04 February 2014

Lock and Load: Questions about the new Adobe DRM

Today I caught a tweet from a colleague to make sure that librarians dealing with ebooks took a look at the new announcement by Adobe that they were going to update their DRM.

What Anne was talking about is this article: The Digital Reader: Adobe to Require New Epub DRM in July, Expects to Abandon Existing Users.

Now, programs and such get updated, I know, but the problem with this announcement is that Adobe has stated that after July, it will no longer supported the previous version of DRM. This is problematic for quite a few reasons:
  • People that have older dedicated ereaders, such as the Kobo or discontinued Sonys, could find they are not going to get any kind of update. This means that they will not be able to read new EPUB titles on their devices.
  • Third-party apps should be able to be updated, however it is unsure how soon that will happen. This delay would definitely affect library ebook readers, which means library staff will bear the brunt of trying to explain it.
  • One thing that was mentioned by Toby on Twitter is that some vendors, like OverDrive, store their EPUB copies on their own servers. This brings up the question of how all of these titles will have their DRM updated -- and how long it will take. I do not know enough about the application of rights management to know if it is a simple change or not, however, I am kind of leaning toward...not.
  • Another unknown is the effect this will have on independent bookstores that are selling ebooks. Many of them will have to front the costs, which could mean a hit to them.
Now, of course this is all supposition at this point, and some may think that we are just waiting for the sky to fall. I hope that there is little fallout to this issue, but as a librarian who works almost every day with patrons who are just holding the tail of the ereader tiger, this could slow things down even more in libraries.

What are other people's thoughts on this? Are you expecting smooth waters or a rough road ahead with the new Adobe DRM?