Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The ABA's Digital Move Makes BookSense

When we wrote the Brave New World report some 3 years ago we clearly saw the glass as half full for the bookseller. It was clear that what was required was a way of supplying and servicing the channel. However, many publishers wanted digital to be direct, aggregators wanted to control the files and build up their own market, chains wanted to go alone and manufacturers saw an opportunity to lock in their devices.

The news that the American Booksellers Association, have adopted Adobe's Content Server 4 (ACS4) digital rights management server architecture to serve files to customers of their member bookstores, not only makes true Booksense, it is what we envisaged 3 years ago, It is the logic that underpins the Gardner Books Digital Warehouse and is being adopted by other wholesalers and distributors in many countries.

The news that Sony is in involved is in fact more noise. ACS4 is agnostic not exclusive and is fully supported by an increasing number of ebook devices, also support secure Adobe ebooks (PDF) and the only exception to this common ground is the Kindle.
So we are now seeing a significant shift with the major opposition to Amazon not being Sony, iRex, Cooler, Plastic Logic, BeBook but the file server that joins them together - Adobe’s ACS4.How will resellers react to the opportunity that now clearly enables them to participate? Will consumer buy local or from the chain, or from the aggregators? Will publishers commercially enable the current channel to fully participate, or back the ‘stack them high and sell them cheap’ merchants?

Today it is hard to envisage an alternative to ACS4 and once it’s SDK option is taken up by mobile players, we will start to see a level of interoperability sought by many. This is a bold step by the ABA and as long as we steer clear of the false repository wars, we may now see a significant digital step change that is makes it possible for all to partisipate.

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