Beginning right now, Star Trek fans can read one of more than 700 different books published in the universe of their favorite show, and then do the unthinkable: Read it on any device they want.
Peter David's "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Siege" on the iPad? Check. "Star Trek: Distant Early Warning" in the Starfleet Corps of Engineers series from Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore on the Kindle? Check. Mel Gilden's "Star Trek: The Starship Trap" on your laptop's PDF reader? Check, check, and check.
Pocket Books and CBS Consumer Products is now offering many ebooks in its library free of digital rights management, or DRM. That means readers will have "unfettered access to their favorite Star Trek novels," according to StarTrek.com.
"Pocket Books is thrilled to make this conic series widely available and accessible for the many readers who have enjoyed them, and to introduce Star Trek novels to a whole new universe of fans," said Pocket Books president and publisher Louise Burke, in a release. "We're excited to re-introduce many classic stories, and to enable discovery and the ease of purchase that DRM-free provides."
Readers can buy books both at StarTrekBooks.com, or at other online retail sites as well, Burke said. Many books are less than $3, and three books will be available for just under $1: "Dark Victory" and "Spectre" from William Shatner and Judith Reeves-Stevens, as well as "Exiles" from Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz in the Vulcan's Soul series.
People who join the mailing list at the official book site will be eligible for a free digital copy of the "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock" novelization, written by Vonda N. McIntyre, based on the screenplay from Harve Bennett.
Pocket Books is a division of Simon & Schuster, a 92-year-old publishing house that had been owned by former Paramount Pictures parent Gulf+Western since 1976, and later inherited by CBS Corp. after its split from Viacom in 2005. Three years after the G+W purchase, licensing rights to Star Trek novels shifted from Random House's Bantam Books, to G+W's own Pocket Books, where it has existed ever since.
Many publishers have moved away from DRM, which had been put in place during the early days of electronic media to help prevent illegal copying. However, patience with such technology has waned significantly in recent years, even with large electronic book sellers like Amazon.
One study two years ago from the website AuthorEarnings — a group "by authors, for authors" — showed that self-published books, which at the time accounted for 31 percent of total daily ebook sales, sold better without DRM, according to PCWorld. In fact, not only did nearly half of the books on Amazon's bestseller list come without DRM, but those books made up 64 percent of the total self-publishing market, according to the study.
Another publisher that gave up DRM in 2013, Macmillan's Tor Books, later said it had no increased problems with piracy after removing the copy protection from its offerings.
To see what books are now available without DRM, check out StarTrekBooks.com.