Earlier this fall, it was discovered that Adobe Digital Editions 4.0 (a crucial piece of software for accessing library eBooks) was transferring data back to Adobe about the user’s reading choices in plain text. Not only was this confidential information accessible to anyone with a bit of technical savvy, but Adobe was also gathering data about other eBooks and materials on user’s devices. The Electronic Frontier Foundation was of the opinion that sending the data over plain text “undermines decades of efforts by libraries and bookstores to protect the privacy of their patrons and customers” even if Adobe’s practice was a mistake.
The Library responded to this situation in a blog post in October as did many other libraries around the country, and we are pleased to report that the situation has since improved.
There is now a patch in place with ADE version 4.0.1., and patrons should feel confident that their privacy is protected and secure with this update. The American Library Association commended Adobe for taking this action to make users’ information secure, but ALA continues to be wary “about the amount of data collected and retained by all vendors within the eBook ecosystem.”
As librarians, we have made a commitment to work together to pressure vendors to adhere to the highest standards of privacy the Library has long represented. In addition, librarians are working together to develop technical expertise to verify that privacy is respected at the digital programmatic level—something often invisible to both users and librarians—but often conspicuous to anyone with basic hacking skills seeking this information.
Please ensure your version of Adobe Digital Editions is updated to ADE 4.0.1 to incorporate the changes that will keep your personal information safe. If you need assistance with this, you can contact the Public Computing desk—871-1700 x 708.
Privacy is one of the main tenets of public libraries, so the recently exposed security concerns for patrons using Adobe Digital Editions to access library eBooks is very troubling to us at PPL.
You can read more about the developments here and here, but in short, if you are using the latest version of Adobe Digital Editions software, information about any eBooks on your computer delivered in the ePub format is being transmitted to Adobe in plain text format and is potentially visible to anyone who can read the stream of data.
NOTE: PPL’s eBook service is provided by Overdrive. Read below OverDrive’s statement about Adobe Digital Editions privacy concerns
UPDATE: 2:30 PM 10/10/14
In response to concerns expressed by our library partners about the Adobe privacy situation, OverDrive CEO Steve Potash met with Adobe management at Frankfurt Book Fair today. Adobe reported that next week they will release an update to Adobe Digital Editions 4 to address the known issues.
To clarify, this affects only Adobe Digital Editions 4 for Windows and Mac. Adobe reports that the issue does not affect third party apps in any way, including the OverDrive app. Adobe reports that the issue is not present with Adobe Digital Editions 3 or previous versions of Adobe Digital Editions.
For full text: http://blogs.overdrive.com/front-page-library-news/2014/10/09/overdrives-statement-about-adobe-digital-editions-privacy-concerns/
If you are concerned about your eBook privacy, we recommend that you uninstall Adobe Digital Editions version 4 from all of your devices immediately. You can still read eBook content online, or contact the library for print options. The Kindle app for accessing the Amazon format of eBooks is available to mobile and tablet users, and materials read directly through the Overdrive app are excluded from this breach of privacy.
We have expressed our dismay to our eBook provider, and have asked them to advocate for the principles of privacy that libraries are pledged to uphold. We are committed to challenging anyone who confuses “privacy policies” with “invasive policies.” Please contact the library if you have any additional questions or concerns about this issue.
We’re coming down to the wire in the final days of voting for the Maine Reader’s Choice Award, 2014! Book lovers across the state are invited to vote by September 15, 2014 for a favorite novel that has been nominated for the Maine Reader’s Choice Award.
The four finalists for this year’s award are:
TransAtlantic, by Colum McCann
Benediction, by Kent Haruf
The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker
We asked staff members for their thoughts on the four (very) different novels…
Science and Technology Team Leader Samantha S tackled a review of Colum McCann’s wonderful TransAtlantic:
“TransAtlantic is a beautiful ode to Ireland – its landscape, people, language, problems, and history. The novel begins with a story about the first flight across the Atlantic. The rest of the pages involve lives that are interrelated, whether through family or acquaintance, and in each chapter McCann follows a different person that is somehow connected to every other person in the story…A pair of flyboys try to cross the Atlantic just after WWI in a dangerous technical feat; runaway and activist Frederick Douglas takes refuge in Ireland as he waits for supporters to purchase his freedom; an Irish immigrant to the US marries a man in the business of harvesting ice; and, yes, they all do fit together so perfectly that they require no literary mortar to hold their place in the larger whole. It is not until the end of the book that every relationship is made clear.
Nowhere is McCann’s talent more on display then in the most pedestrian and contemporary story, which follows former Senator George Mitchell as he makes his way to Ireland for negotiations. Perhaps you don’t imagine that sitting at JFK in the VIP lounge as an aging Senator ponders hearth and home, the joys of tea, and avoiding looking too long at a hostess’s derriere could be worth reading? Maybe in the hands of a lesser author you’d be correct, but McCann’s lyrical words make even the most mundane moments come alive with truth.
McCann is an author to savor, an Irish poet in the greatest tradition of that term, and the sooner you begin the journey that is reading his work, the sooner you will open your eyes to an author who just keeps getting better and better.”
From Ireland to Holt, Colorado…Finalist Kent Haruf’s
Benediction is the third book in his haunting, nuanced “Plainsong” trilogy. Haruf’s deft, stark prose sails off the page: “That was on a night in August. Dad Lewis died early that morning and the young girl Alice from next door got lost in the evening and then found her way home in the dark by the streetlights of town and so returned to the people who loved her. And in the fall the days turned cold and the leaves dropped off the trees and in the winter the wind blew from the mountains and out on the high plains of Holt County there were overnight storms and three-day blizzards.”
Setting down Haruf’s frank meditation on the final reflections of a dying man…we arrive, almost inevitably, at best-selling author Donna Tartt’s latest and heftiest of tomes: The Goldfinch. Here’s the review from Tech Services manager Jessica T at the Main Library:
“The Goldfinch, Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, eleven years in the making, is an atmospheric page turner that has stirred up a fair amount of literary controversy. Both praised and panned as Dickensian, it is an ornately scripted tale of the aftermath of a terrorist attack at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Tartt’s flawed, charismatic characters are unreliable narrators who propel the suspenseful narrative as they dance in and out of danger in pursuit and possession of the titular painting. Sure, it’s probably a little too long at 700+ pages, but it includes passages like this one to savor:
‘Unsteadily, I got up and went to the window. Bells, bells. The streets were white and deserted. Frost glittered on tiled rooftops; outside, on the Herengracht, snow danced and flew. A flock of black birds was cawing and swooping over the canal, the sky was hectic with them, great sideways sweeps and undulations as a single, intelligent body, eddying to and fro, and their movement seemed to pass into me on almost a cellular level, white sky and whirling snow and the fierce gusting wind of poets.’ “
If you didn’t spend last winter curled up with The Goldfinch, isn’t it a relief to know that hundreds and hundreds of pages patiently await you this coming snowy season?
Our final (and succinct
review-in-a snapshot!) comes from our four-legged friend, Sadie (side-kick of Kathleen, Head of Access Services). A creaturely review is appropriate for a stunning debut novel—Helene Wecker’s bright, enchanting “The Golem and the Jinni,”—whose Jinni hero and Golem heroine are also inhuman, but grappling with their own fantastical, unique natures, and what it means for them to exist in this world. Sadie weighs in most favorably:
“Clay…Fire…two elemental spirits born into the maelstrom of 1899 New York…Two paws up!!”
Have your own thoughts on these four books? Follow this link to vote by September 15 for your own favorite pick for the Maine Reader’s Choice Award 2014.
And if you’re curious about the long list for the awards—or you’re looking for a new book to read—check out all the titles that were considered by the awards committee here.
–Elizabeth, City of Readers Team