Adobe and eBooks

David Rothman of TeleRead posted some pointed criticism of Adobe’s role to date in the evolution of eBooks. He dings PDF for “draconian” and user-unfriendly DRM, “bloated” files, and for being a format that “does not play well on PDAs, cell phones and other gizmos with small screens”. Ouch! At least David admitted “Adobe is hardly the only villain” in the Tower of eBabel.
While we might not express it in quite the same phrases, David and I largely see eye to eye as regards the industry’s initial wave of e-Book products and services. David also shares my perspective that Adobe still has the potential to play a critical role in the ultimate success of eBooks and eReading. With a thick skin as part of my job description, I look forward to further ideas from the community on how we can get there from here.

4 Responses to Adobe and eBooks

  1. Bill’s statement is right on. I, too, will be most interested in people’s ideas, which I may quote when I do a commentary on a related topic tomorrow. Was going to write something this morning, but ran out of time. Meanwhile, watch out, Robert Scoble. In the Corporate Outreach Blogging Department, you’ve got some serious competition from Bill.

  2. stevex says:

    Books, more than music, are something that you share. No DRM scheme for eBooks lets me lend a book to someone (at least, not one that I’m aware of.. I’d love to hear otherwise – and hear that it doesn’t require the person I’m lending the book to to have a degree in engineering to authorize themselves to read the book).
    Also, eBooks seem to be generally more expensive than the equivalent paper book.
    I’ve purchased PDF eBooks and don’t find them particular difficult to buy or download or read… but the issues above are what prevents me from doing it more often.

  3. John Dowdell says:

    I’ve been wondering whether one of the underlying problems here is the different perceptions of creative work — whether such work is seen as a public good, or whether it’s seen as a consensual interaction between people.
    With the “public good” position it’s easy to say “books should not have DRM”, but then where’s the boundary in applying the same position to website designs, to graphics and code, to personal data? Many of the arguments I see almost say that other people’s data should be shared, but not my own. I think a contractual perception may hold up better.
    Looked at another way, if rights management is the major problem hindering mobile use of long text works, then efforts like Project Gutenberg would be ubiquitous today.
    (For me, the way I read books today differs from the way I grew up reading books… it’s rare for me to spend twenty consecutive hours with a single author today. I like writers who can get their point across concisely. I’m not sure how many others don’t have ebook reading habits yet.)

  4. Just to keep people updated, the commentary may come this weekend. I wanted to do it earlier but have been distracted by here-and-now stuff. As for DRM, I’ll repeat my own position–that I dislike the technology, but with some compromise on this matter, we could create e-book standards and let the marketplace sort out the DRM question. My belief is that readers will gravitate to books with either no DRM or the less Draconian variety. Publishers’ revenue will reflect this. The big thing is to make certain that nonDRMed books have a fair chance, both via reading software and hardware platforms. Meanwhile please see “New Orleans as a DRM metaphor” (http://www.teleread.org/blog/?p=3520). Thanks. David