Adobe Hardens DRM Protection, Likely to Send More People to Amazon to Buy eBooks


The world of ebooks is going to get a lot more complicated thanks to Adobe, a company that has nothing to do with the actual writing, making, or marketing of the ebooks you purchase, but that doesn’t stop them from wanting to cash in on them as much as possible nonetheless. The way they’ve found to pull that off is to capitalize on scared publishers that think Adobe DRM is the only way to protect ebooks, while taking advantage of the whole “Amazon is evil” idea, and baiting consumers into the false idea that the ePub format is somehow more “open” than other formats.

Adobe has released an update to their ebook software, Adobe Digital Editions 3.0, and with it version 5 of the Adobe Content Server, which Adobe claims will make their DRM scheme (with special emphasis on scheme) more secure and a lot harder to crack because they can change the encryption dynamically on the fly.

This is how Adobe puts it: “The new hardened DRM solution uses multiple encryption layers with Adobe Licensing server having the control to change the mechanism of encrypted resource key generation.”

What’s going to make this even worse is the fact that it changes the so-called industry standard ePub format even further. Now there’s going to be two versions of Adobe DRM ebooks floating around out there, and the newer version isn’t going to be compatible with older ADE-supporting devices. The same goes for ADE-supporting software and apps.

It’s going to be up to the individual publishers and retailers to decide if they want to use the new content server 5. That’s just going segregate ePub ebooks even further.

And once people find out they can no longer remove the DRM from ebooks like they could before with this super easy DRM-removal tool, then they are just going to go to Amazon and buy ebooks instead where they can easily remove the Kindle DRM and choose to read the book they purchased with their own hard-earned money however they want.

Scared publishers and authors will likely praise the new “unbreakable” Adobe DRM scheme, but it’s going to do more harm than good. I know I’ll never buy an ePub with Adobe’s new DRM, just like I’ll never buy an ebook from iBooks for the same reason. Lots of people will do the same. All this is going to do is make Amazon even stronger. They don’t have to do anything and they win. And people wonder why they are so successful.


8 Responses to “Adobe Hardens DRM Protection, Likely to Send More People to Amazon to Buy eBooks”

  1. And of course there is also Barnes and Noble DRM which is also part of Adobe and very easy to break.

    That being said, the more hype Adobe’s DRM gets, the sooner it will be broken. The key has to be located somewhere on the device used for reading the book, so in the end, all DRM is essentially security by obscurity which as any security expert will tell you is not secure at all.

  2. Nathan, it appears to me the e-ink based e-book devices are going to get impacted more than the tablet based e-book devices. Google Play, Apple’s App Store and Microsoft’s Windows 8 platforms are easy to update. What’s going to happen with the more difficult to update e-ink based readers? Most don’t get frequent firmware updates and specifically I’m thinking of the Sony product line. I think Adobe is setting themselves up to get hacked.

    • Indeed. Sony is unlikely to update their readers’ software, and so is B&N. Kobo on the other hand probably updated their software twice since I wrote this comment :).

      And that’s certainly one thing Adobe is good at: getting hacked.

  3. Ingo Lembcke, Hamburg, Germany, EU January 23, 2014 at 3:29 am

    Sony could choose to update the Software for the newest Model and be satisfied: after all, one reason to buy it.
    They could not care less, wether the buyers are able to read new books on old devices, after all, they are not selling books.
    And the newer readers from other vendors, like Tolino Shine are new enough and current enough to warrant an update.
    Kobo was already mentioned.
    That accounts for quite a lot. Leaves only B&N and Amazon Kindle, which both do not support the normal Adobe DRM. And the old readers, which might bringt some buyers to switch to something newer, to get some of these: speedier page-turn, HD-eInk, Frontlight, WLAN/ 3G. May they missed it not really, but if there is a compelling reason, like the must-have book which is only avialable with new DRM?
    So, I am not so sure, wether the publisher will switch to the new DRM or not.
    And of course, Amazon might be the winner if that happens.
    DRM is a bad idea, and that should teach them.

    • Ingo Lembcke, Hamburg, Germany, EU January 23, 2014 at 3:30 am

      Ah, my fault, yes, Sony is selling books, sorry, overlocked that.
      Hm, still, I think, they might be able to switch DRM.

  4. Ingo, Sony no longer markets e-readers in the US market if I remember right, but their e-book store still sells e-books here. I’ll stand my my original statement that Adobe is setting themselves up to get hacked because people will want to use content with whatever e-reader they have.