Adobe Digital Editions: PDF EPUB Ebooks, DRM & the EPUB Format
Adobe Digital Editions DRM Software Products for PDF Data Security
The term Digital Edition has been applied to almost any work (book, picture, music recording, film recording) prepared in a digitized form. For Adobe, the compound term means, “part of the end-to-end Adobe eBook platform for authoring, protecting, and delivering eBooks across devices.”
And the essence is the eBook. While it might be nice to have integrated multimedia offerings, like St Augustin looking for chastity – not yet.
Hidden under the banner of the more proprietary possibilities was support for the ‘standard’ ePub format (a definition of book formats using XHTML rather than HTML) which might, had the overall project been more successful, have been advanced. The ePub format was meant to be an open, vendor-free format but Adobe soon became the main ePub DRM supplier. Open formats like ePub are therefore not necessarily as “open” as stated, being contingent upon closed-source software to function at a commercial level.
The Adobe digital edition is a popular format in the sense that (it is reported that) it can be converted readily into Adobe PDF format (epub to pdf). In fact it would appear that Wikipedia lists several methods for removing the ePub DRM security (Adept) from Adobe digital editions and its derivative formats, which include Barnes & Noble and Sony.
During its relatively short life so far (at least, as compared with physical books) Adobe digital editions have gathered a number of adherents, and copies in this format are still being sold at the time this article was published. So it seems that the failure of the DRM technology itself has not completely prejudiced the market against the Adobe digital editions format. Adobe Content Server is used as the host management system, but available hacks of the Adobe ePub DRM system were widely available from the offset. Adobe annouced with Adobe Content Server 5 & Adobe Reader Mobile SDK 10 an improved and hardened DRM solution to protect PDF and ePub files from unauthorized viewing – this basically forces users to use an eReader built on RMSDK 10 and above. However many ePub DRM removal products claim to remove even this protection because they crack the ePub file directly and do no rely on a specific version of an eReader to do so.
So it seems that it is difficult to obtain a secure ePub document, and ePub security continues to be problematic. ePub DRM is not specifically related to the XHTML definition although it was always anticipated (at least by OASIS, who produced the standard) that SAML would be used. But epub DRM has not gone down that route, and anyway, SAML was not designed to provide ePub DRM because it did not seek to control use of information, just access to it.
The concept behind Adobe digital editions, to be able to publish ebooks in a ‘standard’ format (ePub ebook or PDF ebook) and have them reproduced faithfully on a wide number of different platforms, is very good. But the implementation of ePub DRM has not had a similar success. ePub DRM has not proved to be effective, and whilst Adobe digital editions will continue to be used it may be some considerable time before effective ePub security is achieved.
Should you publish ebooks to PDF or ePUB format?
ePub or PDF?
Choosing the format you publish in (ePub or PDF) is very important and it depends on whether you are willing to trade multimedia and interactivity for security and consistent appearance across multiple devices.
The ePub format (XHTML) was developed specifically for Internet publishing:
- It supports multimedia and interactive (epub3) elements.
- You can create responsive ebooks that resize automatically depending on the device they are viewed on. Note however it cannot handle text in multiple columns and tables may not display properly on different screen sizes.
- It is much lighter than PDF, so it is better suited to smaller devices.
- Users can choose between many different ePub readers. However, just like your choice of browser (Chrome, IE, Firefox, Safari, etc.) they all display content slightly differently.
The ePub format however lacks the cross-platform consistency of appearance (form and format) of the PDF and many subtler controls.
ePUB DRM, privacy concerns & ebook piracy
If you are concerned about ebook piracy then ePub DRM is not as effective as PDF DRM security due to its implementation and poor key management. If you type in ‘epub drm’ in Google then all but one of the top 10 entries are dedicated to ePub DRM removal.
Users have also expressed concern regarding Adobe collecting data regarding their reading habits and transmitting this information to Adobe’s servers in plain text. This is therefore another issue to consider if opting to publish ebooks in ePub format and protect them with DRM.
Adobe Digital Editions DRM & Adobe Digital Editions Security
Adobe Digital Editions suffers from a history of critical vulnerabilities which include repeated arbitrary code execution and information disclosure issues. A list of Adobe Digital Editions Security issues can be found on Adobe’s web site.
Why Locklizard for Ebook DRM vs Adobe Digital Editions DRM?
Ebook DRM Security without Plugins or Passwords
Locklizard takes your ebook protection seriously. We provide total ebook protection with US Gov strength AES encryption, public key technology, DRM and licensing controls – ensure your ebooks remain protected no matter where they reside.
- Our DRM PDF Security products enable you to sell ebooks securely without insecure passwords or plug-ins, and enforce access, location, expiry, and usage controls.
- Unlike Adobe Permissions which can be easily removed, our DRM controls persistently protect your PDF ebooks and enable you to revoke access at any time regardless of location.
- No keys are exposed to users or interfaces, and documents are only ever decrypted in memory – see our DRM technology.
- Our easy to use adminsitration system provides simple user and document management, and unlike passwords, keys are transparently and securely managed for you.