When Did Adobe Digital Editions Become the “Industry Standard?”

From here, and everywhere:

“Sony is also committed to working with local libraries throughout the country as they make the move to digital books,” the company said in a statement. “Sony Readers are compatible with the industry-standard formats that libraries use for their digital collections, so consumers can easily download perennial favorites and new releases from their local libraries and enjoy them for free.”

I’m sorry, I’ve looked, the only library packages widely available are from Overdrive and Netlibrary.  The latter uses its own proprietary interface; Overdrive has .pdf, .lit, Mobipocket, and perhaps 10,000 epub books.  Maybe even 12k.  All the Overdrive offerings are secured by some sort of Digital Rights Management, the .epub and .pdf security settings coming from Adobe.

The epub specification mentions Adobe, twice, but not their specific security settings.  In fact, it’s only two members, who may or may not still be employed with that company, and of course the former IDPF head, now with Adobe.

I’m actually a member of the IDPF, the lightly-staffed standards-settting body for ebooks. Far as I know, there has never been a membership-wide vote on industry-standard DRM for ebooks, and further if there was, choices would include something like the Kindle, since there at least we have non-neglible ebook sales. Plus, you know, Kindle can justify text, handle Asian fonts, stuff that Adobe’s still “working on.”

Unless all the library books vended by Overdrive can work with Bookglutton or FBReader or something, they’re not, in fact, any sort of industry standard.  They’re just a proprietary implementation, with serious compatibility issues and the weakest publisher support of any ebook format in history.

Sony’s need to fib on this issue does not inspire confidence.

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  • Joseph

    Amazon doesn’t license out the old Mobipocket DRM server anymore, nor does Microsoft for the LIT format. Libraries have stopped buying LIT altogether, and they are only buying a trickle of Mobipocket genre fiction. Adobe’s DRM for ePub and PDF is the only game in town for future stores, retailers, and libraries that aren’t grandfathered in through OverDriver and NetLibrary.

    Is your objection to ePub itself (which, you will have to admit, is a worthy successor to the OPS 1.0 format that Mobipocket and LIT are based on)? Or is it with Adobe making a DRM server for it? Putting aside legitimate gripes about DRM, there is no way to have a library loan model for digital books without some sort of DRM-based enforcement of the expiration.

  • http://www.munseys.com dmoynihan

    My objection is to the term “Industry Standard” for Adobe DRM-encapsulated anything. There is no such standard.

    I further dispute your phrase “worthy successor” in describing .Epub and .lit. The idea behind OPS 2.0 was a revision of OPS 1.0 for the creation of end-user formats. No IDPF members aside from Overdrive/Adobe ever intended to generate an end-user format. No major IDPF member, aside from Overdrive/Adobe, currently intends to use .Epub for the end user (not Ingram, not NetLibrary, not Amazon, not Follett–none of them.) Interestingly, no IDPF member, aside from Overdrive/Adobe, ever experienced the first crash in ebooks so starkly–the pair, over a decade, failed to innovate or offer much to the customer, let alone publishers, and have now tried to stipulate that their under-performing, third-party natures are required, and, when informed that the entire history of the Internet suggests otherwise, they reply that they are somehow “open,” are “standard.”

    Further, though Microsoft perhaps deserved it karmically, you cannot stipulate that their innovation of .lit as a wrapper, something “adopted” whole cloth by a couple of individuals outside the industry as what’s now .Epub, and then “championed” through a bit of back-room skullduggery that more than anything else explains why publishers aren’t backing it, that this nonsense of which Microsoft was a clear victim, is in fact “worthy” of anything.

    What I’ve seen since Kindle, particularly since Kindle started selling titles in the millions each month when nobody else does more than tens of thousands, is that, any time an ebook device or software company says they’re “open,” what they’re really saying is that they have no actual publisher support or contacts, no experience in dealing with us, and no plans to make it worth our while.

  • Jane Dinham

    The Sony Reader is compatible with ePub. EPub is an industry standard. So everything they are saying is true. What’s the problem?

    It is also compatible with some DRMed variants of ePub, but that doesn’t make it incompatible with ePub.

  • http://www.munseys.com dmoynihan

    Sorry, no, the DRM’d versions at libraries are not the industry standard, which is what the PR is saying…