News release from Adobe follows. Please note the quotes in the headline. DRMed ePub is not "open." And now the big question: Will Amazon do ePub soon, now that B&N has moved forward? And with Adobe DRM or an Amazon flavor?  For info on the Nook e-reader from B&N, see the basics plus Paul Biba’s report from the press conference announcing the product. – D.R.

image SAN JOSE, Calif. and NEW YORK — Oct. 20, 2009 Adobe Systems Incorporated (Nasdaq:ADBE) and Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS), the world’s largest bookseller, today announced further advancements for eBook distribution by joining forces to standardize the open EPUB and PDF eBook formats and collaborating on a content protection standard based on Adobe and Barnes & Noble technology.

The collaboration makes Barnes & Noble the most portable and compatible eBookstore, and provides customers of nook, the new Barnes & Noble eBook reader and other compatible devices, as well as users of Barnes & Noble eReader software for iPhone, PCs, BlackBerry and other smartphones the ability to access digital content from thousands of content providers that is protected with Adobe technology. In addition, customers with devices that use the Adobe Reader Mobile software development kit (SDK) will soon be able to purchase and read content from, the world’s largest eBookstore.

“By standardizing on EPUB and collaborating with Adobe on a content protection standard based on Adobe technology, Barnes & Noble is delivering the richest range of content available, across a broader array of devices than anybody else,” said William J. Lynch, president of Barnes & “Consumers can feel confident that when they buy their digital content from, they can read it on more devices than any other bookstore. This collaboration with Adobe further delivers on our commitment to provide the digital content our customers want, anytime, anywhere and on whatever device they choose.”

Barnes & Noble is adopting Adobe® Content Server, a server software solution that copy protects eBooks downloaded to nook, mobile phone applications and other dedicated eBook reading devices that have integrated the Adobe Reader Mobile SDK. Additionally, Adobe is integrating Barnes & Noble’s eReader social content protection technology into Adobe Content Server, Adobe Reader Mobile SDK and, eventually, into Adobe Digital Editions.

“Adobe’s end-to-end eBook platform enables consumers to access an array of PDF and EPUB content on PCs, mobile and dedicated reading devices. Publishers benefit from the reduced cost and improved efficiencies that Adobe’s comprehensive eBook solution offers, while meeting the needs for eBook customers and protecting copyrights,” said Paul Weiskopf, senior vice president of corporate development at Adobe. “Thousands of online booksellers, publishers and libraries have adopted Adobe’s content protection technology, and we’re excited to be working with Barnes & Noble to expand eBook distribution.”

Barnes & Noble will support PDF and EPUB, a reflow-centric, XML-based open standard with broad support from the publishing industry and the Association of American Publishers. With this enhanced version of Adobe Content Server, publishers and booksellers will be able to protect EPUB and PDF eBooks through either social password or identity-based authentication options, allowing their readers access to interoperable eBook content across diverse platforms.

For more information on nook, please visit or Barnes & Noble’s newsroom.


Adobe Reader Mobile SDK with social content protection capabilities is expected to be available globally in early 2010. Adobe Digital Editions and Adobe Content Server with social content protection capabilities are expected to be available globally in late 2010. To learn more about Adobe’s eBook platform, visit

About Adobe Systems Incorporated

Adobe revolutionizes how the world engages with ideas and information—anytime, anywhere and through any medium. For more information, visit

About Barnes & Noble, Inc.
Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS), a Fortune 500 company, is the world’s largest bookseller and the nation’s highest rated bookselling brand. The company’s operations comprise of retail bookselling, college bookstore management, online retailing and book publishing. As of Oct. 2009 the company operated 774 retail bookstores in regional shopping malls, major strip centers and freestanding locations in 50 states and 624 college bookstores serving nearly 4 million students and over 250,000 faculty on college and university campuses in 50 states. Barnes & Noble conducts its online business through its Web site Barnes &, which offers direct home delivery of millions of books, music CDs and DVDs. The company sells eBooks and digital content from its Web site and from a wide range of platforms, including the iPhone, iPod touch and BlackBerry® SmartPhones. Through its Sterling Publishing subsidiary, the company publishes over 500 titles annually, under a variety of imprints including Sterling, Sterling Children’s Books and Barnes & Noble Classics.

General information on Barnes & Noble, Inc. can be obtained via the Internet by visiting the company’s corporate Web site:


  1. All I can say is that the IDPF sure messed this up. If they had developed a logo or even trademarked “open ePub”, then they could protect the true “open ePub”. There is nothing “open” about Adobe’s ePub.

  2. B&N will be using their current flavor of DRM (content locked to a user name/CC#) for selling ePubs from their store.

    B&N has licensed this scheme to Adobe for inclusion in the RMSDK (Reader Mobile SDK – it’s the ePub/PDF engine we license to device manufacturers) and ACS (Adobe Content Server).

    Adobe in turn has licensed the RMSDK (that includes this method as well as our current method) to B&N, who is using it to implement ePub/PDF rendering on the Nook.

    Other RMSDK customers will get this as part of the 9.1 release of the RMSDK (early 2010). When those customers choose to include it on devices/firmware upgrades will be up to them.

    ADE 1.7.1 (the current version) does not support the new DRM format, but we do plan on releasing a version that does (and no there is no publicly released date on the version of ADE available yet).

    This will cause confusion in the short term about what will work where as we get everyone (including us) ramped up, but the long/medium term goal is that from a customer perspective – it’ll just work.

  3. Hi, Jim. Big thanks for the clarification–let me know if I need to add other details. Perhaps Adobe should put out a second press release. Otherwise people may think that their Sonys can use the B&N files.


  4. The decision of when or if to put out a firmware update for the Sony Reader Lineup to use RMSDK 9.1 is Sony’s decision not ours. I’m sure as all of our RMSDK customers have the chance to digest this news, they will come up with their own announcements about their intentions.

    It is my hope that all of the RMSDK customers will choose to update to 9.1 for all their devices (including the COOL-er, Opus, etc…) to help reduce end-user confusion, however as I mentioned there will be short-term confusion until we get this sorted out.

  5. Jane, let’s just hope Sony and others will indeed goes along. I suspect they will since this approach is probably easier on customers than alternatives. Still not as good as no DRM, though. Thanks. David

  6. @Jane
    If the store selling the ePubs is using ACS, then they will have the choice to use either the current method, or the new password based method.

    Or they could choose to sell you unencrypted ePub files as well (Like Fictionwise already does for some books).

    Also worth noting is that with the password based scheme, even when the password is a credit card number, it is never stored either in the book or on you device/computer in a recoverable form.

    Social is a very imprecise term that can and does mean different things to different people (is it encrypted, is it watermarked, or is it both?).

  7. If it’s encrypted, then it’s not EPUB.

    If it requires Adobe Digital Editions to read (and nothing else can read it), then it’s not EPUB.

    If it can’t be created with free and open source tools and components (versus expensive and proprietary encryption software) then it’s not EPUB.

    So many natural benefits of ebooks are lost, when the open format is adulterated.

    Ebook buyers would be outraged — if they understood.

    Michael Pastore
    50 Benefits of Ebooks

  8. ““Consumers can feel confident that when they buy their digital content from, they can read it on more devices than any other bookstore.”

    This seems ludicrous to me. Baen Books, feedbooks and manybooks can be read on more devices than the E-Puke books being sold my B&N. Can you read it on a Sony? How about a Kindle? Those alone cover over 50% of the e-readers on the market. Lies, Damn Lies and Statisticians!

  9. ePub left a hole in their code for security. So, if it has security, it can still be ePub. However if the book itself is converted to something outside the ePub specs, then I agree “it’s not ePub”.

    When AKW Books ( started publishing books a year ago, we looked at the market and found that customers absolutely HATE DRM. We also discovered that all of the DRM schemes (some cumbersome at best) had been cracked and the software to do the job was readily available on the Internet — for free.

    Fictionwise has it right. No DRM sells more books. Soooo, we went along with that model and have never looked back. The road is full of potholes. If too many people pirate the stuff, the authors will quit writing and everyone loses out (no new eBooks, no incentive for the writers, publishers, or distributors).

    We currently produce books in several formats; all without DRM: ePub, Microsoft Reader (LIT), Kindle (PRC), Adobe (PDF), and MobiPocket (PRC). There are very few readers that can’t handle one of these formats.

    If the rest of the world would follow this model (and if the public would remain honest), eBooks would be easy to deal with and downright cheap to buy. An eBook of around 100,000 words (a “fat” paperback) sells on our site for $4.95 or there about. We may experiment with even lower prices to see if we can make up for the price with volume. All of our books are NEW, not reprints, and the writing quality is just as good (and often better) than what comes out of New York.

    There is no reason for an eBook to cost the $9.99 that Amazon charges (and claims they lose money on).

  10. @Al Kalar
    Amazon is being forced by publishers to sell books at high prices, thanks to Apple. Apple started the “Agent Model” where the publisher has full control over the price, and the retailer (Apple, Amazon) gets a percentage of each sale. The publishers said Amazon had to adopt that model, or they could no longer sell their content.

  11. @Roger. There is a huge pissing match going on in the eBook world, and the publishers are caught in the middle. Amazon has a policy that requires their price be equal to the lowest price available. If some other entity, say Barnes & Noble, discounts the price, then Amazon will discount to that price also and reduce the royalty they pay the publisher (or author in the case of “indi” books).

    As a result, when other sellers were using the old wholesale model, many publishers wouldn’t deal with them for fear of the Amazon backlash, Amazon being the 800-pound gorilla in the eBook world. A publisher would be more than happy to set a wholesale price (say 70% of their suggested retail) and let the outlets battle it out, but Amazon is basically forcing everyone into the agency model by its practices.

    Which came first, the chicken or the egg. Amazon’s policy or some publisher forcing the agency issue? I don’t know, but that’s the situation as it stands today.

    Oddly enough, you can lower the price on Amazon and the other outlets won’t even notice. We did that recently for a book to see if we could make money at a 99-cent price point (no, we couldn’t, since we only got a very few extra sales and almost no return on each sale at 35% royalty). The same book at $4.95 is selling much better than it did at 99 cents — go figure; people are sometimes unpredictable.

  12. Al Kalar wrote: “If the rest of the world would follow this model (and if the public would remain honest)”

    I find this kind of casual slur on people in general to be quite offensive and part of the idiotic disrespecting mindset of publishers in general toward their public.. There is absolutely no evidence, whatsoever, anywhere that the ‘public’ are dishonest in the way you suggest, by pirating eBooks. There is only margin evidence that eBooks are being illegally downloaded in any great numbers despite all of the cynically exaggerated bleating and dishonest ‘surveys’ of the major publishers.

  13. Roger wrote – “Amazon is being forced by publishers to sell books at high prices, thanks to Apple.” I’m sorry but I cannot let that nonsense go unchallenged.
    Apple did not force o encourage the Publishers to set high prices. The publishers made that choice all on their own and it is absurd in the extreme to give them a pass on that.

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