View Full Version : A Question of Sources for Books and DRM


JEMelby
07-02-2007, 03:57 PM
After a fairly successful thread regarding ereaders for reference purposes, let me pose a question about content here:

I have resigned myself to getting one of the current, or near-future E-ink devices that have cropped up. I now have questions regarding DRM and sources of content. I think it's best to proceed by way of an example. Please do not fixate on the particular example I use, but rather think in general terms.

Let's assume I purchase a Sony Reader. I have been to their connect.com web site and seen many great e-books for sale. but there are other sources of e-books out there for purchase. As far as I can acertain, the books sold at the sony site only work on the sony reader (based on research at wiki). Conversly, DRM protected books sold at other sites (like Amazon) will not work on the Sony Reader. I have not waded into the myriad of converters and utilities available, but I will assume that most folks here are not in the business of hacking DRM protection (though I know places that do). Of course, I can always read RTF files of my own creation (wink-wink).

If any of the previous paragraphs is in error, please hasten to point it out. If it is primarily true, I'll likely be ready to drop the coin. :unafraid:

yvanleterrible
07-02-2007, 04:07 PM
There are editors around that will give you better answers than I but I'll give you my two bits. DRM is mostly found on more recent books. If you've browsed around this site a bit you might have noticed a good deal of titles that have been converted to the Sony format. They are of Public Domain where you can find loads of free ebooks. Just search this site for their web coordinates. Personally I read a lot of RTFs, french books are not available in great numbers. There are also many authors that publish without DRM as a way of protest. One such is Steve Jordan who is quite entertaining. The actual fun of today's crops of ebooks is just plain finding them :grin:

NatCh
07-02-2007, 04:25 PM
Well, yvanleterrible's given you a good start on an answer, even though he's rather over-modest. :wink:

He also ... glosses over the fact that the editors don't necessarily know much more than the "regular" members.

Your assumptions regarding the format limitations are essentially correct, JEMelby: ConnStore (as we fondly call Sony's site) books are Sony Reader only, and are tied to a given Reader or set of Readers according to the ConnStore user accounts involved, and the general rule of thumb is that if you can get something to RTF format, you can read it on the Reader.

I'd make a couple of relatively minor additions, though.

The Reader's RTF viewer doesn't handle in-line images, but there's a handy-dandy app available via links in the MobileRead Wiki called Book Designer that will nicely convert your RTFs to LRF format where the pix will show nicely, and that format has the advantage of being about 2/3 the size of a comparable RTF.

The second thing I'd mention is that there are those, even around here, who would point out that the DMCA (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DMCA) contains an explicit exception for breaking DRM on a file if that DRM disables an 'Accessibility Function' on the file. For example the way the DRM on .LIT files almost always, if not always, disables the 'read aloud' function of the files. Now what's not clear is if this exception is available to those who do not, in fact, have any disability that might be relevant to the function in question. With that in mind, if you were to feel that this loophole did indeed apply to you, the (rather unfortunately named) ConvertLit (or C-LIT -- that's the unfortunate part) application will easily strip that DRM off, providing a .LIT file which can be quickly converted via BookDesigner to whatever format you might like to use.

And yes, naturally you can read RTF (or LRF, for that matter) files of your own creation. (nudge, nudge). Most folks seem to start with RTF, and eventually try BookDesigner and end up being won over to that approach. It can be a bit frustrating to start off, but once you get the settings the way you want them (and there's a tutorial hereabouts that helps with that), it's pretty much drop and go. :nice:

JSWolf
07-02-2007, 07:08 PM
With RTF even if you create bookmarks, the Sony Reader's RTF viewer ignores them. So you get no bookmarks.

In Book Designer, it's easy to create bookmarks. Some people prefer to format the book in Word and save as RTF and then load it into Book designer for final processing before converting to LRF. I myself sometimes load into Word to fix thinks like The quotes and apostrophes. To me, having the curly versions looks better.

NatCh
07-02-2007, 07:58 PM
With RTF even if you create bookmarks, the Sony Reader's RTF viewer ignores them. So you get no bookmarks.Do you mean links, JSWolf? I remember it handling bookmarks just fine in RTF ....:huh2:

JSWolf
07-02-2007, 08:16 PM
I think Word calls them bookmarks which is what we call ToC or Links.

NatCh
07-02-2007, 08:24 PM
Ah, that explains it. Stupid M$ Word. :grin:

nekokami
07-02-2007, 09:20 PM
Some people might even feel that if you have purchased a book in any format, you are entitled to read it on the device of your choosing. Such people might, for example, feel no concerns about downloading scanned and OCR'd versions of books of which they own physical copies, simply for the sake of convenience and portability, knowing that they could, after all, scan and OCR their own book under the terms of "fair use."

Nate the great
07-02-2007, 10:36 PM
I have been thinking along the same lines. Here is what I have figured out so far.

The various DRMs can be split into several groups; MSReader, Sony, PDA formats, and the various oddball formats(Ebookwise, Hanlin, etc).

Let me apologize in advance for what I am about to say. Sony is currently a third rate DRM ebook format. It's restricted to just their hardware. The selection in the Connect store is limited, and the website itself is difficult to navigate. It's possible to make your own ebooks; many people here post the one they make. If you buy an ebook from Sony, I think it is restricted to just the one device you registered with Sony.

MSReader has been around awhile. It is in a number of ebook stores. I think it only runs on various versions of Windows. However, I do not trust Microsoft. No, I take that back. I trust them to screw it up. I will not buy stuff from MS in this format. From other sellers, maybe. It also has a built in limit on the number of devices.

There are two PDA formats that I am aware of: Mobipocket and Palm eReader. They are about equal in availability. I am not certain, but I think they each have a limit on the number of device you can read an ebook on. Both formats can be read on a PDA running Palm or Windows Mobile. I don't know about eReader, but I do know that Mobipocket can also be read on your Windows computer. I've tried it, it's okay.

Ebookwise is the only other DRM format that needs to be mentioned. It is limited to the one device, the 1150, and can only be bought from the one website(I forget the name). The hardware is old and inexpensive. You can make ebooks in this format with the dozens of converters on the web. Actually, I am pretty sure all of these formats can be created on your PC.

There are a number of new ebook readers out with proprietary formats. None of them are important yet.

Currently, the most universal ebook reader hardware is a computer running Windows, with a Windows Mobile PDA running a close second.

I am still looking for a lightweight large screen device that will do this. I currently have my hopes set on the possibility of the Amazon Kindle, which might read ebooks from Amazon's subsidiary company Mobipocket.

Does this help you out?

yvanleterrible
07-02-2007, 10:50 PM
Some people might even feel that if you have purchased a book in any format, you are entitled to read it on the device of your choosing.
Brilliant Neko! This might be the best point against DRM!

JSWolf
07-03-2007, 12:25 AM
I have been thinking along the same lines. Here is what I have figured out so far.

The various DRMs can be split into several groups; MSReader, Sony, PDA formats, and the various oddball formats(Ebookwise, Hanlin, etc).

Let me apologize in advance for what I am about to say. Sony is currently a third rate DRM ebook format. It's restricted to just their hardware. The selection in the Connect store is limited, and the website itself is difficult to navigate. It's possible to make your own ebooks; many people here post the one they make. If you buy an ebook from Sony, I think it is restricted to just the one device you registered with Sony.
You have it incorrect about Sony. You can register (I think) 6 devices from one account. That means one computer, and 5 Readers. I know 100% for sure that 2 Readers work fine. So you can buy books from Connect that can be loaded on more then one Sony. If you say want to read a book your friend bought, you register it with his/her account, read the book, and then reregister it back to your account so your books work again. Simple.

I know the Connect store isn't perfect, but considering it just recently opened, the selection isn't too bad.

MSReader has been around awhile. It is in a number of ebook stores. I think it only runs on various versions of Windows. However, I do not trust Microsoft. No, I take that back. I trust them to screw it up. I will not buy stuff from MS in this format. From other sellers, maybe. It also has a built in limit on the number of devices.
MS Reader does not need to be installed and activated on multiple computers. You can deactivate the LIT format DRM with no trouble at all.

There are two PDA formats that I am aware of: Mobipocket and Palm eReader. They are about equal in availability. I am not certain, but I think they each have a limit on the number of device you can read an ebook on. Both formats can be read on a PDA running Palm or Windows Mobile. I don't know about eReader, but I do know that Mobipocket can also be read on your Windows computer. I've tried it, it's okay.
I don't know enough about MobiPocket's DRm to comment. But the eReader DRM has your name and credit card info in it So I don't think you'll be giving away eReader books you have purchased. You can read then I think on any number of devices. Just don't give away the files or you give your credit card info with it.

Ebookwise is the only other DRM format that needs to be mentioned. It is limited to the one device, the 1150, and can only be bought from the one website(I forget the name). The hardware is old and inexpensive. You can make ebooks in this format with the dozens of converters on the web. Actually, I am pretty sure all of these formats can be created on your PC.
Using Book Designer, I can go purchase a LIT format book, remove the DRM, load it, clean it up, and create books in BBeB (LRF), PDB, PRC, FB2, kml, rb, LIT, RTF, HTML, TXT. Any decent reader will be able to handle some format that Book Designer can output. So yes, you can convert ebooks from a LIT file into any of the formats you've mentioned.

There are a number of new ebook readers out with proprietary formats. None of them are important yet.
Sony (IMHO) is the last comany to be able to create a new ebook format and get away with it. I don't think the others have the clout to do so.

Currently, the most universal ebook reader hardware is a computer running Windows, with a Windows Mobile PDA running a close second.
I agree with Windows, but the iRex iLiad has Mobi Pocket and FBReader available for it. So it can read a fair share of books. Plus it supports PDF and HTML. So I would have to say the iLiad is right up at the top for formats it can read.

[quoteI am still looking for a lightweight large screen device that will do this. I currently have my hopes set on the possibility of the Amazon Kindle, which might read ebooks from Amazon's subsidiary company Mobipocket.[/quote]
The kindle is vaporware. I would not count it in the running until it's actually available and we have the ability to purchase one.

HarryT
07-03-2007, 03:34 AM
Some people might even feel that if you have purchased a book in any format, you are entitled to read it on the device of your choosing. Such people might, for example, feel no concerns about downloading scanned and OCR'd versions of books of which they own physical copies, simply for the sake of convenience and portability, knowing that they could, after all, scan and OCR their own book under the terms of "fair use."

What "some people may feel", and what is legal are, however, two different things. For example, under UK copyright law, "fair use" entitles you to make a copy of one chapter of a book, or one article from a magazine. Scanning an entire book is most definitely not "fair use".

Nate the great
07-03-2007, 07:35 AM
MS Reader does not need to be installed and activated on multiple computers. You can deactivate the LIT format DRM with no trouble at all.


Using Book Designer, I can go purchase a LIT format book, remove the DRM, load it, clean it up, and create books in BBeB (LRF), PDB, PRC, FB2, kml, rb, LIT, RTF, HTML, TXT. Any decent reader will be able to handle some format that Book Designer can output. So yes, you can convert ebooks from a LIT file into any of the formats you've mentioned.


Can you tell me how you remove the DRM? This might solve most of my ebook availability problems.

HarryT
07-03-2007, 07:44 AM
You can remove the DRM from a LIT file using the "Convert LIT" tool.

Nate the great
07-03-2007, 08:18 AM
Great. Thanks!

NatCh
07-03-2007, 10:16 AM
You can register (I think) 6 devices from one account. That means one computer, and 5 Readers.Yup, exactly correct, any mix of up to 6 devices on a given account. :yes:


Sony (IMHO) is the last comany to be able to create a new ebook format and get away with it. I don't think the others have the clout to do so.I certainly hope it's the last to do so! :pray:

With D.E. on the horizon, I don't think there are likely to be too many out there goofy enough to even think about giving it a try. :shrug:

I really do think that D.E. has the potential to trump the entire format war -- I mean, Adobe almost did so with PDF, and it's not even a decent e-book format! :unafraid:

yvanleterrible
07-03-2007, 10:21 AM
Do flash cards count as a device?

HarryT
07-03-2007, 10:27 AM
No. A "device" is a PC or a Reader. Eg, you can have 1 Reader and 5 PCs on the same account, or 5 Readers and 1 PC, or 3 Readers and 3 PCs, etc etc.

yvanleterrible
07-03-2007, 10:29 AM
Can you store a DRMd book on a card? If so it has to count as a storage device!?!

NatCh
07-03-2007, 10:31 AM
Yes, yvanleterrible, but the ConnStore doesn't count them that way. :wink:

Probably a good thing, come to think of it, who'd want to have to register every memory card they used! :huh:

HarryT
07-03-2007, 10:32 AM
No, because the file is actually READ on either the PC or the Reader in which the card is inserted. It's the "decoding" of the file which requires the registered device, not its static storage. Once you've download the file from Connect, it doesn't matter if you store it on a memory card, a hard disk, a DVD, or even a floppy disk. That's just storage.

yvanleterrible
07-03-2007, 10:40 AM
Thanks for the clarifications!

JSWolf
07-03-2007, 11:34 AM
The program is CLIT 1.8. You can get it by doing a Google search. CLIT.exe is the name. You can use it to convert to HTML or just breaking the DRM. You have a few choices. If you convert to HTML you can use html2lrf to convert to LRF or if you ust remove the DRM you can use lit2lrf to convert to LRF or finally load the LIT into Book designer and work with it from there.

html2lrf and lit2lrf are part of the libprs500 package.

html2lrf - http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=10582
lit2lrf - http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11618

Book Designer and the current update
http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11786

nekokami
07-04-2007, 12:33 PM
What "some people may feel", and what is legal are, however, two different things. For example, under UK copyright law, "fair use" entitles you to make a copy of one chapter of a book, or one article from a magazine. Scanning an entire book is most definitely not "fair use".
Sorry, I really do try to remember to specify country on things like this. "Fair use" is defined quite differently in different countries-- and very vaguely in the US, which is the location I was referring to. Wikipedia has a nice overview.

Jack B Nimble
07-05-2007, 03:18 PM
There are two PDA formats that I am aware of: Mobipocket and Palm eReader. They are about equal in availability. I am not certain, but I think they each have a limit on the number of device you can read an ebook on. Both formats can be read on a PDA running Palm or Windows Mobile. I don't know about eReader, but I do know that Mobipocket can also be read on your Windows computer. I've tried it, it's okay.

I have not used eReader in more than a year, but I am pretty sure this info is still correct. I would still be with them, but they don't have software for my new handheld (Nokia 9300), so I switched to a dedicated reader (eBookwise).

While you are right about the device limitations on Mobipocket, there are no limitations on the number of devices for eReader. Once you download a book you can put it on any device that their software runs on, and enter your name and an 'unlock code,' and start reading. The gotcha is that the code is the credit card number you used to purchase the book. Pretty safe bet you are not going to share that file with your unlock info.

The eReader software is available for PC, and it is one of the few with DRM that is available for the Mac!