Thursday, June 21, 2007

Adobe officially releases new eReader – Digital Editions

Finally out of Beta and officially released, Adobe Digital Editions 1.0 has been showing up in a lot of my alerts, blogs and publishing industry news. I downloaded the Beta about three months ago and spent several hours poking around. My first impressions were that I didn’t like the black on black screen because the buttons and sliders are very hard to find and use. And for some reason the pages didn’t seem as crisp or letters as clear as in previous versions. Of course, I tried to open one of my own eBooks in Digital Editions since I wasn’t really impressed with the Adobe selection. What I found out was that Digital Editions and my eBook files didn’t like each other. I checked with the company that provided the eBook files and they informed me that in fact, my eBooks could not be read by Digital Editions. To read the eBooks I would need to use the Acrobat 7.0 reader. So my first look at Digital Editions ended. Frankly, it seemed like more trouble than it was worth. I simply reloaded Acrobat Reader 7.0 and went back to work. The official announcement on Tuesday grabbed my attention. According to the Adobe “Digital Editions is a lightweight consumer-focused application for acquiring, reading, and managing eBooks and other publications, and is the centerpiece of Adobe's expanded digital publishing strategy.”

I, like many others, wonder if Adobe is offering this as the “Killer Ap” for eBooks; the eBook version of iTunes?

I was intrigued enough to try again. My second take is not much different from my first. The black is still too black and hard to navigate and the screen quality is somehow not up to par. Given my previous experience, I haven’t had the courage to try my existing eBook files yet. But I keep wondering is this the iTunes for eBooks? Well, for those who spent $300+ on a Sony eReader and have been dealing with the soon to be defunct Sony Connect store, maybe. At the very least it means that thousands of new (meaning different) titles will be available for their enjoyment once this is actually implemented. No timelines for that implementation have been announced. For the rest of us, I’d have to say that the exciting stuff is pretty much technical involving standards (yawn) and how easy it will be to publish new material (uh-huh!). The standards part: Digital Editions supports the new EPUB standard -- Harper Collins, Harlequin and others have promised to adopt it. Based on the EPUB standard support, as noted above, Sony has agreed to work with Adobe. Digital Editions supports the EPUB standard so any book produced in the EPUB format can be read on any device that supports the Adobe reader software. That is great. The not so great is that right now only MACs, Windows based computers and PDAs can use the software. There is no support for many of the mobile reading devices on the market -- specifically any Linux based eReader or any of the Smart Phones. So right now, reading on the go is still a challenge.

There is a temptation to go off on a rift about xml based publishing and reflowable text, but that is for another day. Suffice it to say, that the support for the standard does make for interesting possiblities for the future and for redefining the definition of a book.

The publishing part: Digital Editions is supposed to work seamlessly with Adobe InDesign that is InDesign CS3. That will mean for me (and most InDesign users) a $200.00 upgrade. For new users it is a $699.00 investment. I will do the upgrade and let you know the results as soon as I get a little time to download and install the upgrade.

So for the moment Digital Edition holds some good promise for publishers. It is still an open question how much it will benefit the consumer. Sometimes technology people get very involved with the idea that standards are important and new, accessible content is necessary. The thing they should never forget is that in the end, the consumer will make that decision. Is Digital Editions the “Killer Ap” for eBooks?

Only time will tell!

No comments:


Subscribe Now: Feed Icon