So where possible I would like to get my ebooks directly from an independent publisher.  epub format, DRM free.  I can do this from Verso for example.  They watermark the books, putting my email address at the end of every chapter.  While I disagree with that, I can definitely live with it, and kudos to them for eschewing DRM.

Most other books I don’t have that option.  Next option, I’d like to buy from, which, to a lesser or greater degree, supports independent bookstores.  I think it’s open for debate how and how much that support actually manifests, but at least the intent is there (fingers crossed that it’s not some cynical ethical-washing).

But Hive uses Adobe Digital Editions, a baleful DRM system from Adobe.  It takes a book and licenses it to me only, first demanding I create an account with Adobe, then that I install Adobe’s app on my machine, and finally that I tie my device to this Adobe account.  All my books must go through app, most likely sending information of my purchases to Adobe too.  This for books that I have dutifully paid for, to load onto a device that I have purchased and own.  Somehow into this equation Adobe have insidiously inserted themselves.

Now, if you’re a Linux user, it not only a matter of moral affront, it’s also a mammoth trial of patience to get the shitty thing working.  This because Adobe, a corporation with an equity of around $8 billion, hasn’t got the ethical endowment to bother making its profit-driven intellectual enclosure device to work on all platforms.

Propitiously though, the community has provided some workarounds for this capitalistic shambles.  As in many cases of this though, it’s a struggle of hacks that will never be a solution for the majority of people.  Still, kudos to everyone involved for making it work at all.

I had to install Adobe Digital Editions via Wine.  I did it with winetricks, which takes care of much of it for you.  The ADE 4.5 branch didn’t install correctly for me, so I went with the earlier ADE 1.7.  There’s other ways you can do this manually if you need a different version.  Parenthetically I’m not particularly happy about having ADE on my machine at all, and there are arguments that Wine enables non-free software – but that’s all a debate for another time.

The only way I could get my downloaded “urllink.acsm” file to register in the app (you can’t just download an epub file, oh no, you are given a manifest which not unlike a virus calls out to another domain, was to drag and drop it in.  Opening directly didn’t work.

To copy it onto my Kobo ebook reader, I needed to fiddle around to actually get ADE to see the device.  No idea why, but in winecfg, under the Devices tab, you need to set the mount point for the reader to be of type ‘floppy’ rather than autodetect.  Restart ADE and then it sees the reader.

From there I wanted to use the DeDRM plugin in calibre to remove the DRM, but I haven’t gotten that to work yet – as I’m not sure how to set up the key correctly.   So the book is on my device, but DRMed.  If I ever want a different reader, I can’t just copy it elsewhere – I can’t do with my own purchase whatever I want.  So I’ll need to come back to that and figure it out.

An alternative, though, is to download directly from Kobo and to use the Obok plugin for calibre to remove the DRM.  I tried this on a different book that I had and it works.  I was trying to avoid using Kobo’s store, to support the smaller Hive, but if they continue to use Adobe’s DRM (which to be fair to Hive is probably a decree from the publisher, not from Hive), I might have to just stick to the Kobo store.

Linux, Hive, Adobe Digital Editions and winetricks

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