Rumors have been circulating since at least October 2013 that Adobe was planning to release a new version of their DRM for Epub ebooks, and it looks like the rumors have come true. Adobe has released a new version of Adobe Digital Editions yesterday, and guess what?
The features page says that along with improved CSS support and better support for vertical languages (Japanese, for example), Adobe DE 3.0 also includes a new DRM which is described as now being "hardened and made more secure".
Yes, after over
2 years 4 years of quietly ignoring the fact that their DRM was hacked, Adobe finally took a step to repair the broken lock. And as part of their effort Adobe also updated Adobe Content Server 5 (there's also a new RMSDK), thus enabling ebookstores to provide ebooks that use the new DRM and allowing app and device developers to integrate the new DRM.
Some are panicking over the news that there is new DRM, with my competition suggesting that this will drive readers into the arms of Amazon, but I have decided to take a more realistic approach.
Yes, there's a new type of DRM out there, and yes we will eventually see ebook readers and apps that support it. But for the near future the devices and apps that do not support the new DRM (and frankly, never will support the new DRM) will far out number the newer gadgetry that does. And that means that the vast body of existing ereaders and apps is going to drive the market. eBookstores will want to sell to the largest number of potential customers, so they will continue to offer the older DRM.
They already know that they're losing customers to Amazon, Apple, and B&N, all of which have a proprietary DRM schema, so they'll do their best to avoid losing what few customers they can get.
I can't see an ebookstore putting up a warning message that the ebooks they sell can only be read on newer ereaders and apps, can you?
No, I think it much more likely that we will see almost no adoption of the new DRM. Instead I expect to see a repeat of the launch of the Nook store in 2009, when B&N announced their clever new DRM which no one else adopted.
Just about the only ones who will adopt the DRM will be the hackers who have probably already started working on cracking the DRM. I would put good money that the DRM will be hacked long before any reader encounters it.
Would anyone care to take that bet?
image by m thierry