I am a writer and want to sell my ebooks on the web. But recently there are many bad buyers who remove the protection, modify the contents, and share them on the web.

My related question: Is it true that strongly-password-protected PDF can be cracked?

I want something that can prevent someone from removing the security protection (permission to print, edit, making comments, etc) in my ebooks. I also want to assign a unique identifier for each buyer so I can trace who shares the book (when I get the copy on the web).

How to accomplish my scenario with minimal hassle?

My ebooks are sold in PDF format.

  • 1
    I don't think you can just protect it "more" than other guys selling ebooks. I bet they will remove the unique identifiers somehow... – sinni800 Jul 7 '11 at 10:30
  • 9
    You really don't want to annoy honest buyers with all kinds of protection methods. Just give them a PDF they can read, print, do whatever they like with. Add a footer that says, "This copy is for Firstname Lastname only." -- this alone might stop people from forwarding their copies. – slhck Jul 7 '11 at 10:33
  • 1
    @xport You can't, but given the nature of sharing -- if it's too much of a hassle to remove it, people won't do it. If I'm not mistaken, you'd have to remove the footer from every single page manually using a PDF editor. – slhck Jul 7 '11 at 10:41
  • 2
    There's no such thing as un-crackable DRM. End of story. As a self-publishing author your main concern is going to be encouraging people to actually read your books in the first place, not worrying about people stealing them. – user89061 Jul 7 '11 at 10:49
  • 2
    Baen Books (via webscription.net) makes their ebooks available with no DRM. They make money. Using DRM guarantees that, for instance, I won't be buying your book. Given a choice between being Baen and Sony, I would be Baen every time. – CarlF Jul 7 '11 at 12:25

I have found several discussions, and most agree that using Guard Book Pro seems to be the best way (I have no connection with this company).


Others have opined that maybe it is not the worst thing in the work if your book gets passed around, as that is free publicity. My own two cents would say that if it were a novel especially, this may be a great approach. Novelists usually get rich on their SECOND novel, only because the first one made them famous.


Lastly, if you want to keep if from spreading, I liked this last idea a lot too: Add the person’s Paypal name and address to every book you send out. That won’t stop everyone either, but it will stop the vast majority of ordinary users. Would you want that info to be passed around?


There is still no perfect way, but these will minimize your exposure...IF that is ultimately what you really want.

  • Exactly what I said in the comment above. Having your personal name and e-mail address in a copy is probably the best way to prevent the book from being passed around. Imagine your name would pop up on warez sites. – slhck Jul 7 '11 at 10:36
  • @slhck Sorry, I had been composing that for a while...as soon as I told him to ask the question in his last question. Not copying. – KCotreau Jul 7 '11 at 10:37
  • Oh no offense at all! :) – slhck Jul 7 '11 at 10:37
  • @slhck OK thanks. Actually, you can see where I actually did get the idea from in the link. Great minds...? :) – KCotreau Jul 7 '11 at 10:38
  • 1
    @xport You cannot be 100% guaranteed that your book will be safe, you can only do your best and hope that no hacker really wants to unlock your book. These methods will deter almost everyone, but nothing is 100%. – KCotreau Jul 7 '11 at 10:45

protected by Community Aug 28 '14 at 14:18

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.