Friday, October 29, 2010

Read Adobe DRM Library eBooks on Your Apple iPad

Read Adobe DRM Library Books on Your iPadI've spent quite a bit of time on the quest for a library ebook reader for the Apple iPad. I've sifted through that great spam link & outdated forum post directory known as Google, and I've come to the sad conclusion that there aren't any iPad ereaders that can handle Adobe DRMed library books. The closest nibble for iOS was in February 2009 when Stanza announced upcoming Adobe DRM support. Even if Stanza hadn't been bought out by Amazon a few months later, causing their forthcoming Adobe DRM support to be abandoned faster than a pair of out of style pants, there was no guarantee that Stanza's reader would have supported library books. 

The problem is that the most popular library ebook lending system is Overdrive. They deliver a double-fisted DRM smack down by wrapping Adobe DRM in a server side authorization mechanism. Basically, Overdrive files point to the DRMed book on Overdrive servers which an Overdrive authorized reader must be given permission to access. Since there are no authorized Overdrive readers for the iPad, and Overdrive has stated their first mobile ebook support will be for Android devices, this means that almost 7.5 million iPad owners will have to wait. 

7.5 million. That's such an insignificant number. Overdrive is wise to put them off and wait for somebody else to step in to fill the vacuum or just make them irrelevant.

These DRMed Overdrive ePub files can't even be read by other Adobe DRM authorized ePub ereaders. I've downloaded a gaggle of them and none of them can make front nor back of my library lent ebooks. What's a voracious ebibliophile to do? Sit in an office chair and click through 300 pages with a mouse? Well, perhaps some people do that, but I was determined to read my ebooks someplace more comfortable. So I came up with a solution. You may want to hold your nose on this one.

  1. Setup up VNC/Apple Remote Desktop on your PC or Mac. 
  2. Run a VNC client on your iPad
  3. Open Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) and load your ebook
  4. Put ADE into Reading mode. Now drag the window as wide and tall as will fit comfortably on your iPad screen. (Since ADE refuses to remember window positions on the Mac, and does not offer a full screen mode, you'll have to do this every time you launch the program.)
  5. Sit back and read your book. A simple tap on the down arrow is all you need to turn the page.
See? So simple, even a sleeping child could do it. This works well over local networks, but you may not want to be using VNC on public networks unless you know about tunneling, VPNs, or other secret, arcane, computer handshakes. You don't want the packet sniffing cracker sipping a mocha next to you to have the password to your remote access. Since I just want to be able to read an Adobe DRMed book on the couch, this solution will do.       Follow me on Twitter for my ADHD escapades at @SplinteredMind or my novel writing project over at @DouglasCootey. And if you're a glutton for punishment you can friend me on Facebook as well.