Nate the Great’s post here — Google Editions was launched weeks ago — prompted me to go look at the FAQ he pointed to.
That FAQ made me investigate the security measures for Google Editions — and what they plan to do is very similar to what Kobo has been doing: a specific browser-based book format as well as optional Adobe DRMed ePub download.
Each consumer’s Google Edition has a unique coding that caches the book when it is accessed through a browser (as opposed to a digital download; see more information on file protection here). This means that the Google Edition is broken down into fragments and temporarily stored in – and accessed through – the browser window. The Google Editions web experience, therefore, is not that of a file download – it is an experience that is optimized for reading in the browser. This allows Google to detect and protect against abuse of each Google Edition.
Yeah, just like Kobo’s method.
And then this:
Digital Rights Management for downloadable content
You can choose if you would prefer not to apply Digital Rights Management (DRM) software to the digital file download of your book. DRM is intended to make it more difficult for consumers to use purchased content in ways not authorized by its owner. If you choose to make your Google Edition available without DRM, then consumers will have more flexibility in using the content file.
Google will support Adobe ACS4 as its current provider of an industry-standard digital rights management (DRM) solution for downloaded files of Google Editions. Google will require users to link the Adobe DRM software in their Google Editions via a one-time authentication per reading system. These devices may then request ACS4 encrypted EPUB or PDF files via a Google-provided API.
Again, just like Kobo.
So, you can read in a browser or download the ePub. And it looks like that ePub can be read on any device that supports Adobe “classic” DRM — Sony Reader, Nook, Kobo Reader (not Amazon Kindle nor Apple iDevice). Although this bit makes me wonder:
Google will require users to link the Adobe DRM software in their Google Editions via a one-time authentication per reading system. These devices may then request ACS4 encrypted EPUB or PDF files via a Google-provided API.
That makes me wonder if there will be desktop client software — Google Editions Desktop? — for this, or if such authentication can be handled by Adobe Digital Editions software or another ADE-compatible client (Reader Library, Nook for PC/Mac, Kobo Desktop).