EPUB, iPad and Content Interoperability

We’re anticipating that the eBook functionality on the newly announced Apple iPad will spur further consumer interest in eBooks and we welcome the decision Apple has made to standardize on the EPUB format. With export support from professional publishing tools like Adobe InDesign, EPUB allows publishers to streamline the authoring workflow by reducing the number of formats to which they output.

However, in a recent study commissioned by the Book Industry Study Group, the number one complaint consumers noted about the e-reader experience is that “certain e-books [are] specific to certain e-readers.” (Book Industry Study Group. “Consumer Attitudes Toward E-book Reading” Jan. 2010, p. 28). Clearly, consumers value content interoperability as a key feature of the digital reading experience, preferring to not have their content specific to one device. Although Apple has standardized on the EPUB format, because it employs its own DRM to protect eBooks consumers will lose out on much of the benefit of an interoperable format simply because they won’t be able to transfer content across devices.

For example, EPUB content protected with Apple DRM won’t work on numerous eReaders like the Barnes & Noble nook and the Sony Reader, not to mention future, forthcoming models. Similarly, protected EPUB eBooks obtained from thousands of online booksellers (including Barnes & Noble) and most public libraries (including The New York Public Library)—are unreadable on the iPad.

In the coming months, we’ll see a plethora of tablets besides the iPad hit the market. Before investing in a library of eBook content, readers should consider how they’ll be able to access their content across the range of devices—eReaders, tablets, desktop PCs, and smartphones—that they use on a daily basis. The Adobe eBook Platform—including the thousands of online booksellers and libraries using Content Server 4 to protect PDF and EPUB eBooks and the 30+ device manufacturers building compatible eReaders—allows consumers to download, transfer and read EPUB eBooks across PCs, smartphones, and dozens of dedicated eReader devices. The result is a reading experience not limited to a specific platform, but tailored to the consumer—whenever and wherever they wish to read.

19 Responses to EPUB, iPad and Content Interoperability

  1. What is the status of this? I have decided I will get an Ipad if I can read my epub collection on it, I spent good money on those ebooks in my collection.

  2. Jocelyn Geraghty says:

    Can I read ebooks that require Adobe Digital Editions on my iPad?

  3. Sharon says:

    How can i load an Adobe Digital Editions book onto my iPad?

  4. J. Jordan says:

    Well, Apple just lost a customer. I was going to get the iPad for many reasons. One of them being used as an eReader. Since I won’t be able to download books from the public library, I will just have to go another route.

    • William Hall says:

      I’m sorry that you will not choose to purchase an iPad because you can’t download eBooks via OverDrive at your local library. There are wonderful apps from Barnes & Noble and Borders that give you access to most eBooks on the market, and at prices below mass market paperback books. You will also get a more versatile device than an eReader.

      In my experience with our multi-branch public library, the eBook collection is smallish (under 1500 titles) and not at all in line with my reading tastes. Therefore, I must buy eBooks from vendors, anyway. Secondly, downloading and syncing eBooks via OverDrive is not as easy as purchasing and downloading titles from the commercial bookstores.

      Bottom LIne: Unless I were employed by OverDrive, I wouldn’t make compatiability with that program/service the deciding factor in my eReading purchases.

    • Mannie says:

      I feel the same way. A friend having the Nook is very happy with it. I also just found out about the new Dell Duo. And in the next few months we’ll see a plethora of tablets which will have great features such as USB port (in my view this is a must to eliminate storage restrictions), video cameras, etc. — plenty of competition for the iPad.

  5. Simon says:

    How can you complain about apple’s DRM when your complaint is based on the fact that it doesn’t support YOUR proprietary format?

    If adobe didn’t use DRM, it wouldn’t be an issue either

  6. C Carlson says:

    Why not make an app that will allow me to read the electronic books my local library lends? I used to read them on my Palm device.

  7. This post is a fine critique of Apple’s attempt to corner an eBook market, and mostly an unsurprising plea for consumer support while Adobe gets edged out of the Apple bookstore.

    I wonder why you haven’t addressed the problem by offering your own app solution to the EPUB issue? Amazon’s Kindle books are available to iPad users through their app which stands outside of Apple’s iBooks. Why isn’t there an Adobe Digital Editions app from which I’d be able to access my purchased content on my mobile devices? Seems that would resolve your concerns here, both for readers and the future of your platform — which is the elephant in the room of this post.

    Can you confirm whether one’s in the works? You’re unclear here: are you going to avoid Apple outright or offer a solution? Not sure why you’ve masked your own failure to reach market with a functional app as an Apple consumer satisfaction concern?

    Simply: how will you provide the EPUB interoperability you advocate for here?

  8. R. Haynes says:

    Copia has just launched a new iPad app that allows you to import Adobe DRM encrypted EPUBs and PDFs.

    • elaine says:

      how can i transfer ebooks from adobe editions to the ipad thru Copia. I’ve tried every which way and I don’t get it. TX. Elaine

  9. Hi,

    The Apple iPad has interoperability with Amazon Kindle (with the free Amazon Kindle software), the Barnes and Noble Nook (through the free Barnes and Noble Nook Software), and with encrypted e-book formats from other book sellers through Stanza. If you do now want to deal with Apple’s DRM there are many other book sellers out there, and their content can be viewed on the iPad. In fact the only company who has yet to make an iPad compatible app for their proprietary DRM encoded format is Adobe. Kind of a bummer considering everyone else has. Maybe it’s time for Adobe to get on the stick, start doing their jobs as media development tool providers, and design their software so it’s not as buggy and bloated as it currently is.

  10. De Graye says:

    Well, there are quite a few different e-reader Apps available for the iPad/iPhone, you don´t have to use Apple´s own.
    For instance Amazons Kindle, Stanza etc. and they are free as well.

    And if none of these should work with Adobes format then I think the problem lies with Adobe, it´s not a big thing for them to make a reader App for their own format.
    If they won´t it´s just a silly company policy imho.

  11. Guus den Tonkelaar says:

    Quit a non defined statement. It doesn’t become clear what you are you saying? Building walls around your own domain and bashing the one that does’nt play along in your playfield. Adobe has opened the world of publishing for the masses with PostScript and beautiful publishing software. Now they’re building walls, bloating the software which becomes more overprized in each version, special when you’re not living in the US. Shame on you.
    Just let me read what I want on the device I want.

  12. Don says:

    Take a look at “Bluefire Reader” for accessing Adobe Digital Editions DRM PDFs on the iPad.

    One problem with “PDF eBooks” is that they are usually secured rather tightly. For instance, no text copy (making quoting difficult). [… and speaking of quoting, how do we determine the page numbers for attribution? Hard copy paging? eBook paging? I don’t think there is a linkage.]

  13. Darcy Nogueira says:

    I picked up an Adobe DRM protected epub book directly from Adobe Digital Edition software for the PC and using iTunes transferred it to the BlueFire Reader iPad Apps.

    This works with no problem, sufficing for you to use the same Adobe id both in the PC and in BlueFire.

    I guess this solves all the issues expressed by previous comments.

    • Peter Grant says:

      Thanks for this. Bluefire Reader works really well on the iPad – and now I can read DRM-protected eBooks more conveniently on my lap, rather than sitting at a screen.

  14. Darcy Nogueira says:

    Complementing my previous comment, I now know of two other apps that allow us to read our Adobe DRM ebooks on the iPad besides Bluefire: iFlow and ePagine(in French). With either of these, we could store and read all of our ebooks regardless of where we bought them. It is a just a matter of seeing which of them better meets our needs, and then activating our Adobe id in the one that pleases us the most(in this order, so that we do not exhaust our allowance of 6 activated devices.)

  15. Kim says:

    I now have ePagine on my iPhone & authorized with Adobe ID.
    Now how do I copy ePub books on my laptop to the iPhone?
    Any help appreciated.
    Purchased french ePub books from FNAC which downloaded with Adobe digital and I want to read them on my iPhone.