Adobe Tries Again With E-Books

October 29, 2006 0

New Adobe Flash-based Rich Internet Application (RIA) software is meant to be a simpler and more flexible for Managing and Reading eBooks and Other Digital Publications.

Adobe Systems Incorporated is scheduled to release a public beta of Adobe Digital Editions, a Rich Internet Application (RIA) built from the ground up for digital publishing at its Max 2006 customer conference in Las Vegas.

The software is meant to be a stripped-down and more flexible e-book reader, compared with its current PDF-based reader, Adobe Reader, the San Jose, Calif.-based company said…

With native support for Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) as well as an XHTML-based reflow-centric publication format, Digital Editions delivers an engaging way to acquire, read, and manage content, including eBooks, digital magazines; digital newspapers and other digital publications.

Consumer-Optimized Content-Centric Experience
Electronic books were touted in the late 1990s as a replacement for paper books, but they have never become widely used. Companies continue to create specialized digital text-reading devices, such as the recently released Sony Reader.

Digital Editions delivers a straightforward user experience for reading and managing commercially-published digital publications. It builds on the Adobe eBook capabilities that were integrated into previous versions of Adobe Reader and takes them further by adding the ability to incorporate Flash interactivity and rich media, enabling publishers to create next-generation digital publications that surpass digital forms of paper books.

High-Performance Standards-Based Content Format Support
Digital Editions supports PDF as well as an XHTML-based reflow-centric publication format designed to represent dynamic content that can be easily adapted to different sized displays. The new format will be able to reformat text according to screen size, instead of keeping to the same pagination no matter what the device. For example, the software will reformat a page across three columns, as opposed to two, when the user expands the viewer size.

Advanced Content Protection and Ease-of-Use
Digital Editions is designed to support a wide range of business models including public domain texts (open content), ad-supported content, library lending and other borrowing/subscription models, and the purchase of eBooks and digital content.

Digital Editions will integrate with a new, hosted content authorization service to protect publisher’s rights while maintaining superior ease-of-use for consumers. This new Adobe Digital Editions Protection Service, based on Adobe LiveCycle Policy Server, will allow publishers to choose from a flexible array of business models, with user-ID-based authorization that provides an improved user experience over competitive DRM models. Digital Editions also supports Adobe Content Server DRM, delivering full compatibility with existing protected PDF content and infrastructure.

Flash-Based RIA Architecture Delivers Rich Capabilities
Digital Editions is a 2.5MB free download that works as an add-in to Adobe’s Flash Player 9 and typically takes less than two minutes to install over a broadband connection. The software can read PDF pages as well as XHTML-formatted content, which makes it suitable for both longer texts, such as books, and shorter texts, such as magazine articles. Digital publishers can combine text with Flash videos and animations.

With an RIA service model, users will have access to the latest version of Digital Editions, so they can take advantage of new features and security enhancements.

The Digital Editions beta also includes integration with Adobe Acrobat 8 and Reader 8, which can install and launch Digital Editions from within their user interface.

Adobe sees the potential for more mainstream adoption, mainly via laptop PCs or mobile personal digital assistants rather than via specialized readers. More people are consuming digital content online, such as videos, and more publishers are adopting digital formats, said Bill McCoy, general manager of Adobe ePublishing Solutions

“We see there are bright spots in e-book adoption. And consumers, especially the younger generation of digital consumers, expect to get content digitally,” he said.

Pricing, Availability and System Requirements
Initially available as a free public beta for Microsoft Windows, Digital Editions will support Macintosh systems as a universal binary application. A Linux version is also planned, but it will not be ready until after the Adobe Player 9 for Linux is released in the first quarter next year, as well as mobile phones and other embedded devices in future versions, Adobe said.

In conjunction with the reader software, Adobe is planning a hosted digital rights management service, called Adobe Digital Editions Protection Service.

The service, expected in a beta form later this year, will allow publishers to impose some access rights on content and give consumers the ability to read that content on various devices, McCoy explained.

Also next year, Adobe will add support for the Digital Editions format in its Creative Suite of publishing tools.

“Adobe Digital Editions builds on the ubiquitous reach of PDF and Flash and will further energize the eBook and digital publishing market,” said Shantanu Narayen, president and chief operating officer at Adobe. “By creating a specialized, consumer-friendly application like Digital Editions, Adobe is ensuring publishers can securely deliver high-impact content to the widest possible audience, across hardware platforms, operating systems and devices.”

Adobe Digital Editions beta will be unveiled at Adobe MAX 2006 on October 24, in Las Vegas, and will be available for free download from the Adobe Labs Web site at http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/digitaleditions. Version 1.0 is expected to be available in early 2007.

Recommended system requirements for the Windows beta are Windows XP Service Pack 2, 500 MHz processor, 128MB RAM and a 1024×768 resolution screen.