So, yeah, it’s a big deal. Tor/Forge aren’t the first publishers to sell their ebooks without DRM–Baen and Angry Robot have already been doing it for a while–but Tor/Forge is absolutely the biggest. Tor is part of Macmillan, one of the “Big Six” out of New York, and what’s more they’re privately-held. No shareholders to worry about.
If you’ve been reading Charlie Stross on the subject (and you should have been) you know that removing DRM is the best way to prevent online ebook sellers from establishing a stranglehold on the market. If readers can buy books from any store and read them on their preferred device, they will. What’s more, they won’t lose their entire libraries (or be forced to torrent them) once their personal devices become obsolete.
Anyway, Stross had an opportunity to write an essay to the CEO of Macmillan about the benefits of dropping DRM, and he’s posted it on his blog. I realize that there have been many voices within the Big Six publishers who have longed for an end to DRM, and there has been years of work moving the Overton Window on this subject.
But I wouldn’t be surprised if history remembered Stross as the decisive force for change, whatever he says in his post.