Looks like SanDisk, flash memory data storage specialist, is planning to win a share of the e-book market with the introduction of its BookLocker USB Stick
. BookLocker is a flash drive that aims to securely stores electronic textbooks. Reading electronic textbooks with BookLocker is supposedly as easy as plugging the BookLocker device into any PC and opening the reader application. No installation or software download are required.
SanDisk claims that the BookLocker offers "unparalleled safeguards" to protect publishers' content from being replicated. How does it work? BookLocker devices are divided into two distinct memory areas: An open zone for the student's files, and a secure zone, which is used to store copyrighted content. The secure zone cannot be accessed by the student or operating system. Content is stored on a trusted BootLocker server network using AES encryption. When the content is downloaded to a BookLocker device, it is encrypted with that device's unique hardware key. The server also keeps track of the number downloaded electronic textbooks. Publishers can get up to date reports on the number of electronic textbooks available and sold. When deployed at schools, school administrators and librarians can see how many books are in use and how many are available for lending to students. Unlike software only DRM solutions, BookLocker's patented security measures utilize both hardware and software elements to protect the publishers' IP.
SanDisk is running several pilots at the University of Denver, College of Law. In fall 2003, a BookLocker pilot was launched with students for a Corporations Law course. The BookLocker devices were loaded with course materials such as textbooks, case studies and statutes. The next semester, another class was added to the pilot. This time, students were given laptops and BookLocker devices with textbooks for a Trial Advocacy course. In fall 2004 the third BookLocker pilot was launched with additional students in 2 courses – Torts and Lawyering Process. The BookLocker devices were distributed with textbooks from leading publishers such as Lexis Nexis and Aspen.
My personal opinion: this is not really what we were looking for - another proprietary DRM solution to further alienate potential e-book customers.