You’ll be able to tie your books to your personal ID, not suffer the usual machine-linked approach. The ML approach is torture if you own a whole bunch of e-book-capable machines—or when a hard drive goes south, as they’re all likely to do in time.
Perhaps with that in mind, eReader has been using an ID-based approach for eons by way of encrypted credit card-related information.
Adobe’s plans are Good News even for us DRM haters, but they’re still just lipstick on a pig. Even Adobe concedes the “inconvenience” of “the user ID and activation processes” associated with Named Activation. And yet we know people want e-books on many devices, which eReader allows, via its credit-card-linked approach. Will Adobe Digital Editions, too, rely on card-linked IDs? My hunch is no. What I can say, however, is that I still hear LOUD oinks.
As I’ll show later in this post, even Adobe’s new DRM (as in “New Nixon”?) could be a long way from “iPod simple” if you include the registration process.
Meanwhile here are two positives:
1. Adobe Digital Editions can automatically convert already-bought, machine-tied books—Easy Activation books, that is—to the human-tied Named Activation.
2. If Digital Editions makes it as expected to the Sony Reader, then perhaps you can use portability of the DRM to be able to read the same books on your other machines—ideally in the IDPF’s .epub standard, toward which Adobe made many valuable contributions.
…but a pig’s still a pig
Even so, the lipstick won’t squelch the oinks or cover up the snout or stench. I wonder what device limits if any might exist. An Adobe FAQ mentions up to six desktop machines and six PDAs (numbers applicable to Digital Editions?), but as reading devices proliferate, even that might not be enough. I’d hope that DE 1.5 wouldn’t have a limit.
While I appreciate Adobe’s new flexibility, as long as it’s making us register, why can’t we use the social DRM approach that Adobe’s Bill McCoy so wisely talked up some months ago? Much better would be no DRM. But at least the social DRM approach would let you read your purchased e-books forever. So how come Adobe hasn’t provided shoppers with that option in cases where publishers would allow allow it?
No, Adobe isn’t going to vanish tomorrow, but even the largest corporations tend as a rule to fade away eventually, and I want my books to be outlast both the company and me. Permanence—isn’t that one of the ways in which cardboard-and-ink books differ from most other media? Why can’t e-book catch up, at least a little, in that regard? And speaking of DRM and “forever,” is there a grandchild provision? Is Adobe providing for ways to bequeath personal libraries?
Too Rube Goldbergish even for Adobe
As much as I’m an e-book-lover, I remain an e-skeptic. DRM is no small reason why.
Technology keeps changing, and as hard as Adobe may commendably try to simply matters, DRM makes e-books horridly Rube Goldbergish. Just show this page from Fictionwise—an innocent bystander—to your techophobe friend.
On top of that, when I Googled up an Adobe activator site for recent information, the “Sign up for an Adobe ID” feature wasn’t working. At least on my Firefox brower, the “select a country feature” didn’t function when I was checking out the latest wrinkles of the registration process. A new URL? If that’s the problem, then we have one more illustration of an inherent flaw of DRM—the fact you need stability for it to work, the very antithesis of what technology is all about.
My experience with the activation site, current or discarded, is not good news either for Adobe or e-books as a whole.
Imagine, too, how I feel when I see statements such as, “If you are contemplating buying a new machine, please consider keeping your old machine intact unless you bought all of your books with Acrobat or Reader using Named Activation.” Even if your disk crashed?
Perhaps this is yet another lesson in the follies of relying too heavily on the vagaries of bits and bytes.
And maybe others have learned it better than Adobe. If DRM’s so great, why is it that Apple, the very company whose audio players supposed are “iPod-simple,” wants to move away from the technology?
Far from being an Adobe hater, I hope the company will regard this as constructive criticism and go on to simplify the activation process if it insists on DRM—and experiment with social DRM, which at least would make books permanently readable without any gotchas. Hey, Bill. You were on to something good in talking up social DRM. Follow up with some action, both at Adobe and within the IDPF! I’d welcome responses from Bill, DE’s Peter Sorotokin or others at Adobe. Just why can’t Adobe give social DRM a shot, in line with Bill’s suggestion?
Detail: Social DRM, as far as I’m concerned, could work with or without registration. Even the supplying of a mere e-mail address would remind people that this was copyrighted material. No utopias expected. Via the right business models and systematic efforts to build communities around books, publishers can help keep honest people honest.
Related: A different perspective from Alex at MobileRead.