There are some 40 million e-readers and 65 million tablets in use in the U.S., according to analysts at Forrester Research. In the first quarter of 2012, e-books generated $282 million in sales, compared with $230 million for adult hardcover books, the Association of American Publishers recently found.1
Leaning back and escaping into a good book’s a pretty nice thing to do. But once again, if it’s digital someone else wants to look over your shoulder while your at it.
Almost every e-book reader device and app capable of opening an epub document seem to sync back info about what and how far you’ve read.
And while that’s annoying enough, it went overboard, jumped the shark, clusterfudded or whatever you might want to call it in the case of Adobe’s Digital Edition (DE4) e-book reader.
Adobe isn’t just tracking what users are doing in DE4; this app was also scanning my computer, gathering the metadata from all of the ebooks sitting on my hard disk, and uploading that data to Adobe’s servers.2
So, not only are they watching which page of which book you’ve bought from them you’re on, but they’re also watching every other book you’ve got on your device.
And, through a massive snafu, Adobe’s sending the information without any form of encryption, meaning that anyone who can preform a man-in-the-middle attack3 can get your reading patterns.
So it’s no longer someone looking over your shoulder when reading, but actually much more intrusive than that – it’s someone taking notes while looking over your shoulder, going through your bookshelf, and then sending the info back home on an unfolded note handed from stranger to stranger on the street.