4 Replies Latest reply on May 24, 2012 1:36 AM by xpuserpjc

    Crippled ebooks and Digital Editions


      Seems like the only way to return feedback...



      Wow... this has to be the most unpleasant customer experience in online purchasing that I have EVER had. Here is my experience.


      I had a Que reference book, "Scott Mueller's Upgrading and Repairing Networks", on my shelf that I purchased awhile ago. I hadn't used it until today. I consulted the index of this very large (1178 pages), paperback book, found my item, and went to that page. The  book's spine broke. So, I decided to see if there was a digital edition, an ebook. As I now have an iPad in addition to my Mac desktop and Toshiba laptop computers, I often refer to my ebooks.


      I found that Que had an Adobe Digital Edition ebook for purchase. The price was reasonable enough. I assumed the ebook probably had some sort of watermark as other publishers do, so I decided to buy. The purchase completed and I saw a small (1.4k) 'acsm' file downloaded with another '0eYxtNTq.html.part' file in my downloads folder. This usually indicates an interrupted download. I tried again with the same result. Odd. Double clicking the 'acsm' file asked for an application. Returning to the download page, I found I needed to get an Adobe Digital Editions application. The download page showed I would be getting a PDF and I already had Adobe Reader but did so, as instructed.


      After downloading and installing the new application, I found that I needed to register with my Adobe ID. Not finding one in my 1Password account archive, I tried to setup a new account but found I had an existing account. So, I completed the password reset routine. Viewing my account information, I found I could not update my country. I am no longer in the U.S., I am in Australia. I could create a new account with the same Adobe ID. I did so. Odd.


      In the Adobe Digital Editions application, I tried to find a way to add the new ebook. The interface is confusing. It appeared that "Library > Add Item to Library" allowed me to navigate to the folder holding the 'acsm' file, but it was greyed out. I returned to my desktop and double-clicked the 'acsm' file and it switched to the Adobe Digital Editions application and began downloading the file. It completed successfully.


      Once I had the file in the application, I saw it displayed in the usual unreadable single, full page format. In Adobe Reader, Cmd-2 activates the fit-to-width display. That did not work. I had to use my mouse to go to the toolbar, select "Reading > Fit to Width" to get my desired reading format.


      I knew I wanted to go to page 362. In Adobe Reader that is Cmd-Sft-N to bring up the "Go to Page" field. Did not work. I selected "Reading > Go to Page". I saw no entry field. After scanning the interface, I saw that a small box in the upper right was highlighted. There was some text in the box but I found if I cleared it and entered the page number and hit Enter, I would see the desired page displayed.


      That was a lot of work to simply read a reference entry in an ebook. For comparison, I do NOT have such issues with O'Reilly books, Take Control books, Packt Publishing books, Site Point books, and probably a number of other publisher ebooks I have. I don't see any advantage to me as a customer. (Thank heavens I see I can copy and paste to construct my own notes. No right-click context menu 'Copy' command though; I have to drag up to the 'Reading' menu again.)


      The entire experience speaks of coercion and is crippled in my opinion. I cannot recommend it to others. In fact, I will actively wave-off others if they find Adobe Digital Editions is one of their options.


      Apple removed its crippled protection from iTunes music. Site Point and Packt Publishing removed their onerous protection from their ebooks. Here is hoping you find similar enlightenment.

        • 1. Re: Crippled ebooks and Digital Editions
          xpuserpjc Level 1

          Apparently, I could copy and paste a snippet of text only once. I can no longer as "Permissions set by the publisher of this item restrict copying". It is read and navigate (poorly) only I guess.


          Searching is pathetic also. I used the usual "find" keyboard command, twice, until the top-right search box highlighted. I found the first instance but hitting Return to find the next showed nothing highlighted on the page... Ah! I discovered it will not auto-scroll if the instance is on the same page. One has to scroll down to find the hidden highlight. I suppose I could see two instances highlighted if I was in the unreadable, full-page view, switching to "Fit to Width" to actually read it.


          Does anyone do user interface testing at Adobe?

          • 2. Re: Crippled ebooks and Digital Editions
            Level 4

            I can understand your frustration.  However, you made several mistakes.

            Lots of people make the same mistakes: assuming that transferring and

            reading an ebook is a seamless process without technical requirements is

            the first one.  Some environments make it that simple, but when you combine

            an off-brand ereader with software requirements that are not known to you,

            and an open source for the ebooks, it won't be easy.  Unfortunately, you

            cannot diss the software if you screw up.


            From your earlier post, you backed into the Adobe Digital Editions

            (ADE) environment.  I think your first clue that there was more to this

            than just downloading an ebook should have been that you found 'an Adobe

            Digital Editions' version of your ebook - and you didn't have ADE installed

            on your Windows or Mac computer.  If you had a registered copy installed

            when you went to download the ebook, then that .ascm file would have

            triggered ADE to open and to do the transfer.  And the result would have

            been almost as 'seamless' as you thought it should have been.


            The ebooks aren't 'crippled'.  They follow a preset format, and the

            publisher can choose which format to use.  Text in an ebook can be flexible

            in its alignment within your ereader window, and allow searches or not, as

            they choose.  That's not an ADE issue because ADE can do with text only

            that which is built in by the publisher.  Further, the distributor, the

            author and/or the publisher can decide whether copies are allowed.  Again,

            ADE can do only that which the digital rights will allow.  You can look at

            those rights using ADE, once the ebook is in its library.  ADE's HELP

            section (F1 key from either Reading or Library mode) will explain the

            process to you, and rather than assume you know how it works, it may help

            to read how it works there - most informative, I assure you.


            Jumping ahead, you could investigate the use of other packages that work

            with ebooks.  iTunes will move ebooks in the Apple environment, and Apple

            has an ebookstore.  There's Overdrive, Calibre and Bluefire reader in the

            Windows world.  All of these packages - Apple's included - conform to the

            digital rights conventions: it's the law.  So, while you mention that Apple

            has removed 'crippling' from iTunes, you should understand that it is

            still following the Digital Millenium Copyright Act of 2000.



            • 3. Re: Crippled ebooks and Digital Editions
              xpuserpjc Level 1

              Point taken on the fact that I didn't notice, during purchase, that I needed to download the ADE application for the correct ecosystem to handle the document. I thought the 'Adobe DRM' travelled with the document perhaps working with Adobe Reader. It didn't; I caught up. Checking, I see the publisher may have thrown me off as the search results page had a PDF icon next to the price but a box about ADE on the full page for the ebook.


              I realize that Apple and others meet DMCA requirements but must note that it was a royal pain-in-the-butt working with purchased songs before they switched to iTunes Plus, which then became the 'new normal' with reasonable sharing on a home LAN, etc.


              Packages I currently use for ebooks on my Mac, PC, and iPad include Adobe Reader (pdf), GoodReader (pdf), iBooks (epub), Bookle (epub), Kindle for Mac/PC/iPad (mobi). Tried Calibre awhile back. I wasn't impressed then. I see it is being regularly updated and supported. So, I may again.


              As I mentioned, O'Reilly, SitePoint, Packt Publishing, and Take Control Books are all working with the ereaders for PDFs. I can navigate easily in Adobe Reader, grab code snippets, etc. for my work and generally have a seamless workflow. Also, they did not start out that way. They had the PDFs locked down. They switched. These publishers now use watermarks, and an honor system urging buyers to not copy, distribute, etc. Even perhaps loaning as you would a physical book but encourage the lendee to purchase a copy for themselves. (I wonder who sells more ebooks? I know I returned after being notified of the changes.)


              As for navigating within ADE, I get your point that publishers can include widgets or not, allow copying or not, etc. from the ADE toolkit. I also realize that a lot of electronic/web content never has had any usability testing or even thought of it, for that matter.


              Thanks for your comments. As I said, I will definitely avoid Adobe Digtial Editions in the future.


              P.S. ASQ.org has their PDF ebooks locked down; so, I type notes as I did with physical books.


              P.P.S. I see several folks struggling with borrowing books from libraries that use ADE on the forums here. These are transitional times.

              • 4. Re: Crippled ebooks and Digital Editions
                xpuserpjc Level 1

                Too bad I can't edit the first post's keywords and eliminate a few. On the iPad, the keywords are across the screen and my first post is three words wide per line. Okay on the Mac where I can widen the screen... there's that inattention to usability I spoke about. :-)