Cybook Opus now available: Another example of eBabel limitations

3688725612_f1ce140a4c.jpgThanks to Ebouquin for letting me know that the Cybook Opus is now available for purchase. According to Cybook’s site the Opus, which has a 5″ screen, costs $280. It has 1GB of internal memory for book storage.

Unfortunately, it can only read “HTML, Txt, PDF and secured and non-secured Adobe EPUB/PDF” (talk about confusing language—does someone actually mean Adobe DRMed ePub and nonDRMed ePub and PDF?). The last time I tried this kludgy Adobe software, I found it to be consumer unfriendly, to say the least. You have to be a geek to use it. Further, the specs page says:

Note: Mobipocket support can be available via firmware upgrade. Adobe and Mobipocket DRMs can not be supported at the same time. Very disappointing!

Well, I can’t get very excited over this. Originally I thought it was a great idea when I saw the early example in New York. However, with these format limitations I wouldn’t want to bother with it. eBabel and DRM are making life harder and harder for ebooks users, not to mention manufacturers, which must choose what format(s) to support.

Ebouquin has an article, in French, about the Opus here.

12 Comments on Cybook Opus now available: Another example of eBabel limitations

  1. Felix Torres // July 27, 2009 at 6:32 pm //

    I recently tried the Adobe-driven update for the Hanlin v3 readers and found it opens some Google pdfs that can’t be opened by any other ebook reader app.
    That’s the best I can say about it.

    It is feature-lean, almost non-customizable, and the provided Zoom modes are…questionable… The smallest size is practically unreadably small and the other four choices range from too big to road-sign big.

    I promptly switched back to the geek-friendly OpenInkpot (may version) which I’ve been using for the past two months.

    Oh, yes; a second “benefit” to the Adobe ereader app now being universally adopted by european reader vendors; it does let you buy DRM’ed ebooks from a non-Amazon source at only a 20-50% premium above Kindle prices.

  2. I use Adobe Digital Editions with my Sony Reader and I’m a huge fan of it, actually. It does PDFs (of course) and DRMed ePubs about as easily as they can be done, so I’m not quite sure what the complaint is.

    And you can also get a wide variety of library ebooks in Adobe PDF and ePub, which are available at a 100% discount from Kindle prices.

  3. Hello Paul,

    It was a real pleasure discussing with you at the last IDPF conference.

    Let me give you some complementary information about Adobe ePUB/PDF (Adobe Digital Editions – ADE).
    1) ADE (which recovers both ePUB and PDF) eBooks catalogue size is approximately 200,000 titles (equivalent to competitors’ catalogues both in quantity and quality).
    2)ePUB format is becoming the defacto standard for the publishers (this format is generally used as a basis before being converted to Mobipocket/Amazon)
    3)ePUB format is very powerful and offers great potential rendering possibilities (for info Cybook Opus does offer justified text)
    4)For US and UK customers, Bookeen has teamed up with BooksOnBoard (the largest independant american eBook retailer) to offer the best user experience. In other words, the Cybook Opus possessor beneficiates from a dedicated customer service which will help him finding its way with eBooks download. Check at (site is in final tweaking stage)
    5) BooksOnBoard pricing is very aggressive compared to competition (I invite you to check)
    6) Cybook Opus and ADE are fully compatible with PC and Mac.

    On the other hand the Cybook Opus does support unencrypted ePUB, PDF, HTML and text files, opening a huge catalogue of public domain eBooks that one can download for FREE (check for example at or

    Last but not least, if you are a Mobipocket fan you will be able to update your Cybook Opus with a Mobipocket compliant firmware.

    Still, I have to admit that Mobipocket legal conditions (which are supposed to avoid coexistence of 2 different eBook DRMs in the same reading device) have been a real hassle for us and have introduced unecessary issues for the final customer.


    Michael Dahan (for Bookeen)

  4. Michael: then I suggest you change your specs because they do NOT say that you support native EPUB files. You say that they support “non- secured Adobe EPUB” whatever that is. That’s what made me so disappointed. If you do indeed support native EPUB I suggest a re-write.

    So here is the question because you use the same confusing term again in your comment:

    Does the Opus support native, stand alone, EPUB files or do all non-DRM EPUB files have to be run through some sort of Adobe software before the Opus will read them? Sony, for example, can read any non-DRM EPUB file simply by downloading it and moving it to the machine. Can you do this?

  5. Felix Torres // July 27, 2009 at 10:46 pm //

    What’s the gripe?
    Not going to speak for others, but…
    Well, different folks have different ideas about value and what pushes their buttons.
    And some of us see a big difference between a gadget being PC/Mac *compatible* and *requiring* a PC or a Mac.
    And some of us see no difference between Adobe lock-in and Amazon lock-in especially since the Amazon ebooks are cheaper and the reader doesn’t require a PC to feed one’s reading addiction.

    Sorry, but products and technologies don’t exist in a vacuum and some of us do do comparison shopping.

  6. Hello Paul,

    Thank you for this feedback.

    ePUB and PDF are file formats. These two formats based on standardized specifications are available to anyone who wants to develop around these formats.

    On top of these formats, one can decide to add an encryption layer which is fully proprietary.

    Adobe provides an ePUB and PDF reading software libraries to device manufacturer like us. This set of libraries is an engine which enables the device to read:
    – native ePUB files (file respecting the IDPF specifications)
    – native PDF files
    – ePUB files with proprietary Adobe protection layer
    – PDF files with proprietary Adobe protection layer

    Adobe has called the solution to read ePUB native files, PDF native files, Adobe protected ePUB and Adobe protected PDF , Adobe Digital Editions.

    So Cybook Opus reads ePUB and PDF (with and without proprietary Adobe protection layer) and native HTML and Text files.

    Here are the steps to read a native ePUB file (unprotected) on the Cybook:
    1) download your ePUB file to your computer
    2) plug your Cybook Opus to your computer using USB cable, your Cybook opus appears as a USB mass storage on your computer (exactly like a USB key)
    3) drag and drop your ePUB file in the Cybook memory
    4) unplug the Cybook opus. you can read.

    Note: you don’t need to install any software on your computer.

    Best regards,


  7. The difference for me between Adobe and Amazon is that Amazon won’t let you borrow ebooks from the library, which are free. Otherwise, they are indeed the same.

    For me, getting free books is worth the bother of plugging in the device once a month.

  8. Fair warning – Bookeen rarely does upgrades, and is very consistent about ignoring customer needs and breaking promises. I have been extremely unsatisfied with the (total lack of) “customer service” and produce upgrades they offer. Their priorities are very obviously not on customer satisfaction.

    I still think the cybook (gen 3) seems to be about the best reader on the market, which doesn’t say much for the selection out there. This new product tempts me not one little bit. I like Mobipocket reader best. I hope eventually epub will be as good or better, but from what I can tell, it’s not there yet. It would be nice to be able to read non-drm epubs on my gen 3.

  9. Fair Warning – Bookeen rarely releases firmware updates; consistently ignores customer requests, problems, and complaints; and consistently neglects to do what they say they will, when they bother to say anything at all.

  10. Platypus Bob // July 28, 2009 at 8:06 am //

    I can only assume that Paul is being intentionally dense when positing that non-DRM’d epubs must be run through some Adobe software to become “Adobe-compliant” epubs. For someone who purportedly follows (and reports on) the myriad ebook readers out there, he should simply know better than this.

    Also, to suggest that one need be a geek to use the Adobe Digital Editions software completely ignores the fact that one basically need be a geek to use nearly any ebook reader, sans the Kindle (and I’m not even a Kindle fan). Ease of use, along with their marketing strategy, are pretty much the one things the Kindle got right.

  11. Yeah, I don’t get it. It costs the same as the Sony Reader and supports fewer formats. Why would anyone by this? (I have the same complaint about the current BeBook reader.)

  12. @ Eric-

    I’m not sure the BeBook supports fewer formats than the Sony reader. Regardless, some of us don’t want to be at the mercy of a megacorp, such as Sony or Amazon. I won’t buy a Sony or Kindle simply because it gives the company way too much control. has proven exactly why that could be a problem.

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