What is Adobe DRM and how to deal with it

Nook Simple Touch

Nook Simple Touch is supported with Adobe DRM

Before you start buying books in a particular ebookstore, check what kind of DRM is used there.

DRM (Digital Rights Management) is intended to prevent from unauthorized use. To put it simply: it means you can’t freely share the ebook file you bought. No matter how insane it sounds, we have to live with that.

For instance, if you shop in Kindle Store, you can only access your ebooks via devices and applications developed by Amazon. If in iBooks Store – via iBooks/iTunes.

Both vendors are using their own DRM systems. That means: you can’t read Kindle books in iBooks app, and you can’t read Apple books in Kindle app or device.

Luckily, other ebookstores don’t use native DRMs. Most of them are supported with a system developed by Adobe. The names used to describe it are different: Adobe DRM, Adept, ADE, Adobe Digital Editions, Adobe Reader Mobile. If you find any of those names on a page with book’s details, you can be sure that the book is DRM-ed with Adobe.

The Adobe system is being used by Barnes & NobleKoboGoogle, and Sony. Ebookstores in many countries also use it, as it’s more affordable than developing a native file protection system.

There are two ways to deal with Adobe DRM: either remove it or accept it. The third option, ignoring it, doesn’t pay at all.

And while DRM as such is a huge limitation, if you wisely handle it, you can be more flexible in where you buy books, how you store them, and who can access and read them.

First of all, get an Adobe ID. Secondly, authorize with it any of the devices you would possibly want to use to read ebooks. Do it before you download the first ebook. Here is a tip on how to authorize a computer and your mobile devices with Adobe ID credentials.

Adobe Digital Editions

Authorize your computer with Adobe Digital Editions application

Many ereaders, tablets and smartphones are Adobe DRM-supported. The list of devices and applications is available in this directory.

So, there are many devices and many distributors. This is something which creates possibilities – and I’d like to describe them in detail below.

1. Don’t limit the usage to one device

If you download the Adobe DRM ebook to the computer, which is not authorized with Adobe ID, you won’t be able to read it anywhere else than on this single computer, and using Adobe Digital Editions application.

If you don’t have this application, download it from Adobe. It’s available for PC and Mac computers and first thing you should do with it is to authorize your computer. After opening, go to Library » Authorize Computer… – and type in your Adobe credentials.

2. Access your ebooks after you change the device

Many readers are at the stage of discovering all the goodness of ebooks. They have recently bought an ereader or downloaded the ereading application and enjoy newly bought ebooks.

Stop for a while and think about what happens when you’ll replace your current device with a new one. You will have to download your ebooks again. If the files you currently store on your computer are not authorized with Adobe ID, you won’t be able to read them on your next device. To do that, you will have to re-download the files from the ebookstore’s website.

It’s much easier, if you authorize the computer right away. Once you buy the next device, you’ll have to authorize it, and there should not be any problem with opening the ebook files which you’ll copy from the old device.

3. Share ebooks with your family and friends

Any Adobe DRM-ed file can be downloaded to a limited number of devices per year (6 mobile devices and 6 computers). That means, for instance, that you can also send the book to your Android smartphone. Or, when you buy an Adobe DRM supported ereader (like Nook or Kobo) for your wife or children, they can read books stored in your computer, after their new device is authorized with your Adobe ID.

One clarification. Adobe DRM system is not a cloud bookshelf where you have access to your archived books, like the one in Kindle Store, or Barnes & Noble, or Kobo. The content of the books won’t be synced between different devices using the same Adobe ID.

Adobe ID is just the system to identify the device eligible to open the DRM-ed file. Don’t expect anything else.

4. Shop in different ebookstores

This is something which made me interested in Adobe Digital Editions in the first place. And this is the opportunity many users from outside US should like.

If you’re using the same Adobe ID for the ereader and computer, you can download to the ereader the ebooks you purchased in different ebookstores.

As there are not enough electronic publications in my mother tongue, Polish, I buy ebooks in both English and Polish. Ebookstores in my country are mainly using Adobe DRM system. I download the files to the laptop and add them later to either Bluefire Reader or Kobo app on the iPad.

That way, you can store in one ereader or in one application ebooks from different sources.

Truth is, that users from smaller and less advanced ebook markets will sooner or later need to shop in different ebookstores. For English titles they can shop in Kobo, for local language – in their local stores.

Kindle Store and iBooks Store, except few most popular foreign languages, don’t offer many titles for non-English users. Picking a set of Adobe DRM-based ebookstores to shop for ebooks seems to be a good solution of this problem.

And the only thing to do to make it work just fine is to get Adobe ID and get this fixed right at the beginning.

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English-speaking users of major ebookstores, like Kindle Store, won’t probably experience DRM issues at all. They have everything they need in one place. There is no need to search for titles anywhere else.

It looks totally different from a perspective of a small ebook market, where there are not enough titles in mother tongue. The need to get books from different sources is much stronger. And sooner or later the DRM will come and say “hello”. The sooner you deal with it, the better.

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