Adobe Content Server 4

Nick Bogaty, who used to be at the IDPF and is now with Adobe, conducted a webinar recently to explain how ACS4 fits into the ebook ecology. Adobe is pushing their ACS4 (Adobe Content Server 4) to Publishers who sell direct (host their own content), distributors who provide protected content to retailers and libraries, solution providers, and retailers and libraries.

Adobe hosts two services at their site: the activation server and the license server. The activation server assigns an Adobe ID instead of using a machine id, this way users are able to move their content around. The license server is what assigns a signed license when content is requested by a customer. A content server at the publishers site sends an empty license to the license server at Adobe and gets back a signed license for the content that is being requested by a customer.

ACS4 goes along nicely with other Adobe products including Adobe’s Digital Editions and Adobe In Design, where Adobe is investing a lot of their efforts to handle epub files. Nick gave a brief overview of Digital Editions as well as In Design, which is used to export an epub file. The example that Nick showed was a very rich document that contained SWF files with interactive graphics. This ability to create rich content and the fact that Adobe has plans to support more mobile devices (they currently support Sony Reader), in 2009 means Adobe is placing big bets with ebooks and investing more and more resources into building the solutions that the ebook ecology demands.

Pricing seems reasonable with a one time fee of $5000, an annual fee of $1500, and fee for licensing at $0.22 per transaction and $0.08 per transaction for a license that has an expiry period built into it. Language support is available for English, French and German with hope of deeper support down the road.

We were given a brief preview of the ACS4 Admin Console that had tabs for Inventory, Distributor and License, and the u.i. looked quite friendly and remarkably similiar to the u.i. for Digital Editions. However, that being said, Adobe doesn’t consider ACS4 as suitable for small publishers to implement. Their suggestion is to work with a third party to implement the solution. Looks like an opportunity for more collective bargaining!