumers, and may be the publishing houses in the end will learn something from the music industry – DRM don’t work!