Someone was certainly following the KISS method when it came to designing Adobe's new electronic book reader, Adobe Digital Editions.
The application provides a very basic and easy-to-navigate interface for storing, sorting, viewing and annotating digital text files along the lines of what Apple's iTunes does for audio and Google's Picasa for pictures.
The only main difference is that Adobe offers no automatic search and import feature, and does not have a direct portal to the Internet for searching and downloading books.
There are two main views from which to navigate the entire application. The library view lets you manage your collection, while the reading view lets you work within one individual eBook or PDF file.
Adobe Digital Editions is compatible with any PDF or .epub (International Digital Publishing Forum standard) file. Loading files consists of either dragging and dropping them into the application window or choosing "Add File" in the Library menu.
You can view books through Adobe Digital Editions in thumbnail or list view by title, author, publisher, last read, number of pages, date added or status. You can also read any metadata, such as permissions information, attached to a file.
Adobe Digital Edition's "bookshelves" are akin to playlists. You drag and drop files from the general library into bookshelves in a column on the left to categorize books, magazine and other digital documents by genre, type or source.
Books can be viewed in double or single page views of adjustable screen fits.
The simplicity makes sense given the fact that the software is intended to integrate with the Sony Reader.
This is the mobile eBook device that is sure to be a favorite with baby boomers once they progress to large print status. The light and sleek PDA-looking thing, which offers adjustable font size, will surely trump clunky large print books, especially given that only bestsellers are usually available in large print.
Adobe's new tool may be an effort to attract users now for when that time comes.
The cozy interface may also inspire more people to finally take advantage of the proliferation of public domain works now freely available thanks to the mad race of organizations like Google and Microsoft to scan the world's libraries.
There is also a great marginalia tool in the reading view that will make the college English majors jump for joy. You can tab between the annotated pages or bookmark pages with no annotations.
My only wish is that Adobe offered a direct Internet portal for finding and downloading files.
"That doesn't mean in the future that we won't offer ways in the future to acquire content. Adobe sees itself as a helper through this application, we don't intend to become a silo to content like iTunes," said Bill McCoy, general manager of Adobe's digital publishing business.
Adobe has a Sample eBook library that will automatically import directly into the ADE and does integrate with sites like eBooks.com, according to McCoy. Other than that, you have to go through your Web browser to find public domain books via Google Books Search or Microsoft Live Search Books and then import them manually.
The company said it expects to release Adobe Digital Editions for Linux, and Windows and Mac versions in French, German, Japanese, Korean and Chinese by the end of 2007.