Et tu Penguin? • 29 October 2011 • The SnowBlog

Et tu Penguin?

Finding the iPad Kobo app to be a roadblock on the e-book highway (see previous post) I thought I'd try buying the book I was after direct from the publisher. Which in this case was Allen Page, which is now the faintest echo of an independent imprint within the Penguin site. Signs of shoddiness everywhere on the Penguin site, to my way of thinking at least, and the hardback version of the book I was after gave a publication date of Thursday (two days ago) but also claimed it was not published yet. However the e-book was available! Their purchasing process was also a bit on the shoddy side and required a couple of attempts to get through it. But at last I had the opportunity to download my e-book. Except that the file when it arrived was only 1kb. What? Oh right, it's an Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) file which, when opened by the application of that name, will download the actual book. Wasn't expecting ADE. It just said EPUB on the purchase page. So will I be able to read this thing using an EPUB reader on my iPad? From what I can tell, the answer is 'no'. Will I be able to read it on my laptop - which of course I don't really want to do? Well, in theory you can, but the Adobe Digital Editions website where I can download their software tells me "Sorry, but your system doesn't meet the minimum system requirements". That must be because I'm using a two-month-old Mac with the latest version of everything. Or maybe there's no such thing as Adobe Digital Editions and this is all an elaborate con and the ghost of Allen Lane is in on it. So far not much to show for my 11.99. Certainly nothing to read (if you don't count error messages). Anyway, you can imagine how likely I am to want to try the Kobo route (previous post) or the Penguin route again. If the remnants of Allen Lane had released the e-book I want in the States as well as in the UK this week then I would have been reading it for the last hour instead of wandering through a maze of shoddy interfaces and incompatible standards (admittedly Amazon have incompatible standards too, but they have working readers for everything, so far as I can tell. Everything. So it hasn't caused me a moment's bother.) We really had better hope that Amazon are the good guys, because you'd be mad to shop for e-books anywhere else, at least based on my recent experience.
Update: I cracked it. There's an Adobe page for people who can't install Digital Editions software on a Mac. Instead of scanning your system and telling you that it won't work it just lets you download and install a copy... which works. And that's the point at which I did something bad. I'd read a few dozen blog posts about people wishing they could read their ADE EPUBs on their iPads. And lots of people explaining how to do it... if you didn't mind making a few shady deals in dark alleys. And I did it. I cracked the DRM on the ADE version, and transferred it to the iPad to read in the Apple iBooks reader. I wonder how much trouble I'm in. I paid my 11.99 to Penguin but now I'm reading it on the wrong piece of machinery. What should my punishment be? (also note: the method I chose to use only works if you start with a legally purchased copy that happens to be in an inconvenient format - though I suspect I could upload my hacked copy and anyone could read it now - which I won't do, of course.) And incidentally - or maybe not incidentally at all - it took less time to research the hack, download all the relevant software and get the EPUB ready to read on a device it wasn't authorised for than it did to pay my money and get to a position where I could read it on my laptop (yuck!). Another argument in favour of the Kindle store: Amazon is quick, piracy is slow - we just have to make sure that Amazon alternatives aren't slower still.


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