Saturday, December 19, 2009

Who Is the most Powerful Digital Technology Company in Publishing Today?

Ask yourself who is the most powerful technical company in publishing today?

Is it Amazon, Google, Sony, eInk Corp, Apple? We would suggest that the answer is none of the above but a company that sits conveniently in the background. The company is Adobe and the hold over publishing is both tight and across the life cycle.

If we look at the Editorial and production environment we see the dominance of Indesign and PDF. If we look at the distribution world we see Adobe ebooks, PDF and epub. Some may ask what Adobe has to do with epub and the answer is simple –they offer the only DRM to protect on multiple platforms and devices. So when you use a Sony , Cooler, Irex, or any of the eInk ‘lookie likies’ is is almost certain Adobe is licensing and protecting those files.

So its hardly surprising to find Adobe taking shots at Amazon's Kindle rouge e-book reader which has less to do with formats and more to do with Amazon not using Adobe’s ACS4 DRM system than them not using epub.

So we have a very dominant force both in the development and the distribution of digital and physical works. PDF and epub are open standards, but the only DRM protection on offer is Adobe’s ACS4 . So what is open, what is interoperable and what is proprietary?

1 comment:

Ted Treanor said...

Thanks for the post Martyn. It is thought provoking.

I give major credit for Adobe's impressive market position to the brilliant Bill McCoy, General Manager, ePublishing Business, as the man behind Adobe's success in becoming the industry standard in ebooks. Adobe natively supports PDF and ePUB in Digital Editions eReader, which is produced as an output from the publishing industry's primary production app- Adobe InDesign CS4.

Martyn, your readers might find this 12/18 post interesting: PDF vs. EPUB vs. Mobi Format Download Comparison from O', by Andrew Savikas, showing PDF a clear winner. Andrew was just elected to the board of directors of (ePUB).

Surprisingly, Bill McCoy was a very recent casualty of Adobe's rightsizing initiative...another company's gain.

There is mounting debate on DRM vs. usability and ebook adoption. Opponents of DRM say that the budding ebook market's growth is suppressed by placing any obstacles, such as DRM, in the way of the consumption of content.

Do you disagree?

However, if DRM went away, what do you think would be the impact to publishers and authors?

Ted Treanor
Twitter @ePubDr
Seattle WA