Just about a month ago Adobe released a new product called Adobe Digital Editions. Basically this is an updated version of their old eBook Reader software but a bit more streamlined and with some interesting new technologies under the hood. During the last month I’ve been testing out Adobe Digital Editions to see if it will change my mind about eBooks.
First off, the free Adobe Digital Editions is an excellent example of an application created with Adobe’s Flex technology, as it is essentially a rich Internet application. Installing Digital Editions is a simple matter of clicking on the download link and having the install happen automatically through a combination of Flash and Flex.
Once installed, Adobe Digital Editions runs outside of the browser and provides a simple but effective interface for reading eBooks and other electronic journals. Content can be easily organized in a number of ways and it is simple to create custom bookshelves for managing your content. (For example, you can create a bookshelf for science fiction and a separate bookshelf for training manuals).
Of course, reading books is the main reason to have an eBook reader and I found Digital Editions to be a well-designed tool for reading books online. Content can be viewed in a single page or double page format and can be easily customized to fit any width or zoom depth. A feature that I liked were the custom bookmarks, which made it possible to read a book, take notes related to its content, and later automatically jump to that part of the book by clicking on the bookmark.
However, there are several current shortcomings in Adobe Digital Editions that make it fall short as far as being a universal eBook reader.
The biggest shortcoming is its format support. Currently Adobe Digital Editions only supports PDF/A and an open format called OPS. While there’s nothing wrong with supporting these formats—and we liked that we could open standard PDF files in Digital Editions—to be of any use, the reader needs to be open to using older formats and even standard HTML- and text-based formats from resources such as Project Gutenberg and online libraries like as NetLibrary.
While I can understand Adobe’s desire to keep quality high, not being able to open these formats means I need to use multiple readers and multiple eBook management systems.
Like any eBook system, Adobe Digital Editions includes a form of DRM, details of which can be found here.
The free Adobe Digital Editions runs on Windows and Mac OS X systems. Adobe says that versions for dedicated eBook reader hardware and for mobile devices will be available in the future.
So while I like Adobe Digital Editions as a reader, it will need to support more formats to become my main choice for reading and managing eBooks.
And until I see how it works on a dedicated eBook reader device, eBooks will still stay on my list of Emerging Technologies that Flopped.