Saturday, December 26, 2009

Non-Amazon free books, one NOT readable on Kindle

UPDATE 12/26/09 at 9:43 PM PST - Apologies, the University of Chicago Press book below is a PDF that's protected by Adobe Digital Edition, which I did download to the computer (it's free to pc and Mac users), following instructions there.

  The book, protected by Adobe with "Digital Rights Management" (called "DRM") is readable on the computer.  I browsed the book on my pc and yet managed to forget it needed the Adobe rights protection and that the Kindle would then need the special Adobe digital-rights software for one to read it on the Kindle, even though I'd recently explained the Adobe/Amazon DRM sitation at Kindleboards forum and at the Amazon Kindle forum when people felt it doesn't matter that Amazon hasn't paid Adobe for Adobe's DRM package.

  In August, I explained the possible problem for Amazon in using Adobe's DRM and opined that
' Adobe and Amazon are competitors in some ways, so that might be a problem, but it'd be nice if Amazon could get/buy the full licensing from Adobe for annotating PDFs and also whatever it takes for Adobe's DRM over ePub.

Amazon owns Lexcycle which makes Stanza and focuses on ePub, so it's all possible, but they will have $$business reasons for not doing this (but I think they'll eventually have to, to stay on top of the e-readers stack).'
  I should delete this blog entry so as not to raise hopes as I did re that free-book series, but it's a good example of varied DRM-use.  Amazon is decried by anti-DRM groups because they use DRM on their books to protect them from piracy.

 The DRM Amazon uses, furthermore, is its own (no surprise) -- Sony also used their own until this month, when they switched to Adobe's DRM (with payment to Adobe) which is used over any purchased or rented ePub and PDF formats.
  For mobile e-readers, Sony and other e-reader manufacturers are starting to use "The Adobe® Reader Mobile software development kit (SDK), available by license."

"MOBI" format (which Amazon uses) used to be "the open format" before ePub took hold, which is one reason Kindle users can download easily and read the mostly-free MOBI files from Project Gutenberg (30,000)),, and even Fiction-wise (as described in the ongoing free-books blog article here.

  The "free" book by University of Chicago Press below is normally sold and is protected by Adobe's Digital Rights Management protection, but Amazon would have to buy the Adobe rights-software/firmware for use on their Kindle device before the book can be read on the Kindle.  My Bad.

So, for Kindle users, your computer is where you can read the books protected by Adobe, and the instructions for downloading the 'free' book below leads us to the free user-software for Adobe (allowing us to read it on our computers).

  I've corrected the title.   The free Adobe Editions app for PCs and Macs is described by Adobe this way:
' Adobe® Digital Editions software offers an engaging way to view and manage eBooks and other digital publications.  Use it to download and purchase digital content, which can be read both online and offline.  Transfer copy-protected eBooks from your personal computer to other computers or devices.  Organize your eBooks into a custom library and annotate pages.
  Digital Editions also supports industry-standard eBook formats, including PDF/A and EPUB. '
It's similar to the situation of a non-Kindle owner being able to buy any Kindle book for reading, with no Kindle, on their computers after downloading the also free Amazon "Kindle for PC" application (Mac and Blackberry versions coming any day).

Similarly, non-Kindle owners can read a Kindle book (purchased or free) on their iPhones or iPods (with the free Kindle app for iPhone and iPod) w/o owning a Kindle.

So, if Kindle owners really want to read a book that's protected by Adobe's method of DRM, it's not readable on the Kindle unless Amazon has purchased from Adobe the software for use in the Kindle's firmware.  But they can read them on the computer the way non-Kindle owners can read purchased or free Kindle books on their computers. (as of early November).

(Original posting of University of Chicago's free monthly book, below)

1.   The University of Chicago Press makes available, in PDF* format, each month, a free e-book version of one of their books.  December's is Headless Males Make Great Lovers And Other Unusual Natural Histories.

  From their description: ' The natural world is filled with diverse—not to mention quirky and odd—animal behaviors. Consider the male praying mantis that continues to mate after being beheaded; the spiders, insects, and birds that offer gifts of food in return for sex; the male hip-pocket frog that carries his own tadpoles; the baby spiders that dine on their mother; the beetle that craves excrement; or the starfish that sheds an arm or two to escape a predator's grasp.'

A review in New Scientist says:
' “It’s not just about insect sex—though there is a lot of it here. Marty Crump’s book is a trawl through the whole gamut of weird animal behaviors. Watch out for spine-anointing, toad-chewing hedgehogs; tortoises that stomp the ground to draw up worms; and the mantids of the title that mate more effectively once the female has bitten off their heads.… This beautifully written and charmingly illustrated book combines acute observation with helpful explanation. Nature has never seemed so bizarre and splendid.”—Adrian Barnett, New Scientist '
The regular pricing on this e-book is between $5 to $14 depending on how long you want to keep it, and the paperback copy is $14 while the cloth version is $25.  Here's the page for their explanation of their pricing.
  But until the end of December, this e-book is free.

2. As written last week here, TechCrunch's Paul Carr is offering a free PDF* of his book Bringing Nothing to the Party - True Confessions of a New Media Whore, and you can read about its background and how to get it free here.

* PDFs are now readable on Kindle (US) and Kindle International.  You'd need to download them to your computer and then move them to the 'documents' folder of your Kindle.

Here is the ongoing set of links for various Searches for free or low-cost Kindle-compatible books. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

Send to Kindle

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  1. Can you read an Adobe Digital Editions book on the Kindle? It looks like you can only view by installing their DRM software.

  2. Andrys -

    Thanks for all the tips and information, your blog is one of my favorites.

    I followed the links for the free edition of this month's book from Chicago Press, but it appears the book is only readable in your browser using Adobe's Digital Editions software. I could not find a PDF version anywhere. Am I missing something?



  3. Anonymous and Jerry,
    I was the one missing something when writing that blog entry, as I'd forgotten that it was protected by the Adobe Digital Edition.

    I've updated the post to explain the Amazon and Adobe DRM situation, and now the entry is instead a good example of the confusing situation between e-readers, mitigated somewhat by the fact that most are allowing their purchased content to be read on computers when not on other e-readers, which allows them all to sell more.

    Thanks for the alert. I wasn't home for most of the day so this comes late.

  4. Thanks for the clarification. I can't wait for the formats/DRM become more open, the same way I can buy MP3s from amazon and listen to them on my ipod (or whatever else).

  5. Anonymous,
    That's the way it should be. I'm with you.

    One thing that goes against it with some groups is that musicians use CDs as a way to get people to their concerts, where their real earning power is. They're more like great ads.

    The author's 'concert' is the book itself, and if it has no rights protection on it then it is easy to just zip a copy of the book to anyone or thousands of people on one send-button, with no corresponding payment at all to the author, ever, so they naturally are concerned.

    A lot of work to write a book, and people tend to want anything electronic for free nowadays.
    "Information should be free." is the sentiment.

    And the war of DRM-rights between who controls what (will Adobe have rights control over all manufacturers' e-readers' books? for a price? ... and will Amazon have too much control over publishers' sales? etc).


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