Ebooks and Digital Rights Management
Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a very sticky issue when it comes to ebooks. You can’t get around it. Even if you break the DRM of an ebook, you still must deal with it. Two dominant systems of DRM are governed by the Amazon Kindle and Adobe EPUB. Basically, these only allow you to access digital media through selected licensed devices.
Accessing EPUB on a Computer
In order to access locked EPUB files on a computer, you need to install Adobe Digital Editions. Authorising it with your Adobe account will allow you to read an ebook you purchased or borrowed on multiple registered devices. That’s the whole point of DRM, to prevent anyone from sharing these files with others by limiting access to one user. Digital piracy, after all, is pretty rampant and it’s only natural that publishers want to protect themselves.
Why I’m Tethered to Adobe Digital Editions
As I already mentioned, most new ebook releases are locked with DRM. Theoretically, I could abandon EPUB for Kindle versions and forget about Digital Editions. Trouble is, outside of the US, Overdrive doesn’t offer Kindle editions for loan. Onleihe doesn’t offer Kindle editions at all. This means with my library memberships, I only have access to EPUB and PDF editions. If I want to continue borrowing and reading ebooks from these services, I am locked into Digital Editions.
When DRM is a Nuisance for Consumers
As much as I understand the rationale behind DRM, it has caused me a lot of grief too. Being locked into EPUB means I have to work with Adobe Digital Editions. The trouble arises when the main application to access these files doesn’t offer a satisfactory solution to access and manage these files. To explain my grief, let me count the ways Adobe Digital Editions has failed me.
1. Crashing on a Regular Basis
No other application on my Mac crashes anywhere near as often as Digital Editions does. When I borrow ebooks and want to download them, it regularly crashes after adding just about three or four books. When I add up all the library accounts of my family, I am currently allowed to check out 51 ebooks. It’s no fun watching an app crash 17 times. I often maximise the loan quota as I search through cookbooks for my next recipe. Frankly, I’d rather be in the kitchen than babysit my laptop.
2. Slow as Slow Can Be
Adobe Digital Editions is also incredibly slow when it does work. My digital library isn’t huge. I do have some purchases from Kobo in my Digital Editions library but they aren’t all that many. Add the ebooks I have on loan and I still don’t hit a hundred within that application. Yet, scrolling through the library in thumbnail view causes the screen to freeze. List view fares better when scrolling but I remember books by cover designs more than by titles. That’s why I stick to thumbnails anyway.
Then when I open an ebook, Digital Editions becomes especially temperamental. Occasionally it crashes. The rest of the time it lags a lot. When I scroll through the ebook, Digital Editions continues with its infuriatingly leisurely scroll.
3. Complicating Transfers to Mobile Devices
There’s no way to directly transfer an ebook from Adobe Digital Editions to mobile devices on a Mac. Now, that is in part Apple’s fault. Still, there’s no cloud synchronisation with a sister app either. Overdrive recommends using Bluefire Reader on the iPad but it synchronises with Dropbox, not Adobe Digital Editions.
How is Digital Editions an Adobe App?!
You’d think a company that put together Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and really, the entire Creative Suite of programmes, would be much more capable at releasing a fully functional ebook management app. Digital Editions isn’t even an afterthought. It’s a forgotten brainchild left to fend for itself.