Adobe has issued a proclamation that starting in July, the vast majority of e-reader apps and hardware devices will not be able to read purchased eBooks anymore.
This announcement stems from a massive upgrade to the encryption system Adobe has implemented in their new Digital Editions 3.0 and will have reverberating effects on ePub books all over the world. Unless thousands of app developers and e-reader companies update their firmware and programming, customers will basically be unable to read books they have legitimately purchased. In effect, Adobe is killing eBooks and e-readers.
Adobe will be lobbying e-reader companies and app developers starting this March. The main intention is to get them to add in the support for the next generation of ePub and PDF format. When July rolls around, if companies have not made the adjustments, their device/app will be unusable to read digital books.
The big drawback to the mandatory Adobe upgrade is all of the old e-readers, reading apps, and older bookstores that will never make this change. An e-reader issued by a company three years ago, is likely never going to receive the firmware update to read protected ePub or PDF Files. This will result in thousands of devices sitting on store shelves, that will not be able to read books right out of the box. Not to mention, all the companies with perfectly good devices, like the Entourage Edge, Cool-ER Reader and others, whose companies have gone bankrupt. Finally, the bulk of non-brand name e-readers on the market do not even have the ability to download firmware updates over WIFI. Customers will one day turn on their device and not be able to read books they purchased.
Thankfully many big eBook stores and e-reader companies did not lie in bed with Adobe, like Sony has. Apple, Amazon, B&N and Kobo all use their own book encryption and are not reliant on Adobe. Amazon uses their own book format, and the other players have all developed their own off-shoots of ePub and PDF. This is normally why if you buy a Kobo book, it is incompatible with Nook e-readers and vice versa.
Adobe is betting that their new book encryption will not be broken, due to them not sharing the source code of the new book format. They also hope to unveil a new “always online” form of DRM within the next two years. This will function the same way most games work, that require you to always maintain an internet connection to verify the authenticity of the book.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.