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Adobe Takes On Microsoft Role In E-book Market 161

Posted by timothy
from the behind-the-scenes dept.
ericatcw writes "Barnes & Noble, Sony and other e-book vendors may have the manufacturing muscle, but the brains directing the challenge against Amazon.com's Kindle eBook Reader is Adobe Systems. Like Microsoft, Adobe has built a formidable ecosystem of partners to whom it supplies software such as its encryption/DRM-creating Adobe Content Server. Adobe paints Amazon as being like Apple: secretive and playing badly with others. Amazon argues it just ain't so, and takes a jab, along with other critics, at Adobe's alleged open-ness."
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Adobe Takes On Microsoft Role In E-book Market

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  • Wait... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Kenja (541830) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @02:12PM (#30379064)
    There's an e-book market?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by rocket97 (565016)
      Yes, actually the Kindle by Amazon is doing really well from what I have heard.
      • by jgtg32a (1173373)
        Yeah but that has more to do with The Oprah's endorsement
    • by rwa2 (4391) *

      As a long-time Palm PDA + Sunrise + Plucker user, I'm really getting a chuckle out of all this attention e-books are getting lately :-P

      But I guess it's all about content distribution and control from the publishers... not a game I've really even been fond of playing, especially when it comes to entertainment. If I have enough of that kind of free time on my hands, I can spend it looking for legitimate free entertainment (or producing my own), thank you.

    • There's an e-book market?

      There is, though perhaps not where you live (U.S.?). I buy non-DRM'd books for $1-2 each, usually 1-2 each week (now going through the back catalog), and read them on my PRS-505.

  • To be fair... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @02:14PM (#30379082)

    Adobe just provides a platform; it's up to the producers to decide what protection (if any) to place on the documents.

    • Adobe just provides a platform; it's up to the producers to decide what protection (if any) to place on the documents.

      If you're the TSA, then you decide that using an Adobe pdf editor to redact your documents is a good, secure idea. No one could ever figure out how to take off those redactions [88.80.16.63] (from wikileaks). Oops.

      The only thing that TSA manual is missing is a good procedure for properly redacting a document.

  • Re: Wait (Score:4, Informative)

    by someyob (1062238) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @02:16PM (#30379106)
    There certainly won't be a market until the prices of the readers come down. $300? You gotta be crazy. Even at $50 they would in any case likely never entice me completely away from the real thing.
    • Re: Wait (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kenja (541830) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @02:18PM (#30379136)
      Or till there's a cross platform standard format. If I have the option of using an e-book on my cell phone, laptop, desktop, pda etc without having to purchase a half dozen different versions I'm all for it. But buying a file that only works on one device seems like a bad idea.
      • ePub. It works on all of the above, and all ebook readers except the Kindle. (And is the one they are talking about in the article.) It's an open format, with DRM extensions. (Adobe, here, is the main seller of DRM-encoding software for it.)

      • There is. Epub is open and is supported by everyone except Amazon.

        • by Andy Dodd (701)

          PDF is pretty well supported by nearly everyone too. Even Amazon supports it (albeit with a PC-based converter in their case)

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Daniel_Staal (609844)

            PDF isn't an ebook format. It's an e-paper format. It gets used for ebooks fairly often, but it's not very good at it.

          • by Jearil (154455)

            Actually the Kindle 2 (non DX version) now supports PDF files natively without conversion as of a recent software update.

            Unfortunately as others have mentioned, PDF is a really shitty format for ebooks. You can't reflow the contents to do things like change the font. Plain text, ePub, or mobipocket are better formats to have ebooks in.

    • Re: Wait (Score:4, Insightful)

      by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@NosPam.gmail.com> on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @02:23PM (#30379176) Homepage
      $300 for a device that's easier on the eyes than an LCD screen, and can store 1500 books? I think that's a perfectly reasonable price for what you get.
      • by Reason58 (775044)

        $300 for a device that's easier on the eyes than an LCD screen, and can store 1500 books? I think that's a perfectly reasonable price for what you get.

        I would agree with you, except you still have to purchase all 1,500 books. And they are not discounted to reflect the savings of no physical production, shipping, storefront, etc.

        • Unless you read any public domain or creative commons books. I've read well over 100 public domain books on my iLiad so far. If I'd bought them all as penguin classics then it would have cost me more. I've also read a few textbooks and a huge number of papers on it. The clutter reduction from not having printed copies of them all lying around the place.
          • OT, but how does your iLiad and your Mac get along?
            • The file syncing doesn't work; the iLiad refuses to talk to the Samba server on OS X (apparently it works for others, not for me). I just pop out the memory card and copy files across that way. I download most of them from FeedBooks, which has a nice iLiad preset and uses LaTeX to typeset books for the correct size (it generates PDFs).
          • by Fizzol (598030)
            Also, there are a lot of books that publishers give away to build readership. Amazon's Kindle store shows about 60-65 non-classic books being offered for free.
          • by BobMcD (601576)

            It still doesn't wash:

            1) Your iLiad cost $700 or so, not $300

            2) $7 per public domain book is rather obtainable, on average

            3) A library card costs (nearly) nothing, and would help with your space issues

            4) Many of these same materials are accessible online with a device you already own for other purposes

            "I wanted one" is an excellent justification for your purchase. "I saved money" is probably not.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by TheRaven64 (641858)
              My iLiad cost around £200 (I didn't pay full price). £2 per public domain book is what I pay for books (including ones in the public domain) from a local charity shop. The space issues are for papers, not for books: I have lots of book shelves, but my desk was piled high with research papers that I'd printed. Most of the materials I've read on it could have been read on other devices, but I've read vastly more on it than on my Nokia 770 and I can't read things in the park during the summer on
        • by Obfuscant (592200)
          I would agree with you, except you still have to purchase all 1,500 books.

          There is a LOT of free stuff available, especially older material. Get thee to mobiread.com. Much of what's there is Gutenberg reformatted, but there's still a lot of stuff. When you tire of that, get thee to archive.org, which lists 1.8 MILLION texts online. A lot of them are PDF. The Sony 505 handles the b/w pdf ok. Chokes on color PDF.

          For newer stuff, get thee to fictionwise.com. I just bought one book at what I would call a ri

          • Can ebook readers display images in PDFs?

            It would be nice if when you bought a paperback or hardcover, the store automagically gave you an ebook version. Would be very nice, actually... But then you could just turn around and sell the deadtree copy and keep the ebook.

            Might as well just download the book and buy the printed copy if you want it too.

        • Imagine how much money libraries of the future could save, by sending you your book electronically. They would save a fortune in shipping books around between libraries, storing them, etc. I know, they would always have books for historical reasons, but if I could log onto my libraries web site, and request a book, and then instantly get it online, that would make me use it much more. (my current library does the first 2, and emails me when my book is in, but I still have to drive 7 miles down to the lib

        • I hear there's rampant copyright violation there.

        • $300 for a device that's easier on the eyes than an LCD screen, and can store 1500 books? I think that's a perfectly reasonable price for what you get.

          I would agree with you, except you still have to purchase all 1,500 books. And they are not discounted to reflect the savings of no physical production, shipping, storefront, etc.

          As many have already pointed out, there are plenty of public domain ebooks available from Project Gutenberg and Google Books.

          Some publishers also give away free ebooks to build readership - like the Baen Free Library [baen.com].

          Some libraries also lend ebooks. My local library does, and we're a pretty small town. I'd imagine that if my library is doing it, it must be fairly widespread.

          Also, while most ebooks are not discounted, there are some available. I've been watching the Barnes & Noble website for a couple

      • And it's more like $250 now, really. The prices are going down, slowly but surely (it used to be $350 for then-new eInk readers ~2 years ago).

        • by nomadic (141991)
          Actually, one of the Sony reader models is $199, though with a slightly smaller screen than the kindle or nook.
      • first, it's not easier on the eyes, or lighter than a $5 paperback. second, how many people need 1500 books on hand? the vast majority of people actually read (cover-cover) one single book at a time. if it's reference material you want, it's easier and more current to google for the info, and you can do that from your smartphone that you are carrying anyway and the information will be more up to date.
        • by Dare nMc (468959)

          E-book needs are not all the great for everyone for sure, but their practicality is also unmatched by any other one device.
          Do you know of a device that lasts days on a charge gives you access to that web content on the move, and will cost me a total of less than $400 (figure a dozen paid books, a hundred free ones) for a couple years, to acquire and use consistently.
          Also these readers do let you put notes into the works also. I know I had a link to a site that gave me the design I wanted for my concrete bl

      • by Narpak (961733)

        $300 for a device that's easier on the eyes than an LCD screen, and can store 1500 books? I think that's a perfectly reasonable price for what you get.

        Personally I wouldn't pay $300 for the current available models, they are (in my opinion) not good enough; but I have no doubt that a few years down the line the quality of the readers will be such that I would have no doubt paying $300 or more; maybe even a lot more. For now I am content waiting for the technology and services to improve to what I would consider an acceptable level. I still remember my first mp3 player, and my first mobile phone; large, chunky, heavy, low battery time, poor UI, and general

      • For you. For me the reasonable price for this (where I would buy one) lies at $20-25. That’s right. That’s how much a dollar from me is worth to me.

    • by rwa2 (4391) *

      Meh, $300 isn't bad considering you get free wireless web browsing with the unit. If someone made one in color with a GPS and offered that kind of data plan, I might actually consider ditching my mobile phone company's wap browsing service.

    • by natehoy (1608657)

      While I agree with you, I think you're confusing the terms "market" and "desire on your own personal part".

      Amazon has, several times, run out of stock on the Kindle in its various incarnations. Barnes and Noble's Nook is currently on backorder until mid-January. Both of these facts point to a good market for e-book readers.

      However, like you, I don't see enough benefit from them. Yes, the form factor would be nice, but spending $250-$300 for the right to repurchase my library in a new format and cut me of

      • by Zerth (26112)

        It'd be nice if somebody came up with a cheapish, nondestructive paperback digitizer.

        If you don't mind slicing off the binding you can just get a drop scanner for ~250, but I'm a bit squeamish about that.

        Hardbacks are easy, there's at least one DIY system thats pretty fast.

        • by natehoy (1608657)

          I wouldn't even mind if I could buy digital forms of older books for the same price I pay for my paperbacks, which is usually between 50 cents and a dollar. I'm not talking about new releases, but stuff that's been out for a few years in mass market paperback.

          But, alas, I don't see a market in used e-books starting up anytime soon.

    • Amazon has sold bunches, so while it may not be YOUR market at these prices, there is one.

    • How about $90?

      Yeh, it doesn't have the fancy screen, it's a bit like a late '90s PDA with a bigger screen, but I read ebooks on a late '90s PDA with a 160x160 display for several years.

    • There certainly won't be a market until the prices of the readers come down. $300? You gotta be crazy.

      For a heavy reader, buying a couple new books a month in e-book format instead of hardback can save $300 in a year or two.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NitroWolf (72977)

      There certainly won't be a market until the prices of the readers come down. $300? You gotta be crazy. Even at $50 they would in any case likely never entice me completely away from the real thing.

      You clearly don't travel a lot, especially internationally.

      EBook readers are frigging great. I have one... while I'm totally unhappy with the quality over all of *EVERY* e-book reader out there, the benefit outweighs the problems, if only marginally. The fact is, I have a very limited amount of space to carry my things. On 8 - 14 hour flights, I can easily go through a 700 page book if not two. There is no way I can carry around 4 700 page books, at a minimum, on each flight along with all my other gear

    • by Mex (191941)

      Kindle is 259 right now. If you read a lot of books, the thing pays for itself just in shipping (specially if you're international).

  • If Adobe manages to do as well of a job with this latest enterprise as they've done with Flash CS4, then Amazon should be handed the entire market on a platter. Flash CS4 is the single most painful, unresponsive program I've ever had the displeasure of using, and I'm shocked how the same engineers that can produce a program as high-quality as Photoshop can't manage to catch repetitive 10-20 second UI freezes in Flash during testing.

  • by BlueBoxSW.com (745855) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @02:37PM (#30379330) Homepage

    So Amazon thinks through a problem and designs an elegant solution, takes care of the software, hardware, and marketing.

    Adobe just wants to inject their proprietary technology into a process and sit back and enjoy the royalties.

    Screw Adobe. They don't even do any coding here in the US anymore.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      So Amazon thinks through a problem and designs an elegant solution, takes care of the software, hardware, and marketing ...

      ... and vendor lock-in. Not really any different from Adobe's proprietary DRM.

      That said, I would still pick Adobe in this fight, since their win means that I can buy a (DRM'd) ebook from any of a large list of online stores, use it on a large list of readers from different manufacturers, and switch from reader to reader and from store to store as I see fit. With Amazon, I'm locked into their store and their product line.

      • Been there, done that, applied the Preparation H, won't go there again.

        I've still got (and read) books I bought 30-40 years ago. DRMed content is lucky to survive five years before the company decides keeping the magic servers up isn't profitable and you're unable to migrate the content to the next version of the platform... if there is one.

      • ... than one retailer, when it comes to choice.

      • by Mex (191941)

        Aren't Kindle books shareable between any device that has the Kindle app installed?

        I have a couple of Kindles and they share any books I buy (registered to the same person), although I havent tried to buy a book for the iPhone app, isn't it shared there too?

        • Aren't Kindle books shareable between any device that has the Kindle app installed?

          I'm not interested in non-eInk devices, and eInk ones are usually not extensible application-wise (and even if they were, I doubt Amazon would consider porting to them).

          My point is that two devices that I have are already from different manufacturers, and the next ebook reader that I'll buy (likely next year) will probably be something else still - at this point I'm leaning towards Nook, but I'll have to hold it and see it with my own eyes to be sure. And my collection of books (which are all TXT or PDF) mo

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by openfrog (897716)

      There seems to be an alternative definition of 'openness' in the corporate environment, in view of Amazon trying to defend from Adobe's accusation of 'not playing with others':

      Openness: acting in concert with other vendors to screw consumers

      According to this definition, Adobe is comparing itself with Microsoft who, indeed, plays quite well with others...

      Fascinating...

  • No-one will ever let them play in the same playground. Maybe it has something to do with their j2ee'esq server apps (anyone who has ever configured them knows what I'm talking about) or the fact that their server software is REALLY expensive compared to what Amazon already rolled.

    • I've used several of their video server apps, and besides trying to figure out which ones you need to accomplish a task (good luck), they are a mess to install and configure.

      Other than Coldfusion, which works great, installs easy, runs in j2ee, but is treated as a "not developed here" solution.

      • Ahh - I've never used cold fusion really - I was thinking about their livecycle apps (which is what this ebook thing is all about) not quite 100% j2ee compatible.

        Getting them running on jboss was a lesson in torture.

  • How so ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Antiocheian (859870) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @02:42PM (#30379388) Journal

    The story title reads: "Adobe Takes On Microsoft Role In E-book Market" yet the only reference I found on Microsoft, on both linked articles, is this:

    Though Adobe may balk at the comparison, its role in the e-book market is similar to Microsoft's in the PC market: a builder of a semi-open ecosystem of partners to whom it sells publishing tools.

    So, what does Microsoft have to do with both articles really ?

  • Adobe vs Apple (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Yvan256 (722131) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @02:42PM (#30379390) Homepage Journal

    Adobe paints Amazon as being like Apple: secretive and playing badly with others.

    Oh yeah, because Adobe Flash sure plays nice on Mac OS X. /sarcasm

    • by initialE (758110)

      Wait, what? There's a problem with flash on osx? How is it I've never run across it?

      • by Jesus_666 (702802)
        Probably the same problem as on every other OS: It's damn slow. One reason why I'm eagerly awaiting HTML5 is that it might mean we could get online video without runtime-induced stuttering.
  • Have you seen the prices for Sony Reader books? My wife wants a reader for Christmas, so she looked up some of the books she bought over the last year, and the ones she plans to buy in the next months or so. Amazon came in at about 2/3 the cost of Sony, and B&N doesn't have an ereader store (or an ereader that will ship before the biggest consumer day in the western world - nice job, guys). Since the readers are comparable in price and features, the Kindle - for all its flaws - wins out for someone who

    • Amazon came in at about 2/3 the cost of Sony, and B&N doesn't have an ereader store

      They have an ereader app available for several platforms (including iPhone) and a ereader store, even though their dedicated ereader device is not yet shipping.

    • B&N doesn't have an ereader store (or an ereader that will ship before the biggest consumer day in the western world - nice job, guys).

      Barnes & Noble has been selling ebooks on their site for quite some time now [barnesandnoble.com]. Further, most of their normal books have an indicator right on the page when they are available in ebook format.

      Their ereader is available for download [barnesandnoble.com] on the iPhone/iPod Touch, Blackberry, PC, and Mac - and has been for a while.

      The nook's first shipments have already gone out. Several of those shipments will be on doorsteps well before Christmas. There was plenty of opportunity, if you had already made up your mind, to pur

  • Folks, the Adobe DRM for eBooks is laughably easy to break. Please, guys, keep all this quiet. Adobe DRMed books can be easily turned into non-DRMed ePubs that are reflowable, portable, and in OPEN STANDARDS format.

    Please, don't make too much noise that might change my favorite ebook store's (shortcovers) mind about using a DRM format that's easy to break into something nice.
  • If you want a future where e-books are DRM free then you need to hope that the same thing happens with e-books as it did with music.

    That is, one company having the majority of the market, not licencing their DRM solution and publishers having to resort to DRM free products if they want to sell outside of the walled garden.

    Since Adobe will licence their technology to anyone who wants it, there is no incentive for the publishers to give up on DRM. Which, for e-books at least, means it'll be here to stay for a

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