More on Sony Reader’s PDF, DRM, and reflow

A couple of comments on my post on Sony Reader and Adobe PDF indicate there’s still a bit of confusion.
To answer Rob McDougall’s question: yes, absolutely, just stick a PDF on a MemoryStick or SD card, insert, and read (Sony’s increased openness is shown by their supporting the latter media type). In general the implementation just ignores advanced features like JavaScript that aren’t supported by the mobile/device PDF subset so pretty much any unencrypted PDF works. And you don’t need to use “memory card sneakernet” – Sony’s companion PC application makes it simple to drag&drop both BBeB and PDF documents to the device via USB (which also recharges the battery). As simple as iYouKnowWhat.
Henrique’s questions are both very interesting. His first question is whether this means that “the sony reader will only be able to read encrypted pdfs from the sony store and not pdfs from other online sellers?”. AsI said in my earlier post the PDF implementation initially shipping in the device doesn’t support DRM at all. So I believe Sony initially plans to sell only DRM-protected BBeB-format eBooks from the Sony Connect eBookStore, not PDF format content at all. However there’s nothing to stop Sony or other vendors from offering unencrypted documents (PDF or BBeB) under the “rule of law”. Baen is among a number of publishers experimenting with business models that are not predicated on heavyweight DRM. As well, one might imagine that down the road the Adobe PDF implementation for the Sony PRS product line could conceivably support DRM.
Henrique also asked “does this version of PDF offer any reformatting characteristics?” noting that “although there are some ways to put a PDF on Librie (usually printing to pictures), the text is usually a little small.” The version of mobile/device PDF shipping with the Sony Reader 1.0 does not utilize advanced “Tagged PDF” structure information, which the desktop Adobe Reader uses to implement accessibility and reflow features. So, no, PDFs on this device are fixed-format. Admittedly, fixed-format pages are not a great match to a 6-inch display, especially when many PDFs are essentially created as print masters. Indeed this is arguably the primary reason that Sony had to support BBeB: although it has structure capabilites, PDF doesn’t really solve the problem of efficiently and reliably representing flowable content that doesn’t necessarily even have a single canonical paginated representation. But Adobe is working with its partners, including Sony as well as the broader publishing industry, to solve these issues. We envision expanding our platform to incorporate first-class standards-based support for reflowable content. More on this soon.

12 Responses to More on Sony Reader’s PDF, DRM, and reflow

  1. Good to know that users won’t have any problems inserting their books on the device.
    At least as long has they paginate their texts for a 6 inch screen 🙂
    Should also help the presence of certain typographical elements (like italic text), that are very annoying to do in book Creator 😛
    Will the hyperlinking work in pdfs, to jump page, chapter, etc?
    Finally, any chance of a utility program that allows the “normal” user to simply trim the margins of a pdf so it can be easier to read on the Sony reader?

  2. I am surprised, and very pleased, to kwow that PDF is going native into the Sony Reader. From the released information, it was not clear in any way, and I’d bet against!
    Do you think it will be ever back-ported to the Sony Librie? The community is just now working out a .djvu reader, with .pdf -whose free readers need more computing resources- in the horizon. But if we can just install an Adobe PDF reader in the Librie, it should be fine.

  3. amberes says:

    I am a complete computer moron but an avid reader. So can someone give me a simple answer to following question:”If I buy a Sony Reader can I buy ebooks on the internet (Amazon, Barnes etc.), download them to my PC and transfer them to the reader, without having graduated at MIT?”
    Thanks for a foolproof answer.

  4. Robert K. Foster says:

    amberes, It is too soon to tell with the Sony Reader but most likely any specially encrypted (DRM) ebook that you buy, have already bought, from somplace like Amazon, that is not in Sony’s format, will not be readable on the device. You will likely have to purchase directly from Sony’s ebookstore. That’s not to say that Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Fictionwise, et al. will not eventually have books in the Sony format. Only time will tell on that one.
    Given the success of Apple’s iTunes Music Store I think most big-time online ebookstores will be trying to emulate them in terms of ease of use and customer experience and I would expect Sony’s eBook efforts to be along those lines. No MIT diploma required.

  5. Bill McCoy says:

    Robert – yes. And, as well, many etailers and publishers (Fictionwise, Baen) are starting to offer unencrypted eBooks/eDocs whose usage is restricted only by license/copyright, not DRM technology, or by authenticated access on initial download (e.g. e-journals in universities). So a user can get published PDF content from any of these sources and use it on Sony Reader, just as MP3 podcasts can be used on an iPod independently of iTunes Store.

  6. Richard G. Scates says:

    This looks like a very promising little device, but I notice no one asking a question I consider rather important, and one that was asked many times on Sony Librie discussions, and that is;

    ‘Will education ebooks be available for the Reader? Either from Sony Connect itself or from the publishers of such books?’
    And by that I mean college text books, reference books, ect. Because if I could just carry a nine ounce Sony Reader around campus will all my books on it instead of a hundred pound backpack I’d buy one in a heartbeat.
    Thanks in advance for any info about this issue, as it is my main concern about the Reader.

  7. Jeff Winkler says:

    This is a strange place to ask, but can you recommend any utilities to crop PDF files?
    I don’t have full Acrobat, and it wouldn’t be worth the $ just for this..
    I often want to crop out the margins on PDFs to maximize pixels used for real content. Especially on small devices, every pixel counts.
    Thanks in advance.
    (heh, just saw Henrique asked the same thing)

  8. Steve Webb says:

    The Sony Reader looks to me to be a promising platform for “audio e-books” – synchronized text and spoken word – such that you can listen to a book driving to work and pick up where you left off and read the text in bed. (Also lots of educational markets with both text and audio capability.)
    There is some rather cumberson and little-used software (EaseReader)from the UK that plays the recorded voice and highlights the sentence being read, and we have developed a program that plays the recorded voice and highlights each WORD as it is being read… a program that runs on Windows-based PCs and PDAs. But the Sony Reader is not a PC and I have had no success in finding someone at Sony to engage in discussions about implementing audio-ebook formats in future versions of the reader.
    Does anyone have any advice?

  9. James Pepper says:

    Ok I need to know a few things here, what about just pure raster graphics files, what is the screen resolution on things like the sony Book? Are there any color e -books out there and what are their screen resolutions and what would you recommned. Also is it possible to make a PDF file so that it can’t be pirated? If you go to my website you will find information on my illumianted mansucript of the Bible which looks a lot better in color than in black and white,I have been making this by hand for 18 years. I have all of the files in Adobe Photoshop and Indesign files and it looks like I will have to publish this myself. One publisher siad that they only print NSRV bibles and they asked me to rewrite it. The printing costs are too high. I was thinking of an e-book, and even if it is black and white it might generate some interest in color prints. I have it all in pdfs at the moment. The full size images are huge.
    HELP I need suggestions!

  10. Michael Mulroy says:

    Did Steve get an answer about the future for “audio-ebooks”. Thanks

  11. Don Stallman says:

    I have written a book that I am marketing as an e book, and am about to order a Sony Reader so I can experiment with down loading and reading. Can I expect to be able to purchase ebooks from ANY source to a Sony Reader? Also, as it is a good bet taht such devices are the future of publishing, what other devices such as palm tops etc are suitable for people to read ebooks from?
    As I am building my own web site to market my book, what products do you have that I may be able to help sell for you?

  12. N Drue says:

    Okay guys, one simple question…
    I’ve read the article on the top but I don’t know much about computers and didn’t quite understand. This Sony Reader is in no doubt not the size of an A4 paper and must be smaller.
    However, the pdf files found usually on a desktop computer IS A4 size when viewed at 100%. What happens if i try to put these files onto the Sony Reader to read? Also what pdf versions does this thing support? Any details regarding the reading experiance of reading A4 size pdf files on this little machine will be appreciated! 😉
    N Drue~
    Hong Kong