On the Adobe eBook Platform – Part 5 of 10: What is Adobe Vendor ID?

This is part 5 of a 10 part series by Micah Bowers, Co-Founder and CEO of Bluefire. Click here to read the first post in the series.

Adobe Vendor ID is a new solution from Adobe that is the most important new addition to the Adobe eBook platform since RMSDK. It enables eBook retailers to deploy branded ereading client applications that don’t require customers to have an Adobe ID in order to download ACS4 protected content.

With Vendor ID, customers can use the same username and password they use to log in to their account at the retailer’s website to authorize their client applications and devices. This greatly simplifies the user experience for consumers and also enables retailers to offer a single sign-in in for shopping, account access, and downloading—all working seamlessly with the Adobe eBook platform. The Adobe Vendor ID service is available to retailers through resellers such as Bluefire.

Have you ever used Adobe Digital Editions or a mobile app such as Bluefire Reader and been asked to authorize your device with your Adobe ID? This identity based DRM approach is useful because it enables interoperability of content acquired from a range of sources, across a range of commercial apps and devices. It also enables consumers to use neutral apps such as Adobe Digital Editions on the desktop, or Bluefire Reader on mobile devices, that are not affiliated with any particular retailer and thus do not include end user accounts.  These free apps provide a useful “Swiss army knife” function for ad-hoc documents and for reading content acquired from retailers and libraries that don’t offer their own ereader apps.

However, the requirement to have an Adobe ID to read an eBook purchased from a retailer or checked out from a library can also be a point of friction for the consumer. Before the consumer can download and read books they purchase or borrow, he or she must first visit the Adobe website and sign up for a free Adobe ID account. Consumers see this as an additional hoop to jump through, and this extra step can cause all kinds of confusion, including questions like “Who do I contact for support?”, “What is an Adobe ID?”, and “Why do I have to have an Adobe ID to buy or borrow eBooks from you?”

This friction has been one of the biggest challenges in the Adobe eBook ecosystem to-date for everyone involved. Vendor ID solves that. And, the great thing about Vendor ID is that it does not forgo the consumer benefits of interoperability.  Retailers who deploy applications that leverage Vendor ID can enable their customers to import and re-download content that they previously acquired with an Adobe ID,or another Vendor ID, and then read that content in the retailer’s branded application.  This removes one of the big barriers to acquiring new customers who have prior eBook purchases. And it offers a key point of differentiation from the closed, “private” ecosystems of the market leaders that trap their customers in their walled garden.

Retailers can now sell and deliver eBooks to the hundreds of millions of consumers with smart phones and tablets. They can provide the ease of use and convenience that consumers expect while providing consumers with greater freedom of choice. This is the kind of technology that can really change the game.

– Micah