An enquiry came in today about ‘how do I keep my eBook secure?’ Let’s look at the various ways to help increase its security.

The answer depends on whether your ebook is hosted by a retailer, e.g. Amazon or iBooks or Smashwords, or is in PDF form on your own website. The retailers, although letting buyers lend their ebook to friends for one week in the case of Amazon (optional), have digital security in place as much as possible. After all, they want their cut as well as giving you yours.

You can also put a message in the front of the ebook, along the lines of “This book was distributed at Amazon, if you received a copy for free, this is not authorised by the publisher, so please return to Amazon to buy a copy”. Or some such.

But… you may have to check Google periodically, because someone will undoubtedly try to sell it or give it away on a site, like they did with one of my ebooks. (It appeared on questionable sites, Geeker and ZippyShare, an advertising redirect site — however I don’t think anyone could get it as it ‘loads’ for too long and people give up).

Hosting your own EBook Securely

If you host a PDF or ePub to download on your website, it’s very hard to control stealing, however you can password protect your file (send in a separate email to buyer) or use a third party digital store, e.g. e-junkie http://www.e-junkie.com/ which controls the downloading.

You can also encrypt the ebook with encryption software, but I’m not sure how this works at the customer’s end.

Check out Adobe Acrobat ‘help’ (PDFs) or Adobe Digital Editions help for the how to on ePubs with ‘protection controls’.

Another aspect is, Amazon asks the author if he/she wants digital rights management, but then advises not to tick it. Apparently some people lose their whole eBook library when they leave the country, under digital rights management. Some of the protection tools Amazon use includes hidden limits on user downloads of a single title — it simply stops user access. (See article for others: http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/ebook-drm-5-reasons-to-free-your-kindle-library/)

If you are worried that your ebook will be shared illegally, then you could try ticking Digital Rights Management, but just be aware of the pitfalls for users as stated above. Another story is on Adobe forum:

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