Is WHSmith’s iPad app costing them £200k a year?

WH Smith launched their iPad app today. You have the option of buying and downloading their selection of 25,000 ebooks.

But how much is the app costing them? I have a source who gave me a heads up on the launch, and also told me that:

Sources report that … annual Adobe fees to be estimated at other £100,000 per year and the maintenance fees at over £100,000 per year.

I’m not sure if it’s true, but it would explain why it took so long for someone to develop an app that used Adobe DRM. This might also explain why Kobo went with their own DRM system instead of Adobe’s. Just think what it would mean if that fee were per app per year. The maintenance fee sounds plausible. It’s high, yes, but still plausible.

P.S. I’m waiting to see if Adobe or WHSmith will comment on this.

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Christopher Harris12 October, 2010

    Let’s check the costs…

    Content Server 4 is $10,000 one time fee so we can ignore that as part of the startup costs.

    Annual license fee of $1,500. Per transaction sale fee of $0.22 for a permanent ADE license ($0.08 for a temporary license).

    The UK store cuts these in half to £795 and £0.11. So to reach £100,000 they would need to sell a bit over 900,000 books a year.

  2. Tablazines12 October, 2010

    No that sounds about right.

  3. Mike Cane12 October, 2010

    That’s probably based on annual licensing as well as expected per-book cut. “Maintenance” — cute way of saying, “Pay us or your customers can never read the books they thought they bought.”

    DRM, the new school blackmail.

  4. JSWolf14 October, 2010

    The txtr app on the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad (native iPad app) uses Adobe Adept DRm. You cannot use it to take out library ePub, but you can buy ePub using Adept. It uses ADE from Adobe.

  5. […] there is a real expense in locking down each copy. Adobe charge ebookstores $0.22 for each DRM-encumbered ebook that you buy. Do you know those free ebooks you get from Kobo, B&N, etc? If you download those […]


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