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Digital Editions: Working Again, Still Not Impressed

Just as a follow-up to my last post about the new Adobe Digital Editions eBooks reader software, Adobe has released and updated version a couple days ago that solved the crashing problem that I and many other users were having. So now, I can now go back to reading my Flash book.

I’m happy I can go back to studying the new version of Flash, but I still think this new software is sub par for Adobe and I’m still wondering why they though they “had” to create yet another reader for eBooks instead of letting customers use the far more sophisticated and better working Acrobat Reader 8.1. I mean, if Digital Editions actually improved the user experience I may understand why it was created, but it doesn’t. Quite the opposite.

Admittedly, I have an old computer by today’s standards (a situation soon to be corrected as I’m shopping for a new one this week) but Reader 8.1 works very well on this machine. It’s still responsive and feels quite fast. In contrast, when I try to navigate a document in Digital Editions, clicking buttons often has no effect whatsoever and pressing the keyboard arrow keys to advance to the next page either does nothing or advances to a seemingly random spot. In Reader, a press of the right arrow key brings me to the top of the next page no matter what position I am scrolled to in the preceding page, but not in Digital Editions which seems to have no sense of where the pages start and stop in the actual document.

This kind of thing may seem trivial to many but it is huge to me as, these days, I probably read 5 times more electronic documents (in the widest possible definition of the term) than paper ones. That means I spend a lot of time in Adobe Reader and I’m used to how it works. That doesn’t mean I am unwilling or unable to adapt to new ways of doing things, but I usually expect the new to improve on the old. In the case of Digital Editions, IMO, it doesn’t and it makes it all that more frustrating to be forced to use it to read the electronic books I have or may purchase in the future.

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Adobe Digital Editions: I’m Really NOT Impressed

Last week, I purchased an eBook from Adobe Press (Flash CS3 related) because I wanted to get back up to speed with Flash since I’ll need to use it for upcoming projects. This was the first time I bought an eBook and the only reason I did was because I wanted it right away and didn’t want to wait for delivery.

When came the time to download it I was prompted to install a new reader application called Digital Editions. That already bugged me quite a bit because I already have Acrobat Reader 8.1 installed and I quite like it but apparently, Adobe decided that unlike Reader versions 6 and 7, version 8 would not support and would not be able to open eBooks. Why on earth did Adobe think we needed yet another piece of reader software when we already had a perfectly good one that can do the job?

This new Digital Editions things is just a far from subtle effort on Adobe’s part to push their Flex/RIA platform. For me, Digital Editions was slower than Reader and had a clunky interface… plus it’s all black and you cannot change that. I HATE100% black user interfaces, especially in a utilitarian piece of software like this. But at least, it enabled me to open my ebook and read it. That was until today…

This morning I tried to fire up Digital Editions to keep reading my eBook and I was prompted with a dialog forcing me to download the final release. The version I was using before was a beta. I won’t even go into the braindead decision to force customers who buy eBooks from Adobe Press to install and use beta software on their work machines. That’s a whole other level of stupidity I’m not going to get into here.

The thing is, after installing this so called "final" version, it crashes right after I start it. No matter how I uninstall and reinstall it, reboot or delete its config folder, that piece of junk just will not start and keeps crashing almost as soon as I start it. To say that I’m pissed that I apparently wasted $40 on an eBook I cannot even open is an understatement. Way to go Adobe! I will definitely go back to buying paper copies only of any future books I buy. At least they will always be available when I need them…