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Scouting Forums

Digital Downloads Via ScoutShop.org

I have a group crossing over in February so wanted to get a copy of the Scouts BSA handbook. I have used Kindle for Webelos and Bear books and enjoyed the convenience so wanted to do the same here.

It looks like Kindle formats are being abandoned in preference to “digital downloads” via ScoutShop.org

No big worries on that, but I went and read the FAQ before buying:

Here is clearly states digital downloads can be used on iPhone/iPad using the free books app.

After buying the e-publication, the instructions you get in email indicate a different reader which is $5 to buy. I don’t want to buy it unless I absolutely have to. I need it for nothing else.

Anyone else with recent experience using the ScoutShop.org downloads on iOS devices?

Anyone have any insight as to why they pivoted away from Kindle? That was super easy and convenient and hyper portable from a device perspective. I really loved being able to have access to the Webelos handbook even if I hadn’t brought my iPad along. I’d just whip out my phone and fire up kindle. I was really hoping for and expecting this kind of multi device ease of use for handbooks, merit badge books, etc. in the future.

I have not yet purchased a digital download. My understanding is they moved away from kindle to prevent account sharing. Anybody with your amazon log in could go in and look at the book.

Ok so checked it out and I’m a little disgusted. They are charging the same amount for a digital edition as they are for a hard copy. That is not right.

I’m not as concerned about the cost of ePub vs. physical book because that was clear up-front. I knew the cost and accepted it when I decided to make the purchase. The ePub is my preference and for me any value I lose from a physical product is made up for by the benefits I perceive of the ePub. For me that’s things like searching for content, dynamic highlighting, compact (I can carry my bears, webelos, and Scouts BSA handbook + merit badge booklets in one compact device vs. a suitcase of printed books), with Kindle you received free content updates if things like requirements changed. There are plenty of benefits to me to offset the value of the physical product.

My main thing is does it actually work on the free Books reader on iPad or not? The FAQ indicates it does, the resulting email indicates you need a different paid viewer to use the purchase. I don’t want to buy that reader just for this ePub. A lot of times early adopters of new BSA tech are active here so I thought it was a good place to ask. I have sent an email to ScoutShop.org, it’s only been two half-business days so I’m not knocking the response time from them, just thought I might faster help from someone who figured it out already here :slight_smile:

Why is that “not right”? All the tasks required to make a paper version of the book are still there to make a digital version of the book, plus a little bit more (hypertext linking, etc.). Additionally, whether they use Kindle or Adobe Digital Editions, there’s the issue of piracy/copyright circumvention that doesn’t exist to the same degree with paper products – it’s an inarguable fact that the vast majority of works published electronically become available for free via illicit means almost immediately.

Because if you look at virtually any other publication the digital version is less expensive than the physical version. You cannot honestly tell me it costs them as much to make a digital version as it does a physical one. Be honest with yourself.

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I will cross one thing off that list for you. They have already said updates would not be free.

If I look at any other publication, the digital version and the paperback cost pretty much the same.

Just pulled some random books.

OK Steve & John - back to your respective corners… decisions get made for better or worse… I would think full press operations would be more overhead. Lets just see how this plays out. It beats when I was a scout to have to carry around granite tablets

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I did find this article that explains it pretty well if you’re interested. Why Are E-books More Expensive Than Printed Books? - BooksAvenue

@JohnGeiser - good read and very valid points. As a wild guess, printing for BSA is out-sourced so they deal with those costs from pre-press to post production shipping. Then they need to warehouse then distribute it… it may have seemed like a cost reduction on the product. The end result obviously is unhappy customers.

Get the paper one while you still can. You will regret getting the digital version for your new scouts, trust me.

I want to re-state my main question since the thread diverged a bit: has anyone successfully purchased and used one of the ePubs from ScoutShop.org on their iOS device using the Books app? If you have, can you share how?

I purchased the digital book but could not find a way around having to purchase and use the Bluefire Reader app that you are told is required to open your purchase. I’m sure someone with more patience than I have will figure it out and I’m hoping they share it with the rest of us. It should not be required to purchase an app to read the book you just purchased.

What’s more irritating to me is that I now 3 different places to look for scout material on my devices. Inkling (from the scouting first attempt at digital books, Kindle, and now Bluefire). It should not be this complicated to keep up with a digital book library. If the movie libraries were this difficult people would still be using DVD’s. For now I would say keep using the books until you have to go digital.

Have you tried using the adobe digital editions app? I put it on my phone and got set up with an account, but have not bought a digital from scout shop yet to test it.

The ratings for ADE in the App Store are appalling! 1.2 stars based on over 1000 reviews, and it hasn’t been updated for over a year.

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It is so odd the BSA chose this path as Adobe DE seems to be an abandoned effort.

The $5 BlueFire Reader seems nice. I hate the extra $5, but is is pretty good.


Ok so I am jumping down the rabbit hole. I purchased a Patrol leader handbook. As the OP states above it says you need the BlueFire App for iPhone. I called the BSA customer service and they were ready to give me a refund. I instead asked how I could make it work and they directed me to email the supplier at BSAhelpdesk@codemantra.com. I have done that now and I will give everybody an update on what they have to say.

Edit: It should be noted that I was unable to navigate to the E-book help website from going to scoutshop.org. Doesn’t mean it isn’t possible, I just couldn’t find it.


Their response and my response.

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