Archive | October 2010

How To Change the Authorized Adobe ID

What do you do if your copy of Adobe Digital Editions is authorized with the wrong Adobe ID? This can happen if you’ve started using a different Adobe ID or you somehow messed up the authorization in the past.

If you’re trying to open an ebook when Adobe Digital Editions is authorized with the wrong Adobe ID, you’ll get an error message like: “License fulfilled by a different user” or something similar referencing licensing or authorization.

Important note: If you have some ebooks that do require your current authorization, those will become unreadable if you authorize with a different Adobe ID.


The first thing to do is deauthorize Adobe Digital Editions. This will remove your current authorization.

1. Open Adobe Digital Editions

2. On your keyboard, simultaneously press the Ctrl, Shift, and D buttons (if on Windows) or the Cmd, Shift, and D buttons (if on a Mac)

3. Click the “Deauthorize” button

Deauthorize Adobe Digital Editions

4. After this you should close Adobe Digital Editions, and then open it again.


If you’ve followed the steps above, your copy of Adobe Digital Editions is no longer authorized.

1. Open Adobe Digital Editions

2. Adobe Digital Editions will behave as if you’ve just installed it, and will prompt you to enter your login information for your Adobe ID. Use the Adobe ID account information that you want to use to authorize Adobe Digital Editions.


eReaderThe eReader program has undergone some changes in ownership and names over the years. It used to be heavily associated with Palm, being called “Palm Reader” then “Palm eReader,” and now it simply goes by “eReader”. (In fact, if you install it on Windows, it will go in a folder called Palm Digital Media.) Its website shows that it was bought by Barnes & Noble at some point, and it is now run by the same people that operate Fictionwise.

eReader is another versatile program, like Mobipocket, that can be used on many different types of devices.

devices supported

As of October 2010, this is a list of the device types that are supported by eReader:

  • Android
  • Symbian
  • iPhone and iPod Touch
  • Windows Mobile
  • Blackberry
  • Pocket PC 2002&earlier, 2003&later
  • Windows
  • Macintosh
  • Linux
  • OQO

software wizard

The main eReader download page lets you choose which device you have, then download the software you need. They also have a clever software wizard that helps you decide.


The DRM that eReader employs is quite easy to work with. Instead of making you register for an account and authorize the software, you just enter two “unlock codes” when you open the ebook: your name and your credit card number.

At first, the idea of entering your credit card number sounds strange and even scary for some people, but if you think about it from a DRM standpoint, it makes perfect sense. If a person gave away the ebook to a friend, he would also have to give away his credit card number so that the friend could open the ebook. Following that reasoning, if this person went further and posted the ebook on a torrent site, he’d have to give his credit card number away to everyone on the internet.

A tip about the name: in my experience I have noticed that some people get confused about how exactly they should be entering their name. The name you enter should match up with whatever you registered on the website where you bought the ebook. The confusion that arises is that this is not necessarily the exact name that is shown on your credit card. So, don’t enter the name as shown on your credit card. Enter the name that you gave to the retail website when making your purchase. The ebook doesn’t know what’s printed on your credit card.

free eReader books

eReader has a list of free ebooks that you can download. That gives you a good opportunity to test out the software on your device to see if you like it before you purchase anything. However, you do have to register an account and verify a real credit card number for the free ebooks.

Mobipocket Reader

Mobipocket Reader is a versatile ebook reading program, and it’s usually pretty easy for the average consumer to use. It can be used on a wide variety of devices like phones and dedicated ebook readers, and its DRM is actually easy to deal with.

Mobipocket Reader LogoMobipocket Reader can be used on Windows, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Palm OS, Symbian OS (such as the OS used on Nokia devices) and ebook readers like the Cybook and iRex iLiad. You can get a full list of supported devices on the Mobipocket site linked to above. It is likely that your device is included.

You can’t use Mobipocket Reader on a Mac or on Linux, but if you’re running one of those operating systems, you can still get ebooks onto your mobile device through the manual install option.

how DRM is handled

Mobipocket Reader has two ways of handling DRM. The older method utilizes what Mobipocket refers to as a PID number (Personal Identification number). The newer method utilizes a username and password system. If you buy a Mobipocket ebook today you’ll probably get the newer system, but if you’re re-downloading an old purchase you might have to use the PID system. Either is easy and shouldn’t give you much trouble.

PID System

You’ll be asked to enter your PID before you can download the Mobipocket ebook. All you have to do is look up the PID in your Mobipocket Reader software, and enter the number where you are being prompted.

To find the PID for your computer:

1. Open Mobipocket Reader
2. On the left-side panel of the screen, click “Reading Devices”
3. Find your computer in the list and click “Edit Properties”
4. Your PID will be displayed next to “Device PID (Personal ID)”

To find the PID on your device:

1. Open Mobipocket Reader
2. Open the “Help” menu
3. Go to the “About” section. The PID will be displayed there.

If you entered the PID correctly, you’ll be able to open the ebook after you download it. The website from which you purchased the ebook should allow you to enter a PID for your computer and your device. That way you can open the ebook in both places. has a PID section of their Mobipocket FAQ that will probably solve any question you might have about the process.

Username/Password System

The username/password system is simpler. The website from which you purchased the ebook will assign you a username and password (or you will choose your own). When you open the Mobipocket ebook for the first time, it will prompt you to enter the same username and password.

how to transfer ebooks to devices

The transfer of Mobipocket ebooks between your computer and device is handled by Mobipocket Reader (installed on your computer). This is the process:

1. Open Mobipocket Reader on your computer.

2. On the left side of the screen, click “eBooks”.

3. Right-click on the ebook you want to load onto a device.

4. Click “Send” and choose the device.

If prompted to enter your username/password:
– Select the correct retail website.
– Enter your username and password.

5. Sync your device to transfer the ebook.

file formats

Mobipocket Reader’s native file format is .prc. It can also import other files, such as PDF, HTML, TXT, RTF, Word, and EPUB.

my opinion

I think Mobipocket Reader is a great ebook reader. It provides the security level that publishers want, but it doesn’t ever feel like it’s encroaching on the users’ rights. In my years of providing tech support for ebook downloads, I’ve definitely seen that Mobipocket Reader has been easy to use for people. It is good to use on the computer and it runs on a lot of different mobile devices. All in all, it’s a good choice.

Microsoft Reader

Microsoft Reader Loading ScreenMicrosoft Reader is a free ebook reader that you can use on Windows computers and Windows Mobile devices. Its main feature is the use of what Microsoft calls “ClearType” technology. Personally, I don’t think it looks any clearer than regular font typing, but it does make the text in Microsoft Reader ebooks look a lot more like type on paper. Microsoft Reader provides a more book-like reading experiences than other ebook software.

In this post I will be going over everything you’ll need to use Microsoft Reader ebooks successfully on both Windows and Windows Mobile. If you’re not sure whether your phone/device runs Windows Mobile, check this list of devices.

first, a couple notes

These instructions assume that you’ll be buying and downloading DRM-protected ebooks. Most book publishers require DRM on their downloads because they are concerned about software piracy (too concerned in my opinion, but that doesn’t change anything.) If you find a Microsoft Reader ebook that is not protected by DRM, then you won’t need to have your copy of Microsoft Reader “activated”. However, I still highly recommend that you follow the activation procedure anyway because it is likely that you’ll want to get a DRM-protected ebook at some point, and it’s much better to be prepared for it ahead of time.

Secondly, these instructions assume that you will be using the ebook on a Windows Mobile device. If you are only planning on using your ebook on your computer, then you can just skip the Windows Mobile instructions.

what you’ll need

Microsoft Reader on your computer

Microsoft Reader on your mobile device (if you plan on using it on your device, not just your computer)

a Windows Live ID (also known as a Microsoft Passport account)

Step 1 – Get a Windows Live ID / Microsoft Passport account

You might already have a Windows Live ID. You have one if you use Hotmail or Windows Messenger. If you’re not sure whether your have one or not, especially if you’ve already bought some Microsoft Reader ebooks, make sure to check for an existing account.

This is quite important. If you have downloaded DRM-protected ebooks in the past, you will have used a Windows Live ID, whether you remember it or not. If you activate Microsoft Reader with a different ID now, you’ll lose access to those ebooks.

If you definitely don’t already have a Windows Live ID, sign up for one now.

Step 2 – Install Microsoft Reader on your computer

– Download Microsoft Reader for your computer

– Just like any other program, begin the installation and follow the on-screen instructions.

Note: You must do this even if you only plan on reading the ebook on your Windows Mobile device. Microsoft Reader will be using your computer’s Microsoft Reader activation information during the transfer of the ebook to your device.

Step 3 – Activate Microsoft Reader on your computer

After you install Microsoft Reader you will probably be automatically prompted to activate it. If you aren’t, or if you’re doing this at any other time other than right after the installation, you can activate here. Click the link that says “Activate Now!” (Microsoft requires that you use Internet Explorer for this.)

If you aren’t already signed into your Windows Live ID, you will be prompted to do so.

Note: You must perform this activation for Microsoft Reader on your computer even if you only plan on reading the ebook on your Windows Mobile device. Microsoft Reader will be using your computer’s activation information during the transfer of the ebook to your device. It will check to make sure that your computer and your Windows Mobile device have been activated using the same Windows Live ID.

Step 4 – Install Microsoft Reader on your Windows Mobile Device

You might already have Microsoft Reader installed on your device. If you do not, or if you have an old version, you can get Microsoft Reader for Windows Mobile here. That page outlines all of the compatible versions of Windows Mobile, and there are installation instructions at the bottom of the page.

Step 5 – Activate Microsoft Reader on your Windows Mobile Device

This page gives detailed instructions on how to activate Microsoft Reader on a Windows Mobile device.

Make sure to activate using the same Windows Live ID that you used when activating Microsoft Reader on your computer. If you do not, you will have a lot of trouble with transferring ebooks between your computer and your device.

DRM notes

Microsoft Reader ebooks come in three levels of DRM, which Microsoft calls “Sealed,” “Inscribed,” and “Owner Exclusive.”

The Sealed ebooks offer the lowest level of security. You can’t copy text from the ebook in more than about once sentence at a time, the file can’t be converted to other file types, and you can’t print the ebook.

Inscribed ebooks show the user’s name on the front cover of the ebook. This is to discourage users from giving the ebook away to others. The security features from the Sealed level also apply.

Owner Exclusive is the highest level of security. These ebooks can only be used when Microsoft Reader is activated with the correct Windows Live ID. The security features from the Sealed level also apply.


Like Adobe Digital Editions, Microsoft Reader can be easy to use as long as you follow instructions and activate the software correctly. Microsoft Reader is a good alternative to Adobe software if you’re using Windows or Windows Mobile. Adobe files are better at displaying images, charts, graphs, and other visual extras, but Microsoft Reader is better at displaying text. I’d make my format choice based on that – will you be mostly reading text or looking at visual displays?

Adobe Digital Editions

The first ebook reader program that I want to discuss is Adobe Digital Editions. This program is used to manage the transfer of DRM* Adobe eBooks (both PDF and ePub) between your computer and many ebook reading devices, such as the Nook, Sony Reader, BeBook, Cybook, and others.

I’ve been using Adobe Digital Editions since it first came out. I’ve been involved with providing tech support for this program and developing documentation on its use (no, I don’t work for Adobe.) I have researched and solved many of its error messages. I have been able to compile some instructions for the best way to use it, which I will share below, along with some other related topics.

* DRM stands for Digital Rights Management. It’s the digital security that prevents a user from passing around an ebook for free. DRM is a controversial topic and I will probably discuss it in a lot more detail in a later post.


The authorization process that Adobe Digital Editions uses is probably the most important thing to learn. This is the way in which the software tries to make sure that you are the person who bought your ebooks, and you didn’t get them emailed to you for free from someone else.

You should authorize your copy of Adobe Digital Editions before you buy any ebooks. This will save you a lot of headache later on. I would say that the majority of error messages that people get result from not authorizing Adobe Digital Editions, or from authorizing at the wrong time. So just go ahead and authorize it right after you install it.

how to authorize

The first thing you need to do is create an Adobe ID. This is the account that you’ll use to authorize Adobe Digital Editions and all of your ebooks in the future. Create an Adobe ID here.

Once you have your Adobe ID, you can do your authorization. Open Adobe Digital Editions, and click the downward arrow next to the word LIBRARY. Then click “Authorize computer”.

Authorize Adobe Digital Editions

From there, all you have to do is sign in with your Adobe ID and  follow the instructions.

From here on out, all of the ebooks you buy while under this authorization will be tied to your Adobe ID. Try not to mess this up by switching to a different Adobe ID later. That will render your ebooks unopenable.

.acsm files

The Adobe ebook downloading process makes use of files that end in .acsm. That stands for Adobe Content Server Manager. This is one of the things that causes a lot of confusion for people.

This file is what you initially download when you start an ebook download. It acts as a “transfer file”, managing the communication between the download server and Adobe’s servers. My understanding is that it verifies your Adobe ID and then starts the ebook download process.

The majority of the time you won’t even see this file or have to interact with it. If everything goes smoothly, it will do its job in the background and begin your ebook download for you.

If you don’t have Adobe Digital Editions installed, your computer won’t know what to do with this file. People often complain that they got a small file ending in .acsm but they didn’t get the book they bought. That’s because they didn’t follow posted instructions for downloading Adobe Digital Editions and authorizing it before they tried to download their ebook.

how to read your Adobe ebooks on another computer

This gives some people a lot of trouble. It seems like you’d be able to transfer an Adobe ebook via a thumb drive, flash drive, CD, or over your home network, but that doesn’t work. When you try to open the ebook on the second computer, you will likely get an authorization error message, telling you that the ebook was authorized to another user.

All you have to do is download the ebook to your second computer the exact same way you downloaded it the first time (if you did it properly). You should install Adobe Digital Editions on the second computer and authorize it with your Adobe ID (the same one you used before!). Then, login to your account at the website where you bought the ebook, and download it directly to the computer where you want to read the ebook.

how to transfer ebooks to an e-reading device

If you’ve purchased an ebook that requires the use of Adobe Digital Editions, then you must use Adobe Digital Editions to manage the transfer of the ebook from your computer to your reading device. This is because of the same authorization issues that we’ve discussed above — Adobe wants to make sure that you own both the ebook and the reading device, and it does that via the authorization process.

The first thing to do is make sure that you’ve authorized Adobe Digital Editions with your Adobe ID account, as explained previously. You will have to authorize your device with the same Adobe ID.

Connect the e-reading device to your computer via its USB cable, and turn it on. Adobe Digital Editions should detect the device and prompt you to authorize it with your Adobe ID account. After that, the name of your device will appear on the left side of Adobe Digital Editions in the “bookshelves” area.

Now all you have to do is drag an ebook from the Adobe Digital Editions library to the device name.

Transfer ebooks to an e-reading device in Adobe Digital Editions

The device shown in this screen capture is the Bebook, which is the e-reading device that I own. Your device name will be what shows up in your own bookshelf.


Adobe Digital Editions can be very easy to use as long as you do what you’re supposed to. Just make sure to authorize it before you buy any ebooks, and make sure to always use the same Adobe ID when dealing with any ebooks or e-reading devices. That will protect you from 95% of all problems and error messages, and you’ll have a stress-free ebook reading experience.

If you have any tips for getting good use out of Adobe Digital Editions, please leave a comment!

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